NASA Airathon: Predict Air Quality (Particulate Track)

Air pollution is one of the greatest environmental threats to human health. Help NASA deliver accurate, high-resolution air quality information to improve public health and safety! #climate

$25,000 in prizes
mar 2022
702 joined

2005 poor air quality in Los Angeles


Air pollution is one of the greatest environmental threats to human health. It can result in heart and chronic respiratory illness, cancer, and premature death.

Currently, no single satellite instrument provides ready-to-use, high resolution information on surface-level air pollutants. This gap in information means that millions of people cannot take daily action to protect their health. Help NASA deliver accurate, high-resolution air quality information to improve public health and safety!

This challenge focuses on two critical air quality measures: particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5) and nitrogen dioxide (NO2). Each measure is the target for a predictive track in the challenge.

  • Particulate Track (PM2.5) - YOU ARE HERE
    PM2.5 refers to particulate matter less than 2.5 micrometers in size. It can last days to weeks in the atmosphere and penetrate deep into human lungs, increasing the risk of heart disease, lower respiratory infections, and poor pregnancy outcomes.

  • Trace Gas Track (NO2)
    NO2 forms in the atmosphere from the burning of fossil fuels such as coal, oil, or gas, and has a short lifetime on the order of hours near the surface. It can cause respiratory issues, while also contributing to the production of ozone and nitrate aerosols, a component of PM2.5.

Existing high-quality ground monitors measure PM2.5 and NO2, but are expensive and have large gaps in coverage. Models that make use of widely available satellite data have the potential to provide local, daily air quality information. Recent studies have described such algorithms, but leave unsettled what data inputs or models produce the highest performance. Additionally, these experimental models have yet to be made available for easy public consumption.

In this challenge, your task is to use remote sensing data and other geospatial data sources to develop models for estimating daily levels of PM2.5 and NO2 with high spatial resolution. Successful models could provide critical data to help the public take action to reduce their exposure to air pollution.

Head on over to the Problem Description to get started!


Track Prize Pool
Particulate Track (PM2.5) $25,000
Trace Gas Track (NO2) $25,000
Total $50,000

Submissions close March 21, 2022, 11:59 p.m. UTC


Place Prize Amount
1st $12,000
2nd $8,000
3rd $5,000

Particulate Track

Evaluated on predicted PM2.5 values across all 5x5km grid cells in the test set.

Place Prize Amount
1st $12,000
2nd $8,000
3rd $5,000

Trace Gas Track

Evaluated on predicted NO2 values across all 5x5km grid cells in the test set.

Note on prize eligibility:

NASA Employees are prohibited by Federal statutes and regulations from receiving an award under this Challenge. NASA Employees are still encouraged to submit a solution. If you are a NASA Employee and wish to submit a solution please contact who will connect you with the NASA Challenge owner. If your solution meets the requirements of the Challenge, any attributable information will be removed from your submission and your solution will be evaluated with other solutions found to meet the Challenge criteria. Based on your solution, you may be eligible for an award under the NASA Awards and Recognition Program or other Government Award and Recognition Program if you meet the criteria of both this Challenge and the applicable Awards and Recognition Program.

If you are an Employee of another Federal Agency, contact your Agency's Office of General Counsel regarding your ability to participate in this Challenge.

If you are a Government contractor or are employed by one, your participation in this challenge may also be restricted. If you are or your employer is receiving Government funding for similar projects, you or your employer are not eligible for award under this Challenge. Additionally, the U.S. Government may have Intellectual Property Rights in your solution if your solution was made under a Government Contract, Grant or Cooperative Agreement. Under such conditions, you may not be eligible for award.

How to compete

  1. Click the “Compete” button in the sidebar to enroll in the competition
  2. Get familiar with the problem through the overview and problem description. You might also want to reference some of the additional resources from the about page.
  3. Download the data from the data tab
  4. Create and train your own model.
  5. Use your model to generate predictions that match the submission format
  6. Click “Submit” in the sidebar, and “Make new submission”. You’re in!

This challenge is in collaboration with NASA.

With additional collaboration from the U.S. Department of State and Environmental Protection Agency


Banner image courtesy of flickr user Clinton Steeds