PICASSO, ESA's CubeSat to sift secrets from sunrise

There is always a sunrise and sunset happening somewhere on our planet. Soon ESA's newest CubeSat—flying aboard Europe's Vega launcher this Friday—will be keeping watch. The miniature PICASSO mission will use the filtering ...

COVID-19 lockdowns significantly impacting global air quality

Levels of two major air pollutants have been drastically reduced since lockdowns began in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, but a secondary pollutant—ground-level ozone—has increased in China, according to new research.

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Ozone or trioxygen (O3) is a triatomic molecule, consisting of three oxygen atoms. It is an allotrope of oxygen that is much less stable than the diatomic O2. Ground-level ozone is an air pollutant with harmful effects on the respiratory systems of animals. The ozone layer in the upper atmosphere filters potentially damaging ultraviolet light from reaching the Earth's surface. It is present in low concentrations throughout the Earth's atmosphere. It has many industrial and consumer applications.

Ozone, the first allotrope of a chemical element to be recognized by science, was proposed as a distinct chemical compound by Christian Friedrich Schönbein in 1840, who named it after the Greek verb ozein (ὄζειν, "to smell"), from the peculiar odor in lightning storms. The formula for ozone, O3, was not determined until 1865 by Jacques-Louis Soret and confirmed by Schönbein in 1867.

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