About Pandora

The Pandora Project

The Pandora Instrument uses spectroscopy over a specific range of wavelengths to analyze trace gas densities in the atmosphere. Spectroscopy is used to measure specific wavelength ranges and analyze atmospheric trace gases and particles. To learn more about the science behind the project, please head to the Science page. To learn more about the technical aspects of the instrument, head to our The Instrument page.

Pandora Spectrometer System

The Pandora project was started in 2005 by Jay Herman, Nader Abuhassan, and Alexander Cede, and the primary team for the Pandora project also includes Robert Swap and Elena Spinei. The team is supported by contractors and interns to advance project goals. To learn more about the team and how to contact them, please visit the Team page.

What does Pandora do?

Pandora uses a tracker system to follow the Sun and Moon in order to observe their light through Earth’s atmosphere. This light data is channeled through the sensor head from a fiber optic cable and into a spectrometer. Depending on the amount of spectrometers available, Pandora is able to detect finite differences in light absorption between wavelengths 291nm-532nm. Based on the differential absorption of light (often referred to as DOAS- Differential Optical Absorption Spectroscopy) the Pandora can derive atmospheric total column amounts of certain components such as ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and formaldehyde.

Operation history

The first Pandora has been online since 2007. The Pandora Project continues to become fully operational as a global network over time through continued field deployments and agreements with international institutions. To keep up with the latest from the Pandora Project, go to the News tab for stories on the team’s work.

Importance of Pandora

Pandora provides an opportunity to establish a global network of atmospheric detection systems for particles and trace gases. Pandora is a research-grade spectrometer system able to be deployed from a portable platform for use in a variety of applications and installations. Pandora data can be used for air quality monitoring, satellite algorithm refinement, interpixel variability, and in the developing understanding of the Earth’s climate. For more on the Pandora System, go the the Science tab.

History of Pandora

The Pandora system got its name from its first deployment in 2007 in Thessaloniki, Greece. Jay Herman, a co-founder of Pandora, noticed a thin brown haze above the city, indicative of the pollutant NO2.

This made Thessaloniki an ideal location to site a newly developed instrument for air quality measurements. Initially, the entirety of the original system (pictured here) was housed in a single box. When they would run into issues with the original system, researchers in the field would lament, often referring to troubleshooting as having to open Pandora's box.