New Satellite for Mapping CO2 Ready for Launch

Article written: 17 Feb , 2009
Updated: 24 Dec , 2015
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NASA’s first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide is ready for launch. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory, or OCO, is scheduled for liftoff aboard a Taurus XL rocket on February 24 from the Vandenberg Air Force Base, California at 1:51:30 a.m. PST. The spacecraft’s final polar orbit will be 438 miles. Carbon dioxide is the leading greenhouse gas driving changes in Earth’s climate. OCO will provide the first complete picture of human and natural carbon dioxide sources as well as their “sinks,” the places where carbon dioxide is pulled out of the atmosphere and stored.

OCO will map the global geographic distribution of the CO2 sources and sinks in the atmosphere and study their changes over time. The new observatory will dramatically improve global carbon dioxide data, collecting about eight million precise measurements every 16 days for at least two years.

CO2 is a critical component of the Earth’s atmosphere. Since the beginning of the industrial age, the concentration of CO2 has increased by about 38%, from about 280 parts per million to over 380 parts per million. Scientific studies indicate that CO2 is one of several gases that trap heat near the surface of the Earth. These gases are known as greenhouse gases. Many scientists have concluded that substantial increases in the abundance of CO2 will generate an increase in the Earth’s surface temperature. Historical records provide evidence of this trend, which is often called global warming. Current research indicates that continuing increases in atmospheric CO2 may modify the environment in a variety of ways. These changes may impact ocean currents, the jet stream and rain patterns. Some parts of the Earth might actually cool while the average temperature increases, and so this phenomenon is also called climate change.

OCO should help determine how much human-produced CO2 is contributing to climate change.

Source: NASA


6 Responses

  1. Trippy says

    It’s funny ’cause the linear representation of carbondioxide is:
    O=C=O

  2. Astrofiend says

    Trippy Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 8:01 pm

    “It’s funny ’cause the linear representation of carbondioxide is: O=C=O”

    Those clever little scientists. They do love a witty acronym or a hidden meaning when naming their missions don’t they?

    Should be an insightful mission.

  3. himom says

    Another climate-monitoring satellite. More wasted money. The people are starting to catch on, time to come up with another doomsday scenario for the earth that will cost a fortune to study, increase taxes on everyone, and make it harder to live your life unshackled by big government regulation. This money could have gone into planetary exploration.
    BTW, still waiting for those cities that were supposed to be under water by now, the world wide famine, mass extinctions, and runaway high temperatures.

  4. robbi says

    himon-I agree -ummmm, these so called ‘experts on global warming’. should the Sun decides to ‘Chill Out’ or go into a prolonged Maunder Minimum or much less sunspot activity for 20-30 cycles or about 225-350 years causing the Earths’ climate to cool to a situation worst than the ‘little ice age’ about the years 1650-1850, I’d wonder if the so call ‘experts on global warming’ will say the Sun got affected!!! ROTFLMAO, the bad part is, they will try to insist humans caused the Sun to ‘chill out’ due to CO2-after all, their
    bloated beauracracy and their bloated paychecks will be affected unless blame can be placed on human activities!! lol.

  5. Astrofiend says

    “himom Says:
    February 17th, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    “Another climate-monitoring satellite. More wasted money.”

    Another person so sure of themselves without the merest hint of data to back their claims. Opposing sides of the debate – you’re both as bad as each other, shouting from opposing pulpits across the room, trying to persuade anyone without a brain that your position is unequivocally 100% correct. How anyone can be that brain-dead is beyond me.

    How about this – I have an idea. Let’s actually study the phenomena and get more data – then we can actually call what we’re doing science and possibly refine our ideas on the matter. This data could be used by either side in the debate to strengthen their case if that’s the way the data falls. Oh wait – that’s what this satellite is all about. Man, do I feel dumb.

    “This money could have gone into planetary exploration.”

    Yeah, because Earth is not a planet, and taking data on dynamical systems such as Earth’s atmosphere and processes within it couldn’t possibly extend our scientific knowledge and shed light on how such systems operate on both this planet and others.

    My God – what a sarcastic post! sometimes I amaze even myself.

  6. robbi says

    AstrofiendI – I have to agree with you, I can be very sarcastic at times because I know how governments or entities works because I was part of it before I retired 2 years ago at the age of 55 and glad I did as the state of California is in bad shape.I did not realize it at the time, but I was glad I sold my home 3 years ago to get into a condo that was a steal because it was to continue the payments for the next 12 years. It is just luck as I found the homes where I sold my home dropped 40-50% in value-just another dumb luck. I am just being truthful..I am no genius!
    There really is alot of data that must be gathered to have an idea what is the causes of our Earths rather unique climates and the balance and counterbalaces the Earth is capable of doing to get to a long term cooling or warming periods back to the original state. I’ve stated on earlier feeds 98% is the Sun, almost 2% the Earth itself, and humans .015. That human causes is quite filthy,and unfortunately, it will be quite a long time to rid our society of using hydrocarbons or petroleum/coal/natural gas
    from our needs.
    Any lousy amateur astronomer can say any country can lower the usage of electricity or have more efficent outdoor lighting as we have too much light pollution, are we lighting up our hi-rise buildings because we fear ‘spiderman may be climbing to buglarize a unit/office? Lol.
    It will be interesting what the results of this satillite wiil be.

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