NASA to launch satellite to track carbon pollution

July 1, 2014
The United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket with the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite onboard, is seen moments after the launch gantry was moved at the Space Launch Complex 2, Monday, June 30, 2014, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

The US space agency is to launch on Tuesday a satellite that tracks atmospheric carbon dioxide, a leading greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming.

The launch of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 is expected at 2:56 am Pacific time (0956 GMT) from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

"Now that humans are acknowledging the environmental effects of our dependence on fossil fuels and other -emitting activities, our goal is to analyze the sources and sinks of this carbon dioxide and to find better ways to manage it," said Gregg Marland, a professor in the Geology Department of Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina.

The satellite will take 24 measurements every second, about a million per day, but clouds are a major obstacle.

Its field of view is about one square mile (three square kilometers), so even wispy clouds can obscure its measurements.

NASA expects about 100,000 of the satellite's data snapshots from around the world daily will be sufficiently cloud-free to be useful.

Kevin Gurney, an associate professor at Arizona State University, Tempe, said the satellite will contribute to a series of NASA-funded efforts to measure .

"This research and OCO-2 together will act like partners in closing the carbon budget, with my data products estimating movements from the bottom up and OCO-2 estimating sources from the top down," Gurney said.

Its on Tuesday is quite short, just 30 seconds.

"The timing has to be so precise because OCO-2 will join the A-Train, a constellation of five other international Earth-observing satellites that fly very close together to make nearly simultaneous measurements of our planet," the NASA website said.

If it misses the launch window, there may be another Wednesday.

However, weather conditions were expected to be 100 percent favorable for launch.

Explore further: Five things about OCO-2

Related Stories

Five things about OCO-2

June 30, 2014

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) is scheduled to launch July 1 from California's Vandenberg Air Force Base.

NASA's OCO-2 will track our impact on airborne carbon

June 26, 2014

(Phys.org) —Every time we get in a car and drive, we burn gasoline, releasing carbon dioxide and other compounds into the air and disturbing Earth's climate. Our use of fossil fuels continues to increase exponentially, ...

NASA carbon sleuth gets simulated taste of space

December 24, 2013

(Phys.org) —A NASA observatory that will make the most precise, highest-resolution and most complete, space-based measurements of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere to date has marked a key milestone in preparation for ...

Recommended for you

The powerful meteor that no one saw (except satellites)

March 19, 2019

At precisely 11:48 am on December 18, 2018, a large space rock heading straight for Earth at a speed of 19 miles per second exploded into a vast ball of fire as it entered the atmosphere, 15.9 miles above the Bering Sea.

Revealing the rules behind virus scaffold construction

March 19, 2019

A team of researchers including Northwestern Engineering faculty has expanded the understanding of how virus shells self-assemble, an important step toward developing techniques that use viruses as vehicles to deliver targeted ...

Nanoscale Lamb wave-driven motors in nonliquid environments

March 19, 2019

Light driven movement is challenging in nonliquid environments as micro-sized objects can experience strong dry adhesion to contact surfaces and resist movement. In a recent study, Jinsheng Lu and co-workers at the College ...

Levitating objects with light

March 19, 2019

Researchers at Caltech have designed a way to levitate and propel objects using only light, by creating specific nanoscale patterning on the objects' surfaces.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.