December 26, 2013
NASA’s Carbon Dioxide Space Observatory Prepares For Launch
Gerard LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO-2) was recently placed into a thermal vacuum chamber to prepare for its launch in July 2014. The OCO-2 is a craft that will orbit the Earth and take high-resolution data of carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere.
It was prepped and tested at the Orbital Sciences Satellite Manufacturing Facility in Gilbert, Arizona. In late November the OCO-2 was placed into the vacuum chamber to confirm the electrical connections, instruments and the craft itself could withstand the extreme hot and cold of a launch as well as being in an orbital environment.
The craft that will house the OCO-2 was built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California. After the completion of the tests, scheduled to conclude in the spring, the observatory will be shipped to Vandenberg Air Force Base in California for its final launch preparations.
This will be NASA’s first mission for exclusively collecting and analyzing atmospheric carbon dioxide data. Carbon dioxide is a greenhouse gas generated by humans and considered to be the main cause of climate change.
The OCO-2 mission will collect between 100,000 and 200,000 measurements of carbon dioxide within the Earth’s atmosphere every day for at least two years. It will provide accurate and detailed data for both human and natural origins of carbon dioxide emissions. It will also show the areas where the carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere and stored.
The data will be used by scientists to better assess the process of adding and removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and submit more accurate predictions of climate change.
Data provided from this mission, along with other facilities, satellites, and aircraft that measure carbon dioxide levels, will help determine the process of regulating atmospheric carbon dioxide and its effect on the carbon cycle and climate. It will also help policy makers and business leaders make better choices for climate stability. Long-term satellite missions that will monitor carbon dioxide will arise from this venture.