Plan B: Engineering a Cooler Earth

News/Events: News Articles: April 1, 2014

NASA's OCO-2 Brings Sharp Focus on Global Carbon

This animation shows the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, the first NASA spacecraft dedicated to studying carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere.
[Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech]

In July 2014, NASA will launch the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) to study the fate of carbon dioxide worldwide. It will not be the first satellite to measure carbon dioxide, but it will be the first with the observational strategy, precision, resolution and coverage. Collecting 24 measurements a second over Earth's sunlit hemisphere, it will make more than a million measurements each day. The measurements will then be combined with data on winds and other conditions for global atmospheric models.

Right now, the land and the ocean are taking up almost half of the carbon dioxide we add to the atmosphere by burning fossil fuels, but the future is fundamentally unknown. OCO-2 is a key to getting answers.

-- Paul Wennberg, a professor of atmospheric chemistry at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

"With atmospheric carbon dioxide at unprecedented levels, our sense of urgency has only increased," said Basilio. "What will happen if we keep emitting carbon dioxide at the same rate? The ultimate goal for OCO-2 is to provide data so that organizations and individuals throughout the world can make better-informed decisions about carbon."

For the full article: [JPL NASA]

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