NASA To Launch Global-Warming Satellite Tomorrow

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The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, so named because of the failure of the first in 2009, is expected to launch tomorrow in order to further the agency’s understanding of greenhouse gases.

The mission

The mission, that has been in the implementation phase since 2010, comes at a cost of $468 million and will provide scientists with detailed carbon dioxide measurements and according to a statement will give further details as to where “where all of the carbon dioxide comes from and where it is being stored when it leaves the air.”

Mitigating climate change through a series of carbon credits will become considerably easier if the mission can achieve its goal.

“The observatory will use its vantage point from space to capture a picture of where the sources and sinks of carbon dioxide are, rather than our cobbling data together from multiple sources with less frequency, reliability and detail,” Gregg Marland, an American geology professor, told NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

NASA says that there is virtually no chance that weather could affect the launch on Tuesday and the mission was officially cleared on Sunday. The OCO-2 will join Japan’s Greenhouses Gases Observing Satellite (GOSAT) as the second satellite observing carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The latter was launched in 2009, the same year that the OCO-1 failed to properly detached from the launch platform and failed to reach orbit.

NASA’s OCO-2 superior in technology

Those extra five years will, if orbit is achieved, make NASA’s satellite considerably more functional than its Japanese counterpart. The GOSAT records a single observation every four seconds while the OCO-2 will log 24 observations per second with a viewing frame designed to avoid clouds it should report almost 100,000 usable observations each day.

The original satellite was launched aboard the Orbital Taurus XL launch vehicle which failed to properly separate sending the rocket and payload back to Earth where it crashed into the Pacific near Antarctica. As a result, the OCO-2 will launch atop the United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket.

The satellite is expected to report its finding for around two years when its operational life comes to an end.

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