NASA Launches OCO-2

NASA Launches OCO-2

PPEarly Wednesday morning, NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) was launched to kick-start its mission to survey carbon dioxide gas in earth's atmosphere aboard a Delta II rocket. The spacecraft flew into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

OCO-2 will be positioned at such a vantage point in orbit that will allow it provide details into how the planet is coping with the increased level of carbon dioxide. NASA said the readings would be unparalleled.

The spacecraft will be the first one to carry out a global-scale reading of carbon dioxide in different seasons. OCO-2 will provide sources of carbon dioxide as well as sinks for the greenhouse gases.

David Crisp, Science team lead for the mission, said there is a need to know what they can know about carbon dioxide and its related factors. The spacecraft is six feet long and three feet in diameter and weighs 985 pounds.

The hexagonal spacecraft will fly about 438 miles above the planet's surface and will take readings. The spacecraft carries one instrument and its main job would be to detect carbon dioxide. The instrument is such an exact that it will be able to count the number of carbon dioxide molecules in the layers of the atmosphere.

The collected data will then be used to come up with conclusions with regard to how increasing percentage of the gas will affect things like global temperature. The mission is expected to continue for at least two years.

NASA's Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida handled the launch preparation and flight into orbit. Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California is handling the OCO-2 mission.

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