NASA Launches Satellite To Measure CO2

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Carbon dioxide (CO2)is bad, we don’t want to keep pumping it into our atmosphere, everybody knows this. The green movement is huge, and has been going for some time now. Well, today marks another event in solving the global warming crisis. The OCO-2 (Orbiting Carbon Observatory) has begun its adventure in space since NASA launched it around six this morning (EST).

By now, the satellite has ejected from its rocket and is already in place, 438 miles above the surface, orbiting along with what’s called the A-train, a slew of satellites, and it will begin taking measurements in mid-August. To reach that orbit, the rocket had to be lunched within a thirty second window. The rocket was scheduled to launch on Tuesday until the team noticed a water flow problem. The problem was fixed, and the rocket launched without any other hitches.

The way it measures CO2 is by observing sunlight reflected from columns of air, which is based on how much CO2 is in the column. CO2 absorbs light in different wavelengths, and the OCO-2 can see this by dividing light into very thin bands of wavelength, and then comparing the difference in wavelength absorption. It measures nearly a million times a day at 24 measurements a second.

The problem is when clouds get in the scope of the measurement, they ruin everything, which is why the OCO-2 uses a small field of vision to increase the chances of a cloud free observation.

It will be measuring where CO2 comes from and where it goes for the entire globe. This is the first mission NASA has ever undertaken in global greenhouse gas measuring.

NASA tried to launch this satellite back in 2009, but ran into the ever devastating launch failure, the rocket falling ill after taking off, sinking into the Indian Ocean.

This is a great step in understanding global warming, and our part in it. The OCO-2 will give us data that will help us plan a cleaner future for generations to come. If we can isolate problem areas, than we can start to fix those area. A healthy Earth is all about balance; it’s rash to say carbon dioxide is evil and we are its master, the devil. It’s about baby steps, precise and deliberate baby steps.