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Mousehound
02-04-2009, 06:44 PM
http://pubs.acs.org/cen/_img/87/i05/NASAsmall.jpg
An artist's conception shows the Orbiting Carbon Observatory circling Earth.

After months of delays, a satellite designed to help generate the first detailed, time-resolved global maps of carbon dioxide sources and sinks is slated for launch on Feb. 23.

The daily detailed measurements from NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) will give vastly more information than the sparse CO2-monitoring stations that now dot Earth. By knowing where and when CO2 is being emitted and taken up, scientists may be able to understand how the gas influences climate change and, in particular, global warming.

The orbiting observatory is "a huge stepping stone toward answering these questions," said Anna M. Michalak, OCO scientist and engineering and atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Michigan, at a press conference at NASA headquarters on Jan. 29.

Previously set to launch last fall, OCO was postponed after a series of technical problems. The craft carries near-infrared absorption spectrometers designed to monitor, in high resolution, concentrations of CO2 from Earth's surface to the top of its atmosphere.

Humans produce, via fossil fuel and biomass burning, about 2% of the 300 billion tons of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere each year. About 50% of this human-generated CO2 remains in the atmosphere, and 30% is taken up by the ocean, but the global distribution of the remaining CO2, presumed to be taken up by plants and soil, is unknown.

Data from the satellite are "going to be very useful for understanding the carbon cycle," says Atul Jain, an atmospheric sciences professor at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, who develops computer models of carbon cycling. "We don't understand where the sources and sinks are.

http://pubs.acs.org/cen/news/87/i05/8705notw9.html

southerncross
02-08-2009, 12:20 PM
Humans produce, via fossil fuel and biomass burning, about 2% of the 300 billion tons of CO2 emitted into the atmosphere each year

Do we know if this new craft will be able to identify the human produced Co2?

Mousehound
02-08-2009, 12:32 PM
Do we know if this new craft will be able to identify the human produced Co2?

I think it will just locate areas where the CO˛ levels are higher or lower. When they can pinpoint hot spots, they will likely be able to say what is causing it with surface measurements.

Mousehound
02-24-2009, 07:22 AM
Orbital Science’s Taurus XL rocket lifted-off from Space Launch Complex 576-E at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, carrying the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) this morning. However, the mission was deemed as a failure during or slightly after third stage flight, after it was noted the fairing failed to separate as required.

“OCO did not achieve orbit successfully,” noted PAO George Diller in an anomaly update. “We are still looking at the telemetry, and it appeared there were indications of problems with fairing sep, but we not sure at this time.

“Controllers are checking the status of the spacecraft, to confirm location and orbit. However, the data around fairing sep is not what we expected to be. We believe that is what happened during the failure.

“Right now we do know we have not had a successful launch and will not be able to have a successful mission.”

More will follow when information is available.

More here:
http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2009/02/orbitals-taurus-xl-launch-orbiting-carbon-observatory/