NASA launches OCO-2 satellite; Colorado State Univ. team to help analyze carbon dioxide data

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - Researchers are celebrating the successful launch of a new satellite to study carbon dioxide.

A team from Colorado State University spent years working on NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) to study carbon dioxide accumulating in the atmosphere and in natural “sinks” such as plants and oceans.

The first Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) launched in 2009, but didn't reach its orbit and crashed into the Indian Ocean.

When the OCO-2 satellite gets into orbit, the CSU team will work with NASA to analyze the information OCO-2 collects.

“We’ve been involved with OCO-2 from the original concept design process, through the implementation of the algorithms used to actually produce the measurements," said Professor Chris O’Dell, who is leading the Colorado State team.

The OCO-2 spacecraft will circle Earth from pole-to-pole in approximately 98 minutes. The satellite is expected to orbit the Earth for at least two years and will collect data at a higher resolution and with greater accuracy than has been previously possible.

"Determining where carbon dioxide is emitted and where it is taken up by Earth’s natural ecosystem is a key missing piece of the climate story," CSU officials said in a news release.

Currently, only the Greenhouse Gases Observing Satellite, launched by the Japanese space agency in 2009, is dedicated to collecting carbon dioxide data.

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