NASA plans to launch an orbiting satellite observatory to map the carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere. The new satellite, named OCO (for Orbiting Carbon Observatory) is schedule to be launched later this year. Once in orbit, it will give space-based observations of atmospheric carbon dioxide. NASA hopes that it will allow researchers to generate precise global maps of the abundance of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere and get a better understanding of the global carbon cycle.
OCO will fly very nearly over the Earth's poles, an orbit that will let it observe most of the Earth's surface at least once every sixteen days. The mission is part of a new constellation of six closely-spaced earth-observing satellites dubbed 'The A Train.' We'll talk with the project's principal investigator about what they hope to learn.
Produced by Karin Vergoth