NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 Gets First Data
12 July 2019
NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3), the agency's newest carbon dioxide-measuring mission to launch into space, has seen the light. From its perch on the International Space Station, OCO-3 captured its first glimpses of sunlight reflected by Earth's surface on 25 June, 2019. Just weeks later, the OCO-3 team was able to make its first determinations of carbon dioxide and solar-induced fluorescence — the "glow" that plants emit from photosynthesis, a process that includes the capture of carbon from the atmosphere.
The first image shows carbon dioxide, or CO2, over the United States during OCO-3's first few days of science data collection. These initial measurements are consistent with measurements taken by OCO-3's older sibling, OCO-2, over the same area — meaning that even though OCO-3's instrument calibration is not yet complete, it is right on track to continue its (currently still operational) predecessor's data record.
Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech - Preliminary carbon dioxide (CO2) measurements from OCO-3 over the United States.