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OCO-2 lifts off on carbon-counting mission

02 July 2014

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A Delta II rocket blazed off the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California early Wednesday morning to begin a landmark mission to survey carbon dioxide gas in Earth's atmosphere.

NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, or OCO-2, is expected to provide insight into how the planet adjusts to the increased production of carbon dioxide from a vantage point in orbit that will allow it to take readings on a scale never achieved before.

While ground stations have been monitoring carbon dioxide concentrations, OCO-2 will be the first spacecraft to conduct a global-scale reading over several seasons. The spacecraft is expected to produce detailed readings to provide regional sources of carbon dioxide as well as sinks for the greenhouse gas.

"There's quite a lot of urgency to see what we can get from a satellite like OCO-2," said David Crisp, the science team lead for the mission.

Source: National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Image credit: NASA TV - Delta II rocket launch, carrying OCO-2

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