NASA’s first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide is in final preparations for a Feb. 23 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. Carbon dioxide is the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving changes in Earth’s climate.
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory will provide the first complete picture of human and natural carbon dioxide sources as well as their “sinks,” the places where carbon dioxide is pulled out of the atmosphere and stored.
It will map the global geographic distribution of these sources and sinks and study their changes over time. The measurements will be combined with data from ground stations, aircraft and other satellites to help answer questions about the processes that regulate atmospheric carbon dioxide and its role in Earth’s climate and carbon cycle.
Mission data will help scientists reduce uncertainties in predicting future carbon dioxide increases and make more accurate climate change predictions. Policymakers and business leaders can use the data to make more informed decisions that improve the quality of life on Earth.