NASA Launching First Satellite to Map CO2

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2008 6:22 PM CST
Orbital's Taurus rocket, which will launch NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) satellite in early 2009.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – NASA will soon launch a satellite that can measure carbon dioxide concentrations near the surface of the Earth, giving scientists an accurate picture of where the gas is produced and absorbed, the BBC reports. "This is NASA's first spacecraft specifically dedicated to mapping carbon dioxide," said a project leader. The data should help scientists get a better idea of how CO2 moves through the atmosphere and affects climate change.

The satellite, called OCO for Orbiting Carbon Observatory, is set to launch Feb. 23. It carries one instrument, a spectrometer that analyzes reflected light from the Earth to determine atmospheric content. It will orbit the Earth every 2 weeks as part of the “A-Train,” a multinational convoy of satellites monitoring atmospheric and water conditions.