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NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 Instrument Completes Checkout - 09.30.2014

Mission Status Report

NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) will soon complete its first 90 days of operations in space. The spacecraft meets or exceeds all functional and performance specifications, and all planned instrument checkout activities have been completed. The instrument is making high-precision measurements, and data processing is proceeding on schedule. The observatory is now the sixth member of the international constellation of Earth-observing satellites commonly referred to as the Afternoon Constellation, or "A-Train."

Preliminary processing of OCO-2 science data shows that the instrument's carbon dioxide measurements over all land areas and most of the ocean are exceeding expectations. A small set of measurements taken over the ocean when the sun hits the instrument at a particular angle during one of OCO-2's three data collection modes is less precise than expected, due to a reduction in polarized light entering the instrument. This issue affects a few percent of OCO-2's carbon dioxide observations. This will not impact achieving the mission's overall science requirements. In response, mission planners have identified an operational workaround to slightly adjust the observatory's pointing when flying over the ocean to achieve full-precision measurements.

Scientists have begun working on preliminary OCO-2 data products. They expect to begin archiving calibrated mission data in December, and plan to release their first initial estimates of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations in early 2015.

OCO-2 is NASA's first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas responsible for climate change. Launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on July 2, OCO-2 will produce the most detailed picture to date of carbon dioxide's sources and its "sinks," the places on Earth's surface where this greenhouse gas is removed from the atmosphere and stored. OCO-2 will improve our understanding of the carbon cycle and the processes governing climate change.

For more information on OCO-2, visit:

Alan Buis
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California

Steve Cole
NASA Headquarters, Washington


Artist's rendering of NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO)-2, one of five new NASA Earth science missions launching in a 12-month period in 2014-early 2015, and one of three managed by JPL.
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