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OCO-2 News Articles

  • Five Things About the Orbiting Carbon Observatory February 20, 2009
    Five Things About the Orbiting Carbon Observatory
    Here are some quick facts about the Earth-orbiting satellite, scheduled to launch on Feb. 24, 2009. -- It will study carbon dioxide sources (where it comes from) and sinks (where it is pulled out of the atmosphere and stored). Carbon dioxide is a major contributor to global warming. The new data will help scientists more accurately forecast global climate change.Five Things About the Orbiting Carbon Observatory
  • NASA Mission Meets the Carbon Dioxide Measurement Challenge February 10, 2009
    NASA Mission Meets the Carbon Dioxide Measurement Challenge
    The challenge: very precisely measure carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere all over the world, especially near Earth's surface. For Orbiting Carbon Observatory Principal Investigator David Crisp of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., and his team, the logical solution was an Earth-orbiting spacecraft. But shopping for a science instrument that could accomplish these objectives was no easy task.NASA Mission Meets the Carbon Dioxide Measurement Challenge
  • The Mystery of the Missing Carbon: A JPL Live Chat February 9, 2009
    The Mystery of the Missing Carbon: A JPL Live Chat
    NASA satellite sleuth set to launch this month will soon be hot on the trail of the elusive greenhouse gas carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced cause of global warming. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory's mission is to find the vast warehouses of carbon dioxide that are "missing" - hidden in "sinks" around the globe. Finding them will help scientists better predict how our climate will change in the futureThe Mystery of the Missing Carbon: A JPL Live Chat
  • First NASA CO2 Satellite Set for Launch February 9, 2009
    First NASA CO2 Satellite Set for Launch
    In their studies of global climate change, NASA's science teams are using Earth-observing satellites to map everything from floods and wildfires to El Ninos and phytoplankton. They track sea ice breakups and make daily scans of temperatures from the bottom of the troposphere to the top of the stratosphere. Wonder where smog-producing ozone is concentrated? Data from NASA's spacecraft reveal the ugly picture.First NASA CO2 Satellite Set for Launch
  • NASA Carbon Mission to Improve Future Climate Change Predictions February 5, 2009
    NASA Carbon Mission to Improve Future Climate Change Predictions
    Recent years have seen an increase in record-setting events related to climate change. For example, 2005 was the warmest year globally in more than a century, and in 2007, Arctic sea ice retreated more than in any other time in recorded history. A new NASA mission set to launch later this month will help scientists better understand the most important human-produced greenhouse gas contributing to climate change: carbon dioxide. Called the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, the satellite may help us better predict how our climate may change in the future.NASA Carbon Mission to Improve Future Climate Change Predictions
  • NASA Mission to Help Unravel Key Carbon, Climate Mysteries January 29, 2009
    NASA Mission to Help Unravel Key Carbon, Climate Mysteries
    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.NASA Mission to Help Unravel Key Carbon, Climate Mysteries
  • The Orbiting Carbon Observatory and the Mystery of the Missing Sinks January 23, 2009
    The Orbiting Carbon Observatory and the Mystery of the Missing Sinks
    Picture a tree in the forest. The tree "inhales" carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, transforming that greenhouse gas into the building materials and energy it needs to grow its branches and leaves. By removing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the tree serves as an indispensable "sink," or warehouse, for carbon that, in tandem with Earth's other trees, plants and the ocean, helps reduce rising levels of carbon dioxide in the air that contribute to global warming.The Orbiting Carbon Observatory and the Mystery of the Missing Sinks
  • The Human Factor: Understanding the Sources of Rising Carbon Dioxide January 13, 2009
    The Human Factor: Understanding the Sources of Rising Carbon Dioxide
    Every time we get into our car, turn the key and drive somewhere, we burn gasoline, a fossil fuel derived from crude oil. The burning of the organic materials in fossil fuels produces energy and releases carbon dioxide and other compounds into Earth's atmosphere. Greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide trap heat in our atmosphere, warming it and disturbing Earth's climate.The Human Factor: Understanding the Sources of Rising Carbon Dioxide
  • NASA set to launch 'CO2 Hunter' December 18, 2008
    NASA set to launch "CO2 Hunter"
    The US space agency is set to launch a satellite that can map in detail where carbon dioxide is in the atmosphere.NASA set to launch 'CO2 Hunter'
  • NASA space probe to track CO2 on Earth December 5, 2008
    NASA space probe to track CO2 on Earth
    The occasionally acrimonious debate about the planet's climate has been missing a key component: accurate measurements of how much carbon dioxide is in the air and how it is being recycled by Earth.NASA space probe to track CO2 on Earth

Watching the planet breathe
Watching the planet breathe

When plants photosynthesize, they use energy from sunlight to turn carbon dioxide from the air into sugars used to live and grow. In doing so, they give off a fluorescent light — a glow that can’t be seen with the naked eye, but that can be seen with the right instruments. More photosynthesis translates into more fluorescence, meaning that the plants are very productive in taking up carbon dioxide. The amount of carbon dioxide taken up by plants is called “gross primary productivity,” and is the largest part of the global carbon cycle.