Ready to proceed!

Today was the last major NASA meeting prior to launch…the Launch Readiness Review (LRR).  The LRR is the final opportunity for each of the organizations involved in the mission to determine if OCO is ready to proceed with the launch.  At the LRR, reports were provided by the spacecraft team, launch vehicle team, western range, weather, communications/telemetry, and public affairs.  At the conclusion of the review a poll was taken of the senior officials from each organization represented at the meeting to if we were ready to proceed to launch.  At today’s LRR all responses were “ready to proceed”, so we are all set for a launch Tuesday morning!

The latest weather forecast looks encouraging.  There is a 50% chance of showers early Monday, but then it is expected to clear for the late afternoon.  For our launch window, which opens at 1:51AM PST, the forecast of partly cloudy skies with a 10% chance of precipitation sounds pretty good.  

Speaking of the launch window, I’ve had several friends and family ask if we could schedule the launch at a more convenient time. A-TrainUnfortunately, what is inconvenient for viewing of the launch is ideal for the OCO mission.  OCO plans to fly as part of the Earth Observing System Afternoon Constellation, also known as the A-Train.  The A-Train currently consists of 5 satellites (Aura, Aqua, CloudSat, CALIPSO, and PARASOL) flying in formation.  Operating in this coordinated flight formation will allow OCO’s measurements of carbon dioxide to be combined with nearly simultaneous measurements (ozone, nitrogen dioxide and methane, to name a few) from other A-Train satellites to help scientists better understand our complex Earth system.  In order for OCO to be inserted into the correct position in the A-Train, we have only an 8-minute window each day to launch…and this window opens at 1:51AM PST.

So, set your alarms, grab a little coffee, tune in to NASA TV and enjoy the launch!

One thought on “Ready to proceed!”

  1. Reading about your scope of monitored trace-gases
    I can only imagine and hope that you indeed are tracing the
    various atoms’ Isotopes’signals.
    And this indeed will be very interesting.

    In your opening statements you mentioned that
    “in some years there is more C02 consumed,
    in some other years there is almost none absorbed”.
    If it were summer and winter-terms on one hemisphere it would
    be obviously referring to the cold season, where
    -no leaves present from October to March-
    not the major photosynthesis activity may be expected.

    But there may be a hint:
    the Carbons – having 1 light and 2 heavier Isotopes
    (12C versus 13C and 14C) together with the 3 stable Oxygen Isotopes
    (16O, 17O and 18O) produce CO2 with various molecular weights.
    Traditionally most of the produced CO2 is the lightweight
    16O-12C-16O (MW:44) and the normal stomata reject and so deselect
    against (by closing up as soon as heavier Isotopes appear)
    17O-13C-12O (46)or 18O-12C-17O(47), or 18O-14C-17O(49).

    Now as the Photosynthesis recruits its Carbon from the air and the
    Oxygens from the water (as you intend to do in the ISS-new systems)
    there are more complicating isotopes to be taken into account:
    Water consisting likewise of 3 Oxygen-Isotopes (see above) and
    3 Hydro-Isotopes (Protium, Deuterium and Tritium or 1H,2D, 3T)
    there are stomata-limiting reactions known (Farquhar et al )
    which cause the Carbonic acid H2CO2
    (a very essential part in all basic metabolic reactions)
    to play a role in the enzymatic setup behind these reactions.

    So the Water in form of steam dissolved in the Troposphere will be
    playing a role too in this “Dance of the Stomata” (Farqhar73)
    caring for the Cleaning of the atmosphere from the Carbon-Dioxides.
    And the re-opening of the plants selecting cleaning-mechanism may
    be reacting not only to the heavier parts in the Carbons, varied by
    anthropogen activities as burning of mineral fuels
    (which are free of 14C*
    *= naturally seldom radioactive Isotope 5730 Yrs halflife-
    but partially slightly more and partly less containing 13C)
    and other modern Heat and Power-Generators,
    which do need water for Waste-Energy-Dissipation
    and do produce 2D, 3T and 13C and 14C as well as 17O and 18O
    (by means of their Neutron-‘Moderation’ incl.n- or p-uptake
    into the atomic nuclei with consecutive reactions ->19F;
    ->13N->13C; ->18F->18O; 17O:n,3T,->14C to name only a few).

    So as these latter factors have diligently been overseen or forgotten
    in current “montecarlo”-calculations, it will be very interesting,
    what your investigations (hopefully completing this gap)are going
    to put out as news explaining the global rise of CO2
    which progressively shows to be incompatible with natural
    Cleaning-of-air Mechanisms, known as Photo-Synthesis.
    It is also known that there is natural “Photo-Respiration”
    (=Re-expiring the ‘unwanted heavier sorts of CO2’)
    which acts as an additional Cleaning-Mechanism inside most sorts
    of plants, to keep their products of Photosynthesis clean
    “As Low As Naturally Achievable” (ALANA).
    Unfortunately this is significantly at variance from the technical
    Rule (“ALARA”) although that Rule was “Generally Regarded As Safe”
    (GRAS) at Stand of Science and Art of the 60es and early 70es.
    But Times are changing.
    And with the Change in Superior Office of the US there is hope for
    Change to let Nature have its way again soon.
    (As mentioned in Nature News Comment of 17.Jan.2009) J.Seelig, Dps/Bali,23/2/09

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