OCO-2 Launch: Another Asset in NASA’s Fleet to Observe and Protect Our Planet

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Today, we launch the second of five incredible Earth Science missions this year. It’s the first time in a decade we’ve had so many Earth observatories headed to space in one year.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden discusses Earth Science near the launch site for OCO-2. NASA photo by Bill Ingalls

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden discusses Earth Science near the launch site for OCO-2. NASA photo by Bill Ingalls

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) is the first NASA satellite dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide. OCO-2 data will help reduce uncertainties in forecasts of future carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere and help us make more accurate predictions of global climate change. With up to 100,000 measurements per day, the satellite will provide new insight into locations and behavior of both carbon dioxide sources and “sinks” where it is absorbed on regional scales.

OCO-2 joins Japan’s Greenhouse gases Observing SATellite (GOSAT), launched in 2009, to measure atmospheric carbon dioxide. The missions use different measurement approaches that together will help scientists better understand this important greenhouse gas and its impacts on our present and future climate.

Climate change is the challenge of our generation, and with OCO-2 and our existing fleet of orbiting satellites, NASA is uniquely qualified to take on the challenge of documenting and understanding these changes, predicting the ramifications, and sharing information about these changes for the benefit of society.

OCO-2 joins the “A-train” of satellites flying in formation that observe our planet globally on a daily basis. Our fleet of Earth-observing satellites, along with our airborne missions, ground observations, and researchers will help answer some of the critical challenges facing our planet today and in the future: climate change, sea level rise, freshwater resources, and extreme weather events.

Data and applications for societal benefit produced from NASA’s investment in Earth science research are directly accessible to decision-makers and stakeholders around the world anytime, anywhere. Our planet is changing, but NASA is on the job, helping us to understand and address the challenges we face and learn more about our planet each day.