NASA on 2 July 2014 launched Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2), a satellite designed to track carbon dioxide which is responsible for global warming. The satellite was launched aboard Delta 2 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The OCO-2 launch mission preparation was managed by NASA's Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and was handled by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
OCO-2 is the first of its kind mission of NASA dedicated to study the atmospheric carbon dioxide over several seasons. The spacecraft was launched to replace the first OCO that did not make it into orbit due to an anomaly in February 2009.
The mission worth 468 million US dollars will last for two years. During these two years it is expected to produce detailed readings to provide regional sources of carbon dioxide as well as sinks for the greenhouse gas.
The spacecraft carries one instrument and its sole focus is detecting carbon. The instrument is very accurate through which researchers will be able to count the number of carbon dioxide molecules in the layers of the atmosphere and use the data to draw conclusions about how the increasing amount of gas will affect things like the global temperature.
OCO-2 is a part of the A-Train, a constellation of five other international Earth-observing satellites and joins the train of polar-orbiting environmental satellites of the Earth.
The spacecraft was launched from the west coast of Vandenberg because it is the only way to accomplish a polar orbit from the US.
What: launched by NASA
When: 2 July 2014