The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2), NASA’s first mission dedicated to studying carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere, lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California on July 2. The two-year mission will help scientists unravel key mysteries about carbon dioxide and produce the most detailed picture to date of natural sources of carbon dioxide, as well as their “sinks” – places on Earth’s surface where carbon dioxide is removed from the atmosphere. The observatory will study how these sources and sinks are distributed around the globe and how they change over time.
OCO-2 is the second of five NASA Earth science missions to be launched this year. NASA monitors Earth’s vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites and ambitious airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. NASA develops new ways to observe and study Earth’s interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing.