2014-07-02. NASA Launches New Carbon-Sensing Mission to Monitor Earth’s Breathing.

posted Jul 2, 2014, 12:25 PM by Alan Gould
For GSS Climate Change chapter 5. Excerpt: NASA successfully launched its first spacecraft dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide at 2:56 a.m. PDT.... The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) ... soon will begin a minimum two-year mission to locate Earth’s sources of and storage places for atmospheric carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas responsible for warming our world and a critical component of the planet’s carbon cycle. ...OCO-2 will ... 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. ...Carbon dioxide sinks are at the heart of a longstanding scientific puzzle that has made it difficult for scientists to accurately predict how carbon dioxide levels will change in the future and how those changing concentrations will affect Earth's climate. ...OCO-2 science operations will begin about 45 days after launch. ...The observatory will uniformly sample the atmosphere above Earth's land and waters, collecting more than 100,000 precise individual measurements of carbon dioxide over Earth's entire sunlit hemisphere every day.  ...OCO-2 also will measure a phenomenon called solar-induced fluorescence, an indicator of plant growth and health. As plants photosynthesize and take up carbon dioxide, they fluoresce and give off a tiny amount of light that is invisible to the naked eye. Because more photosynthesis translates into more fluorescence, fluorescence data from OCO-2 will help shed new light on the uptake of carbon dioxide by plants....  http://www.nasa.gov/press/2014/july/nasa-launches-new-carbon-sensing-mission-to-monitor-earth-s-breathing/#.U7RbQ6iPpr4. By NASA RELEASE 14-182.