NASA’s carbon dioxide imaging mission shows first sign of success

BY Anna Christiansen  August 12, 2014 at 6:04 PM EST

A NASA spacecraft dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has achieved final orbit, producing its first science data this week.

The greenhouse gas contributes most significantly to global warming, and our current understanding of it’s distribution is getting even more precise. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory – 2 (OCO-2) will provide new evidence via imaging and eventually reveal the most concentrated sources on earth, as well as natural “sinks” — those areas with depleted pockets of carbon dioxide.

Following a July 2nd launch, the OCO-2 lined up with five other satellites which also monitor the earth. In 2009, its predecessor, the OCO, failed to join up with the constellation of instruments.

Although major calibration is needed for the spacecraft’s data to be viable, chief architect Randy Pollock claims that “this was an important milestone on this journey.”