US: NASA scientists are developing “Orbiting Carbon Observatory” or OCO-2 as the world’s first satellite dedicated to studying carbon dioxide levels. The satellite will focus on tracking the environmental impact of global warming. It will observe forests and oceans to find how they are reacting to higher levels of carbon dioxide.
OCO-2 is based on the original OCO mission that failed due to a launch vehicle anomaly in February 2009. Engineers are currently testing OCO-2 at a high-tech facility in Gilbert, Arizona. OCO-2 will operate from 400 miles above the planet”s surface. It will help in tracking the movement of carbon dioxide from automobiles and factories to absorption areas like forests and cold-water seas. Combined with data from other satellites, OCO-2 will also help scientists track crop production, water resources and vegetation health. “It”s obvious that human emissions, particularly within the developing world, have been increasing at a staggering rate. It”s going to affect all of us, for example, if we find that the response of the great rain forests in the Amazon, the Congo and Indonesia is very sensitive to climate change. Along the way, we will naturally uncover information about the patterns of human emissions of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere,” said Michael Gunson, project scientist for NASA”s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. NASA plans to launch OCO-2 in July 2014.