The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2*) satellite is a replacement for the first OCO spacecraft, and is designed to make the first space-based measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2), an important greenhouse gas. Scientists believe fossil fuel use and other human activities have almost doubled the concentrations of this gas since the beginning of the industrial revolution. Atmospheric carbon dioxide is an efficient greenhouse gas because it absorbs and traps infrared radiation (heat) emitted by the Earth's surface, preventing it from escaping to space. OCO-2 measurements are intended to help scientists to better understand how increasing CO2 concentrations are driving climate change around the globe. Orbital is formulating the satellite program under a contract from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Orbit: 705 km/98.2° Inclination
Power: 521 W orbit average
Launch Mass: 447 kg (985 lbs)
Solar Arrays: 813 W EOL, single axis articulated arrays
Stabilization: 3-axis, zero momentum, nadir and target pointing
Design life: 24 months
In Integration and Test. Expected to Launch in 2014
Customer: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Mission: NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) program
Quick Facts *
Each carbon dioxide molecule includes one carbon atom (C) sandwiched between two oxygen (O) atoms, forming a linear molecule, with the structure O=C=O
All animals release CO2 into the atmosphere as a by-product of metabolism.
Plants absorb CO2 from the air and use it, sunlight, water and oxygen
to produce their own energy (photosynthesis). Nearly everything we eat
comes directly or indirectly from this "carbon cycle."
Dr. David Crisp of JPL will be the principal investigator for the mission,
which includes more than 19 university, corporate and international partners.