NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory has arrived at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California where it will launch in January 2009. The observatory is NASA's first spacecraft designed to study carbon dioxide.
The spacecraft will spend two years in a 438-mile, near-polar, sun-synchronous orbit. It will map the globe every 16 days and collect information about levels of CO2 in the Earth's atmosphere. Three high-resolution spectrometers that spread reflected sunlight into its various colors will provide scientists data about the gases present. Scientists will then be able to estimate the monthly volume of CO2 over a given 621-mile region.
This observatory will allow to scientists to see where CO2 is collecting in the atmosphere and what human activities are contributing to it and what parts of the world are acting as sinks. Most importantly it will allow more accurate measurements of total CO2 in the atmosphere and enable more reliable predictions of future climate change.
I have to say I am really excited about this spacecraft. This is a great use of NASA's technology to help solve a problem that is affecting us here on the ground. This observatory is going to give us invaluable information on what we're up against in the fight against climate change.
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