NASA launches carbon dioxide observer
Nasa has launched a mission dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide (CO2) from space. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) will help pinpoint the key locations on the Earth's surface where the gas is being emitted and absorbed. A Delta rocket carrying the satellite lifted clear of the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
The ride to orbit took just under an hour. The launch was delayed a day after Tuesday's countdown was aborted due to the failure of the water system used to dampen the noise and vibration generated by the rocket's first-stage engine and strap-on boosters. OCO-2 carries the "2" designation because it is a replacement for a spacecraft that was destroyed on launch in 2009.
The new $468m ($275m) mission should operate for at least two years. Its key objective is to trace the global geographic distribution of CO2 in the atmosphere, measuring its presence down through the column of air to the planet's surface. This should give scientists a better understanding of how the greenhouse gas cycles through the Earth system, influencing the climate.