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NASAs Latest - Jan 3, 2009 at 8:59PM
Melanie Markman
133 Posts

NASAs latest project the Orbiting Carbon Observavtory

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) is one of NASA's newest projects.  It is set to launch on February 23 of this year.  The OCO is intended to study carbon dioxide which is the leading human produced green house gas that can affect changes in our atmosphere.

NASA hopes that the OCO will answer unknown questions about how the Earths carbon cycle works, and its key player carbon dioxide within the Earth's atmosphere.  This primary component is produced both naturally and through human activities.  The OCO is supposed to gain information on carbon, from space to see the whole picture of how the carbon cycles natural behaviors and human activities interact.

One of scientist biggest questions about carbon is that between 40 and 50 percent of man made carbon remains in the atmosphere, and it is believed that the other 50 to 60 percent is absorbed by plants and the ocean.  The question that is puzzling scientist is where carbon dioxide from humans is being stored and what natural processes are absorbing the carbon.

The OCO will provide the first whole picture of carbon dioxide emissions from both human and natural sources.  Not only will it show where they are emitted but it will also show where these emissions are then stored in the earth.  The hope is that by furthering understanding of the carbon emissions cycle that predicting planetary climate change will become more accurate.

Features of the new orbiter will include three unique spectrometers that will be able to spread reflected sunlight into its various colors.  The importance of these is that it will allow scientist to detected what gases are in Earths atmosphere.  Analyzing measurements being taken monthly will allow scientist to locate carbon dioxide and where the Earth is storing it.

The OCO will orbit the earth every sixteen days and its mission is designed to last for two years.  The OCO will also be designed to orbit in a formation with five other NASA missions.  This will allow the researchers to collaborate data and correlate it all together in an easier fashion.  In hopes to unlock the mystery of carbon and where it is stored within the Earth the OCO will be launched to solve more of sciences mysteries.

For more information on the OCO visit NASA's link:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/oco/news/oco-20081112.html


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The OCO Crashes - Feb 28 2009 2:46PM
Melanie Markman
133 Posts

Carbon Detecting Satellite Comes Crashing Down

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) was launched on the 23 of February but came crashing back to Earth.  The OCO was built to track carbon emissions and study the carbon cycle on Earth.  However, the only thing NASA will be studying is why the OCO came crashing back to Earth.

The OCO had some of the latest gadgets to track the carbon cycle on Earth.  The $280 million dollar project is a tremendous loss to the scientific community.  The OCO was set to look at the affects of human carbon emissions, as well as, natural carbon emissions and how the Earth responds to both.

The OCO has great importance in helping policy makers shape effective ways for businesses to cut carbon emissions.  The OCO was supposed to give Congress and the Obama administration insight on what policies could be most effective in cutting emissions.  The OCO would have been a valuable tool reporting data that could have made scientific breakthroughs.

The loss of the OCO is a loss in time and understanding of the carbon cycle on Earth.  Yet, on a positive note NASA is looking into building another OCO.

For more on the OCO's crash:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/29369312/

For more on the OCO:

http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/oco/news/oco-20081112.html