Zee Media Bureau/Salome Phelamei
Vanderberg Air Force Base, Calif: NASA has launched its first satellite to measure carbon dioxide, Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, aboard a Delta II rocket early Wednesday, July 2 in California .
The United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket carrying the carbon-tracking satellite blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, at 02:56 local time (09:56 GMT; 10:56 BST).
The flight was “a perfect ride into space,” Ralph Basilio, the OCO-2 project manager was quoted as saying at a post-launch press conference.
The launch was delayed by a day due to a technical glitch in ground equipment 46 seconds before lift off on Tuesday morning.
NASA`s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, or OCO-2, is expected to provide an insight into how the planet adjusts to the increased production of carbon dioxide from a vantage point in orbit that will allow it to take readings on a scale never achieved before.
While ground stations have been monitoring carbon dioxide concentrations, OCO-2 will be the first spacecraft to conduct a global-scale reading over several seasons.
The spacecraft is expected to produce detailed readings to provide regional sources of carbon dioxide as well as sinks for the greenhouse gasses.
The OCO-2 spacecraft was built as a replacement for the original OCO, which was damaged
when a rocket carrying the satellite plunged into the ocean off Antarctica minutes after taking off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in February 2009.
The OCO-2 carries one instrument and its sole focus is detecting carbon dioxide and watching from space as the Earth “breathes”, to see what becomes of the gas.
According to NASA engineers, it will take several weeks to to get OCO-2 into its final operational orbit.
NASA hopes the satellite will be able to provide the data by early next year.
The OCO-2 mission will take at least two years and will study the processes behind how the environment absorbs carbon dioxide.
The $468 million mission is handled by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.
Photo credit: NASA TV