Carbon counting satellite finally makes it into orbit

The previous mission failed to make orbit, crashed into ocean.

OCO-2 lifts off aboard a Delta II rocket

A Delta II rocket leaps off the launch pad to begin NASA’s OCO-2 mission at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

A Delta II rocket blazed off the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California early Wednesday morning to begin a landmark mission to survey carbon dioxide gas in Earth’s atmosphere.

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, or OCO-2, is expected to provide 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 gas.

“There’s quite a lot of urgency to see what we can get from a satellite like OCO-2,” said David Crisp, the science team lead for the mission.

The spacecraft flew into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The July 2 liftoff came at 5:56 a.m. Eastern time, 2:56 Pacific time. The hexagonal spacecraft is about 6 feet long and 3 feet in diameter and weighs 985 pounds. The Delta II first stage’s single liquid-fueled engine ignited moments before the three solid-fueled boosters roared to life to catapult the rocket and spacecraft off the pad toward space.

The launch was from the west coast so the spacecraft could enter a polar orbit of the Earth, a flight path that will see it cross over the Arctic and Antarctic regions during each revolution and get a complete picture of the Earth. It will fly about 438 miles above the planet’s surface to take its readings.

“The only way to accomplish a polar orbit from U.S. soil is to launch from Vandenberg,” said Tim Dunn, NASA’s launch manager for the flight.

The mission is the first of its kind in the agency’s extensive history of Earth-observing spacecraft. The spacecraft was launched to replace the first OCO that did not make it into orbit due to an anomaly in February 2009. The spacecraft 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.

The instrument is precise enough that researchers will be able to count the number of carbon dioxide molecules in the layers of the atmosphere and use the data to draw conclusions about how the increasing amount of gas will affect things like the global temperature. OCO-2’s mission is to last at least two years.

NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, managed the launch preparation and flight into orbit. The OCO-2 mission is handled by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California.

“We’ve been preparing for the OCO-2 mission for almost two years now,” Dunn said before launch. “The biggest challenge has been in bringing the Delta II launch vehicle out of retirement. The last time we launched on a Delta II was October 2011, a weather satellite.”

The Delta II has been one of NASA’s most reliable launchers ever, registering more than 150 launches for NASA, the Air Force and commercial satellite makers from 1989 to 2011.

The launch team has been visiting Vandenberg during the preparation and spent the two weeks before launch there, running through the last phases of processing and countdown rehearsals.

With the mission safely begun, Dunn congratulated the team soon after OCO-2 separated from the Delta II’s second stage and opened its pair of solar array wings.

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Now that we have a carbon dioxide spy in the sky, watch for its data to become either secret (if it doesn’t show what they expect) or front page news.

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Sparks

It will prove inferred exits. and infer other things..

“The spacecraft 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.”
From what they have been telling us, C02 is causing climate change and temperatures are rising faster then predicted. What’s the need for a satellite now?
Why spend so much money (Anyone know how much for the project?) when C02 is a well mixed gas and simple C02 monitors cost about $300 each. Strap on to a balloon to get all the info wanted.
Big waist of money is my feeling

Sparks

Apologies, “It will prove inferred exists. and there where will be inference to other things..

“The biggest challenge has been in bringing the Delta II launch vehicle out of retirement. The last time we launched on a Delta II was October 2011, a weather satellite.”
So not only can we not launch a person into low Earth orbit, we have to rummage around in the spare rocket bin to launch a half ton satellite? Sigh. I gave up recess at my elementary school to listen to the sub orbital Mercury flights. Those independents are looking pretty good lately.

Sparks

Chris it’s called “continuity” What’s the need for a satellite now? the science is settled and all that!

Hoser

Ric Werme says:
July 2, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Oh, keep your pants on. You won’t have much longer to wait.

Geoffrey

I have a feeling that this satellite will cost us all a lot of money

dp

Seems like there should be a contest to guess when the first adjustments to the data occur.

Ed Mertin

Maybe it’s supposed to help take down Exxon.
Happy Fourth, Americans, Big Oil Hates You
http://www.ibtimes.com/exxon-hates-america-environmentalists-take-big-oil-crowdfunding-1617482

Ian W

Given the way the USHCN temperature data is being overtly massaged to provide the sponsor required results, can anyone have any confidence that the results from this satellite will not be similarly ‘adjusted’?

Keith Minto

Ric,that is some spare rocket bin.
A little about the mission from the supplier

Once testing is complete( several weeks), the spacecraft will be commanded to maneuver into a 438-mile altitude, near-polar orbit with five other scientific satellites as part of the Afternoon (A-Train) Constellation. This international constellation of Earth-observing satellites circles the globe once every 98 minutes in a Sun-synchronous orbit that crosses the equator near 1:30 p.m. local time and repeats the same ground track every 16 days. OCO-2 will be inserted at the head of the A-Train. Orbital will perform the day-to-day mission operations of OCO-2 for JPL from the company’s Mission Operations Center in Dulles, VA. OCO-2 is a 990-pound (449-kilogram) observatory with single-axis articulated arrays and three-axis attitude control to ensure high precision in positioning.

from http://www.bloomberg.com/article/2014-06-30/a4NdTDFe29xg.html
Must require a lot of energy to acquire a polar orbit, it seems that they changed the rocket launcher to the Delta 2 [from] the 2009 launcher
Both the satellite and launch rocket were built by Dulles, Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp.

from http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=av6QSiI5BuOI&refer=us

FrankSW

Japan launched a CO2 and methane monitoring satellite in 2009, the results were not wholly compatble with the CO2 meme.
http://wattsupwiththat.com/2009/09/13/some-results-from-gosat-co2-hot-spots-in-interesting-places/

pat

any accounting of carbon will be strictly for the financialising of CO2 emissions & funding everyone’s pet projects:
2 July: Forbes: Jeff McMahon: We Can’t Stop Carbon Emissions Without These Four Things
Two expert economists and an expert engineer endorsed the EPA’s Clean Power Plan at a conference in Washington D.C. Friday, but cautioned that the proposed rule is only a first step, and it affects only one of several sectors of the economy that produce greenhouse gases…
Branstetter (Lee Branstetter, a professor of economics and public policy at Carnegie Mellon University and a former senior economist for international trade and investment at the Council of Economic Advisers)
offered a kind of closing argument to the two-day conference on “China, the West, and the Alternative Energy Innovation Challenge” at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, urging these four necessities to decarbonize the world economy:
1. More federal funding for alternative-energy technologies…blah blah
2. A Price On Carbon…blah blah
3. Global Free Trade…blah blah
4. China: Whether we like it or not we’re going to have to find a way to work together.”
For an example, a presenter told the conference earlier that China can build Westinghouse nuclear reactors designed in Pittsburgh at one-half to one-third the cost of construction in the United States.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2014/07/02/we-cant-stop-carbon-emissions-without-these-4-things/
on Forbes profile, writer Jeff McMahon states: “I cover green technology, energy and the environment from Chicago.” no mention of the following:
LinkedIn: Jeff McMahon
Chief Financial Officer / Vice President of Finance at Cornfields, Inc, Illinois
Past: Principal Financial Analyst
ComEd2004 – 2006 (2 years)
ComEd, a subsidiary of Exelon, is a $5 billion energy delivery company in Northern Illinois…
Senior Business Analyst
Exelon
2002 – 2004 (2 years)
http://www.linkedin.com/pub/jeff-mcmahon/4b/400/439

pat

6 Feb: Bloomberg/Businessweek: Matthew Carr: Ex-Barclays Carbon Chief Trades
From Home as Prices Surge (1)
Redshaw, 41, who resigned from Barclays in London after more than eight
years at the company, is buying and selling European Union permits for his
own account from his home in the southeast of the capital, he said by phone,
declining to provide further details…
“There’s no reason why the market shouldn’t double within the next 18
months,” said Redshaw, who also worked as a trader at Enron Corp. and
Electricite de France SA. (EDF) “At 6 euros, it’s still cheap.” …
http://www.businessweek.com/news/2014-02-06/ex-barclays-carbon-chief-redshaw-trades-from-home-as-prices-jump
the CO2 ETS dream hasn’t quite worked out for these folks, but they don’t give up easily. reminder from 2007:
2007: NYT: James Canter: Carbon trading: Where greed is green
Seeking to match a desire to make money with his environmental instincts,
Louis Redshaw, a former electricity trader, met with five top investment
banks to propose trading carbon dioxide. Only one, Barclays Capital, was
interested in his proposition.
Three years later, the situation has turned around entirely, and carbon
experts like Redshaw, 34, are among the rising stars in the City of London
financial district. Managing emissions is one of the fastest-growing
segments in financial services, and companies are scrambling for talent.
Their goal: a slice of a market now worth about $30 billion, but which could
grow to $1 trillion within a decade…
“Carbon will be the world’s biggest commodity market, and it could become
the world’s biggest market overall,” said Redshaw, the head of environmental
markets at Barclays Capital. But he said that in his current job, unlike
some of his previous ones, including a stint as a British power trader at
Enron, “I don’t have to compromise on anything when I get out of bed in the
morning.”
If greed is suddenly good for the environment, then the seedbed for this
vast new financial experiment is London…
***Carbon could become “one of the fasting-growing markets ever, with volumes
comparable to credit derivatives inside of a decade,” said Chris Leeds, 38,
the head of emissions trading at Merrill Lynch in London, who plans to
expand his team to five traders from two by the end of this year…
One of the few items distinguishing Redshaw’s row of desks from hundreds of
others at Barclays Capital is a picture of an iceberg – an award from an
environmental finance publication. The way his team blends in is as it
should be, Redshaw said: “Only when you’re among hard-nosed traders do you
know that a new commodity has truly arrived.”…
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/20/business/worldbusiness/20iht-money.4.6234700.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

David

How much carbon footprint did it leave when it launched?,

The Earth was doing just fine until Man came along, and will again, once Man disappears from its environment.
Interfering with the Carbon cycle will have a high cost to Mankind, unless the Politicians can get their act together in time. Probably not!! They’ll just have a few more meetings and form another committee.
A cartoon on where it will all go . . . .
http://cartoonmick.wordpress.com/editorial-political/#jp-carousel-205
Cheers
Mick

krischel

I wonder what kind of resolution and frequency it’s going to be able to collect data – I’d like to see if it shows not only greater variation on CO2 spatially than previously assumed, but also if it manages to constrain anthropogenic influence by searching for anthropogenic signals like the 5-day work week (which, according to what I’ve seen, show up as tiny local contamination in Mauna Loa data, but are invisible in South Pole data, begging the question as to whether human activity really has any significant impact on eventual global CO2 averages).
Any idea if it’ll take daily global snapshots?

Lord High, Lord of the Fairies

“Now that we have a carbon dioxide spy in the sky, watch for its data to become either secret (if it doesn’t show what they expect) or front page news.”
More CO2 than expected – less time to act.
Less CO2 than expected – higher climate sensitivity.
Either way, it’s worse than we thought.

“Now that we have a carbon dioxide spy in the sky, watch for its data to become either secret (if it doesn’t show what they expect) or front page news.”
hardly.
it will probably start reporting data in 45-60 days.
the datasets are already defined
https://co2.jpl.nasa.gov/#mission=OCO-2
I suggest folks read the technical docs
http://disc.sci.gsfc.nasa.gov/OCO-2/documentation/oco-2
calibration
http://oco.jpl.nasa.gov/science/CalibrationOverview/#
validation
http://oco.jpl.nasa.gov/science/validation/#
check here if youre paranoid about data hiding.. its a conspiracy
http://oco.jpl.nasa.gov/science/ocodatacenter/

Greg Goodman

“The instrument is precise enough that researchers will be able to count the number of carbon dioxide molecules ”
What stupidity. Measuring gas concentration is hardly “counting molecules”

Greg Goodman

Correction , they are not even measuring gas concentration, they making spectrograph measurements and inferring gas concentration.

Ben

Why build one when you can build two for twice the price?

kadaka (KD Knoebel)

The spacecraft carries one instrument…
Why no second instrument for backup and verification/calibration purposes?
What’s the worse that can happen? They fire up both for comparison, get different readings and response curves, and have to admit working in the lab is not the same as working “in the field”?

Greg Goodman

This should be very interesting in relation to Gosta Pettersson’s calculations about CO2 outgassing and his explanation of the “missing sink”: there isn’t one, it’s an underestimation of the exchange with the oceans.
Ironic the way the first one failed so the one that is in service is called “Oh-CO2”
May be they should have called it OH-NO-CO2 .

More money going into a lost cause,,,,there is more than enough money going into Earth sciences…let’s go to Mars sooner rather than later.
…and cartoonmick, I presume you meant Mann, not Man

Steven Mosher says:
July 2, 2014 at 11:11 pm
—————————————–
Thanks for sharing the link to their main page.

Why do they need a satellite when they already have all the answers?
OK Mosh, why do they call the place “CO2 Virtual Science”? Really. Why? LOL. Sorry.

Truthseeker

“Now that we have a carbon dioxide spy in the sky, watch for its data to become either secret (if it doesn’t show what they expect) or front page news.”
My prediction is that the reported data will be front page news. If the raw data gives an outcome they do not expect, they will simply adjust it to conform to the alarmist narative.

pat

big in the MSM today, with most headlines a variation of “Caribbean coral reefs could be gone in 20 years” which the public will probably presume to be because of CAGW. however, UK Times’ Ben Webster sees it differently, having remembered previous CAGW scare stories on the subject no doubt:
3 July: Australian: Climate change wrongly blamed as lead cause of loss of Caribbean coral reefs, scientist says
by Ben Webster (UK Times)
A MISPLACED focus on the impact of climate change has delayed vital work to save vanishing coral reefs in the Caribbean, a leading scientist has claimed.
The area covered by live coral has more than halved since the 1970s, primarily because of overfishing and coastal pollution, according to Carl Gustaf Lundin, director of the global marine programme at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)…
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/world/climate-change-wrongly-blamed-as-lead-cause-of-loss-of-caribbean-coral-reefs-scientist-says/story-fnb64oi6-1226976146949?nk=471a10dc950a7ddb70fcedf12c494383#mm-premium
Guardian still manages to include CAGW as a “major threat”:
2 July: Guardian: Jessica Aldred: Caribbean coral reefs ‘will be lost within 20 years’ without protection
Major report warns that loss of grazing fish due to pollution and overfishing is a key driver of region’s coral decline
While climate change and the resulting ocean acidification and coral bleaching does pose a major threat to the region, the report – Status and Trends of Caribbean Coral Reefs: 1970-2012 – found that local pressures such as tourism, overfishing and pollution posed the biggest problems…
“Even if we could somehow make climate change disappear tomorrow, these reefs would continue their decline,” said Jeremy Jackson, lead author of the report and IUCN’s senior adviser on coral reefs. “We must immediately address the grazing problem for the reefs to stand any chance of surviving future climate shifts.”
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jul/02/caribbean-coral-reef-lost-fishing-pollution-report

rogerthesurf

I feel most sorry for the poor taxpayers who have had to fund this mission. As a part of excessive government spending, there is no doubt that many also paid for it with their jobs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hrg1CArkuNc

Cheers
Roger
http://www.thedemiseofchristchurch.com

David Schofield

“David says:
July 2, 2014 at 10:47 pm
How much carbon footprint did it leave when it launched?,”
Actually not that much. Liquid oxygen, hydrogen etc with a touch of kerosene. Lot of water vapour though!
It’s not rocket science………. 🙂

pat

***AP, to their credit, points out “experts” had blamed CAGW:
3 July: NZ Herald: AP: Colourful parrotfish key to saving Caribbean’s coral reefs?
Colourful parrotfish and spindly sea urchins are the key to saving the Caribbean’s coral reefs, which may disappear in two decades if no action is taken, a report by several international organisations said.
The report, which analysed the work of 90 experts over three years, said Caribbean reefs have declined by more than 50 percent since the 1970s.
***It said that while many experts have blamed climate change for the problem, a drop in the populations of parrotfish and sea urchins is largely responsible…
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=11287048

richardscourtney

Hurrah! At last! Some good news!
There has been much fuss about measurements of Arctic ice which have little use. The CO2 measurements address a basic tenet of the AGW-scare.
Nobody knows the cause(s) of the recent rise in atmospheric CO2 concentration. Some (e.g. the IPCC) say the cause is the small anthropogenic CO2 emission, and others (e.g. M Salby) say the cause is the much larger natural CO2 emission. Meanwhile, some others (e.g. me) point out that the available data does not demonstrate if the cause is anthropogenic, or natural, or some combination of anthropogenic and natural causes.
In a few years we will have data to analyse which may be able to replace the guesswork of e.g. the IPCC and the unjustifiable faith of e.g. cartoonmick (at July 2, 2014 at 10:53 pm). Science is about evidence and analysis: it is not about guesswork and faith.
Richard

Will NASA cover the whole world or supress the tropics, where CO2 happens to be highest. The Japanese GOSAT recently only partly shows the tropics:
http://1.2.3.11/bmi/www.gosat.nies.go.jp/eng/img/XCO2_L2_201308010831average_v02_21.png
In puplications from 2009 you can clerarly see that CO2 stems from tropical rainforests: http://www.gosat.nies.go.jp/eng/gallery/FTS_L2_SWIR_CO2_gallery.htm
Another inconvenient fact swept under the rug.

Patrick

“The instrument is precise enough that researchers will be able to count the number of carbon dioxide molecules in the layers of the atmosphere…”
It can measure all points at all times in all locations? Right! I wonder weather their algorythm will work as designed?

I doubt that the satellite’s measurement precision is sharp enough to count individual molecules, but it may help to know where the main natural sinks and sources of CO2 are, which may help to understand the details of the carbon cycle.
The main transfer is quite well known from O2 and δ13C changes: on seasonal level, there is a back and forth exchange of ~150 GtC (CO2 counted as carbon), of which ~90 GtC with the oceans and ~60 GtC with vegetation. The difference between natural ins and outs is also well known: currently ~4.5 GtC/year more sink than source, of which ~1 GtC/year into vegetation and the rest in the (deep) oceans.
Humans provide ~9 GtC/year, which means that any natural contribution to the increase is non-existent, despite the theoretical calculations of Salby and others, which violates several observations. See further:
http://www.ferdinand-engelbeen.be/klimaat/co2_origin.html
What the satellite may help with is to get a detailed insight of where the main natural variability in CO2 rate of change originates: the influence of e.g. an El Niño on intake/respiration/decay of the tropical forests, the influence of volcanic outbursts and similar events.
I have no problems with the money spent on this kind of satellites: this really increases our knowledge of the earth’s processes. Better spend it on good measurements than on multi-million dollar climate models which fail every time again…

Otto Weinzierl says:
July 3, 2014 at 12:28 am
In publications from 2009 you can clearly see that CO2 stems from tropical rainforests:
The tropical oceans are continuously emitting CO2 due to the upwelling of cold CO2-rich deep ocean waters at the end of the Great Conveyor Belt. At the start in the NE Atlantic a lot of CO2 is absorbed and sinks with the cold salty waters into the deep. The total amount is about 40 GtC/year as CO2 which takes 500-1500 years to return to the surface.
As long as the sink rates and source rates are equal, that will not influence the CO2 levels in the atmosphere. Currently there is more sink than source: because of the increased pressure of CO2 in the atmosphere, some 3 GtC/year more is sinking into the deep than is released from upwelling.

Joe Public

It’s sad that one of the world’s leading science blogs names the wrong substance in a post title.
Would it be soot, graphite or diamond the satellite’s supposed to be searching for?

Mac the Knife

Steven Mosher says:
July 2, 2014 at 11:11 pm
check here if youre (sic) paranoid about data hiding.. its a conspiracy
Steve,
I was doing some research into hard drive failures recently. Know what the # 1 cause of hard drive failures is in the US Internal Revenue Service over the last 5 years?
A [subpoena] duces tecum…..
Ask Lois ‘I take The Fifth’ Lerner, the disgraced head of the US Internal Revenue Service, and 5 other key IRS managers that also had improbable ‘hard drive failures’ and ‘required destruction of their hard drives’.
Check here, if youre (still sic) a snarky ‘conspiracy’ denyar on WUWT.
Mac

knr

Well that is the good news, and now the bad their already working on ‘adjustments’ that may be needed for its values should those values prove to be ‘problematic ‘

Mac the Knife

Damn my nerve damaged hands! subpeona “subpoena”

Don K

Ferdinand Engelbeen says:
July 3, 2014 at 1:10 am
The tropical oceans are continuously emitting CO2 due to the upwelling of cold CO2-rich deep ocean waters at the end of the Great Conveyor Belt. At the start in the NE Atlantic a lot of CO2 is absorbed and sinks with the cold salty waters into the deep. The total amount is about 40 GtC/year as CO2 which takes 500-1500 years to return to the surface. …

It sounds from your posts like you actually understand this stuff. I’ve been trying to sort through the media reporting on this satellite — which seems to me to be not of great quality. What I take away is that the atmospheric CO2 measurement program put into place by Keeling in the 1950s tells us that CO2 (unlike water vapor) is reasonably well mixed across the planet and is increasing. What this satellite is intended to do is tell us exactly where the CO2 originates and exactly where it is being removed from the atmosphere, And the quantities being sourced/sunk. Do I have that right or am I totally confused?

jim south london

Making more Hockey Sticks from Satellite Data

Greg Goodman

Wayne Delbeke says:
….. why do they call the place “CO2 Virtual Science”?
“CO2 Virtual Science” is what they’ve been doing for the last 30 years.
Now they can relate that to the USHCN “virtual temperature record”.

Bloke down the pub

Meanwhile, the ISEE3 reboot team have managed to fire the engines to spin up the satellite ready for the main insertion burn. http://spacecollege.org/isee3/

Gamecock

“The only way to accomplish a polar orbit from U.S. soil is to launch from Vandenberg,” said Tim Dunn, NASA’s launch manager for the flight.
I’m no rocket surgeon, but this is stupid.

Ack

It will be “worse than we thought”

Spindog

Is there any way a global map of CO2 emissions ‘hot spots’ will be described in alarming press releases showing they coincide with population centers? You bet. It will be wonderful to have a satellite to show us something we already know.

wsbriggs

My prediction is that it will find that CO2 is NOT a well mixed gas. It will find large sources of CO2 and lower levels of CO2 in the opposite places of what is expected. The biosphere will show it’s power

Greg Goodman

My prediction is that they will find Pettersson is right and there is much larger absorption of human emissions that is currently accepted, thus solving the “missing sink” problem…. then they will “correct” the data.