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Lift off!

World Cement,

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) has been successfully launched. The OCO-2 lifted off from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, USA, on a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket at 2.56 am Pacific Time on 2 July.

The OCO-2 is on a 2-year mission to study atmospheric carbon dioxide. It will locate sources of CO2 on Earth, in addition to storage places. It will begin its science operations in around 45 days time. The observatory will collect over 100 000 individual measurements of CO2 every day by sampling the atmosphere above the Earth’s land and waters across the sunlit hemisphere. Scientists will begin archiving the data in approximately six months time, and hope to release their first initial estimates of atmospheric CO2 concentrations in 2015.

“This challenging mission is both timely and important,” commented Michael Freilich, Director of the Earth Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. “OCO-2 will produce exquisitely precise measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations near Earth's surface, laying the foundation for informed policy decisions on how to adapt to and reduce future climate change.”

The latest update from NASA reveals that the OCO-2 has separated from the rocket and has begun unfurling its twin solar rays. The two stages of the rocket have also separated and the fairing encapsulating the OCO-2 has now opened and been jettisoned.

Keep track of the observatory's progress here.

Adapted from press release by

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