NASA carbon observatory poised for launch to the International Space Station

Instrument will monitor the movement of carbon dioxide in parts of the planet that free-floating satellites have difficulty tracking.

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Atmospheric scientists are about to get the most detailed observations yet of the places on Earth that emit or store carbon. NASA’s latest carbon-monitoring instrument arrived at the International Space Station (ISS) on 6 May, where it will soon start collecting data.

The US$110-million Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) will be attached to the outside of the station. The probe will monitor areas of the planet that aren’t easily surveyed by carbon-measuring satellites1, collecting high-resolution data from larger regions than its predecessors. Researchers hope that the data from the three-year OCO-3 mission will increase their understanding of Earth’s carbon cycle, hone climate-change predictions and improve carbon dioxide measurements.

By: Emiliano Rodriguez Mega/Nature News

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