Featured Image (Credits ISRO)

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

ULA Delta II Successfully Launches OCO-2 for NASA

Delta 2 launch with OCO-2.

A United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket carrying the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) payload for NASA lifted off from Space Launch Complex-2 at 2:56 a.m. PDT July 2 2014. 56 minutes into the mission, the launcher successfully put the satellite into its intended orbit. 

This launch marks the 51st Delta II mission for NASA and Delta II’s return to flight as the first of two planned Delta II launches this year, and also the seventh ULA launch of 2014 and the 84th since the company was formed. This was mission's second launch attempt after it was scrubbed 24 hours before. 

Mission Profile

Target orbit: Sun Synchronous
Delta 2 51st mission Profile. (Credit ULA)
OCO-2 Satellite

OCO-2 Satellite.
Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) is NASA’s first dedicated Earth remote sensing satellite that will be studying carbon dioxide (CO2) in earth's atmosphere from space. OCO-2 will be collecting space-based global measurements of atmospheric CO2 with the precision, resolution, and coverage needed to characterize sources and sinks on regional scales. OCO-2 will also be able to quantify CO2 variability over the seasonal cycles year after year. It will help in enhancing the current understanding of the global carbon cycle and of the sustainability of natural carbon sinks like oceans. 

Understanding the Carbon Cycle.
OCO-2 is second attempt in launching such a satellite after its identical predecessor was destroyed in a ill-fated launch attempt on 24 Feb. 2009The mass of the entire observatory, spacecraft bus and instrument, is approximately 450 kg. 
The OCO-2 spectrometers will measure sunlight reflected off the Earth's surface. The OCO-2 instrument uses diffraction grating to separate the inbound light energy into a spectrum of multiple component colors. The reflection gratings used in the OCO-2 spectrometers consist of a very regularly-spaced series of grooves that lie on a very flat surface.

The Observatory will fly with a series of other Earth orbiting satellites, known as the Earth Observing System Afternoon Constellation or the A-train. These satellites all cross the equator at approximately noontime, a few minutes apart from each other.

NASA's A-Train Constellation. (Credit NASA)

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