#Nasa OCO-2 satellite will measure carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere – an annotated infographic

Nasa is scheduled to launch its first spacecraft dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere on July 2014.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission will provide a more complete, global picture of the human and natural sources of carbon dioxide, as well as “sinks” – such as forests and oceans – which absorb and trap the gas.

OCO-2 will be Nasa’s second attempt to launch a satellite specifically for the purpose of monitoring carbon dioxide. The first OCO launch in 2009 unfortunately failed to reach orbit.

At approximately 400 parts per million, atmospheric carbon dioxide is now at its highest level in at least 800,000 years, according to Nasa data. The burning of fossil fuels and other human activities are currently adding almost 40 billion tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere each year, producing an unprecedented build-up of this greenhouse gas. Uh-oh.

Click on the graphic for an expanded view.

Nasa's OCO-2 satellite
Nasa’s OCO-2 satellite

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