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Proceedings Paper

The NASA orbiting carbon observatory: measuring the column-averaged atmospheric CO2 mole franction abundance from Space
Author(s): David Crisp; Charles E. Miller; Philip L. DeCola
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Paper Abstract

The NASA Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) will make space-based measurements of atmospheric CO2 with the precision, resolution, and coverage needed to characterize CO2 sources and sinks on regional scales and quantify their variability over the seasonal cycle. This Earth System Science Pathfinder (ESSP) mission will be launched in late 2008 and will fly in a 705 km altitude, 1:26 PM sun-synchronous polar orbit that provides near-global coverage of the sunlit hemisphere with a 16-day ground track repeat cycle. OCO carries a single instrument that incorporates 3 high resolution grating spectrometers that will make boresighted measurements of reflected sunlight in near-infrared CO2 and molecular oxygen (O2) bands. These measurements will be combined to provide spatially resolved estimates of the column-averaged CO2 dry air mole fraction, XCO2. The instrument collects 12 to 24 XCO2 soundings/second over the sunlit portion of the orbit, yielding 200 to 400 soundings per degree of latitude, or 7 to 14 million soundings every 16 days. Thick clouds and aerosols will reduce the number of soundings available for XCO2 retrievals by 80-90%, but the remaining data is expected to yield XCO2 estimates with accuracies of ~0.3 to 0.5% (1 to 2 ppm) on regional scales every month.

Paper Details

Date Published: 3 October 2006
PDF: 10 pages
Proc. SPIE 6361, Sensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites X, 63610H (3 October 2006); doi: 10.1117/12.689570
Show Author Affiliations
David Crisp, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Charles E. Miller, Jet Propulsion Lab. (United States)
Philip L. DeCola, NASA Headquarters (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 6361:
Sensors, Systems, and Next-Generation Satellites X
Roland Meynart; Steven P. Neeck; Haruhisa Shimoda, Editor(s)

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