New Mission Ready to Extend NASA’s Study of Carbon




The Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3, or OCO-3, sits on the large vibration table (known as the “shaker”) in the Environmental Test Lab at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The exposed wires lead to sensors used during dynamics and thermal-vacuum testing. Thermal blankets will be added to the instrument at Kennedy Space Center, where a Space-X Dragon capsule carrying OCO-3 is slated to launch it to the International Space Station.

When the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3, OCO-3, heads to the International Space Station, it will bring a new view — literally — to studies of Earth’s carbon cycle. From its perch on the space station, OCO-3 will observe near-global measurements of carbon dioxide on land and sea, from just after sunrise to just before sunset. That makes it far more versatile and powerful than its predecessor.

The OCO-3 space instrument is the immediate successor to OCO-2, which has been studying carbon dioxide distribution and detecting emission hotspots and volcanoes since 2014.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-C