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GeoCarb: A new view of carbon over the Americas

11 January 2018

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A new NASA Earth science mission in the early stages of design may achieve a transformational advance in our understanding of the global carbon cycle by mapping concentrations of key carbon gases from a new vantage point: geostationary orbit. Satellites in geostationary orbit travel at the same speed as Earth's rotation, allowing them to remain over the same place on Earth's surface at all times.

The Geostationary Carbon Observatory (GeoCarb), targeted for launch in the early 2020s, will build on the success of NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission by placing a similar instrument on a commercial SES-Government Solutions communications satellite flying in geostationary orbit. Its longitude will allow "wall-to-wall" observations over the Americas between 55 degrees North and South latitude -- from the southern tip of Hudson Bay to the southern tip of South America. Perched 22,236 miles (35,800 kilometres) above the Americas, GeoCarb will collect 10 million daily observations of the concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and solar-induced fluorescence (SIF) at a spatial resolution of about 3 to 6 miles (5 to 10 kilometres).

Source: NASA

Image credit: NASA/Lockheed Martin/University of Oklahoma - Artist's illustration of a concept for NASA's GeoCarb mission

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