On Saturday, a Falcon 9 launcher with a Dragon freighter was launched from the SLC-40 complex at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. Aboard the ship on the CRS-17 mission, among other things, there are a number of experiments, including an environmental observatory for resource monitoring and the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3).
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Dragon is coming to the ISS international station today. At a distance of 10 m in front of the station, the ship will be captured by the robotic arm Canadarm 2, which is to be controlled by ISA astronaut David Saint-Jacques. Later, Dragon will be connected to the lower node of the Harmony module.
Through the obstacles to the stars
Later, the OCO-3 will be moved from the Dragon's cargo compartment to the outside of Japan's Kibó module, from where it will monitor CO concentrations.2 In the atmosphere.
OCO-3 is the successor to the OCO-2 Space Observatory, launched less than five years ago. The device will accurately monitor locations on Earth (cities and areas) that emit a lot of carbon dioxide. At the same time, it will also focus on areas where CO2 of the atmosphere (oceans and forests). A large number of OCO-3 measurements will be of great benefit to scientists who need long-term observations to detect trends and discover new connections.
The OCO-3 includes three sensitive spectrometers that provide high-resolution data capture and accuracy. I can detect concentrations of CO2 with an accuracy of 1 ppm (part per million). The duration of the mission is three years.
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"Carbon dioxide is the most important gas that people release into the atmosphere, so it's critical to understand their behavior in the future," said Annmarie Eldering, an OCO-3 scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The OCO-3 never made it to space. In 2017 and 2018, the climate-proof Trump administration – the US president himself – is a denial of climate change, trying to reduce Earth's monitoring experiments.
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"It has been said that OCO-3 will not fly," said Britton Stephens of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, who works on the OCO-3 scientific team. The project went through many ups and downs, but thanks to NASA's leadership and congressional support, the OCO-3 was able to move forward and eventually move into space.
The Latin phrase "per aspera ad astra" (through obstacles to the stars) was symbolically fulfilled.
Climate modeling is more important today than ever and more than most of us imagine. Hot summer anomalies and precipitation, from prolonged droughts to floods that we have been observing for years, are just a prelude to what will come in the future.
Importantly, this is not about the consequences of our current emissions. Climate cycles and air currents affect the temperature of ocean currents, but it works with a delay of several decades. So we were able to "sow" the current climate extravaganza 20 or 30 years ago. In other words, even if we immediately reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero, the colossus of the Earth's climate mechanism will continue to remain inertia throughout the generation.
All the more so since the production of CO2 we can only gradually reduce, we can not avoid climate change. In order to anticipate their specific impacts, long-term and accurate measurements of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere are essential.
"The longer the measurement records are collected, the more important they become," said Pontus Olofsson, a professor at Boston University who uses satellites to search the Earth's carbon cycle. The launch of the OCO-3 Observatory should therefore be seen as a step in the right direction.