NASA's newest satellite is on a mission to track carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere.
The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, or OCO-2, satellite is scheduled to launch this week. The satellite is NASA’s first mission dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide levels in our atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving climate-related changes on Earth. Scientists estimate that current concentrations in the atmosphere are the highest they have been in 800,000 years. The gas enters the atmosphere through natural processes and human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels. Half of these emissions stay in the atmosphere while half dissolves into oceans, rivers and lakes or becomes absorbed by plants on land. The OCO-2 satellite will produce a global map of carbon dioxide about every two weeks, allowing scientists to locate ground sources and monitor how levels worldwide are changing over time. Watch the video to learn more.