In the Astrotech payload processing facility on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Orbital Sciences workers and technicians secure NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, or OCO-2, onto a test fixture.
Testing and launch preparations now will get underway for its launch from Space Launch Complex 2 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta II rocket, scheduled for July 1, 2014. The observatory will collect precise global measurements of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere and provide scientists with a better idea of the chemical compound's impacts on climate change. Scientists will analyze this data to improve our understanding of the natural processes and human activities that regulate the abundance and distribution of this important atmospheric gas. OCO-2 is a NASA Earth System Science Pathfinder Program mission managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL in Pasadena, California, for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Orbital Sciences built the spacecraft and provides mission operations under JPL’s leadership. To learn more about OCO-2, visit http://oco.jpl.nasa.gov. Photo credit: NASA/Doug Gruben, 30th Space Wing