Susan Kulawik’s Work on NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO‑2) Mission Enters New Stage

The work of BAER’s Susan Kulawik on NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO‑2) mission now enters a new stage with the launch of the OCO-2 satellite on July 2, 2014.  The mission aims to provide scientists with new insight into the Earth’s carbon cycle.

Each day, more than one hundred million of tons of carbon dioxide are emitted into the atmosphere as a result of human activity.  Only around half of those emissions remain in the atmosphere, however.  Some of those emissions are captured by the oceans and some by plants, but to date, measurements have not allowed scientists to understand where.  The OCO-2 mission will explore this question by making and analyzing over a hundred thousand measurements each day with greater accuracy than current space-based instruments.  The observations will allow NASA and its collaborators to improve their state-of-the-art CO2 models to create a more accurate picture of Earth’s carbon cycle.

Dr. Kulawik has been a part of the OCO-2 science team for the last two years, analyzing synthetic satellite data to prepare for the arrival of measurements from the new satellite.  Her analysis has increased confidence in the predicted accuracy of OCO-2 which is critical for conclusions resulting from OCO-2 measurements.