New program will monitor greenhouse gas impact on vegetation, if funding is to be continued.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) announced the agency plans to install a first-of-its-kind geostationary observatory to monitor the health of growing vegetation and the impact of greenhouse gasses to achieve a better understanding of naturally-occurring changes between the land, the atmosphere and the ocean.
The timing of the announcement comes amid growing speculation the Trump administration will cut funding for NASA’s Earth Science Division, although no proposals have yet been made by the President-Elect.
Dubbed the Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory (GeoCARB), the mission’s primary goal will be to monitor the stress of plants and vegetation across the Americas, and to provide in-depth analysis of the effects of natural carbon dioxide sources, carbon monoxide and methane in the Earth’s atmosphere.
Leader of the mission, Berrien Moore of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, will oversee the launch of a commercial communications satellite positioned at approximately 22,000 miles above the equator. Total funding from NASA will be around $166 million over the next five years, including the initial development stage, launching of the satellite and the analysis of the data gathered.
Partners on the mission, led by the Oklahoma GeoCARB team, include Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center, SES Government Solutions Company, Colorado State University, and NASA’s Ames Research Center, Goddard Space Flight Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
GeoCARB is second mission selected by the Earth Venture mission series of NASA projects for the Earth Science Division. The first, the Cyclone Navigation Satellite System, selected in 2012, is scheduled to launch from Florida on December 12 of this year.
The Earth Venture missions are targeted to compliment NASA’s larger research programs.
The GeoCARB will measure the total concentration of carbon dioxide, methane and carbon monoxide each day in the atmosphere between three to six miles above the surface, and compare the data to a measurement of solar-induced fluorescence, which directly relates to changes in vegetation stress.
“The GeoCARB mission breaks new ground for NASA’s Earth science and applications programs,” according to the director of the Earth Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, Michael Freilich. “GeoCARB will provide important new measurements related to Earth’s global natural carbon cycle, and will allow monitoring of vegetation health throughout North, Central and South America.”
More information can be found at the nasa.gov site located here.