Scientists and citizens are rejoicing after the successful launch of NASA's carbon detecting observatory the OCO-3 by Space X this Saturday.
At 2:48 a.m. ET Saturday morning, Space X successfully launched NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3, sending OCO-3 to the International Space Station (ISS) where it will begin its carbon detecting mission.
Once attached to the ISS the "refrigerator-sized space machine" will monitor carbon dioxide levels across the globe.
The Saturday launched represented the end of a long journey for the OCO-3, which spent the last two years fighting technical issues and political headwinds on its way to space.
Liftoff! https://t.co/gtC39uBC7z https://t.co/IaHMvakoX7— SpaceX (@SpaceX)1556952588.0
Before OCO-3 even hit the launch pad though the scientific observatory faced considerable resistance getting off the ground. The Trump administration which has dismantled much of NASA's previous climate science research threw up roadblocks for Earth-monitoring devices in 2017 and 2018.
After the political hurdles were cleared though the launched faced further technical delays.
The launch was originally scheduled for late April but NASA asked Space X to reschedule until astronauts aboard the ISS could address a power distribution issue.
Then on Friday Space X decided to delay the launch another 24-hours while engineers fixed a power issue on the drone barge where the rocket lands upon reentry.
On Saturday though Space X's Falcon 9 rocket finally took off launching the OCO-3 towards its mission on the ISS.
You can view the full CRS-17 mission launch below.
CRS-17 Mission www.youtube.com
It was an important moment for Space X, NASA and climate research and many applauded the successful launch.
@SpaceX Be still my beating heart https://t.co/toiQ1TF5vo— Sara Boutall (@Sara Boutall)1556962475.0
@SpaceX LET'S GO https://t.co/ByA0a2O4pk— Isiah Woods (@Isiah Woods)1556952612.0
@SpaceX Yay! https://t.co/DFRZn2e6tv— 📎Random📝Notes📜 (@📎Random📝Notes📜)1556952688.0
@SpaceX I'm old enough to remember Sputnik-this never gets old.👍🇺🇸— Peter J. Carr (@Peter J. Carr)1556953036.0
@SpaceX https://t.co/bQklIOEvFN— N̷̛̠̗͚̍͌̕E̷̩̘̬͍̦͊͂͗̌V̶̟̻̠̎̒̈͆E̶̬̬̗̋̈Ŗ̴͍͎͈͙͠ (@N̷̛̠̗͚̍͌̕E̷̩̘̬͍̦͊͂͗̌V̶̟̻̠̎̒̈͆E̶̬̬̗̋̈Ŗ̴͍͎͈͙͠)1556952641.0
@SpaceX https://t.co/hjeHwwbjHL— Jasper Edwin Asir (@Jasper Edwin Asir)1556963116.0
@SpaceX Congratulations! That was awesome 😍🚀🚀🚀— Dr. Leilanie 👩🏻🏫📚🤖 (@Dr. Leilanie 👩🏻🏫📚🤖)1556953597.0
@SpaceX Congratulations to all the team!— Michael G. Cooper 🇬🇧 🇲🇽 (@Michael G. Cooper 🇬🇧 🇲🇽)1556975373.0
From its perch far above Earth the OCO-3 can detect carbon dioxide concentrations as low as 1 part per million. During its mission OCO-3 will not only monitor carbon emitting areas like cities and countries but also carbon reducing regions of the world like oceans and forests.
"Carbon dioxide is the most important gas humans are emitting into the atmosphere," said Annmarie Eldering, project scientist for the OCO-3 at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in a February interview with Mashable. "Understanding how it will play out in the future is critical."
But according to researchers the most critical element will be time. The OCO-3 is picking up its mission where OCO-2 left off and for researchers long-term data is a crucial component of climate science that allows that allows them to follow environmental trends.
"The longer the records grow, the more important they become," Pontus Olofsson, an associate research professor at Boston University told Mashable. "It's like an exponential increase in importance."
Researchers hope such data will help us in further understanding the effects of high carbon levels in our atmosphere which are currently the highest concentrations have been in the last 15 million years.