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Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory (EVM-2) (GeoCarb)

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Status: Eliminated
Mission Category: Earth System Science Pathfinder Program, Earth Venture Class, Earth Venture-Mission
Launch Date: 2024

UPDATE: On November 28, 2022, NASA cancelled the GeoCARB mission. This was due to technical concerns, cost performance, and availability of new alternative data sources, as well as to keep the Earth Science portfolio aligned with overall science priorities. 


NASA has selected a first-of-its-kind Earth science mission that will extend our nation’s lead in measuring key greenhouse gases and vegetation health from space to advance our understanding of Earth’s natural exchanges of carbon between the land, atmosphere and ocean. The Geostationary Carbon Observatory (GeoCarb), targeted for launch in the early 2020s, will build on the success of NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission by placing a similar instrument on a hosted satellite flying in geostationary orbit. Perched 22,236 miles (35,786 kilometers) above the Americas, GeoCarb will collect 10 million daily observations of the concentrations of carbon dioxide, methane, carbon monoxide and solar-induced fluorescence (SIF) at a spatial resolution of about 3 to 6 miles (5 to 10 kilometers). The primary goals of GeoCarb, led by Berrien Moore of the University of Oklahoma in Norman, are to monitor plant health and vegetation stress throughout the Americas, and to probe, in unprecedented detail, the natural sources, sinks and exchange processes that control carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide and methane in the atmosphere. The NASA-directed mission will launch on a hosted satellite to make observations over the Americas from an orbit of approximately 22,000 miles (35,800 kilometers) above the equator.

The GeoCarb instrument views reflected light from Earth through a narrow slit. When the slit is projected onto Earth’s surface, it sees an area measuring about 1,740 miles (2,800 kilometers) from north to south and about 3.7 miles (6 kilometers) from east to west. In comparison, OCO-2’s swath is about 6.2 miles (10 kilometers) wide. GeoCarb stares at that area for about 4-1/2 seconds, then the slit is moved half a slit width -- 1.9 miles, or 3 kilometers -- to the west, allowing for double sampling. With this technique, GeoCarb can scan the entire continental United States in about 2-1/4 hours, and from Brazil to South America’s West Coast in about 2-3/4 hours. It is not designed to observe the oceans, as reflectivity over the oceans is too low to provide useful data. The mission was competitively selected from 15 proposals submitted to the agency's second Earth Venture - Mission announcement of opportunity for small orbital investigations of the Earth system. GeoCarb is the second space-based investigation in the Earth Venture - Mission series of rapidly developed, cost-constrained projects for NASA's Earth Science Division.

Key Geostationary Carbon Cycle Observatory (EVM-2) Facts

Altitude:Distance from sea level. 35786km
Origination: NASA
Principal Investigator(s): Berrien Moore, University of Oklahoma
Other Key Personnel: Sean Crowell, University of Oklahoma, Deputy Principle Investigator
Todd King, NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, Project Manager