Data on atmospheric CO2 concentrations, at the highest spatial resolution ever acquired by a satellite instrument, are now available to the public from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Goddard Earth Sciences Data and Information Services Center (GES DISC), located in Greenbelt, Maryland. The data are provided to the GES DISC for archive and distribution by the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission. OCO-2 mission operations and data processing take place at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.
This announcement marks the OCO-2 Project release of the full-physics Level 2 retrieval of column CO2 concentrations, a unique and major addition to NASA’s collections of satellite observations of atmospheric CO2. At the recent American Geophysical Union 2014 Fall Meeting, the OCO-2 mission team showed the first glance at observed global atmospheric CO2 concentrations.
The preliminary maps of the total column CO2 concentrations from OCO-2 reveal seasonal changes and strong signatures from biomass burning regions (Figure 1), as well as the expected coverage of the data. Thus, early into its mission, OCO-2 is already revealing its potential to provide a new and unprecedented view of CO2 sources and sinks at the surface of the Earth.
OCO-2 was launched on a Delta II vehicle at 2:56 a.m. PDT (5:56 a.m. EDT) on Wednesday, July 2, 2014, from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. After the satellite reached its observational orbit at an altitude of 705 km, OCO-2 underwent several preliminary steps required for the initiation of atmospheric CO2 measurements. Following the successful “checkout” phase of the mission, OCO-2 commenced its scientific observation phase. The OCO-2 Project initiated the release of Level 1B calibrated radiance spectra on December 30, 2014.
OCO-2 has now been maneuvered into position to lead the “A-Train” constellation of Earth-observing satellites, which provides complementary Earth observations acquired nearly simultaneously by several different instruments (Figure 2). OCO-2 and the A-Train complete one Earth orbit every 99 minutes.
Figure 1. Averaged CO2 concentrations from OCO-2 for the period November 21-December 29, 2014. Elevated CO2 concentrations are evident over the region of biomass burning in central Africa, and over land masses in the northern latitudes, where the plant life has become dormant in autumn and hasceased to absorb CO2. The limits on OCO-2 observations at high latitudes to the north and south are imposed by the required Sun angle for data acquisition.
Figure 2. OCO-2 leads the “A-Train” satellite constellation and is followed by the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) GCOM-W1 satellite and the NASA Aqua, Calipso, CloudSat, and Aura satellites. The Parasol satellite no longer orbits in the A-Train, due to depletion of maneuvering propellant.
• README document summarizing the current and upcoming data releases, and important quality screening recommendations
• Documentation on the currently released products can be found at
• Product pages summarizing the essential details, including data access methods, are available from
• Users can directly download data from anonymous ftp at
For more information about OCO-2
A mailing list is established for everyone interested in updates on a monthly basis. We will notify users if there is new documentation, important announcements about the dataset, etc. We encourage everyone who downloads OCO-2 data to sign up to the oco2_updates email list. To subscribe, send an email to sympa at list.jpl.nasa.gov with the subject:
Users are also encouraged to visit the OCO-2 Project Web site at JPL, http://oco.jpl.nasa.gov/, for detailed information on the technical specifications and principles of operation of the OCO-2 spacecraft and sensor. The Web site also provides information on the physical basis of the CO2 data retrievals using the short infrared spectra acquired by the spacecraft.
Questions or comments? Email the NASA GES DISC Help Desk: firstname.lastname@example.org,