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NASA’s OCO-2 mission

Graphic News

July 1, 2014 -- NASA is scheduled to launch its first spacecraft dedicated to measuring carbon dioxide levels in Earth’s atmosphere. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) mission will provide a more complete, global picture of the human and natural sources of carbon dioxide, as well as “sinks” – such as forests and oceans – which absorb and trap the gas.

OCO-2 will be NASA's second attempt to launch a satellite specifically for the purpose of monitoring carbon dioxide. The first OCO launch in 2009 failed to reach orbit.

At approximately 400 parts per million, atmospheric carbon dioxide is now at its highest level in at least 800,000 years, according to NASA. The burning of fossil fuels and other human activities are currently adding almost 40 billion tonnes of CO2 to the atmosphere each year, producing an unprecedented build-up of this greenhouse gas.

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28 years ago — April 2, 1991 — the original Graphic News launched using a precursor to today’s websites that used email technology. These enabled infographics to be delivered electronically around the world over telephone lines. What was possible was very limited - It took 10 minutes for a 100K file to download.

Since then delivery speeds and website technology have moved on. The new website will offer the best online experience possible now, adding many new features (and offering new opportunities for the future), but still enabling existing users to select and download infographics and enjoy the distinct brand of visual journalism that is Graphic News.

Over the coming weeks I will give further information. Please contact me if you have any questions. Fiona Roberts, froberts @