Bakersfield space and science fans who got up early (or stayed up late) Tuesday morning to watch the launch of a satellite from Vandenberg Air Force Base will get another chance tomorrow. NASA announced today that it will try again to launch the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) Wednesday morning, July 2, at 2:56 a.m. (PDT).
The original launch scheduled for today was scrubbed due to a problem with a valve in the launch pad water suppression system. The problem could not be resolved prior to the original launch date, therefore, NASA called it off less than a minute before lift-off.
Because Vandenberg is only about 100 miles to the west/southwest of Bakersfield, residents can often see the exhaust trail of missions launched from the base's Space Launch Complex. Such launches are a spectacular site to see, especially when they occur shortly after sundown. Sunlight hitting the upper atmosphere and the rocket exhaust, as well as swirling winds, make for eerie and mesmerizing views.
OCO-2 is NASA’s first mission dedicated to studying atmospheric carbon dioxide, the leading human-produced greenhouse gas driving changes in Earth’s climate. Data gathered from it will be used to determine sources of carbon dioxide emissions on the planet as well as "sinks" where carbon dioxide is removed. NASA says that the mission will produce the most detailed picture to date of these sinks and sources, as well as determining how they are distributed and change over time.
Increasing concentrations of CO2 in the atmosphere are of concern because of its effects on global temperatures and climate. Recent measurements have shown that concentrations of CO2 have been over 400 ppm for the last three months in a row. Experts in the field say these levels have not been seen for at least 800,000 to 15 million years.
Live television coverage of the launch will also be available from NASA. Those wishing to view the launch in more detail may stream it online at the following link: OCO-2 tv coverage