NASA launches first carbon-tracking satellite

NASA on Wednesday launched a satellite to measure carbon dioxide levels, a move the agency’s chief Charles Bolden said would help document “the challenge of our generation,” climate change.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, or OCO-2, satellite is the first one dedicated to monitoring carbon dioxide in the globe's atmosphere.

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It is expected to help global leaders pinpoint emissions down to the country, state and city to determine which regions produce the most carbon dioxide.

"Climate change is the challenge of our generation, and with OCO-2 and our existing fleet of orbiting satellites, NASA is uniquely qualified to take on the challenge of documenting and understanding these changes, predicting the ramifications, and sharing information about these changes for the benefit of society," Bolden said in a statement on Wednesday.

Bolden added that the new satellite will help "reduce uncertainties in forecasts of future carbon dioxide buildup in the atmosphere and help us make more accurate predictions of global climate change."

OCO-2 will take up to 100,000 measurements per day, Bolden said.

The satellite launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California early Wednesday morning. It will provide new insight into locations and behavior of both carbon dioxide sources and “sinks,” regions where it is absorbed.