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Health, Science & Environment

U of U Atmospheric Scientist Counting Down OCO-2 Launch Wednesday

File: NASA

University of Utah atmospheric scientist John Lin is eagerly awaiting a second launch attempt of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2, early tomorrow morning. Lin is a member of the NASA team studying carbon dioxide around the world. He plans to see the liftoff in person at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This morning’s planned launch of the satellite was scrubbed due to a problem with the Delta-2 rocket. Lin says once the satellite is in space, they’ll not only be able to study the huge carbon dioxide plumes from the mega-cities around the world but more importantly where the CO2 goes. He says NASA is very interested in what is called ‘the missing sink,’ where half of the world’s CO2 is being absorbed.

“So that’s a big mystery still. After several decades of research we still don’t know which parts of the world that’s happening,” says Lin.

He says this launch has been a long time coming and it has added personal significance for him.

“Because I’m bringing my family and I think that hits home to a certain respect because we think about the climate for the future for my 3-year-old daughter," says Lin. "I also have a 6 month old baby and I think about what the planet will be like when they grow up.”

Lin says his kids will likely won’t remember the launch, even if they are awake for the scheduled launch at 3:56 am MDT Wednesday July 2nd, but the lack of sleep for him is well worth it.

Updated on 7/3/14: The Delta-II rocket lofted off as scheduled on July 2nd at 3:56 am MDT from the site at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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