Scientists: Space Lasers Could Measure Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide

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Lasers: They’re more than just fun toys. The European Space Agency (ESA) recently demonstrated how lasers can accurately measure atmospheric CO2 levels. The A-SCOPE (Advanced Space Carbon and Climate Observation of Planet Earth) space mission is one of six being considered by the agency.

According to ESA scientists, atmospheric column CO2 can be measured from space using two short laser pulses emitted at adjacent wavelengths. As a result of the pulses, CO2 is absorbed by one of the wavelengths. The other wavelength is used as a reference point, and the comparison between the two shows the total column concentration of CO2.

A-SCOPE proponents believe that understanding more about the movement of carbon between the atmosphere, land, and ocean will improve estimates of the global carbon cycle’s future changes.

If the A-SCOPE mission is chosen, expect a launch in 2016.

Photo Credit: A-SCOPE

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