The OCO-3 mission: measurement objectives and expected performance based on 1...

Eldering, A., T. E. Taylor, C. O'Dell, and R. Pavlick (2019), The OCO-3 mission: measurement objectives and expected performance based on 1 year of simulated data, Atmos. Meas. Tech., 12, 2341-2370, doi:10.5194/amt-12-2341-2019.

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) is NASA’s next instrument dedicated to extending the record of the dry-air mole fraction of column carbon dioxide (XCO2 ) and solar-induced fluorescence (SIF) measurements from space. The current schedule calls for a launch from the Kennedy Space Center no earlier than April 2019 via a Space-X Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule. The instrument will be installed as an external payload on the Japanese Experimental Module Exposed Facility (JEM-EF) of the International Space Station (ISS) with a nominal mission lifetime of 3 years. The precessing orbit of the ISS will allow for viewing of the Earth at all latitudes less than approximately 52◦ , with a ground repeat cycle that is much more complicated than the polar-orbiting satellites that so far have carried all of the instruments capable of measuring carbon dioxide from space.

The grating spectrometer at the core of OCO-3 is a direct copy of the OCO-2 spectrometer, which was launched into a polar orbit in July 2014. As such, OCO-3 is expected to have similar instrument sensitivity and performance characteristics to OCO-2, which provides measurements of XCO2 with precision better than 1 ppm at 3 Hz, with each viewing frame containing eight footprints approximately 1.6 km by 2.2 km in size. However, the physical configuration of the instrument aboard the ISS, as well as the use of a new pointing mirror assembly (PMA), will alter some of the characteristics of the OCO-3 data compared to OCO-2. Specifically, there will be significant differences from day to day in the sampling locations and time of day. In addition, the flexible PMA system allows for a much more dynamic observation-mode schedule.

This paper outlines the science objectives of the OCO-3 mission and, using a simulation of 1 year of global observations, characterizes the spatial sampling, time-of-day coverage, and anticipated data quality of the simulated L1b. After application of cloud and aerosol prescreening, the L1b radiances are run through the operational L2 full physics retrieval algorithm, as well as post-retrieval filtering and bias correction, to examine the expected coverage and quality of the retrieved XCO2 and to show how the measurement objectives are met. In addition, results of the SIF from the IMAP– DOAS algorithm are analyzed. This paper focuses only on the nominal nadir–land and glint–water observation modes, although on-orbit measurements will also be made in transition and target modes, similar to OCO-2, as well as the new snapshot area mapping (SAM) mode.

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Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2)