Technicians prep the OCO-2 instrument for shipping at JPL. The instrument consists of three parallel, high-resolution spectrometers, integrated into a common structure and fed by a common telescope. Each spectrometer spreads reflected sunlight into its various colors like a prism, focusing on a different, narrow color range to detect light with the specific colors absorbed by carbon dioxide and molecular oxygen. The amount of light absorbed at these specific colors is proportional to the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.
OCO-2 is managed by JPL for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. Orbital Sciences Corporation, Dulles, Va., built the spacecraft and provides mission operations under JPL's leadership. The California Institute of Technology in Pasadena manages JPL for NASA.