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Mission

The Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3) is a space instrument that will investigate important questions about the distribution of carbon dioxide on Earth as it relates to growing urban populations and changing patterns of fossil fuel combustion. OCO-3 will explore, for the first time, daily variations in the release and uptake of carbon dioxide by plants and trees in the major tropical rain forests of South America, Africa, and South-East Asia, the largest stores of above ground carbon on our planet. Measuring the daily variations in these major carbon systems addresses an important missing component in our knowledge and is crucial for explaining global variations in atmospheric carbon dioxide levels. NASA will develop and assemble the instrument using spare materials from OCO-2 and host the instrument on the International Space Station (expected launch date no earlier than 2018).