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Nasa launches satellite to track CO2 in the atmosphere

NASA satelliteA rocket carrying a Nasa satellite lit up the pre-dawn skies Wednesday on a mission to track atmospheric carbon dioxide, the chief culprit behind global warming.

The Delta 2 rocket blasted off from California at 2.56 am and released the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 satellite in low-earth orbit 56 minutes later, bringing relief to mission officials who lost a similar spacecraft five years ago.

The flight was "a perfect ride into space," said Ralph Basilio, the OCO-2 project manager, at a post-launch press conference.

Power-supplying solar arrays deployed, initial checks showed the spacecraft was healthy and two-way communications were established, he said.

The launch was canceled on Tuesday morning because of a failure in ground equipment.

Nasa tried in 2009 to launch a satellite dedicated to studying carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas caused by the burning of fossil fuels. A satellite plunged into the ocean off Antarctica after a hardware failure with the Taurus XL rocket.

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