Hamilton Sundstrand spectrometers will enable scientists to measure carbon dioxide (CO2) concentrations throughout Earth’s atmosphere during NASA’s upcoming Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) mission. The mission is being led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Hamilton Sundstrand is a subsidiary of United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX) .

The spectrometers, designed by Hamilton Sundstrand’s Energy, Space & Defense facility in Pomona, Calif., will measure the global distribution of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere with unprecedented accuracy and spatial resolution. The spectrometers determine CO2 concentrations by measuring the fraction of light absorbed by CO2 and oxygen molecules in specific spectral ranges from the sunlight reflected off Earth’s surface.

“Hamilton Sundstrand is proud to play a crucial role in the Orbiting Carbon Observatory mission,” said Bob Leduc, Hamilton Sundstrand Flight Systems president. “Data recorded by Hamilton Sundstrand’s spectrometer will help scientists to understand carbon dioxide’s impact on global climate change, which is the first step to discovering ways to manage it.”

Hamilton Sundstrand’s spectrometers will be housed inside the OCO, NASA’s first spacecraft dedicated to making space-based atmospheric CO2 observations. The OCO is scheduled to launch at 1:51 a.m. PST Tuesday, Feb. 24, from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. It will map the global distribution of CO2 once every 16 days over its planned two year life. Orbital Sciences Corp. will provide the OCO’s Taurus(R) launch vehicle.

Scientists will use data captured by the Hamilton Sundstrand spectrometers to estimate atmospheric CO2 concentrations all over the globe. By monitoring how concentrations change with time, experts can identify the sources of CO2 in the atmosphere and the “sinks” that absorb it to understand CO2 dynamics, forecast future atmospheric concentrations, and determine how they may affect Earth’s climate. CO2 is a principal driver of human-produced climate change.

Hamilton Sundstrand, a partner in America’s space program since its inception, provides a number of power and environmental control systems for the International Space Station, space shuttle and the Orion crew exploration vehicle now under development. Hamilton Sundstrand has been the prime contractor to NASA for the space suit since the shuttle era began in 1981.

With 2008 revenues of $6.2 billion, Hamilton Sundstrand employs approximately 18,300 people worldwide and is headquartered in Windsor Locks, Conn. Among the world’s largest suppliers of technologically advanced aerospace and industrial products, the company designs, manufactures and services aerospace systems and provides integrated system solutions for commercial, regional, corporate and military aircraft. It also is a major supplier for international space programs.

United Technologies Corp., based in Hartford, Conn., is a diversified company providing high technology products and services to the building and aerospace industries worldwide.