You Win Some…

And Sometimes The Bear Eats You!

A NASA climatological satellite failed shortly after launch last night.  “Initial indications are the vehicle did not have enough [force] to reach orbit and landed just short of Antarctica in the ocean.”

Several news sources say the satellite fairing (the clamshell-like housing containing the satellite during launch) failed to open and separate after it was launched from Vandenburg AFB, in California.

The $273 million satellite, called the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, would have collected global measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the Earth’s atmosphere to help better forecast changes in carbon-dioxide levels and their effect on the Earth’s climate.

The OCO also would have provided information about CO2 “sinks” — areas, like oceans or landfills, that absorb and store carbon dioxide. NASA officials said all measurements would be combined with the findings of ground observation stations, providing a more complete account of the human and natural sources of CO2.

Orbital Sciences, based in Dulles, VA, built the vehicle.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Astronomy, Global Warming, Science, Space

4 Comments on “You Win Some…”

  1. Dan Cobb Says:

    This seems sadly representative of our collective human failure to understand or care about our dying planet. Serious science has been cut, we ignore the alarm bells as the planet warms, we don’t really have the desire to park the Lexus and take mass transit, and now, we can’t even succeussfuly put a carbon monitoring satellite into orbit. We are not serious about global warming. The screech smoke alarms fills the house. We are all but deaf. Do you hear something?

  2. joe Says:

    Dan, I think we disagree, at least a little here.

    I don’t see this failure as being caused by “our” (or NASA’s or Orbital’s) lack of concern about the environment. If anything, the fact the NASA has budget for earth sciences above and beyond NOAAs is a testimony to it’s commitment to the environment.

    Instead, I see the failure as the effect of the extreme difficulty of getting anything to orbit. It’s hard, after all. And NASA does it well enough, often enough that it’s easy to take the difficulty for granted.

    As for the fire alarms you hear, I’m convinced (as are many real scientists ;> ) that the science is more than weak. The press is not just the boy crying wolf, but the boy pulling those fire alarms.

    But that’s another topic!

    Thanks for reading.

  3. Rik Says:

    A climatological satellite crashes near Antarctica? Don’t worry. The science is flawed and the entire point of it’s mission was largely political and practically worthless anyway…CO2? no…wait…it cost $273 million tax dollars!

  4. joe Says:

    $273 M. is about half the cost of the mission to Pluto, Rik. So it’s true – we know the price.

    My question is, what is it’s value. If we’re going to base the science budgets on faulty data and suspect agendas, then I think the only reasonable answer is “We don’t know.”

    And thank you, too, for reading.


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