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The Orbiting Carbon Observatory, a pioneering and very important satellite was lost today:

After lifting off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, a protective shroud holding the Orbiting Carbon Observatory failed to separate, dooming the mission. The extra weight caused the satellite to fall back to Earth. It splashed down in the ocean just north of Antarctica.

This is a great disappointment, to say the least.  Built by Jet Propulsion Laboratories, this satellite was the first designed specifically to monitor carbon cycles and movement in our atmosphere, oceans and on the Earth's surface.  I sincerely hope that NASA gets right to work building another.  I can't think of a more important mission, frankly.

From Discovery News:

"We will uncover all kinds of patterns and cycles in carbon dioxide that people never thought existed. It'll be just like when the first ozone measurements were made," said project scientist Chip Miller, with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif.

"We get at the question of the sources of carbon dioxide and see how much is pulled out (of the atmosphere) by land and how much by seas," he said.

If you're of a mind, call your congressional person to urge support for re-doing this mission, even before anyone speaks up in opposition.  It ought to be fast-tracked.

Hope you're having a better morning than NASA and JPL.

Originally posted to Hjiorst on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 07:25 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Ultimate Irony: It killed a Polar Bear (2+ / 0-)

    Just kidding.

    But it probably did.

    If spittle & tooth=vigor & youth Bill-O & Savage won't grow any older If wishes & dreams=bitches & beams We'll all live in skyscrapers bu

    by TooFolkGR on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 07:26:08 AM PST

  •  Fucking hell... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    greendem, ColoTim

    The luck NASA has been having this year.  What the fuck.

    •  Did you see how long it took for the Japanese (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Wee Mama, Fabian

      to get there moon shot off the ground ?

      http://www.msnbc.msn.com/...
      "The launch is about four years behind schedule due to rocket failures and technical glitches."

      Slow and steady wins the race .
      They know how to do it .

      "F..k It, We'll Do It Live"
      Is not the way to success .

      Sailing on a sea of angry words and insults is no fun at all .

      by indycam on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 07:47:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm a space policy geek... (0+ / 0-)

        Believe me, I'm the first to say that NASA knows it's stuff.  I'm very much with you on that fact.

        But still, this year - so far - has just been brutal to NASA.  It's not something NASA is doing wrong, just a string of luck (and some neglect from the Obama Administration).  I'm intending to do a diary on it actually.

        It just feels like right now NASA is paddling upstream, unfortunatly.

        •  "neglect from the Obama Administration" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          KenBee

          OK , Obama is at fault for neglect ?
          Damn that Obama for not getting elected 8 years ago .
          What the hell was he doing that was so important that he put off being the president for 8 long years ? What an SOB he is to have just sat on his hands when he could have been in the oval office . I tell you what , I never trusted him ever sense he gave bush the keys to the white house .

          Sailing on a sea of angry words and insults is no fun at all .

          by indycam on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 09:50:14 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Uh, calm it down. (0+ / 0-)

            I don't know why you're lashing out...but relax.

            I'm not screaming angrily at President Obama or anything.  I'm not calling for his head on a pike.  I'm not railing against his failed Presidency.

            President Obama hasn't named a NASA Admin.  Right now, the guy who was the Assitant Admin to Griffin (Bush appointed) is merely acting as the admin.  Nor are there any names of anyone even being floated about being considered.  The Transition team dived deep into alternate senarios to the current Ares program, but everything fell flat on it's face once Obama got into office.

            Obama has bigger fish to fry than NASA.  I'm not insensititve to the crisis we're in, and wholey agree his attention SHOULD be on the economy.  A collapsed economy sure didn't help the Russians continue it's venture to space.  It's in our overall best interest for Obama to stay focused on the economy (though it can be argued that NASA can contibute to that discussion).

            But that doesn't mean NASA is not being neglected at the moment.

            It is.

            And that's merely one of a series of "bummers" that NASA has been hit with this year anyways.

            •  "lashing out..." ? (0+ / 0-)

              I am laughing at the absurdity of the thought that Obama had anything to do with any of this .

              I thought for sure the meant to say bush and you just miss typed Obama's name . I see now from your post above , you really did mean to type Obama .

              Sailing on a sea of angry words and insults is no fun at all .

              by indycam on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 10:14:24 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

        •  "just a string of luck" (0+ / 0-)

          When the launch is given the green light over the objection of an engineer , thats not bad luck .
          When the green light is given for a reentry after damage has been done , thats not bad luck .

          There is a problem with Nasa that needs fixing .
          Its not bad luck , imho .
          A zero defect , no redo , no failure post launch ,
          should be the rule .

          Sailing on a sea of angry words and insults is no fun at all .

          by indycam on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 09:59:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Where's Michael Chricton when you need him? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm sure he'd write a techno-thriller about this -- in which the intrepid heroine discovers that a group on prominent environmentalists, including a former Vice President, were behind the downing of the satellite, because it would reveal some inconvenient truths.

    Truly (another) sad day for NASA

  •  Ah, great (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ColoTim

    I wonder which Republican/Corporatist mole ensured that the shroud release mechanism would fail?

    ;)

    I realize there's failures going into space periodically, but this was a rather important data gathering capability to utilize.  Darn.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 07:41:55 AM PST

  •  sucks, but this happens sometimes (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, wader, Fabian, C Barr

    If it was easy, it wouldn't be rocket science, after all.

    Indeed, though, we should urge representatives to fund ongoing efforts and not let this drop.

    dissent not only welcome... but encouraged

    by newfie53523 on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 07:48:12 AM PST

  •  Another Irony (0+ / 0-)

    didn't the rocket have to emit CO2 so that the satellite can be placed in orbit? just sayin :/

    McCain/Failin '08.

    by Aspe4 on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 07:53:31 AM PST

  •  Hard not to be a conspiracy theorist some days. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, ColoTim

    (n/t)

  •  it's not the only emission tracking satellite (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Wee Mama, wader, Fabian, KenBee, seancdaug

    we aren't blind.

    The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) launched the world’s first satellite dedicated to tracking global greenhouse gases (GHG) emissions. This will significantly increase our knowledge of their origin.

    Dubbed Ibuki the new satellite will collect data in 56,000 locations around the world and most specifically in developing countries, where exact figures are lacking.

    Tracking in a first time carbon dioxide emissions, it could also provide more useful data and be used for methane, another important greenhouse gas.

    (0.12, -3.33) ONE America! Yes! We really are ONE America!

    by terrypinder on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 08:02:17 AM PST

  •  This is truly horrible news. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Fabian, chapter1, JeffW

    This is truly horrible news for earth scientists across the country.  This would have been a great improvement in tracking carbon dioxide from its source to its destination (if any).

    Fortunately for science, the Japanese launched their carbon observatory a month ago.  I hope they let us read their results.  

    2009: Year of the Donkey. Let's not screw it up.

    by Yamaneko2 on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 08:12:20 AM PST

  •  For what it is worth, JPL didn't build the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, KenBee, dougymi

    satellite.  Orbital Sciences Corporation built the satellite, and the launch vehicle.  JPL built the instrument.  NASA itself had little to do with this other than to serve as the funding arm and provide top level oversight.

    "What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them..." Amen.

    by nsfbr on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 09:00:57 AM PST

    •  this is not quite right (0+ / 0-)

      probably too late, as I've been at the OCO wake all day. you see, I am on the team.  The instrument was built largely by Hamilton-Sundstrand corporation, though some of the engineering was built at JPL.  There were all sorts of people at JPL involved in the management.  And then some people like me at universities involved in data processing.

  •  Everyone knows Cheney shot it down (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, dougymi

    with his Death Ray.

    •  His Heat Seeking Moisture Missle? (0+ / 0-)

      A learning experience is one of those things that says, 'You know that thing you just did? Don't do that.' Douglas Adams

      by dougymi on Tue Feb 24, 2009 at 10:52:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

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