Loss of Satellite to Monitor CO2 a Setback for Research
February 26, 2009 -- The rocket carrying NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory did not reach orbit due to the payload’s failure to separate, sending the satellite into the ocean near Antarctica. The observatory was to be NASA’s first effort to map carbon dioxide emissions in the Earth’s atmosphere from space.
In development for nine years, the observatory was meant to orbit Earth about 400 miles above the poles and monitor global carbon dioxide levels using a telescope and high-resolution spectrometers. Data from the satellite would have helped researchers better understand Earth's carbon cycle and make more accurate predictions of future climate change.
In recent years, the National Research Council has issued several reports that look at earth-observing satellites and their important roles in monitoring Earth's climate. Ensuring the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft recognizes the effects of the 2006 descoping of the program due to cost overruns and the purchase of fewer spacecraft, and recommends what NASA and NOAA should do to recover crucial capabilities lost in the NPOESS and GOES-R program.
Another report, Earth Science and Applications from Space: National Imperatives for the Next Decade and Beyond, analyzes the existing earth observing system of environmental satellites and recommends a prioritized list of flight missions and supporting activities to support national needs for research and monitoring of the dynamic Earth system during the next decade and beyond.Additional Resources: