NASA's First CO2-Monitoring Satellite Crashes Into the Sea

nasa OCO satellite image

What NASA's OCO Satellite would have looked like had it reached orbit. Image: NASA
Sad Day for Climate Science
Knowledge is power. The more we know about a problem, the better we can act to solve it. That's why today is a sad day. From the Times Online: "The centrepiece of Nasa’s $280 million climate-change mission crashed into the sea near Antarctica today, delivering a heavy blow to the agency’s attempts to chart global warming." The launch from the Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 1:55 am was successful (you can see a video below), but obviously something went terribly wrong...NASA made a blog about the launch, which you can read here.

From the AFP:

A fatal mission error occurred minutes after liftoff when a clamshell-like fairing that protects the satellite during its ascent failed to separate properly. [...]

It was the first time NASA had used a Taurus rocket, but Brunschwyler said the system has had a nearly perfect record in 56 previous flights with no issues with the fairing design.

"The liftoff was smooth," Jet Propulsion Laboratory spokesman Alan Buis told AFP.
"It was pretty far along in the ascent" over the Pacific Ocean when the "contingency" was declared, Buis said.

From the Times Online:

The Obama Administration has signalled its desire for Nasa to concentrate on such environmental monitoring and the launch failure comes at an embarrassing time for the agency as it awaits the White House’s appointment of a new head.

The agency already has five satellites in orbit, monitoring air and water temperatures, rainfall patterns and ozone levels.

The mission of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) satellite was to map the global distribution of carbon dioxide and study how it changes over time, NASA said in a statement.

You can see a video of the liftoff below:

via Times Online, AFP, WIRED
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