Photo via: Aaron Escobar
The Taurus XL crashed last Tuesday, postponing a 9-year, $280 million project which would have allowed Colorado State University (CSU) researchers to track carbon dioxide emissions and global warming over the course of the next two years. The rocket blasted off at 3AM (MT), Thursday from the California Vandenberg Air Force Base and then shortly crashed down near Antarctica. The protective cover failed to depart the rocket during flight, which added too much weight for it to reach orbit. This setback could bring us back several years as far as earth studies go.The Project at a Glance
The really neat part of this project, was that researchers were going to be able to at long last put some fact or fiction to the claims of how carbon dioxide is affecting global warming using a specially designed satellite. It was set to accomplish this by tracking the carbon dioxide deposits of oil, vehicles, coal plants, and various natural gas sources. The satellite would have been able to track just how much of these deposits were used by plants, soil, and the ocean, and how much were left over as excess.
National Academy of Sciences has already warned that NASA's study of Earth is falling way behind, and aging satellites and non-existent missions are the main culprit. So what's NASA spending all their money on? Finding new planets and lifeforms rather than worrying about the one right under their our own nose. Not that there is anything wrong with that, but that makes the failure of this mission, which had so much riding on it, that much worse!
The Consequences of the Projects Failure
Tuesday's failure has been rumored to now be postponing another NASA satellite launch, Glory, which was designed to gather information about solar radiation and airborne particles reflecting sunlight. It was set to use the very same Taurus XL, so NASA will need to find the cause of the malfunction of last weeks blast-off before they can continue with future missions.
But probably one of the biggest disappointments for CSU researchers is the questions on whether or not NASA will use the same satellite design. Researchers are pushing for it, considering they'd spent the last 9 years developing it. The climate change think-tank, Climate Central, has already ear-marked a portion of the $400 million of the stimulus money NASA will be receiving from the Obama administration for a follow-up mission staged to take place in the next couple years.
Climate Central says it makes more sense to move on with the next project and scrap the previous one for the time being. CSU says putting the mission off any longer could set planet research back even farther at a time when we really need to be getting caught up after years of neglect. We won't know the final outcome of the decision for another few weeks.
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