Failed Satellite Launch Means Delay In ‘Unprecedented’ Accurate CO2 Readings

by | Feb 25, 2009

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After the failed launch of a satellite designed to monitor atmospheric CO2 with unprecedented accuracy, NASA and climate researchers are considering their options, the Washington Post reports.

The orbiting carbon observatory crashed into the Indian Ocean near Antarctica due to a malfunction that appeared to be caused by the protective nose cone, known as the fairing. The fairing failed to separate from the satellite. With the extra mass, the rocket did not have enough thrust to boost it into orbit.

The satellite would have monitored not only the source points of CO2 emissions but also the carbon “sinks,” such as forests and oceans, where carbon is taken out of the atmosphere. The satellite would have made about 8 million observations every 16 days, compared with 100 during that time under traditional methods.

It is too son to say whether NASA will attempt to launch a duplicate of the satellite, said Edward Weiler, NASA’s associate administrator for science.

Although the failed satellite launch means a delay in more accurate readings of the Earth’s CO2 output. New Google Earth maps created by NASA, Purdue University and the Department of Energy, can provide hourly readings of the amount of CO2 being dumped into the U.S. atmosphere, reported USA Today.

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