A NASA satellite that would have served as a space-bound monitoring system for carbon emissions and capture across the globe failed to reach orbit at 01:55 PST as it was launched from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.
If the mission had been successful, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory would have been the first instrument to relay detailed information on carbon emissions and sinks near the Earth’s surface back to scientists.
NASA says initial indications for the failed launch was the fairing on the Taurus XL launch vehicle, which failed to separate. The fairing is a clamshell structure that encapsulates the satellite as it travels through the atmosphere. A Mishap Investigation Board has been convened by NASA to determine the cause of the accident.
The crash represents a major blow to climate change scientist worldwide.
Here are five quick facts about the OCO from NASA:
– It will study carbon dioxide sources (where it comes from) and sinks (where it is pulled out of the atmosphere and stored). Carbon dioxide is a major contributor to global warming. The new data will help scientists more accurately forecast global climate change.
– Data collected by the OCO mission may help policymakers and leaders make more informed decisions to ensure climate stability and retain our quality of life.
– Scientists don’t know why the amount of carbon dioxide absorbed by Earth’s natural ocean and land “sinks” varies dramatically from year to year. These sinks help limit global warming. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory will help scientists better understand what causes this variability and whether natural absorption will continue, stop or even reverse.
– Data collected by OCO will help solve the mystery of “missing” carbon–the 30 percent of human-produced carbon dioxide that disappears into unknown places.
– The Orbiting Carbon Observatory will yield 8-million carbon dioxide measurements every 16 days. That’s a dramatic increase over current data available from today’s small network of instruments on the ground, on tall towers and in aircraft, and from limited space observations.
Scientists is expected to turn to a Japanese carbon monitoring satellite called, GOSAT, launched last month, as an alternative.
Category: Climate change