It all began so hopefully. Al Gore proposed the satellite in 1998, at the National Innovation Summit at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Gazing skyward from the podium, the vice president described a spacecraft that would travel a full million miles from Earth to a gravity-neutral spot known as the L1 Lagrangian point, where it would remain fixed in place, facing the sunlit half of our planet. It would stream back to NASA video of our spherical home, and the footage would be broadcast continuously over the Web.
Not only would the satellite provide "a clearer view of our world," Gore promised, but it would also offer "tremendous scientific value" by carrying into space two instruments built to study climate change: EPIC, a polychromatic imaging camera made to measure cloud reflectivity and atmospheric levels of aerosols, ozone and water vapor; and NISTAR, a radiometer. NISTAR was especially important: Out in deep space, it would do something that scientists are still unable to do today directly and continuously monitor the Earth's albedo, or the amount of solar energy that our planet reflects into space versus the amount it absorbs.
We know some things about the Earth's albedo. We know that solar radiation is both absorbed and reflected everywhere on Earth, by granite mountaintops in New Hampshire and desert dunes in Saudi Arabia. We know that cloud cover also reflects some of it. We also know that increased concentrations of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases are currently causing the planet to retain more solar energy than it once did. But there is much we don't know, because we don't have a way to directly and constantly monitor albedo on a global scale—that is, to directly observe a key indicator of global warming.
To understand changes in the Earth's climate, scientists rely on multiple and frequent readings of precipitation, temperature, aerosol and ozone levels, and a variety of other measurements, many of which are taken by Earth-monitoring satellites run by agencies such as NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the European Space Agency. But these spacecraft are all relatively close—at least 50 times as close as the L1 point—so their utility is limited. No space agency has ever launched a satellite capable ofseeing the whole Earth as a single, solar-energy-processing orb.
The agency expedited the program, with the goal of moving from conception to launch in three years, instead of the standard five or six. Giulio Rosanova, the mechanical-systems lead engineer for Triana, remembers bringing pepperoni rolls into work on Fridays, to cajole his crew of 15 into coming in on weekends. "We were excited," Rosanova says.
In those days, optimism abounded in NASA's earth-sciences division. In a promotional video, the agency suggested that its planet-monitoring mission would extend beyond Triana—that a subsequent companion satellite would be dispatched to L2, 930,000 miles away from Earth in the opposite direction, where it could constantly monitor the dark half of our planet. Together the two satellites would continuously watch the entire globe.
But in 2001, just a few months after the inauguration of George W. Bush, Triana's launch plan was quietly put on hold. "We were preparing to transport it to the launch site when we heard," Rosanova says. Instead, they wheeled the $100-million satellite into storage.
Let politics be put aside, and Let it fly!
Good grief. There are times when I think we would all be better off just going back to being monarchies. At least then things get DONE.
What a tragic waste of a perfectly good crate. This vulture wouldn't be commended at a 6th
grade science fair.
Lions, tigers, and bears, OH MY!!! What do you suppose would happen if this satellite were to reveal that most of the heat energy that stabilizes the climate of the earth actually comes from the interior of the earth rather than from the sun? What if it revealed that human industrial activity had negligible effect on global warming and cooling?
Lewis Coleman: And your point is, what? To stir the pot with a pointless and antagonistic comment? One goal of science is to get to the truth of the matter. If this one satellite - out of many Earth observing satellites launched so far - subtracts from the current thrust of climate change science, then so be it. At least we'll know and can move forward.
I have a feeling, however, that instead of invalidating what all other Earth observation science is confirming, DSCOVR will add to the on-going climate change theory and will keep us moving in the right direction, right wing turd-tossing notwithstanding.
The turd tossing is very true, and I wouldn't put it past Big Oil and their lobbyists in having something, if not everything, to do with shelving the idea of this. With indesputable proof of emissions changing the climate Big Oil would be FORCED to take a much more aggressive stance regarding climate change. OPEC would be forced to divest MASSIVE amounts of money to researching alternative fuel sources that would not only lower their profits, but leave them cast in a very negative light in the court of public opinion. The name drop of Cheney actually says a lot here being as his financial contributors could have a vested interest in keeping this project on the ground. Nobody wants to decrease their paychecks. Its very sad when big business and profits have become far more important than leaving a lasting legacy for future generations and innovating newer and greener energy sources.
The most logical reason that this thing was mothballed was its unique perspective for observation. Currently there are no other satellites able to observe all others, this one would be able to. The military of all countries do not want this, especially in hands of civilians.
The seeker of knowledge who seeks to reach beyond the stars to go where no mans gone before to see things no man has seen and bring these experiences back for the whole world to hear and see.
now where in my cup of tea see i love space and everything to do with it i have a dream that dream is brings man to stars and one day i will for now i am mrely a humble commenter. to my belief as the years have progressed their has been less and less public or civilian support for space endevours so the goverment now in a fininacial crisis is basically trying to cut back as much as possible.them viewing the space program merely as wasteful science that has no importance on daily life or the prosparity of the nation they simply chose to shelve the project to use that money somewhere it will have a greater purpose. I dont like the decision but its respectable. another thing that catches my eye in all the is we really do need something like that in the sky simply cause we are facing a unpresidented climate change summers are getting hotter winters are less wintery or more extreme we are have more hurricanes and earthquakes are getting stronger we are sitting on a time bomb and as i see it we will end up dieing in the end humans are simply to indulged or contint with theirs life styles to sacrifice what they come to know and so they will tear at earths wounds tell catrophie happens and theirs nothing we can do about it its sad but nobody cares. i say humanity should unite and bring about prosparity and unity that would bring humantiy to a technilogical splender and bring about a new age space is so hard cause nobody wants it enough so you all wait out their one day i will show the world the majesty and wonders space has in stored for us. live love life From: Yours truly the Trulyvisionary..........
In 1963, the first International Geophysical Year (IGY) to explore earth from space -- the rocket team of engineers proposed building an orbital "space platform" (the Russians had similar ideas) where interplanetary spacecraft could be built at a tremendous savings from the cost of launching from an earth launching pad. This was the origins of the concept for the IIS.(Notice the current politicized and less practical or scientific difference in the mission of IIS?) Thus, shuttled materials could be carted up to the space platform and larger ships from there could set sail to the rest of the Solar System. It was placed into the first NASA Decadal Plan in 1968 -- Google it for more info). Nixon scrapped much of the NASA missions to pay Vietnam debts. Reagan revamped it to serve a more political "new world order culturally-diverse social club in space." George W. tried to reignite interest in it, but Congress killed the shuttle. Obama and Congress has left its future adrift. But, not since four years after it was adapted into the 1968 Decadal Plan has it ever followed its original purpose. Instead, at became a massive space-program sinkhole called the IIS. Just think where we would be in space capabilities if NASA would have been allowed to be apolitical and "stick with the plan"?
It is a HUGE issue -- and every non-decision and delay costs taxpayers billions more -- same with energy policies!
See, and this is why space should be privatized... It might not be the best thing for science, but things will most certainly get DONE!
Yet more evidence Republican and other denier opposition to action on global warming is based on irrationality and not on science. Such people can't claim to be rational if they deny the means to establish the facts.
Why do Americans continue voting maniacally conservative nincompoops into office? Conservative stupidity doesn't stop at denying GW science. The same irrationality led Republicans to develop the policies which led to, not only an American economic meltdown, but also that of the world.
Curbing regulation only lets crooks thrive, and denying science only lets ignorance live on. The same stupidity, one body: conservative politics.
The problem eregorn8, is that if you privatize it, people will only enter the 'market' if they can make money off of it. No private company will send up a $500M satelite just for the 'good of mankind'. Something as public as THE FUTURE OF MANKIND should be a public endeavor.
It's pretty clear that humans are causing unnaturally fast climate change by the following logic;
-CO2 / methane trap long wave radiation
-Humans emit these gasses through burning fossil fuels
-Therefore human activities is causeing more long wave radiation to be trapped in the atmosphere
-More long wave radiation leads to an increase in temperature.
It doesn't matter if this radiation enters the atmosphere from the sun or the core, all that matters is that we're changing how much stays in the atmosphere rather then leaking into space. Also, it's scientifically known the amounts of heating we get from all sources. See the following link for a simplistic version.
If we colonized other planets, we wouldn't have to worry if and when Earth dies. Sadly, money is the driving force of the world. Perhaps we need an alien species from wherever to land on Earth and kill us, maybe then we'll wake up and will stop being little children.
Your vision is as clouded as your prose, save us all a headache and spell check/ grammar check your post in Word and Copy/Paste it into the forum. EVERY post you leave is gramatically horrible, and abhors even marginal spelling accuracy. How do you expect to get your point across when (I'm sure I speak for many that post here) you can't get through the first paragraph much less identify a true point. It comes off more as rembling that reflective. Please take this as constructive criticism.
Clearly, the mechanisms by which the planet goes through cold (ice age) and warming (current) cycles is not well understood. Time scales measured in tens of thousands of years cannot be calibrated by systems which measure only miniscule fractions of such a time period. It's as if one were to take a single frame of the movie "ISHTAR" and claim it was a grand epic. FAIL.
Is global climate change related to solar cycles of electromagnetic and xray radiation such as are discussed in the attached article? Hmmmmmmm.... The SUN is thought to have some significant effect on the Earth's climate. /sarc
To attribute the the recently observed changes in global climate to civilized man's activites is the height of vanity. GAIA is crying at your arrogance.
I bet a military satellite is already occupying the L1 site.
I don't think so. Maybe, but by then it would have been announced on the news, right? I do think that Cheney was involved in it and i think they should of let it fly. I think we're the trouble, unless some outside source was doing it. Like way outside...
@zxy1212 maybe but unless it has a Klingon cloaking device we can it from earth. There are plenty of military secrets out there, but if it is in space somewhere somebody saw it launch, saw it in space, and is watching right now. what it is a different story.
I would think politics played a huge part in this. Climate change today is still a controversial topic. this is a sad story. this satellite is probably terribly out of date already. I don't think there is any chance they would launch it now. They would get it out of its crate look at it and discover they could add .001 megapixels to a on-board camera and start over from scratch.
A fascinating story about the life and death of projects in our government agencies. There are thousands of similar tales in other departments; seemingly good ideas that for some reason or another never got completed.
On the surface it sounds like a great idea. Though I'm skeptical about many of the anthropogenic global warming arguments, I think we should launch it if it's still a useful scientific instrument. More information is a good thing.
@eregorn8, I don't know if the private space industry would have launched this either, but it's gratifying to see the industry growing.
@tertertert, private industry doesn't always do things purely for profit, though they tend to be much more creative at getting things done by finding a profit motive and recruiting investors. Some of the wealthiest people are also the biggest philanthropists on the planet. As for your global warming rationale...sigh. Your central argument is about CO2 and its heat-trapping effect. You neglect to mention that it takes a HUGE increase in CO2 to produce negligible warming in a closed system. It's a logarithmic function. From instrument measurements we know for a fact that CO2 is increasing but we don't see a commensurate increase in warming. In fact at times we see cooling. Your simplified theory doesn't reflect what measurements show. We know there is a human contribution to CO2, but we also know that CO2 increases on its own as the planet warms after a glacial period. Can we alter warming due to CO2 production? Apparently very little if at all. So what's the point? Is a slightly warmer planet better or worse than a cooler one? Based on geological evidence it seems that warmer is actually better for living organisms. We will enter the next glacial period soon enough without any human intervention so why the massive worry, effort and expenditure on something that will take care of itself?
I remember when Al Gore first introduced his idea of an Earth-observing satellite to the world. At the time, the main purpose I heard for the satellite would be to relay images of the Earth, for the purpose of inspiring global unity. The scientists I heard downplayed the satellite's usefulness, stating, among other things, that it would be too distant to make useful measurements. I did not notice any scientific debate on the satellite's merits, only some political back-and-forth (and not much of that). The idea never had much support.
@laurenra7, I agree with your analysis, but no one has mentioned the contribution of dust to global warming. I recently read that since the start of the Industrial Age, the world has become much dustier, according to a scientist who is trying to learn the reason and affects of this dustiness.
I also think that NASA is too politicized. That's how we got this satellite in the first place! NASA also is too much of a dog-and-pony show. The general public and their politicians keep dabbling in NASA's mission, with predictable chaotic results. IIRC, a former NASA astronaut pointed out a few decades ago that this is the reason that the Air Force chooses to launch its own rockets.
Yeah! this reminds me of something... What was it? Oh yeah, who killed the Back to the Moon missions and the Mars Mission?
Wait, it'll come to me... Was it President Bush? Hmmm... Wait, no, not him.
Was it Vicce President Cheney? hmmm... No, not him...
Who was it? Man! I wish I could remember...
Oh wait, I remember... It was President Obama.
Keep this thing in a crate until they are willing to be non-partisan too.
Global Warming is a myth perpetuated by political activists like Gore to make money and extend their power base. One freaking volcano out spews our industrial complex in one eruption. The amount of CO2 we create is minscule compared to the ocean, the forests, volcano's, etc.
Give it up.
As soon as I read the name of Al Gore, my eyes glazed over and I lost interest in the article.
Real science needs that snake-oil salesman like a fish needs a bicycle.
Nice story, but the detection package is missing a detector.
It would be nice to know what the total gravity effects are at all times. DOes Jupiter being closer to Earth mean that there is more energy coming in? If you do not account for gravity then the so called energy balance at the surface is not valid. When I learned physics, energy was not confined to E/M energy. Gravity transports energy too.
The AGW scenario IDed by @tertertert says CO2/methane "Traps" energy photons & hence causes global warming. First GHGs do NOT trap the energy. They absorb it & release it within microseconds by colliding with the air. Hence warming the air and delaying the release of the energy to space. - ie the greenhouse effect. Well my pet rock (& all matter for that matter) does the same. It absorbs morning sunlight, & releases it later, thus resulting in the daily peak temperature being in the mid afternoon & not at noon when the peak energy input is. Does that mean my pet rock is a GHG?
Next the question of energy coming from the Earth's core heat. Yes my all means. At night when there is no incoming photons to be absorbed by the ground/ocean & reradiated to be absorbed by the GHGs, there MUST be some source of the nighttime temperature. ie The Earth's core radiated energy. So how can a computer code that ignores this source of energy be correct and valid?
This gets to my original contention, the force of gravity from the sun & planets provides the Earth's energy, It comes in, some gets converted to Earth spin (the driving energy MUST come from somewhere!!), some gets converted to the Earth's magnetic field by rotating iron ions in the liquid core thru a gravity field, and SOME gets converted to heat energy. This is why the sum of the forces of gravity (including storage as gravitational potential energy) actually correlates to the Earth's temperature for thousands of years (See Gravity causes Climate Change" in www.scribd.com)
The result is that varying gravity changes the number of energy photons available for the GHE. It is NOT the number of GHGs, but the amount of energy that dictates warming. The proof is simple. Every night the number of photons decreases due to Earth rotation, the temperature goes DOWN. BUT at night Man is producing even more GHGs. Why doesn't the temp go up ? If you look at the original Arrhenius 1896 paper. He concludes that (in IPCC words) "more GHGs means more warming". In reality he should have said More energy means more warming. He also postulates in CH 3 that there is no heat transfer from the ground to the air, which MUST mean that the GHE stops at night, but in reality it doesn't. The Earth still radiates energy but at reduced nighttime temperatures. After all it is not possible for CO2 to create energy, & the idea that energy can flow from cold (stratosphere) to hot (ground) as Hansen postulates violates a few thermo laws. Its just not possible for more GHGs to cause warming unless you also add more energy photons. Now if GHGs DO create energy we should be able to create a perpetual energy machine just using CO2- good luck with that!
Also how do you account for all the excess GHGs in water in the ocean? If more GHGs causes more warming, then why don't these ones vaporize instead of the GHE stopping at 33C?
In summary Mother Nature, not Man, causes the Earth's temperature variations, including climate change.
Heavy lift rockets are ready to go to Mars, just need to knowledge to get man the long distance. With the launch of Endeavour (unless Atlantis is funded) the United States will be turning over the ISS to the Russians ( for the unaware their current "taxi fare" is $55million per astronaut from the US; to go to $63million in 2014; unless the decide not to take any astronauts at all and only man it with Cosmonauts.
You may not like my comment; it's your right but know that I speak with alot of knowledge. I see the tower that was built for Constellation which was finished on a Friday and axed by Obama the following Tuesday.
My family has been involved in different capacities since before manned flight and it is a daily life for me.
A great scientific mind like Al Gore being questioned ?
I would hang in with NASA's actions.
Regardless of the outcome, the search for truth in the form of hard data is and always has been NASA's stated mission. To have NASA and the administrations of two presidents to deny the launch of this satellite is really telling.
What purpose can be served by denying the truth whether for or against human contributions to climate change? It makes me wonder if there is a conspiracy to either enforce global control by artificially rationing energy supplies, or an attempt to force political change in Middle East countries by forcing an operational 'boycott' of petroleum, rather than a serious attempt to determine how much the climate is changing.
The hardware has been built. Fund the thing and let it fly. We need the data which it can generate.
Who Killed DSCOVR? = Politics.
Once upon a time, when dandy Danny Goldin was admin, NASA was all but wandering in the wilderness. The general public had lost the faith. Manned space flight wasn't catching headlines. NASA was the poster-child for extravagant government waste. Dan came up with an idea "Mission Planet Earth." Rather than squander massive budgets on missions and projects that only a Phd could love, Danny was going to look inwards from space. The practical application of all that uber technology would feedback in practical ways to the taxpayer. Kind of like, weather satellites on steroids. Bang for the buck. Some thing the taxpayer could appreciate.
All kinds of neat platforms were proposed. Some were even built. A few never flew (see above). Others flew - and, then were summarily switched off... ?
What Danny had unknowingly walked into was the never ending game of finger pointing. It seems that factories, governments, cities, counties, and states - can do any thing they want - as long as the consequences can not be traced back to them.
If some damn fool can take credible data on their activities, then their credible deniability is shot all to hell.
The need was real.
The science was necessary.
The designs were competent.
The politics sucked.
So, the DSCOVR was a victim of cause and effect.
It was created cause some people wanted to study an effect.
The People with the Power already knew what the effect was and wanted to obfuscate those effects.
Ultimately, DSCOVR was a victim of its own potential success.
It's the NASA way:
You can't win.
You can't break even.
You can't quit the game.
Failure manifested in shades of mediocrity.
What a cluster, esp. w NOAA! Completely emblematic of the falldown of this society to recognize and follow through, to take action on the most profound risk to our way of life, mankind and the planet ecosystem. To our credit, the bird is ready to fly.
To underline the dysfunction, witness a lot of these comments. To deny a great tool to capture data on climate change is the height of anti-science insanity. IMHO, any argument about the lack of need for this is sheer ignorance or denial, save for the money is better spent on other Earth Observing satellites.
A dream I've had for years is to base the coming carbon economy firmly on the foundation of top soils. My read of the agronomic history of civilization shows that the Kayopo Amazon Indians and the Egyptians were the only ones to maintain fertility for the long haul, millennium scales. Egypt has now forsaken their geologic advantage by building the Aswan dam, and are stuck, with the rest of us, in the soil C mining, NPK rat race to the bottom.
The Ag Soil Carbon standard is in final review by the AMS branch at USDA. Both Congresional Ag Committees have asked for expansion of Soil Carbon Standard to ISO status.
With the Obama administration funding an inter-departmental climate effort of NASA, NOAA, USDA, & EPA, and now even the CIA is opening the data coffers, then soil carbon sensors may be less than 5 years away. I'm told by the Jet Propulsion Lab mission specialists responsible for the suite of earth sensing satellites, that they will be reading soil carbon using multiple proxy measurements in 5 years. Reading soil moisture to 3 foot dept in two year with SMAP, Reading GHG emissions and biomass from the tree tops down next year when the Orbital Carbon Observer (OCO, get it:) is rebooted, to 1 Ha resolution.
Then, any farmer can click "Google Carbon maps" to see the soil carbon accounted to his good work, a level playing field to be a soil sink banker.
The Moon Pie in the sky funding should be served to JPL
Since we have filled the air , filling the seas to full, Soil is the Only Beneficial place left.
Carbon to the Soil, the only ubiquitous and economic place to put it.
Thanks for your efforts.
Erich J. Knight
Chairman; Markets and Business Committee
2010 US BiocharConference, at Iowa State University
It did not cost one Billion Dollars to launch it, so it was just stashed away till it would cost that much. The Heavy Lifter will cost al least that much, so then it will probably be used.