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.
CO2 is a trace gas in air and insignificant by definition. It is a poor absorber of IR (heat) energy from sunlight. Water vapor is seven times better and has 80 times as many molecules making 560 times the heating effect, 99.8% of it. CO2 only generates 0.2% of the heat in the atmosphere.
Every physicist knows this, but most are funded by government and have milked this concept for $106 billion to date. They cannot give it up as their careers now depend on it. This satellite would prove what I am saying and too many careers depended on its' failure. It is just that simple.
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Launch the thing. Just do it.
Then we can see that it's just increased solar activity (as has been reported on other planets) that warms the planet instead of human activity.
Then PopSci can go back to the way it used to be!
Like all scientific programs, potential advances, and interest in any technology except toys (and they consider weapons to just be bigger toys), this was a victim of the repugnantcan (now teablican) culture of willful stupidity, their characteristic "I can't understand it, so what good is it?" backwardness.
It wasn't the only time the Dick snarled "I won't let one penny be spent on anything from those liberals! We worked hard to steal the White House and congress, and it's MINE now, ALL MINE!", either. The paranoid schizophrenic also threw the entire Gore Commission report on preventing terrorist attacks in the trash heap, with predictable results, even if the bushiosi HADN'T been directly involved in assisting the hijackers. (They were.)
The instrumentation and orbital observation point on Triana would indeed have revealed the startling and dangerous upswing in human-caused buildup of greenhouse gases, and the resulting accelerating effect on the addition of heat to the closed-system engine of atmosphere and ocean.
(Human-caused climate change deniers, like creationists and birthers, are simply too stupid to be allowed to even HAVE an opinion, and should just go disbelieve in gravity off the top of a tall building already.)
The other Dick, Armey, broke NOAA long ago, with his "If the military can't use it, screw it" diversion of all R&D talent and money to the weapons industry. Even the weather sats have been commandeered primarily to watch weapons testing and troop movements.
Dumbya and his traitor daddy did a lot of big talking about space, in their attempt to establish a political dynasty by imitating Kennedy, but they not only CUT the funding to pure science, ESPECIALLY for any new projects, their supporters also bent all their political manipulations into promoting "yes boys" until NASA had a top-heavy bloat of managers who sat around passing papers to each other all day, and practically no new engineering capability.
Even the next-generation crewed vehicle received only cursory attention. Every time Boe-Lock-Mart submitted the same old unworkable design, instead of demanding that they go back to the drawing board, NASA management REPLACED THE ENGINEERING REVIEW TEAM, hoping to finally get a bunch of yes-boys too incompetent to spot the fatal flaws.
Thankfully, the bushitsta were removed from power before they and their sycophants could kill any more astronauts. (Columbia was destroyed by skipped and falsified inspections to the hydraulics, a direct result of bad management and "cut costs but meet the schedule" pressure, not any BS "damage to the heat foam tiles 'accident'.")
The teabaglican takeover of the House in 2010 returned us to the bad old days of "We don't understand it, so we don't need it, just drill baby drill," obstruction of all innovation, not to mention cutting into education in their keep-'em-as-stupid-as-we-are agenda.
Anyone intrested in space, in science, in exploration, in SURVIVAL, had better get their head out of the [sand] of la-la-land LIES being spread by the repukeli-baggers. "Oh, we can have it all! Just cut taxes, cut all those pesky programs that don't make *us* money, solve all the problems here on Earth with our military might, and then, why, we can do anything, even send men to the sun! We'll just go at night!"
Our next major challenge is clean, sustainable energy. The space program does not run on hydrogen and ogygen and perchlorate and hypergols alone. Designing the systems, making the parts, training up the necessary expertise, even getting the materials over the road to the launch pads, COSTS ENERGY.
If Triana had kicked you oil addicts in the teeth a decade ago, maybe you at least wouldn't have voted for the oil-slicks in 2004, and maybe we would even have crewed lunar exploration in the actual planning stages, instead of the sound-bite sewage Dumbya spewed and you swallowed.
If you are impervious to logic, reason, rationality, and reality, then it does not matter how "visionary" you are. You're still worse than useless -- you're a hindrance to the very things you claim to support.
As Robert Heinlein put it, "Anyone who cannot handle mathematics is not fully human. At best, you've been taught not to make messes on the rug."
MATHEMATICALLY, you can't send people or even instruments into space simply by saying "Make it so."
I am so sick of hearing about how volcanos and oceans make more CO2 than humans do. Firstly, CO2 is not the worst gas we create on an industrial scale, Methane is. Secondly, do you think the oceans and volcanos were just invented, jackass? Our industrial emmisions are new to the scene, not the oceans. Although I guess you could argue that the Al Gore actually created the oceans back in 50s when he was a baby so that in his later years he could use them to suppport a phoney climate change proposition. I feel silly now. Forget what I said, Al Gore did this to us.
I love being a moderate who makes his own damn mind up about things. I get to laugh at the crazies on both sides of the fence. Especially I enjoyed 'the die hard's' tirade; 'if you don't think like i do you're an idiot'. LOL.
We may in fact be artificially warming the planet eventually bringing on a new ice age sooner that it was supposed to happen anyways. So it will be cool again what is the big deal?
-I am not busy because I did it right the first time.
As a geologist, enviromental consultant and remote sensing scientist, I just have to laugh. This was Al Gore's folly, created for the sole purpose to attempt to confirm his half baked science.
The climate change data pretty much confirms that global climate change is driven by the the cycles of the Sun. Has man played a part? Yes, and we can all change sea level by taking a piss too. The geologic record shows that the Earth has been far hotter and far cooler and there were no humans to tilt the balance one way or the other. Global Warming was and is a politically driven fiction. Global Climate change is unequivocably real, but man has no hope of effecting a change one way or the other.
So we wasted 200 million? What is that in comparison to the $ Trillons wasted by the current administration or the $200 million they just wasted nosing around in Libya?
Earth observation satellites are a necessity, but we lost our leadership role in that field a long time ago to first the French, then the Russians, Japanese, and probably soon to the Chinese.
Science in this country is too politicized. We elect people who are scientifically illiterate and have a media that are overawed by anyone waving an advanced degree. A degree and Nobel Prize in Physics does not an Earth Scientist make. A meteorologist is not a climatologist or a geologist. Science is a field of specialization, not generalization. When one field of science pretends to know all the answers and convinces our politicians that they do, we end up with Global Warming.
Global Warming has become a religion and any nay sayers are heretics and subject to the same punishment. The trouble is, that blind faith and zealotry in something does not make it true. Some of the previous posters wear their ignorance of science and reality on their, I assume, self woven hair shirts like a medal, as they walk to work wearing shoes made of woven grass. The utter hypocrisy of the new age, save the world, save the creatures crowd is mind blowing. Their brains are so clouded by ridiculous simplistic and infantile notions they could not recongnize a rational logical thought if it passed throught their brain, no matter how long it lingered. The mistake ideology for reality. I ran into tons of them in the Environmental industry. You know the one where we actually clean up environmental problems and make water safe for people to drink, and air to breath, not the one that use enviromental crises to raise funds, protect whales and hug trees.
Me? I'm going to drive home at 80 mph in my gas powered SUV, kick back and have a beer or two while I watch my 40 inch electricity gobbling Plazma TV and cook a nice thick Steak on my CO2 emitting grill. Truth be told Gore is probably doing something along the same lines but generating a hell of a lot more CO2 than I will be.
there is no reasoning with the deniers,the arctic is expected to become essentially ice free this year or the next if the current melting continues these next two summers as is forcasted...the deniers will just go to their default setting, "it is a natural cycle"....check this out www.science20.com/chatter_box/arctic_ice_march_2011_update_2-77499
Dr Chuck, Al Gore and the Gorebots have been claiming, as do you here, that the arctic will be ice free come summer for many years now. When it didn't become ice free in any of those summers (nor is it likely to do so this summer either), it was the Gorebots who claimed that it was "cycles" of one sort or another that stopped the melting.
These cycles that are spoken of...are as common as the day turning to night, as the spring turning to summer, as the Moon waning and waxing, as the glaciers advanced and retreated. To say that they don't affect the climate is to deny something that isn't deniable.
Except of course to Gorebots.
But I'm sure Al is proud of whatever monetary contribution you have made to his various enterprises that purport to combat global warming.
Considering the enormous deficit the U.S. has racked up, especially in the last year, I think launching a satellite based on pseudoscience is nuts. It's time to start being fiscally responsible, or we won't have the money to launch a paper airplane.
mudrake2 is correct about science in America becoming too politicized. Everyone knows of Eisenhower's warning in his farewell address about the military-industrial complex, but few are aware that he also warned of the danger of state influence in science and vice-versa:
"Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been overshadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.
"The prospect of domination of the nation's scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present – and is gravely to be regarded.
"Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite."
The federal government must be strengthened. Only a strong centralized state can save the planet.
It is inexcusable to spend this amount of tax$$ without simultaneously starting the ground and support infrastructure and budgeting for a launch vehicle--more expensive and time consuming than the space hardware.
While I think the taxpayers would have approved of this payload, I strongly suspect launch was cancelled because of very poor financial planning rather than a change in politics.
This is not the first time the government has built space hardware before discovering it is too expensive to launch and support.
Maybe NASA was afraid that facts might start getting in the way of the global warming hysteria. Why clutter up the debate with things like data?
Oh, btw, in 2007 the global warming crowd was predicting that by this year, there would be no ice whatsoever at the north pole this summer. Let's see if the "climate models" are of any use or if its all a bunch of baloney. Ya know, like all those monster hurricanes they've been predicting since Katrina that have never materialized.
My money is on them revising their prediction and pushing it off another 5 years. Being wrong over and over again has not stopped them from prognosticating before.
You need only to look at the view it would have had to explain it's demise.
you don't spend this kind of money and scrap it with out a really good reason.
you people do know that the leading contributor to methane emmisons are cow farts and cow crap right?and it has been proven that the climate change we are experianceing now is a cycle the earth goes through. the earth has gone into what is now being called "global cooling" by you al gore types. now can we take better care of the earth yes we can but we are not screwing the atmosphere or the cycles of the earth off anymore than natural phonomena
I cannot say whether climate change is or is not happening. I have still yet to formulate a concrete opinion, but here is a good website that talks about climate change. I will have to wait and see what developments come up on either side before I can choose one. I know many out there will be saying that it's government data that cannot be trusted but it's the best data we have.
On the other hand, even if it is a load of crap, it can still be beneficial in moving us in the right direction. Oil is approaching $4 a gallon with most of that money going to questionable people, coal is destroying the landscape of our country through unsustainable mining practices, and shale is not viable. We must explore, through science and engineering, other sources of energy and more efficient methods of harnessing the energy. This is not a bad thing for our nation and our global community, but it might be for business. Honestly, I care more about science and engineering.
I don't think OPEC would be forced to do anything except to hire lobbyists to make sure that any clean energy legislation dies in congress (which they probably already do). Big oil will continue to crush small clean energy companies until the price of gasoline in America gets so unconscionably high and stays that way that people will drive less. That is when we will see changes.
Persons of influence on both sides of the climate debate should be pushing for the launch of the Deep Space Climate Observatory. We can all use more facts. It is great to see Popsci extending it's mandate from clarifying and informing to keeping our handlers honest in regards to science. I hope Popsci continues to see this through to launch. I'm enjoying Popsci on a whole new level.
A)Halliburton is the second largest oilfield services corporation in the world.
B)Dick Cheney was CEO of Halliburton in 2000.
C)The project was terminated within a few weeks of Cheney's arrival in the White House.
I would love to see the ESA jump in and get a sattelite to L1 first. This seems too important for our politicians to be acting like weenies about.
What century is this? The story reminds me of the Catholic Church in the face of Galileo. I can't believe our most important decisions are still being made in the dark like this.
North Adams, MA