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NASA Can't Save Key Climate, Hurricane Tracking Sat - Even For Just $28M

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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 04:43 PM
Original message
NASA Can't Save Key Climate, Hurricane Tracking Sat - Even For Just $28M
Washington -- "NASA is letting a highly successful satellite fall out of Earth's orbit by refusing to fund it for as little as $28 million, dismaying the scientists and forecasters who use its unique abilities to study climate change and track hurricanes. NASA officials said engineers did not order a planned firing of its rockets in early July to hold the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite in orbit 241 miles above Earth. Without periodic assists from its thrusters, atmospheric drag will send the satellite's remains to a watery grave in six to nine months.

Engineers said the satellite, a joint venture with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, is working perfectly and could still be saved, but NASA officials said neither the Japanese nor other U.S. agencies were willing to contribute to the estimated $28 million to $36 million needed to keep the mission operating for as long as two more years.

EDIT

The decision instead to use a "controlled de-orbit" for the satellite, known by its initials TRMM, was announced quietly July 13 in an internal NASA memo, and came at a time when NASA's Earth observation budget is shrinking as the agency begins to focus on President Bush's plan for human exploration of the moon and Mars. NASA officials said the agency decided to de-orbit TRMM because the money saved could be put to better use on a next-generation satellite scheduled for launch in 2011.

EDIT

NASA has said little about TRMM's demise, but researchers all over the country and in Japan are questioning the decision. Data from TRMM on rainfall and storms are used by climate scientists and meteorologists all over the world. "Unlike a lot of missions, it's worked great from the beginning -- something of a miracle in satellite meteorology, and we're still on the rising part of the curve," University of Washington atmospheric scientist and TRMM team member Robert Houze said. "It seems almost unfathomable to me that you would not let it live out its full lifetime."

EDIT







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Spinzonner Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 04:46 PM
Response to Original message
1. Probably contributing data supporting Global Warming

so the word came down from the WH that it had to be whacked

That's my conspiracy theory and I'm sticking to it ...
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lapfog_1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 05:02 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. not a theory

I used to work for NASA, doing data storage and distribution
of EOSDIS. The whole EOS mission is being defunded, and the
word is that climate change is no longer in the NASA portfolio
of missions.

Of all the crimes of the * admin, this one potentially has
the greatest impact for all of humankind. Global warming (or
more properly, Global Climate Change) is killing 1000s of people
every year, maybe more.

TRMM. That just sucks. Also useful for predicting El Nino events.
Damn.
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hatrack Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 05:07 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. So if NASA doesn't do it, does it become totally NOAA's responsibility?
Or do we just hand the lead in climate science by default to the EU and Japan?
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lapfog_1 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 05:23 PM
Response to Reply #3
4. NOAA has some very capable people

but not the funding or organization to run a comprehensive EOS
mission. They do a fine job of tracking hurricanes but mapping
ocean temperatures is a little beyond their ability. This is
all a matter of money. Nasa devoted about $1.5 to $2 billion a
year to MTPE, not including the billions more in infrastructure
like TDRS and the space shuttle and so on.

Going back to the moon (stupid) and manned missions to mars (even
more stupid) is nothing but a move to defund the other NASA missions
like the Hubble and EOS and other science missions.
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Boomer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Jul-20-04 06:33 AM
Response to Reply #1
7. Bingo!
That's not a conspiracy theory -- it's a no-brainer explanation for what would otherwise be irrational behavior.
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phantom power Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 06:05 PM
Response to Original message
5. so, $28million is equivalent to what? 6 hours of Iraqi occupation?
I really hate it when people say "Oh, NASA is toooo expensive!". Even as inefficient as they are, their budget is such a tiny fraction of what we spend killing each other around the globe.

Even funding a supposedly "wasteful" mission to the moon or mars is cheap compared to our current spending on "Defense".
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FighttheFuture Donating Member (748 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Jul-19-04 07:09 PM
Response to Original message
6. I saw a movie like this.... The Arrival... with Charlie Sheen... hmmm
These aliens were working on a long term plan to change the Earth climate via pollution. They wanted Global Warming, living in a much hotter environment. They infiltrated key positions in society, including NASA to sabotage satellites that would track climate change.

Of course, it's just a movie....
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