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Why Was NASA's DSCOVR (Al Gore's Triana) Really Grounded?

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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 01:45 PM
Original message
Why Was NASA's DSCOVR (Al Gore's Triana) Really Grounded?
This groundbreaking invention on the part of Al Gore that could now save this world from the catastrophic affects of the climate crisis still sits in a warehouse in Maryland after being scrubbed in January 2006. As usual, "budget" is the answer for why it sits, but I believe it goes deeper than that.



Don't know what Triana was? Not surprising, since Republicans did all in their power from the late nineties by using their partisanship and hatred for Al Gore to see it fail and keep it secret. Now it is dead, and so are some very high hopes for measuring the affects of climate change from deep space. Once again, political partisanship trumped the best interests of not only our country, but our world.

From The NY Times:

Scorched Earth

Some info on this and a link showing the technological, scientific, and environmental vision of Al Gore, our Global Environmental Ambassador.

Scripps Calls For Quick Launch Of Triana

Al Gore-Leader in Technology

Al Gore-Inventor of Triana

Triana was the brainchild of Mr. Gore literally dreamed up by him during a restless sleep in 1998. His idea was to place a spacecraft in orbit far enough away from Earth (one million miles to be exact) to get 24 hour continuous images of the entire globe which is impossible with existing satellites because they are too close.

After battling in Congress with what Republicans trashed as "Gore's screen saver," the $135 million project appeared to have survived their ambushes, rising costs, and scientific scrutiny. It was slated for launch early in 1999. Then it was pushed back to after 2000... Now, it will never take off, and that is truly sad especially in light of the affects of the climate crisis we are experiencing all over the world. This satellite would give us a chance to see the Earth in motion from the side of the sun in a continuous 24 hour view that would have been able to be seen on a cable channel by us (and particularly students) in order to be better prepared for catastrophic events taking place due to climate change.

Although some scientists building Triana admitted to feeling ambiguous about it originally, they claimed that Mr. Gore's idea to observe Earth from deep space could prove to be revolutionary. The hope in launching it was to gain insight into climate change by measuring how much energy Earth absorbs and reflects into space, and to measure levels of aerosols that affect the ozone layer from around the world.

It certainly would have been not only a momentous achievement for Mr. Gore, this planet, and for our future, but also would have been a fitting payback to those like former President George Bush who dubbed Al Gore, "Ozone Man." Of course, we all know how his idiot son felt about it. He probably couldn't even pronounce it. I cannot for the life of me understand how people can claim to care for this planet when they would scrap such a visionary and revolutionary mission as this, yet continue to spend money we don't have on weapons of war and death. And scrapping this entire program was done secretly, quietly, and in my view maliciously.

For besides providing ways to pick up atmospheric patterns not readily apparent to satellites that scan only one region or continent at a time, the Triana mission could have blazed a trail for more deep-space Earth observation and inspire replacement of some low-orbit satellites. It is said that Al Gore had long wondered how to get more photos like those from the Apollo moon missions when astronauts captured the first pictures of Earth as a whole from great distances. Those images had a deep effect on him as he kept a huge blow-up photo of the Earth on his White House office wall.

This is the account of how he came upon this idea:

As he tells it, he awoke from a dream at 2 o'clock in the morning, logged onto the Internet, "went to a couple of sites and figured out how to do this." What he learned about was the orbital point called Lagrange-1 about 1 million miles away, where the gravitational attraction from the sun equals that of Earth. Satellites placed at L1 move in an orbit that mirrors the Earth's, with our planet's sunlit half always in view. A few probes have been sent to L1, mostly for research on the sun. But surprisingly, NASA had never seriously considered placing an Earth observatory at L1, even though it provides what scientists now say is a natural vantage point for that purpose.

He then proposed the satellite in March 1998 that would transmit continuous television images from L1 and cost no more than $50 million. He dubbed it Triana in honor of Rodrigo De Triana, the sailor who first observed the New World on Christopher Columbus's 1492 voyage. NASA then announced several months later that a contract had been given for it to Valero, but it came up to swift opposition in the Republican Congress. The House of Representatives cut off funds for Triana in May 1999, in what was clearly a partisan move by people who hate science.

After that an NAS committee of 10 scientists was formed, and in the end they reported that Triana did have scientific merit. Work on it continued but then was halted, and now it will never be seen as the entire program has been scrapped by NASA. Once again because of hateful, bitter, partisan BS that has done nothing but stop the scientific advances necessary for us to peacefully explore our universe and to also warn of impending disaster as this 24 hour view would have facilitated, will it now not see the light of day. And I have not seen one Democrat stand up for Al Gore's work on this satellite in Congress as well, and that too is sad. One reason why I don't happen to have faith in the Washington DC beltway to truly care about this issue, even now as it needs to be cared about.

It is sad, but it is only one more action to show where Republicans in this government really stand on breakthrough advances that would give us a better understanding of our world, and others who constantly let them win...And damn them for it, because this is not about partisan political grudges, this is about saving lives.

I mention this now because of the reports from thousands of scientists, the IPCC, the NAS, the UN, and many other scientific reports that have now given the window of our planet's sustainability not long before it closes. And this was the one tool we could have had to not only gauge that damage, but use to work quicker to mitigate it.

Personally, I think Congress should work to redeem themselves and bring Triana up to the forefront again in light of the damage done to this planet by the climate change we are responsible for. I think that since we can always find money when it comes to waging wars of aggression, we damn sure can come up with what is needed to launch this satellite that will aid us in our quest to reverse the damage we have done.

Shame on Congress for turning their backs on this clearly out of partisan political rancor. We are now reaping the whirlwind for it.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 01:47 PM
Response to Original message
1. Looks like I'm not the only one asking this question...
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Greyskye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 02:15 PM
Response to Original message
2. i'd never heard of Triana before

Thanks for posting this!

:kick: & R
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 02:36 PM
Response to Reply #2
4. You're welcome
This clearly shows how deep his dedication to preserving this planet is and in wanting us to do all we can to save her for future generations... as well as the toxicity of this political process that stopped him at every turn.
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Prophet 451 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 12:42 PM
Response to Reply #4
49. Nor had I
Cheers, mate. As an amatuer astronomer, that's an exciting project.
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Klukie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 02:34 PM
Response to Original message
3. Hey thanks...
Al Gore is a true visionary. What a shame he can't be our leader.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 02:37 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. Oh, he most certainly is my leader
They can never take that away.
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 02:44 PM
Response to Original message
6. Trianna = Waste of Money
At this point it's good money after bad. We've built the satellite, so we need to answer the question: "Should we spend tens of millions more to launch a satellite we don't really need, simply to justify the $100 million we've already spent?"

My understanding is that the scientific benefits of Trianna have already been debunked pretty thoroughly by meteorologists. Existing satellites may not cover 100% of the Earth in a single shot, but they do cover 100% of the Earth in multiple shots, and they do it with higher resolution and a wider spectrum of instruments than Trianna would ever be capable of. And meteorologists DO get to see the whole Earth as a system every day...powerful computers take the data from all of those higher resolution satellites and stitch them together into a single comprehensive atmospheric map. The new "single shot" that Trianna would provide would actually be inferior from a scientific perspective to the image that meteorologists already use. In fact, there is not ONE bit of science that Trianna would accomplish that cannot already be done by existing satellites. Nothing.

I like Al Gore. I'd vote for him (again) in a heartbeat if he would run for President. I fully believe in global warming, climate science, and space technology. I just don't believe that spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a project that will add little more than a "webcam in space", and that will only last TWO YEARS on top of that, is worthwhile. Even smart people have bad ideas every once in a while.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 02:48 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. Inferior from a scientific perspective?
And I suppose you are a scientist or have facts to back that up?
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 02:53 PM
Response to Reply #7
9. From the link in the OP
Scripps Calls For Quick Launch Of Triana Probe To L1

"We have spent nearly $100 million and Triana could be finished and ready to go on short notice. In my view, not to proceed at this point would be a major, embarrassing waste of scientific talent and taxpayer's money. We must push forward," says Triana's principal investigator Francisco P.J.Valero.
San Diego - April 10, 2001

Triana, the first deep space Earth-observing mission, will provide a continuous view of the entire sunlit face of the rotating Earth. Scripps Institution of Oceanography scientists and leaders are currently working in collaboration with NASA officials to investigate opportunities to launch the Triana spacecraft. In 2000, a Congressionally mandated review by the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) resulted in a highly favorable report on Triana.

The report stated that the Triana mission will complement and enhance data from other missions now in operation or in development because of the unique character of the measurements obtainable at the L1 Lagrangian point (nearly one and a half million kilometers between the Sun and Earth), which allows continuous imaging of the full sunlit disk of Earth and monitoring of the solar environment upstream from Earth.

Furthermore, the report noted, such observations from L1 should provide a unique perspective to develop new databases and validate and augment existing and planned global and local interplanetary databases.

The report also stated that Triana is an exploratory mission that may open up the use of deep-space observation points such as L1 for Earth science.

The NAS task group believes that "the potential impact is sufficiently valuable to Earth science that such a mission might well have been viewed as an earlier NASA priority had adequate technology been available at reasonable cost."

Triana also is a vital instrument in our ability to detect critical space weather readings.
~~~~
Do you think the NAS has a scientific perspective on things? And just what do we have now that can accurately gauge effects of climate change?
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 03:51 PM
Response to Reply #9
13. Did you read the NAS report?
Of course Scripps is going to advocate launching it. Scripps scientists developed the science package, and Scripps will get tens of millions in funding to monitor and analyze the data coming back to Earth.

And the NAS analysis didn't exactly extoll the virtues of the project. It simply said that it provides interesting data that might someday be valuable scientifically (presumably after we launch a follow up satellite for millions of dollars more). The NAS report also predates the completion of other satellites that make Trianna's solar science less valuable.

The rest of that is pointless to respond to. The space weather readings and solar analisys have been superceded by the SDO, scheduled to be launched next year. The opening up of L1 for Earth science is an equally questionable claim, since the argument "You can see the planet better when it's smaller and further away" fails on its face. If that were true, we wouldn't have low orbiting observers on Mars. Some of these claims might have been worthwhile back in 1999, but the SDO and other newer projects have made the solar-scientific benefits of Trianna rather pointless.

And, FWIW, Trianna wouldn't have "accurately gauge effects of climate change". It would have guaged the planets reflectivity, which is only one indirect measure of climate change. Luckily for us, this planet happens to be surrounded by dozens of weather satellites imaging the surface, which can provide the same data. The EarthShine project and other similar endeavors are also currently measuring the same thing.

As I said, there is no environmental science performed by Trianna that isn't already being pursued by other means. The only thing Trianna added was a camera to provide pictures. An interesting feature from the human perspective, but not an incredibly useful one from a scientific perspective.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 07:32 PM
Response to Reply #13
25. Science/Humanity
Edited on Tue Aug-28-07 07:33 PM by RestoreGore
"An interesting feature from the human perspective, but not an incredibly useful one from a scientific perspective."

Are you saying science is not based on a human perspective? What is it based on then? You make it all sound very cold. And once again, I absolutely disagree with you regarding the advantages of this project simply because of the fact that I believe it would have given us solid data regarding climate change THEN that could have been used in concert NOW with other satellites had it not been scrapped due to partisan political bias.
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Clark2008 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 11:36 AM
Response to Reply #13
43. Scripps, huh?
HGTV: Home and Geo-global Television?

:)
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DaveJ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 12:57 PM
Response to Reply #13
50. Can you explain this statement?
As a fellow computer science guy, this statement does not seem to make logical sense:

"'You can see the planet better when it's smaller and further away' fails on its face. If that were true, we wouldn't have low orbiting observers on Mars"

I'm sure you can see how that is a logical mistake. Just because we want to observe things closely, does not mean observing them far away is useless.

An extreme example that disproves your statement would be the blue shift and red shift wavelengths that helped explain the big bang theory.

It could be that you know what you are talking about, and maybe there are other existing tools that collect the data we need, but logical mistakes makes your point harder to accept.
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Jackpine Radical Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-30-07 09:25 AM
Response to Reply #13
57. The scientific backing is there. Not just Scripps, the NAS backed it.
From Wikipedia:

In addition to an imaging camera, a radiometer would take the first direct measurements of how much sunlight is reflected and emitted from the whole Earth. This data could constitute a barometer for the process of Global Warming. The scientific goals expanded to measure the amount of solar energy reaching Earth, cloud patterns, weather systems, monitor the health of Earth's vegetation, and track the amount of UV light reaching the surface through the ozone layer.

Derided by critics as being an unfocused project, the satellite was nicknamed GoreSat, and was often referred to as an "overpriced screen saver" by Republicans. Congress asked the National Academy of Sciences whether the project was worthwhile. The resulting report stated that the mission was "strong and vital."

Triana was named after Rodrigo de Triana, the first of Columbus's crew to sight land in the Americas. NASA renamed the satellite Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR), in an attempt to regain support for the project.
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 06:45 PM
Response to Reply #9
20. By the way, here is an actual excerpt from the NAS report. (and there's another issue being ignored)
"The task group found that the scientific goals and objectives of the Triana mission are consonant with published science strategies and priorities for collection of climate data sets and the need for development of new technologies. However, as an exploratory mission, Triana's focus is the development of new observing techniques, rather than a specific scientific investigation."

In plain English. The NAS supports Triana not because it's useful to science, but because it's testing an observing method and location that hasn't been tried before. They didn't expect it to return any useful science, but instead wanted it as a proof-of-concept. I could support Triana on those grounds, but ONLY if it could be launched without diverting funding from anywhere else.

The bigger problem, of course, is that Triana was designed to be launched from the Space Shuttle, and there is only one flight left that could possibly be used to launch this thing. STS 125 next August will be the final flight for Atlantis and is the final servicing mission for the Hubble. Because it's a servicing mission, the cargo bay will be mostly empty for that flight. Other than that, all flights until STS-133 in 2010 are already booked up. STS-133 will be the final flight of the Discovery, and will be the last launch of the shuttle program.

At this point, the only hope for launching Triana requires that it be given funding, be pulled out of mothballs, and be brought to flight ready status in under a year. That doesn't really leave time to even test a satellite that's just been collecting dust in storage (figuratively) for 7 years, much less give the shuttle crew time to train for the launch. That's also assuming that Triana can even coexist in the cargo hold with the Hubble repair equipment.

Without the shuttle, Triana would need to be modified to launch on a rocket. At the very minimum that would require a reprogramming of its flight computers, and in all likelihood would require structural modifications to the entire satellite (cargo rockets subject their loads to higher G forces than the shuttle). Again, you're talking tens of millions of dollars of extra development. For what? A webcam in space that will fail within two years? There has to be a better way.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 07:34 PM
Response to Reply #20
26. Do you have a link for that?
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 07:53 PM
Response to Reply #26
27. Here you go
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 03:28 PM
Response to Reply #7
12. Actually, I am a scientist.
A Computer scientist, but lets not quibble over the details ;)

FWIW, I've followed this story for years. The scientific benefits of Trianna were supposed to be the analysis of planetary vegetation, cloud patterns, UV penetration in the atmosphere, and planetary albedo. Aside from albedo, ALL of these are currently measured by existing orbital satellites with instruments designed to gauge those specific properties of the planet. These satellites exist in lower orbits because that orbital position gives them a much clearer view of the atmosphere. They contain far more instruments than Trianna carried, and are equipped to perform a wide array of real science up close and personal to the planet.

The only real scientific data being introduced by Trianna was the albedo measurement, and even that can be inferred by compositing existing visual imagery from daylight side satellites. The albedo measurement was supposed to provide us with a yardstick for global warming, but was generally derided as useless when it was revealed that the satellite was being built with a lifespan of only two years. The two year data set was simply too short to provide any useful science...had the satellite been designed to function for 10 or 20 years the story may have been different.

Even the NAS report to Congress didn't actually declare that the science would be genuinely useful. They simply declared that the scientific benefits would be worth the small cost of the satellite. To them, it was worth spending a couple hundred million on this venture, because that's CHEAP compared to the cost of most major research projects. Their logic was along the lines of "Spending a couple hundred million on this makes sense, because it will give us a present day planetary albedo. When we spend a couple hundred million more in a few years on its replacement, we might get some genuinely useful scientific data from the process". That logic may make sense to some scientists, but the scientific usefulness of THIS satellite is predicated on the assumption that we will spend another large sum of money on its replacement in a couple of years to keep the science going. Since the same science can be done using existing resources, I'd rather see NASA spend those funds on other ventures.

The biggest problem with Trianna is that it's been a solution in search of a problem. It WAS originally conceived as a webcam in space...a PR stunt with no scientific benefit. The scientific aspects of the mission were added later to blunt criticism of the spacecraft, but cost and weight factors prevented the mission from ever really gaining any instruments that would provide useful NEW science.

Fact is, NASA had a chance to put the scientific benefits of Trianna at L1 and chose not to do so. The Solar Dynamics Observatory, the replacement for the SOHO satellite, will be launched in 2008 and will hang out at the same L1 point that Trianna was to occupy. It was pointed out by many people that the SDO could perform the same science as Trianna by simply integrating one small additional rearward facing camera. NASA elected not to do so because the scientific value was so small that it couldn't justify the SDO re-engineering required to place the device onboard. Early on, many at NASA envisioned Trianna becoming a platform for SOHO scientific instruments that needed to be replaced when that satellite was retired. SDO is now viewed as the SOHO replacement, and the camera was not included.

It would have been pretty, and neat to look at, but NASA's should be about science, not pretty. As I've said here before: As pretty as the Hubble is, the Chandra and Spitzer orbital observatories provide more real science. In this case, the real scientific value of Trianna is marginal, and doesn't (IMO) justify any further expense.
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 04:08 PM
Response to Reply #12
14. I disagree with this line
"The biggest problem with Trianna is that it's been a solution in search of a problem. It WAS originally conceived as a webcam in space...a PR stunt with no scientific benefit."

I believe if nothing else, altering human social psychology regarding the only planet humanity occupies qualifies as great a scientific advancement, equal to if not greater than the change in perspective from the Dark Ages to the Enlightenment.

If human societies were more subconsciously aware of the Earth as the only home of our shared existence without the artificial borders we've created over the ages that divide us in to national tribes and shelter us from reality, the psychological understanding of humanity's effect on the planet alone would be worth ten fold the cost of that mission.
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 06:20 PM
Response to Reply #14
18. That reminds me of Sagan.
And I would agree with you if we were piggybacking a camera like this on another spacecraft. The cost of this mission, with a dedicated satellite, is stupidly high just to look at pictures of the planet though.

I would argue that money and efforts would be better spent ensuring that the NEXT satellite sent to L1 has a camera. I would even like to see the SDO delayed to add an Earth facing camera. I just don't like the Triana concept.
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kenfrequed Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 01:43 PM
Response to Reply #12
52. Discover and inspiration.
If Triana can isnpire people to look at the earth for what it is and see how precious, beautiful, and small we are in the cosmos than it might be worth it. How many billions are spent on advertising (propped up by tax write offs for business expenses) seek to inspire us to debase ourselves and line corporate America's pocketbooks? Or what about the amount people spend every year inspiring patriotism and nationalism on flags or political photo ops or aircraft carrier landings off the coast of California.

I think we can spare a few bucks to inspire kids to think of science, space, and how we all live on one planet together.

I would also suggest that the road to discovery and a deeper understanding of our little blue and green orb has often started out with little idea of where that road will take us.
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DaveJ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 03:04 PM
Response to Reply #6
10. I hope what you're saying is true
Edited on Tue Aug-28-07 03:06 PM by djohnson
Otherwise we are in deep shit if this is the way our government does business. My initial reaction is that Triana would have held instruments capable of picking up wavelengths that existing satellite cameras might not have. I don't know but maybe someone else might. BTW, here is a link with more specific info on Triana: http://jwocky.gsfc.nasa.gov/future/triana.html .
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 03:15 PM
Response to Reply #10
11. I doubt the Republicans on the Science Committee even understood what it would do...
Edited on Tue Aug-28-07 03:17 PM by RestoreGore
Nor did they care. They saw the name Al Gore and that was all they needed to cut it.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triana_ (satellite)

"In addition to an imaging camera, a radiometer would take the first direct measurements of how much sunlight is reflected and emitted from the whole Earth. This data could constitute a barometer for the process of Global Warming. The scientific goals expanded to measure the amount of solar energy reaching Earth, cloud patterns, weather systems, monitor the health of Earth's vegetation, and track the amount of UV light reaching the surface through the ozone layer."

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LSK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 06:02 PM
Response to Reply #6
16. you do realize that the cost of this whole project is less than 1 day in Iraq?
And you never know what these images could show. It could have shown something completely unexpected.

:shrug:
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 06:13 PM
Response to Reply #16
17. Umm...no
Edited on Tue Aug-28-07 06:14 PM by Xithras
It would have shown a blue ball against an inky black sky.

As I already said, we watch every square inch of the planet from space already, we just zoom in a lot and get it in many pieces simultaneously.

And the money in Iraq is wasted. You shouldn't try to justify one waste of money by pointing at another...it sort of undermines the whole argument.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 07:10 PM
Response to Reply #17
22. Triana is not just a camera
It is in essence an early warning system regarding global warming as well, and in one shot rather than the wasteful simultaneous pieces that have to be put together. I don't know, I just don't understand your insistence in it being a waste when there is so much waste already regarding NASA. As if spending millions on a Mars mission is so much more advantageous to solving our climate crisis now. Taking pictures is something we surely do everyday, however, what have we got that can interpret those pictures and read data that can pinpoint areas of the globe where climate change is occurring and at the same time be able to educate people on the Internet 24/7? Other countries have employed satellites like Triana, including France and Russia, and at an expense of a million a year just to keep it stored, I hardly think it would be a waste to launch it. Nothing that educates is a waste to me.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 08:13 PM
Response to Reply #22
28. More than a "webcam"
From the link provided above:
OCR for page 5

GENERAL MISSION DESCRIPTION Previous and existing solar and magnetospheric missions demonstrate the suitability of Lagrangian point 1 (L1)7 as a unique and opportune deep-space location for solar and space observation.8 Triana was proposed as an exploratory mission to investigate the scientific and technical advantages of L1 for Earth observations. It will have a continuous and simultaneous view of the sunlit face of Earth that is not possible to achieve with low Earth orbit (LEO) 9 or geostationary Earth orbit (GEO)10 satellites. Triana is intended to provide a global synoptic view of Earth. It is designed to make measurements in a range of spectral channels to observe spatial and temporal variations in Earth's geophysical parameters, such as ozone, aerosols, clouds, and surface ultraviolet (UV) fluxes.

Triana is designed to measure ozone and cloud distributions to enhance studies of their effects on climate and the amount of UV radiation that reaches the ground. The vegetation canopy structure is also intended to be observed in order to contribute to monitoring the status of Earth's vegetation. The global aerosol optical thickness 11 will be measured to increase knowledge of how pollution generated by humans and as a result of natural processes affects Earth. Simultaneously, instruments on Triana are designed to determine Earth 's planetary albedo in three regions of the spectrumbroadband long wave, near-infrared (IR), and UV/visibleto better characterize Earth's radiation budget. These measurements would provide the first direct determination of the radiant power emitted by the full sunlit disk of Earth in the direction of the Sun (i.e., Earth's radiance from which planetary albedo is determined by ratioing to solar irradiance), and therefore increase researchers'understanding of how much of the Sun's energy is absorbed in the atmosphere.

In addition to Earth-viewing instruments, Triana includes an instrument package designed to measure solar wind and the interplanetary magnetic field at L1. Based on these observations Triana, during its limited lifetime, could provide early warning (about 1 hour) to communication satellites and ground-based systems that are susceptible to solar-related disturbances during space weather events.
Triana imagery and science data would also be made available for educational purposes, including distribution of Earth full-disk images over the Internet. 7 The L1 point is where Earth's gravity reduces the Sun's gravity such that the orbital angular velocity of an object positioned there matches the orbital angular velocity of Earth. A spacecraft at the L1 point thus remains on a line connecting Earth and the Sun.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Which validates the point of my entire post. Triana held great merit regarding the data it could have provided then to enhance the information we gather now and was more than just a "webcam." I believe the NASA budget for 2000 was then deliberately cut in order to make sure this never left the ground and that opinion isn't going to change anytime soon, because the taxpayers did not get what they paid for.
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 08:41 PM
Response to Reply #28
31. Perhaps that might have been a solid argument 7 years ago.
It is designed to make measurements in a range of spectral channels to observe spatial and temporal variations in Earth's geophysical parameters, such as ozone, aerosols, clouds, and surface ultraviolet (UV) fluxes.
The same information is already collected today by the CeReS cameras on the TRMM, the Aura satellite (launched 2004), and others.

Triana is designed to measure ozone and cloud distributions to enhance studies of their effects on climate and the amount of UV radiation that reaches the ground.
Presently measured by Aura and ground based stations.

The vegetation canopy structure is also intended to be observed in order to contribute to monitoring the status of Earth's vegetation.
As the two MODIS equipped satellites already do?

The only new thing Triana adds is direct albedo measurement of the entire planetary disk. We already do direct partial disk albedo measurements using the GOES and NIMBUS satellites, and do indirect full disk albedo measurement using the Earthshine method. There's no evidence that a full disk albedo measurement will provide any scientific benefit exceeding that based on the current partial disk methods.

I happen to agree that the project was cut for political reasons. This was Gore's baby, and the rethugs took joy in killing it. My argument is simply that, at this point, it isn't worthwhile to resurrect it. Any real scientific value it may have had when it was originally proposed back in 1997 has been superseded today by newer satellites with better instruments and more focused research priorities. The money is better spent elsewhere.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 05:34 AM
Response to Reply #31
35. Like launching Luke Skywalker's light saber. (My Yoda impression) Yes, very important that is...
And although I never mentioned I thought it should be launched today (only in regards to this Congress redeeming itself,) I still believe it has greater merit than some of the projects on their budget, especially if the above is one of them. There is no limitation to the modifications that could be made to such an instrument as Triana, and it is smaller that most satellites and has the capability to take readings and pictires from L1 continuously. But it will never see the light of day and that is sad especially in light of the reason why it was scrapped in the first place. But of course in this regime "weaponizing space" and sending up spy satellites is more important that bringing peace to it.
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 08:17 PM
Response to Reply #22
29. My problem is the resources it will divert.
I disagree that NASA is a wasteful agency. NASA does a lot on a bugdet that is fairly small when compared to the rest of our government. They manage dozens of missions both around our planet and others, they fund R&D on next generation space technologies, and they reliably keep political boondoggles like the ISS and Shuttle flying.

My problem with Triana is basically misplaced priorities. In an ideal world where NASA had all the funds it needed, I'd support launching it "just because". Triana is just one of many space probes mothballed for budget or political reasons, and many of the others are more deserving of launch than Triana is. I just can't support the launch of a marginally scientifically useful mission like Triana while genuinely useful space research line NuStar, TPF, and the Explorers programs are being scaled back or cancelled outright. I have a problem with NASA dedicating funds to a glorified planetary webcam at the same time they're laying off their best and brightest, and stripping research budgets.

I'm not saying Triana is of no value, but there are many other projects at NASA that are more deserving, and they should get preference for launch.

Besides, the shuttle think is kind of a dealbreaker anyway. I doubt that Triana could be ready for launch in under a year, and nobody is going to support spending an additional $400 million to add a dedicated shuttle launch just for this probe.
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Johonny Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 06:33 PM
Response to Reply #6
19. I know
The OCO satellite should produce far better carbon dioxide numbers.
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 06:51 PM
Response to Reply #19
21. And OCO is designed with global warming science in mind.
Not only mapping carbon dioxide concentrations globally, but identifying their sources and impacts on the oceans (the planet's largest carbon sinks). Unlike Triana, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory will provide real data that is useful to both climate scientists and activists fighting for change.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 07:20 PM
Response to Reply #21
24. I just think there is more to your dislike
Edited on Tue Aug-28-07 07:21 PM by RestoreGore
Ever hear the phrase, "Methinks the lady doth protesteth too much?" The more tools we have to read data regarding the effects of global warming the more of a chance we pick up all we need to know. I'm not here trashing the OCO, or the ESA, or any other satellites that help map out places in the world that give us information that are used for a good purpose. The excuse that this is too expensive in comparison to all else that is spent I am sure on other efforts that are wasteful is simply that to me, an excuse.
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Xithras Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 08:43 PM
Response to Reply #24
32. Lol. Not quite.
See #29, I explain my opposition to this craft there. I simply believe that there are other space missions far more deserving of funding. If Congress orders Triana launched, it will come at the expense of other missions.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 05:39 AM
Response to Reply #32
38. Hmmm.... Triana, or death rays? Let me think about that.
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Viva_La_Revolution Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 11:25 PM
Response to Reply #6
33. It was a really good idea back then...
It just took too long.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 05:37 AM
Response to Reply #33
37. Yes, "deliberately" took too long...
But there is no climate crisis to Congress really. Nothing to look at here. Afterall, their stupid missile defense shield is way more important.
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dave29 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 11:45 AM
Response to Reply #6
46. wrong. This was the original criticism.
After scientists had time to work on the project, they came to find it could be of great benefit.

Personally I would watch "Gore's Screen Saver" every day. Read up on the follow up stories and you will see how the scientific community rallied around this project.
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Jeanette in FL Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 02:51 PM
Response to Original message
8. Very interesting article
Thanks for posting. I never heard of this before.

He is a genius, that is for sure.
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LSK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 05:59 PM
Response to Original message
15. Have you written Barbara Boxer about this issue?
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 07:12 PM
Response to Reply #15
23. About global warming? Yes. About recommissioning Triana? Not yet.
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LSK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 10:07 AM
Response to Reply #23
39. isnt that counter-productive?
I'm sure shes well aware of Global Warming, probably as much as anyone in Washington can be.

What she should be written to about is Triana.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 10:58 AM
Response to Reply #39
40. No, it wasn't counterproductive...
I was actually responding to her mail regarding ideas for solutions to the climate crisis and being a citizen sponsor of one of her bills. And regarding Triana, I did state not yet. It's coming. And by all means, feel free to send her a letter on it as well.
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LSK Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 11:35 AM
Response to Reply #40
42. ok
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angrycarpenter Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Tue Aug-28-07 08:26 PM
Response to Original message
30. seeing the entire earth
every time you flipped through the channels would be pretty powerful PR for the idea that we are all in the same boat. Ideas can be more valuable, or dangerous, than any amount of money.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 05:35 AM
Response to Reply #30
36. Absolutely. To see how rare and precious we are
That's powerful.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 05:22 AM
Response to Original message
34. Yet, NASA has money to launch Luke Skywalker's lightsaber?
Edited on Wed Aug-29-07 05:25 AM by RestoreGore
http://news.yahoo.com/s/space/nasashuttletolaunchlukesk...

Z. Pearlman

SPACE.com
Tue Aug 28, 11:00 AM ET


When the space shuttle Discovery launches the STS-120 astronaut crew in October, the force will be with them.

Stowed on-board the orbiter, in addition to a new module for the International Space Station, will be the original prop lightsaber used by actor Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker in the 1977 film "Star Wars". The laser-like Jedi weapon is being flown to the orbiting outpost and back in honor of the 30th anniversary of director George Lucas' franchise.

Before it can make its trip to orbit though, the lightsaber will first fly to Houston, Texas, home of NASA's Johnson Space Center, by way of Southwest Airlines and a Star Wars-studded send off from Oakland International Airport in California on Tuesday.

Chewbacca, the towering Wookiee best known from the film as Han Solo's co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon, will officially hand the lightsaber over to officials from Space Center Houston during a ceremony at the airport. Joining "Chewie" will be other characters from the six-part sci-fi classic, including Boba and Jango Fett and together they help push back the airplane on the tarmac.

Once on the ground in Houston, the flight will be greeted by a troop of Stormtroopers and other Star Wars notables including the droid R2-D2, who will deliver the lightsaber to a waiting line of Hummers outside the baggage claim of the William P. Hobby Airport. Accompanied by a police escort, the soon-to-be real space artifact will be driven to Space Center Houston to be exhibited inside a vault that currently displays moon rocks.

Space Center Houston, as the official visitor center for NASA's Johnson Space Center, plans to publicly display the lightsaber through Labor Day, after which it will be prepared for its launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The lightsaber is scheduled to depart California at 10:40 a.m. PDT and arrive in Texas at 4:20 p.m. CDT according to a release jointly issued Monday by Southwest Airlines, Space Center Houston and Lucasfilm.

STS-120, targeted for launch on October 23, will be led by commander Pam Melroy and pilot George Zamka. The seven-person crew is completed by mission specialists Scott Parazynski, Doug Wheelock, Stephanie Wilson and European Space Agency astronaut Paolo Nespoli, as well as space station Expedition 16 flight engineer Dan Tani. Besides the lightsaber, their primary cargo is the station's second Italian-built U.S. multi-port node named Harmony.

Return to collectSPACE on Tuesday, August 28 for pictures from the Houston arrival of the lightsaber and its delivery to the space center.
~~~~~~
And he isn't even real, but global warming is. How much did this cost us? I think I rest my case.
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The Backlash Cometh Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 11:31 AM
Response to Original message
41. Al Gore is a Cassandra and we are all damaged because the
Republicans interferred with Al's destiny.
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LiberalEsto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 11:41 AM
Response to Original message
44. I don't think we'd have appreciated it
back in 1999, the way we could today. Our knowledge and acceptance of global climate change has come about slowly.

Only since Gore became the leader in stopping climate change, has it been brought to our collective attention seriously. And there is still plenty of denial, backed by corporate interests.

Too often we humans have to find ourselves smack in the middle of a crisis before we act, rather than taking preventative steps.
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bos1 Donating Member (997 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 11:45 AM
Response to Original message
45. Any and all space vehicles are OK in my book
except weapons systems
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Triana Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 12:03 PM
Response to Original message
47. Well, now you know where I got my DU username....
... :)

This was one of the FIRST things bu$hit, Inc. did was scrap this program. I was SO PISSED! The satellite was ready for launch and now, it's sitting gathering dust somewhere while we cook and the bu$hit corprat, oil and defense cartel twiddles and pays people to LIE about it. :mad:
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caraher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 01:31 PM
Response to Reply #47
51. I am a physicist, and xithras' case against Triana looks solid
I just don't see the *science* case for a single camera getting all Earth in its field of view vs. a mosaic of imagery from multiple satellites. Denigrating it as a "webcam in space" is perhaps on the harsh side, but closer to the truth than pretending it does something magical in terms of "a climate change early warning system."

I won't try to put a price tag on the emotional and political value of ongoing continuous imagery showing Earth as one planet.

And for the record, I think Al Gore has done a fantastic job explaining the science of the issue in "An Inconvenient Truth" and other efforts to put the environment on the front burner. But I think that there are plenty of more serious examples of Republican destruction of science than shelving this satellite. The danger of making a big deal of this case is that it will resonate in the (empty) heads of those who bought into the "Gore is a liar" smear as another snow job. "Al Gore had an idea for a satellite" will be turned into, "Yeah, and he invented the Internet, too!" followed by the Beavis & Butthead chortles of the right-wing media. That's just not going to advance a sensible environmental policy in the current political arena (no matter how low *'s numbers get).
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 08:34 PM
Response to Reply #51
54. I look at it as the difference between only having hand held mirrors to view your self
versus a full length mirror. If you have two or more hand held mirrors, you can view every section of your body and you can even put them all together and create a mosaic of sorts, but the sections are still there. Your face versus your waist, your hands as opposed to your legs, and so on. A full length mirror gives one the whole identity unbroken by borders with continuous live action. This would have been the equivalent of not only giving all of Earth a full length mirror but eyes in the back of our head as well, at least from my one sided North American perspective.
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ElboRuum Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 12:25 PM
Response to Original message
48. More Kudos to the Media...
Because I've never heard of this thing before now, and I try to assiduously keep up with matters of science and technology.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed Aug-29-07 04:58 PM
Response to Original message
53. There was hope Triana would fly as late as 2004
Edited on Wed Aug-29-07 05:06 PM by RestoreGore
http://www.space.com/spacenews/archive03/trianaarch_011...

"If DSCVR is launched in late 2004, it would be the first NASA environmental research satellite positioned beyond low Earth orbit."

It still has merit so I still have hope it can fly one day, and will be writing a letter to Congress. How dare they seek to destroy not only a useful tool for space exploration that would be an early warning system for our climate especially now, but a man's hopes and dreams in the process.
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comtec Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-30-07 05:47 AM
Response to Original message
55. You can see a forest close up
But you can't SEE the forest until you step back, some times far away.
Every time we look at some things, a concept, a star, a planet, from a different angle we gain immeasurable knowledge.
The reality is we DON'T know really what we'll see if we look at the earth from this distance for an extended period of time.
And hasn't anyone heard of ZOOM before?

The thing is, we need this kind of thing in orbit, looking back at our selves. gopers hate looking at themselves, because even they see the rot, evil, horrible crap that they are.

yes it's a fair chunk of change, and we might need to put it on a rocket... but at humans, there is a intrinsic need to look back at ourselves. Reflection, we NEED to SEE our planet as it is. We can get most of the measurement as noted above from relatively low orbit birds. But we can't see the entire picture at once. at the L1 distance we can collect even more information. It might even be possible to look at other things. I have never completely understood why we don't have another hubble telescope at such a distance, so that we can get an even clearer view of the universe with less attenuation caused by Earth's back shine.

Think of what we could learn with a telescope truly in the blackness, looking out...

I'm waiting for google hubble :)
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caraher Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-30-07 11:26 AM
Response to Reply #55
59. Let me explain a few things
First, good news: Google Earth's new Sky feature DOES incorporate Hubble imagery. I assume that's the kind of thing you meant by "Google Hubble."

Second, there's one huge technological reason Hubble was not at L1: you can't get to L1 with the Space Shuttle. The Shuttle only gets you to low earth orbit, a few hundred miles up. So it would be impossible to put Hubble at L1 given the design assumption that you deliver it to orbit on the Shuttle and service it with the Shuttle, too. If we'd somehow launched Hubble to L1 the critical repair mission to correct the manufacturing error on the mirror could not have flown.

Finally, the argument that the only useful way to have full-Earth coverage is by having a camera at a large distance is specious. Imagery stitched together from satellites nearer Earth is in no respect inferior to an image from a distant camera from a hard science perspective, and is probably superior in many respects outlined in Xithras' posts. When you use Google Earth, is there any intrinsic problem with the image mosaics generated? For that matter, it's pretty much impossible to have a single telescope that can take in the entire sky at once from Earth, yet there's no problem creating low-zoom representations of the sky like star charts or zoomable representations of the sky based on small-field, high magnification images like Google Sky and the many educational astronomy programs written over the year.

If you can only have ONE satellite, perhaps the case for a distant Earth observatory could be make. Or perhaps there's some kind of aesthetic argument. But there isn't the slightest reason to believe that there's some unique scientific measurement that cannot be made as well or better by a collection of independent instruments in lower orbits. And in fact, there's one major limitation a single distant instrument faces - it can see at most half of Earth at a time! If you want truly global coverage, you pretty much have to have at least a small "constellation" of satellites.

If for no other reason than because the Earth is a sphere and not a circular disk, it's impossible for a single satellite to do a better job monitoring the planet on a continuous, complete basis, no matter where you put it, than a coordinated collection of satellites.
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Botany Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-30-07 07:57 AM
Response to Original message
56. So how many days in Iraq would cover this cost?
A deep space camera and other technologies that could monitor the
earth would be of great scientific value to many people.

Also I know that various theories were put forward that the outer shell
of the earth's atmosphere would change with global warming and that the
Dept. of Defense has already observed such changes w/ their satellites
and now plans for climate changes.


This would have been up in 2001 and many ?s about global warming would have been
answered by now.
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Gamey Donating Member (421 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-30-07 10:42 AM
Response to Original message
58. Where's the evidence of lasting only TWO YEARS?
Please quote the relevant sections and links to the claim that it would only last two years.
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RestoreGore Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Aug-30-07 12:12 PM
Response to Reply #58
60. Personally I think it could last as long as it was scientifically viable
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