Carbon Monitoring Satellite Bites the Dust

There was lots of news about NASA’s Carbon Monitoring Satellite.  Unfortunately, it failed to reach orbit and came down in Antarctica.

In this recent undated photo provided by Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., a Taurus XL rocket with NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory on-board, sits on the launch pad. The rocket carrying the observatory blasted off early Tuesday morning, Feb. 24, 2009, from the base, but apparently failed to separate from the launch vehicle and splashed into the ocean. (AP Photo/U.S. Air Force, Senior Airman Cole M. Presley)

NASA rocket failure blow to Earth watching network

By SETH BORENSTEIN – 1 day ago

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new satellite to track the chief culprit in global warming crashed into the ocean near Antarctica after launch Tuesday, dealing a major setback to NASA's already weak network for monitoring Earth and its environment from above.

The $280 million mission was designed to answer one of the biggest question marks of global warming: What happens to the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide spewed by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas? How much of it is sucked up and stored by plants, soil and oceans and how much is left to trap heat on Earth, worsening global warming?

"It's definitely a setback. We were already well behind," said Neal Lane, science adviser during former President Bill Clinton's administration. "The program was weak and now it's really weak."

Failure was caused by

NASA officials said a protective cover on the satellite didn't release and fall away, and the extra weight meant the satellite couldn't reach orbit.