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Space & Astronomy

Environmental satellites are rapidly failing

By T.K. Randall
November 10, 2012 · Comment icon 12 comments

Image Credit: NASA
The failure of older instruments and the lack of replacements could lead to future 'climate blindness'.
According to the National Center for Atmospheric Research, satellites key to tracking the Earth's atmosphere are not being replaced fast enough to compensate for the failure of older equipment. With the way things are going, NASA and the NOAA may have as few as 20 sensors remaining in orbit by 2020.

The NOAA's next polar satellite for example isn't due to launch until 2017, forcing NASA to launch a stopgap satellite in the meantime. "We are basically going blind in terms of our ability to monitor the planet," climate satellite expert Antonio Busalacchi has warned.
Our eyes around Earth are seeing less. US environmental satellites that helped forecasters predict superstorm Sandy are failing. By 2020, the fleet could have just a quarter of the sensors it has today.


Source: New Scientist | Comments (12)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by Majikwayz 12 years ago
we need to get on it....get some more up there quick!!
Comment icon #4 Posted by questionmark 12 years ago
It happens because there is no money to replace the older ones, all satellites have a limited life.
Comment icon #5 Posted by richardlivo 12 years ago
They should stop wasting money on killing each other for power. All going to be screwed for the sake of a few thousand people
Comment icon #6 Posted by Babe Ruth 12 years ago
Yes, priorities are priorities. We don't need to support our infrastructure, we have many illegitimate and unnecessary wars to wage. Military satellites are OK. We don't need no stinkin' environmental satellites!
Comment icon #7 Posted by IamLegend 12 years ago
i think it happens because of the activity of the sun The sun has been startlingly inactive recently.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Hilander 12 years ago
The sun has been startlingly inactive recently. Wonder if its getting ready for a big one.
Comment icon #9 Posted by Doug1029 12 years ago
Interestingly enough, the claims of cooling in the troposphere from a few years ago that Little Fish was so excited about, were due to a failure to compensate for orbital decay of the satellites. This was discovered and corrected, but Little Fish's sources still haven't update their propaganda. Climate satellites are actaully quite cheap compared to others. It isn't the cost that's the problem: it's the efforts of scientific illiterates, like Oklahoma's Inhofe, and their support by BIG OIL (among others) that is preventing deployment (Most of the instrumentation alrwady exists.). Doug
Comment icon #10 Posted by BFB 12 years ago
Well you don't have to worry. A rebutal to this paper will soon be out as this is totally nonsense. I know for a fact that EOS are lanuching 19 new satelites in the near future. NOAA got a 7% increase in the budget for new satelites. And I know they are sending 2 up within the next 3-4 years.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Doug1029 12 years ago
Well you don't have to worry. A rebutal to this paper will soon be out as this is totally nonsense. I know for a fact that EOS are lanuching 19 new satelites in the near future. NOAA got a 7% increase in the budget for new satelites. And I know they are sending 2 up within the next 3-4 years. There's also the problem that NASA for some strange reason, prefers big, expensive satellites to small cheaper ones. Don't understand that. Maybe it's got something to do with keeping their technicians employed. Doug
Comment icon #12 Posted by Professor T 12 years ago
i think it happens because of the activity of the sun Quite probably true.. While most are sheilded against X-rays and EM radiation, this year we've had I think about 3 X-class solar flares which bombard them with damaging electro-magnetic radiation.. This damages sensitive electronics..


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