The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) agency is launching another global warming satellite that is designed to monitor carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. The agency previously tried to launch a satellite almost exactly like it five years ago, but the launch failed and the satellite went straight into the ocean.
This time, NASA hopes its $468 million mission will be a success. It is using a different rocket to put the satellite in space, which should allow for a successful launch.
The point of this costly mission is to study global warming, or more specifically, how much carbon dioxide is floating around the atmosphere. Many scientists claim that global warming, which is the rise of the Earth’s temperature, is due to CO2 being emitted into Earth’s atmosphere from various human inventions. Things like cars and smokestacks are most likely the cause of all the carbon dioxide floating around, but NASA wants to get a detailed look at it all.
“This will allow us to understand what processes are controlling how much carbon is absorbed in a given time and place,” Anna Michalak, a scientist at the Carnegie Institution for Science who is not part of the mission, said in an email.
NASA’s mission will take around two years, and will hopefully give scientists more data on how to stop global warming from occurring further, or at least how to slow the process down.
The last mission ended in complete disaster as the rocket carrying the pricey satellite fell straight into waters near Antarctica. After the 2009 failure, scientists recreated almost the exact same satellite, but will be using a more reliable rocket. Although more time could be taken to fine tune the launch pad, scientists agree that climate change should be fought as soon as possible.
“We don’t have time to waste. We need solutions now,” said Elisabeth Holland, a professor of climate change at the University of South Pacific in Fiji who helped write the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report.
The satellite is expected to join a constellation of 17 other NASA spacecraft that revolve around the planet.
“We’re excited about this opportunity — this opportunity to finally be able to complete some unfinished business,” said Ralph Basilio, project manager of the mission, during a pre-launch briefing.