We agree with reader Victor Twardowski that this sounds like a total waste of taxpayer money.
GILBERT, Ariz. — A $470 million NASA satellite built by Orbital Sciences Corp. (NYSE: ORB) here promises to give scientists their clearest picture yet of Earth’s warming atmosphere and provide a powerful new tool for climate-change science after its much-anticipated launch next week.
From its perch 438 miles above Earth’s surface, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 will be NASA’s first satellite with the sole purpose of measuring atmospheric levels of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas linked to global warming.
During its two-year mission, the satellite will provide more-accurate readings of CO2 levels on global and regional scales, allowing scientists to better understand how natural processes and human activity affect concentrations of the greenhouse gas.
Using space-based measurements, scientists can look for carbon sources, like cities where CO2 is produced in mass quantities. They also expect to find carbon “sinks,” areas like the Amazon rain forest where dense vegetation sucks carbon dioxide from the air to produce oxygen.
Cities produce a lot of CO2? Who knew?
If they really want accurate CO2 measurements, why don’t they open a window or put up a balloon to take an air sample? But we guess that wouldn’t create enough jobs for NASA or Orbital Sciences.
Oh, but the satellite might also be able to reveal just how much CO2 is spewed by China.
Global leaders will be able to see which countries, states and even cities emit the most CO2, he said.
“It will be very clear,” Myint said. “Nobody will be able to deny what is going on in a particular city or province. So policy makers can make real serious decisions based on what is going on in those areas.”
Yeah, just throw that satellite data in their faces, and the Chinese will have no choice but to take action! Right.
This is actually the second such satellite constructed. The first one crashed due to launch failure back in 2009. But no worries, the ‘scientists,’ were able to scrape together more taxpayer money to build a replacement, bringing the total cost to the range of $750 million.
Note also that the satellite has a “two year mission.” What happens after two years, does it turn into a pumpkin? Does this mean taxpayers will have to fork over another half-billion or so every two years?
We’re not the only ones skeptical of the utility of this satellite.
Associate Professor Arnim Wiek at Arizona State believes the nearly $750 million spent on the two satellites could have been better spent on solution-oriented research, such as renewable energy and low-carbon urban development.
The data itself will not directly generate solutions to the problem, he said.
“While this might be a worthwhile scientific endeavor, it does not avoid or reduce any carbon-dioxide emissions,” Wiek said. “Even more, it does not provide any knowledge on how to reduce carbon-dioxide emissions.”
Ah, but the good professor is perhaps not aware of the real benefit of the satellite.
Orbital Sciences is a Virginia-based spacecraft and rocket manufacturer with a major satellite production center and 300 employees in this Phoenix suburb.
Global Warming sure is big business. Won’t happen, but an enterprising journalist should check Orbital Sciences’ political contributions.
Best case scenario: NASA is actually launching a secret military satellite, and CO2 is just a convenient cover story.