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NASA Earth Space

NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory Set For Launch Tomorrow 183

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the door-to-door-to-get-the-gas dept.
bughunter writes "The Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO) is slated for launch tomorrow, February 24, 2009. OCO is the first earth science observatory that will create a detailed map of atmospheric carbon dioxide sources and sinks around the globe. And not a moment too soon. Popular Mechanics has a concise article on the science that this mission will perform, and how it fits in with the existing 'A-train' of polar-orbiting earth observatories. JPL's page goes into more detail. And NASA's OCO Launch Blog will have continuous updates as liftoff approaches and the spacecraft reports in and checks out from 700km up."
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NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory Set For Launch Tomorrow

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  • by ProfMobius (1313701) on Monday February 23, 2009 @05:41PM (#26962295)
    Am i the only one to read Orbital Canon in the title ? I freaked out just before realizing... No more C&C for me.
  • by Van Cutter Romney (973766) <sriram.venkataramaniNO@SPAMgeemail.com> on Monday February 23, 2009 @05:44PM (#26962325)
    As long as it doesn't collide with another satellite. :)
  • War of the Deniers (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bemopolis (698691) on Monday February 23, 2009 @05:56PM (#26962499)
    Who will win the battle: the pro-troleum anti-AGW crowd, the creationists who believe that man cannot corrupt the Earth since it was created by a loving God, or the Flat-Earthers who think all satellites are a conspiracy from Big Spheroid?

    Whoever wins, we lose.
    • Broad brush (Score:5, Funny)

      by Rei (128717) on Monday February 23, 2009 @06:01PM (#26962553) Homepage

      Very classy there. Oh, sure, go ahead -- lump us in with those two groups of anti-scientific, peer-reviewed-research-denying kooks. But I can assure you, we'll be getting the last laugh when you sail off the edge of the Earth.

      • by TempeTerra (83076)

        The greatest pain of reading at +4 is that when something like this comes up I can't mod it any higher. I salute you, sir.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      the creationists who believe that man cannot corrupt the Earth since it was created by a loving God

      Automatic -5 Flamebait (or something) for me, but being a creationist, I can say that I have never heard of the position you just laid out. Incidentally, as a creationist, I think I actually have more of a reason to care about the earth, as most Christians that believe the book of Genesis will also believe that man was put on the earth as a caretaker of it. That definitely implies using it wisely and not destroying it.

      On the other hand, I don't exactly know what obligation I have to do anything for the ea

      • by Locklin (1074657) on Monday February 23, 2009 @06:18PM (#26962733) Homepage

        On the other hand, I don't exactly know what obligation I have to do anything for the earth if there is no God and I'm a product of evolution.

        The earth will be fine. Life will go on, probably with a small loss of diversity (probably won't even register compared to some of the mass extinctions in the past). The motivation is that our actions on this matter may have drastic effects on the living conditions of our children and grandchildren.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by vlm (69642)

        On the other hand, I don't exactly know what obligation I have to do anything for the earth if there is no God and I'm a product of evolution.

        Your obligation according to evolution is to maximize the survival of your descendants.
        Ruined planet = no descendants, or no descendants of descendants, etc.
        No descendants equals evolutionary failure.
        So, your obligation is not to screw it up.

        Seems obvious?

        • by Hatta (162192)

          But why do I care if my genes are evolutionarily successful?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by TapeCutter (624760)
            "But why do I care if my genes are evolutionarily successful?"

            As a farther of tow adult childeren and soon to be one grandkid I say you won't know the answer to that until your genes ARE evolutionarily successful.
          • Instinct man. If you lack that instinct, oh well, guess your genes are evolutionary failures and won't be carried on.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          That is presuming a fundamental and rather unfounded proposition: that I have a [moral?] obligation to do my best to let my descendants live. Why should I personally care if "evolutionary failure" occurs? I live, I die, and I'm gone from the world. If my descendants die and evolutionary failure occurs... well, that would imply a few things, at least to my mind/amount of education in evolutionary thinking. (1) I and my descendants were not fit to survive, and thus evolution didn't "fail" but rather succe

          • by wish bot (265150)

            If it talks like a Nihilist, smells like a Nihilist and quacks like a Nihilist then it IS a Nihilist.

            You're not the first or the last to feel this way. However let's put it like this: estimates are that the changes we are making are so drastic, that YOU, not your children will begin to feel the impacts.

            Case in point: current bushfires in Melbourne, Australia. Record heat and drought, predicted by climate models, due to weather pattern changes (man-made or not is irrelevant), has created the worst fire condi

            • I drove through Kilmore on the evening of the firestorm. I have experienced bushfires for almost 50yrs including ash wednesday and the '69 fires but this was unlike anything I have ever seen. I knew from the volcanic appearance of the smoke plume that rose to a height of 15km, this was what the CSIRO and others had warned us about.

              By time Monday rolled around many in the press where blaming the very people who fortold of such a disater, ie: (rational) environmentalists. One particular anti-science hate m
          • Yes, the universe is meaningless until you ascribe some meaning to it.

            If you want to believe there is a "higher authority" that has already done that for you then fine but please refrain from critizing others who find meaning without serving said authority, for that is the sin of arrogance.

            An excellent book on the subject is "Unweaving the rainbow" by R. Dawkins. The book quite clearly demonstrates that like most humans, the current king of the Atheists also experiences the feeling that you might desc
          • by wizardforce (1005805) on Monday February 23, 2009 @10:05PM (#26964857) Journal

            those who don't find the need to protect themselves, their descendants or their environment are going to kill themselves off.

            I actually don't see any real obligation, if I were an atheistic evolutionist, to do anything about the earth. Or, for that matter, to do anything for humanity. Unless I see a distinct benefit in it for me AND I have a desire to reap said benefit.

            From my point of view as an atheist and a scientist [I am an evolutionist but also a gravityist, relativityist etc...] the answer as to why someone suc has myself would bother helping anyone other than myself is that I feel good doing so. Just as any other normal, rational human being would. Part of the reason why this is the case is because of all of that natural selection combined with genetic change that has been going on for billions of years.. those species that had a tendency to cooperate of their own free will no doubt had an advantage than those who exercised their primitive ignorant self interest instead. This is likely a point you would agree with yes? That voluntary cooperation is better than pure ignorant selfishness? The point is this: cooperative behavior is not dependant on the belief of your subservience to a deity of some sort. It is a rather useful set of adaptive behaviors that assist our species to exist and function normally in society. It is normal for human beings to cooperate because they know that doing so makes them feel good about their actions.

          • by vlm (69642)

            Why should I personally care if "evolutionary failure" occurs?

            If, and only if, you're of the belief that tendencies toward intelligence, altruism, responsibility, etc have absolutely 0% zero none nada no genetic component at all, then thats a perfectly consistent belief. Also have to believe that there is zero none nada social/cultural component that trains those attitudes. Its a pretty peculiar set of beliefs, if you think about it, since it implies that intelligence, altruism, responsibility, etc, for all individuals comes completely independently from "nothing" o

          • I don't accept any theistic beliefs, and I do accept the validity of evolutionary theory. I don't recognise any universal, absolute and arbitrary morality. I (like most people I imagine) voluntarily subscribe to a personal ethical framework that I refine and revise the more I experience. Why do I bother? It turns out that I'm not some kind of rapist murdering thief because it's glaringly self evident that that kind of behaviour wouldn't do me any favours. Looking at it from a purely pragmatic viewpoint, it

          • by Rei (128717)

            Ah, philosophy; always great material for discussions :)

            The answer to what you're looking for is "existentialism." Indeed, in a universe without inherent meaning, there is no meaning behind any action. Or any emotion, or anything. If it were to make me "happy" to take care of a child, to what meaning would even that happiness have? None.

            But at the same time, if you live in a universe without meaning, what is the meaning of even going on living? None. Of course, there's no meaning to dying, either. Th

      • by Qrlx (258924) on Monday February 23, 2009 @06:47PM (#26963087) Homepage Journal

        I don't exactly know what obligation I have to do anything for the earth if there is no God and I'm a product of evolution.

        Well then you should give that one some thought, since at least the latter half of your statement is undeniably true.

      • by pdabbadabba (720526) on Monday February 23, 2009 @07:00PM (#26963215) Homepage

        I have never heard quite that argument either, but I have heard the argument that the earth's resources were put here by God for our use and so, well...we'd better get to it! I know I've heard Mitt Romney say that, and I think (without much evidence) it is actually a relatively mainstream Mormon position.

        • Well, to expound a bit on the Biblical principle there... the actual idea is that yes, the earth's resources were put here by God for our use but we were put here to care for it... or, in Christian lingo, to be stewards of it. And, obviously, the idea is to be a good steward, not a bad steward.

          It's not so much a mainstream Mormon position as a literal-Genesis position, whether that's in a mainstream Christian church, Mormon group, Catholic church, conservative church, evangelical Christian church, etc.

          Actu

      • by dbIII (701233)
        We're not using "creationists" in terms of people that believe the book of Genesis because that even includes Charles Darwin. We're using it to describe those people that think the world is 4000 years old which is some rubbish that came in from elsewhere.

        The "intelligent design" advocates are a related problem, since their argument is "it's all too hard to understand, the God ate my homework". Unfortunately people that take a very simplistic veiw of faith object strongly to those that want to find out how

      • by drolli (522659)
        I dont know how you can be creationist, but not take the revelations seriously. You are one of the cherry-pickers . You dont have to care abut Carbon Dioxide if Armageddon will come soon. Or are you one of these cherry-picker-types when it comes to the bible?
      • by khallow (566160)

        On the other hand, I don't exactly know what obligation I have to do anything for the earth if there is no God and I'm a product of evolution.

        Your existence is due to the efforts of others, intelligent and not. You decide how much of an obligation that means you owe. Society will impose its own obligations on you. Any gods that happen to exist might attempt to impose their own as well.

        Having said that, the grand parent has some absurd and useless caricatures.

  • by loose electron (699583) on Monday February 23, 2009 @06:12PM (#26962683) Homepage

    Its interesting that no matter how much knowledge, data, statistics, etc, are gathered, there will always be those that are never convinced. Be the subject, evolution, global warming, or that the earth is round.

    I can find people that will vehemently deny the validity of all three of the above. Sometimes you just want to throw your hands up in the air and quit trying.

    My favorite one in the right here and now is "Clean Coal" - Well, if you want to convince us that coal is clean energy, then why don't you build a clean coal plant, and let people come in and measure and analyze your work? If they can demonstrate just one "Clean Coal" plant, then that would be worth more than the tens of millions of dollars put into advertising for clean coal. Sorry, but when this OCO gets running its going to be interesting to see the patterns and observations received on the coal plants spewing CO2, NOx, trace Mercury, Sulfur, and other goodies into the air.

    But that doesn't mean it will convince some people...

    • The invention of the term "junk science" was the rhetorical equivalent to the Manhattan Project. There is now a verbal nuclear device to use when cornered.

      Can we add a new corollary to Godwin's Law?

    • Its interesting that no matter how much knowledge, data, statistics, etc, are gathered, there will always be those that are never convinced. Be the subject, evolution, global warming, or that the earth is round.

      What you don't understand, as you triumph evolution or the round earth, is how many times scientists have been WRONG. Before the earth was round, it was flat, it's been shaped like a disk. It's been hollow, filled with magma, it's had a liquid core, a solid core, and now it might have two cores orb

      • "Before the earth was round, it was flat, it's been shaped like a disk."

        The idea that 'people in the past thought the Earth was flat' is an invention of the 20th century. Stephen Jay Gould has an excellent article discussing this fact. The Egyptians, Greeks, Incas, etc all had a very good idea about the shape of the earth. Using it as an ad-hominem is ironic.

        I think as far as the scientific method goes, it is almost always better to be a denier then a cheerleader.

        • by tjstork (137384)

          The thing that Gould missed was that yeah, some smart people, were clued into the Earth being round, but by and large most people were pretty stupid. I mean, before we go and bestow great piles of brains on our middle ages ancestors, we do need to be reminded that even some of the kings could not read. Like some Vikings, they were going to sail off the edge of the planet...

      • "But, before you go on about how science progresses and is never wrong, let's apply that same standard of excellence to our former President? I mean, George Bush wasn't wrong when he invaded Iraq. He merely learned that Saddam did not have WMD, and the original plans for the invasion needed to be revised to consider an increased number of soldiers. He wasn't wrong... he just learned!"

        The basic tennet of the philosophy of science is scientists are never "right", the basic tennet of Bush was that he was ne
      • and now it might have two cores orbiting each other.

        The Core II: Raping Science Harder
        Coming this summer!

      • Your post amounts to one very long winded series of straw men and non-sequiters.

        Before the earth was round, it was flat, it's been shaped like a disk. It's been hollow, filled with magma, it's had a liquid core, a solid core, and now it might have two cores orbiting each other.

        what you've very neatly laid out there is the progression of scientific knowledge gradually refining the consensus towards something more and more accurate. Notice how that sequence didn't go "first it flat then it was round then it

    • Its interesting that no matter how much knowledge, data, statistics, etc, are gathered, there will always be those that are never convinced.

      Considering how often knowledge, data, and statistics have changed fundamentally the way we understand various subjects over the millenia why is it that you think now we have all of it correct? Not that I think the earth is flat, cool, and 10,000 years old, but get some perspective.

    • by AstrumPreliator (708436) on Monday February 23, 2009 @07:09PM (#26963307)
      Of course there will always be people like the ones you describe. People on Slashdot throwing around the word "denialist" is starting to annoy me now though. What, was heretic too strong of a word for you? I mean seriously, how do you deal with someone who believes the Earth is flat? Personally if they believe the Earth is flat then there's no reason for me to talk to them, their mind is made up. Scientific reasoning will never reach them. Lately Slashdot commenters, for whatever reason, have moved away from scientific reasoning onto name calling and petty bickering though. Apparently global climate change is serious enough to warrant discussion, but not well thought out discussion, just ad hominem attacks. Not to mention half the people who are called "denialists" are just people arguing about the extent of anthropogenic climate change, but agree the average temperature of the Earth is rising faster than current models predict it should.

      I'm usually too disgusted by these threads on Slashdot to post anymore. This time I'm posting rather early in hopes that at least a few people will read this.
      • People on Slashdot throwing around the word "denialist" is starting to annoy me now though. What, was heretic too strong of a word for you?

        We call them "denialists" because it's an accurate description of their ideology: deny, deny, deny, no matter what the evidence says. They're not "heretics" because there's no holy doctrine for them to deviate from. They like to call themselves "skeptics," but that's not really accurate either, because "skeptic" implies that although you may be very dubious about a pr

    • coal plants spewing CO2, NOx, trace Mercury, Sulfur, and other goodies into the air

      The other bits have been removed for decades with things like bag filters, scrubbers, electrostatic precipitators etc - they even do this in China, Brazil etc. Carbon dioxide is a different story, and that's what people are talking about with new "clean coal" technology which is just a shorthand for "carbon capture and storage". It doesn't appear to be an easy thing to do, unlike the much simpler process of just using a lo

    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      My favorite one in the right here and now is "Clean Coal" - Well, if you want to convince us that coal is clean energy, then why don't you build a clean coal plant, and let people come in and measure and analyze your work? If they can demonstrate just one "Clean Coal" plant, then that would be worth more than the tens of millions of dollars put into advertising for clean coal.

      There's no such thing as clean coal, because even if it didn't release tons of CO2 (hint: "clean" coal doesn't reduce CO2 emissions, just all the other kinds) you'd still have to mine it and that is a horribly environmentally negative process.

      We can ALREADY find smokestacks spewing out more than they are permitted to as quickly as we can pay people to climb them and stick probes in the smoke. The real issue is deciding to do something about it.

  • First observation (Score:2, Insightful)

    by EZLeeAmused (869996)
    A huge plume of CO2 located off the eastern coast of Florida.
  • by slashdotlurker (1113853) on Monday February 23, 2009 @07:02PM (#26963237)
    Particularly apt name.
  • by simonff (632498)
    Meanwhile, you can browse interactive maps [purdue.edu] of US antropogenic fossil fuel CO2 emissions based on the data produced by Project Vulcan at Purdue. Google Earth browser plugin is needed, or you can load all data in a KML file in Google Earth directly. There is also a flythrough video [youtube.com] explaining the different data views. Full disclosure - I'm the programmer who created the maps. Yes, the page is slow to load, but once a layer is accessed, it'll stay cached.
    • Did this fail because they wanted it to fail, or because NASA couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with a bass fiddle?

      • by ashitaka (27544)

        "Fairing failed to separate"???

        This is one of the most basic pieces on a launch vehicle. Even SpaceX can get this part right.

        Wonder what the turnaround time on a new satellite is. Obviously this would be insured.

    • Orbital won part of the ISS re-supply contract. But, l-mart, boeing, and atx are suing saying that they had a better plan. In point of fact, NASA said that the alternative had better points, etc. Now, Orbital loses an important sat. This may well lose that contract for Orbital or at least allow that partial contract to be cut in half (half to each). To be honest, I would not mind seeing that happen. We NEED multiple launchers. But if that happens, I would love to see Boeing, L-Mart, or even the US buy a big
  • Launch Failed this morning. Fairing around satellite failed to separate and it went into the ocean down near the Antarctic.

    http://www.cnn.com/2009/TECH/space/02/24/nasa.launch/index.html [cnn.com]

If A = B and B = C, then A = C, except where void or prohibited by law. -- Roy Santoro

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