Want to read Slashdot from your mobile device? Point it at m.slashdot.org and keep reading!


Forgot your password?
Earth Government NASA The Almighty Buck United States Science

US Climate Satellite Capabilities In Jeopardy 127

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Wired: "The United States is in danger of losing its ability to monitor key climate variables from satellites, according to a new Government Accountability Office report. The country's Earth-observing satellite program has been underfunded for a decade, and the impact of the lack of funds is finally hitting home. The GAO report found that capabilities originally slated for two new Earth-monitoring programs, NPOESS and GOES-R, run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Defense, have been cut, and adequate plans to replace them do not exist. Meanwhile, up until six months ago, NASA had 15 functional Earth-sensing satellites. Two of them went down in the past year, and of the remaining 13, 12 are past their design lifetimes. Only seven may be functional by 2016, said Waleed Abdalati, a longtime NASA satellite scientist now teaching at the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Taken together, American scientists will soon find themselves without the ability to monitor changes to key Earth systems at a time when such measurements could help determine the paths of the world's energy and transportation systems."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

US Climate Satellite Capabilities In Jeopardy

Comments Filter:
  • National Security (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Nemilar ( 173603 ) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @09:31AM (#32468340) Homepage

    This will probably wind up getting funding for one reason -- national security. It's vital to defense to be able to monitor (and to a large degree, predict) the weather. Think multi-billion dollar supercarrier fleet accidentally heading into a hurricane.

    Or does the defense department have their own weather satellite network?

  • Re:Maybe... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by plopez ( 54068 ) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @09:40AM (#32468364) Journal

    Seriously, if you could sell it to the Ag. special interests as critical to their industry the spigots would open up and there would be more money than the climate researchers knew what to do with. Also push it as important to the satellite manufacturers and as a high tech jobs program. It's all in how you sell it.

  • Re:Yup (Score:3, Interesting)

    by hedwards ( 940851 ) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @09:58AM (#32468430)
    Not really, it's corporate welfare for people that adamantly oppose corporate welfare. Here in WA we've got a potential GOP senatorial candidate that got called out for receiving 350k+ in subsidies. He claims that if elected he'll get them cut. I don't think anybody believes him, and the GOP seems to be largely ignoring him.
  • Re:Broader question (Score:3, Interesting)

    by AHuxley ( 892839 ) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:07AM (#32468462) Journal
    Sputnik set the legal overflight idea. The US invested in science to catch up the science gap. Flushed with ww2 German tech they trained a generation to a very high standard.
    The problem with an educated public is they are hard to manage.
    American scientific needs slipped, public funding slipped and science outside of military-industrial complex was cut.
    The public became more predicable and profits where safe.
    The dick waiving contest ended with the Soviets, collaboration means giving up control and a loss of face.
    Early warning and monitoring will be the preserve of the US military sat networks until the sats fail in a public way.
    The 1998 Galaxy 4 sat issues and the pager network failure might provide an insight. The data stops, people realise they paid a premium for little backup and ask questions, only to be distracted very quickly.
    New sats will be launched but weather science is not an issue with traction after climate gate ect.
  • You are blind (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Chibi Merrow ( 226057 ) <mrmerrow@moHORSE ... minus herbivore> on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:09AM (#32468482) Homepage Journal

    The money has all been used up on the much more important (sarcasm) war on Iraq. ...Because of Republican ideologies, important environmental and human health needs are ignored while we spend billions on a war in Iraq. I call it the result of a mental disorder.

    Social spending was not decreased to fund the war in Iraq. Social spending ballooned during the Bush administration. Also? Democrats voted for the war in Iraq as well. The vast majority of them. And they keep voting to fund it. And they have continued to not vote to fund the satellites since taking control of Congress.

    With the health care bill for instance, it is disgusting that we would have Republicans basically murder thousands of more people each year by blocking the health care reform, which will safe millions of lives, while their is always enough money for their stupid wars.

    What part of the health care reform bill will save thousands of lives? Do you even know what the bill does? Have you read any of it? Even a summary? All the bill does is give more money to insurance corporations, force people to buy health insurance who didn't before, and tax the middle class. That's it. There's no magic spells in it to save lives. You've swallowed the partisan bullcrap hook, line, and sinker.

    The US needs to be investing in renewable energy like wind and solar and nuclear fusion development, and on energy efficient improvements to cities to base them on public transit, bike and pedestrian use,

    Wait, what do you want us to spend money on? Earlier you made it sound like you wanted the money spent on health care, now you want it on energy development? Wasn't this article about the lack of funding for earth sensing satellites? You're rambling just a bit...

    and we need to put in tariffs to keep the jobs in the US to fix our economy which has been damaged by offshoring which Republicans love as it increases corporate profit at the expense of working americans.

    You really are completely blinded by partisan rhetoric, aren't you? First off, Democrats are just as pro-corporate (if not even more pro-corporate) than Republicans. There's no difference in the parties there. Second off, how would tariffs help our economy? If we raise tariffs, then everyone we trade with raises tariffs, and then suddenly OUR products are too expensive to be sold in other countries. So you'd raise tariffs to save some worthless manufacturing jobs at the expense of our high-tech industries? That's a policy of insanity.

  • Re:Yup (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 05, 2010 @10:16AM (#32468510)

    I should also add - presently, US farming is highly structured, and has tended towards the most common form of organising a huge number of people to achieve a single goal, namely a corporation. That it's structured and large-scale is part of the reason why the farming output of the US and other developing countries is so incredibly much higher than in poor countries.

    But imagine that these weren't corporations, but rather a mass of small homesteads that for some reason were highly efficient. This is the case in many countries in Europe.

    In these countries, subsidies go on in exactly the same way, costs huge amounts of money, and the same reasons apply - they provide food security, they prevent mass unemployment and migration, and there's political figures in the hood (farmers can vote as well after all).

    In other words, it has little to do with corporations, because the same thing would happen in the absence of corporations. At least using Europe as a yardstick.

  • by budgenator ( 254554 ) on Saturday June 05, 2010 @12:48PM (#32469284) Journal

    The US needs to be investing in renewable energy like wind and solar and nuclear fusion development, and on energy efficient improvements to cities to base them on public transit, bike and pedestrian use, and we need to put in tariffs to keep the jobs in the US to fix our economy which has been damaged by offshoring which Republicans love as it increases corporate profit at the expense of working americans.

    Every time I try to go somewhere the road is blocked by another truck hauling a 75 foot long wind turbine blade trying to make a left turn to head to the new wind farm. The local businesses are in near revolt because they can't get a building permit if they don't include a 6 foot wide paved bicycle/pedestrian path in the plans and all of the local buses have bicycle racks mounted on them. With the new bus system interconnects in our area, I can travel by public bus 150 miles! Just because your not seeing big dog and pony shows about something doesn't mean its not happening.

Loose bits sink chips.