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Earth Space The Almighty Buck Science

Weather Satellites Lose Funding 275

ianare writes "Federal budget cuts are threatening to leave the US without some critical satellites, and that could mean less accurate warnings about events like tornadoes and blizzards. In particular, officials at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are concerned about satellites that orbit over the earth's poles rather than remaining over a fixed spot along the equator. These satellites are 'the backbone' of any forecast beyond a couple of days, says Kathryn Sullivan, assistant secretary of commerce for environmental observation and prediction, and NOAA's deputy administrator. It was data from polar satellites that alerted forecasters to the risk of tornadoes in Alabama and Mississippi back in April, Sullivan says. 'With the polar satellites currently in place we were able to give those communities five days' heads up,' she says."
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Weather Satellites Lose Funding

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, 2011 @06:08PM (#36487182)

    Ham radio enthusiasts have been doing this forever. Point your favorite directional antenna at a weather satellite and download today's weather fax. Not that difficult.

  • by MacTO ( 1161105 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @06:46PM (#36487358)

    Radio amateurs have been designing, building, and launching satellites for years. (Well, they contract out the launching.) It is called AMSAT.

  • Re:Why not? (Score:5, Informative)

    by rainmayun ( 842754 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @06:53PM (#36487402)
    There are plenty of joint ventures for weather satellite projects (JASON 3 being the current most visible project underway) as well as data sharing from foreign satellite programs to the US (MetOp for example), but basically it all comes down to money. We can afford to build them. NOAA has a long history of operating these polar orbiting satellites. The program under discussion here was called NPOESS. It was a joint project with DoD and it was more or less a complete disaster - after a decade and $11B spent, no satellite was ever launched, and the ground systems have been sitting idle for so long they're due for a technology refresh. So the White House blew up the program [spacenews.com] and NOAA took the valuable pieces and it became JPSS. So the budget cuts are a sort of "punishment" for mismanagement - basically Congress wants them to get the damn birds up already.
  • Huh? (Score:2, Informative)

    by publiclurker ( 952615 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @08:15PM (#36487800)
    Before they are born they aren't children. Of course, reality is too complicated for someone who actually believe in invisible spooks in the sky.
  • Re:Now (Score:4, Informative)

    by gtall ( 79522 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @08:20PM (#36487814)

    "has been a long time goal of the Republican party" Do you have a reference for this?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 18, 2011 @08:43PM (#36487952)
    "The federal government takes in plenty of money from taxes. The problem is that they spend too much. I suggest even, across the board, cuts to balance the budget."

    Amazing how two people can look at the same data and come to radically different views. Yes, the federal government has typically taken in around 18% of GDP in taxes (of one form or another). However the federal government has taken in only 14.9% of GDP in 2009 and 2010 (lowest since 1950) according to your chart; here's the actual numbers [taxpolicycenter.org]. So no, the government is not taking in plenty of money from taxes. I don't know about you but I really notice a ~20% drop in income and that's a major reason behind the current and projected budget deficits [cbpp.org]. So if we want to get serious about the budget we must start by repealing the disastrous Bush tax cuts, not by enacting recession-prolonging austerity measures borne entirely by the lower and middle classes.
  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Saturday June 18, 2011 @09:46PM (#36488308) Journal

    Did our tax rates suddenly change from 2008 to 2011, or did our economy collapse?

    The tax rates did not, but the tax laws have, in favor of the biggest earners.

    Your "liberal source" graph is not nearly fine enough to prove or disprove my assertion. The data points are decades, for god's sake. Go look at one that shows the numbers by year and you'll see what I mean.

    And Slate is every bit as corporate as CNN. They are not a "liberal source" unless you're from the Far Right. Here's an authentic liberal source that shows what I'm talking about. [thomhartmann.com] Drill down into the charts themselves.

    By the way, you'll notice that even the source you cited doesn't claim that high taxes hurts GDP or that lowering taxes helps the economy. In fact, it shows the opposite, demolishing the most important "conservative" talking point of all: that we are "over-taxed" and that such "over-taxing" hurts the economy or stifles growth.

    (note: I know the poster, so if you want to see the spreadsheet that created those graphs, along with the exact IRS, Census and Bureau of Economic Analysis sources that were used, I'd be willing to send them to you, as long as you're willing to admit you are wrong in a Slashdot Journal associated with your user ID.)

  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Saturday June 18, 2011 @09:52PM (#36488348) Journal

    The highest peak on that graph comes at the end of the 90s. Surely you're not trying to tell me the dot-com boom was solid economic growth without a bubble?

    You missed what I said. It was the highest tax rates on the top income brackets that brought the years of economic growth, lowest unemployment and fewest bubbles, not total tax revenue over GDP.

    During the dot bomb days, the top earners were paying 38% (if I remember correctly). The reason we had such high revenues is that we were well into the "Reagan Revolution" when the middle class was getting hit the hardest while the rich were skating.

    If you really want to see economic growth and strong, stable economies, you have to look for the years where the top brackets paid over 50% in federal income tax. Strangely, those were also the years when the rich did the best, too - even after taxes. Overall, if you carefully analyze the data, you'll find that the nation's economy does best when the top brackets pay well over 50%, because they are more inclined to invest in their companies, add workers, and thus end up making more money in the long run. Unfortunately, it seems like the economic elite have lost all taste for the "long run" and are looking to bust out the country for everything they can and then hope there are enough police still around to protect them. They'll have to be private police, of course.

  • by DarthBart ( 640519 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @10:44PM (#36488602)

    I can't find the plans directly online for the turnstile antenna I have, but here's an antenna that actually works a bit better, and probably costs about the same to build:

    http://www.g4ilo.com/qfh.html [g4ilo.com]

    For the radio, I use a Radio Shack PRO-433 scanner I picked up a pawn shop for $50. It doesn't have the IF bandwidth to create perfect images, so I'll eventually upgrade that to an ICOM IC-100.

    For the software, I use a package a friend of mine and I wrote running on a NetBSD server, but there are other packages for Linux and Windows:

    http://www.wxtoimg.com/ [wxtoimg.com] is the first that springs to Google.

    You can also pick up a copy of the Weather Satellite Handbook from ARRL for some other goodies.

  • by Nikkos ( 544004 ) on Saturday June 18, 2011 @11:24PM (#36488780)
    "Here in the US we're paying less taxes than we have in the past 60 years. During the "Reagan Recovery" (sic) we were paying about 15 percent more across the board and the top tiers were paying more than that. Corporations were paying almost twice as much forty years ago than they do today."

    You mean we're paying less per person. While our economy doubled in the same time frame, actual US tax income has actually quadrupled $500Mil -> $2.5 Trillion from 1980 - 2007 http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/07/U.S.-income-taxes-out-of-total-taxes.JPG [wikimedia.org]

    FYI that's well past inflation.

    It's a tired and out of context argument that somehow we needed to keep these top tax rates (as much as 70%!) and that we've shortchanged ourselves, corporations are not paying enough, etc. Instead the truth is we've got about 100 million more people (and many more businesses) in the US than we did in 1980, and with more people you can lower the burden on all. In fact, if we had maintained government spending at 1980's levels (>$1 Trillion) and tracked to inflation we'd be just fine today - in fact we'd have a slight surplus. Instead, despite a doubling of the economy and the quadrupling of tax income, the government sextupled spending (>$1 Tril/year -> $6Tril/year)

    The problem has not been taxes, instead it has been both parties spending far beyond revenues, and taking loans out to pay for it (or just pushing the bills into the future, which is why some reports have us at 70 Trillion in unfunded mandates)

    Should these satellites go away? Probably not. But I'd like to see something else (or everything) cut first rather than to just add more tax burden.

I am more bored than you could ever possibly be. Go back to work.