back to article NASA's CO2-scan sat arrives at launch site

NASA's first satellite dedicated to monitoring atmospheric carbon dioxide has arrived at its launch site. The Orbiting Carbon Observatory will take off from Vandenberg airforce base in January. According to the space agency, the spacecraft will help to "solve some of the lingering mysteries in our understanding of Earth's …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That reminds me

    The Irish are due another vote on the Lisbon Treaty, so they can get it right this time.

  2. Wade Burchette


    How much carbon dioxide are they going to put into the atmosphere to study how much carbon dioxide is put in the atmosphere?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I don't know Wade, how much do you think?

    I know, why don't we just read the article? The bit that says: "For those interested, the satellite's launch won't itself involve any significant CO2 emissions." and then explains what kind of rockets they are using.


  4. Dr Stephen Jones

    Don't worry

    By the time NASA's James Hansen has finished cooking the results, the Scientific Consensus (tm) will be that Things Are Really Scary (tm).

  5. Frank

    @ Evil Graham re. @question

    You need to consider the entire process...

    "For those interested, the satellite's launch won't itself involve any significant CO2 emissions. However, as it is to go up on an all-solid-fuel Taurus stack, there will be a good deal of aluminium oxide and hydrogen chloride. These chemicals are generally seen as rather nastier than ordinary old carbon dioxide, if not such a pressing global issue."

    Aluminium oxide is an inert white powder, messy but not nasty. Hydrogen chloride is nasty but reacts with just about anything it touches to form some other fairly inert substances.

    To make the satellite and launcher and to run the chemical plants that produce the chemical for the solid fuel rockets does involve a lot of industrial activity. Guess what....this involves burning fossil fuels. Yep, you can't make satellite and launch vehicle without producing carbon dioxide.

    You can't even go to the toilet in a modern country without a carbon dioxide burden because the sewage plants are built using concrete and steel (massive furnaces used in their production) and they run on electricity (coal or gas fired turbines).

    Hopefully, the studies that will be aided by the satellite instruments will help us to understand the atmospheric processes and direct any changes in our behaviour in a most appropriate manner. (Yeah, fat chance, I know).

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @Don't worry

    It's ok, you can ignore him, the raw data will be available for anyone to interpret.

    My feeling is that it will be another blow to the man-made global warming "skeptics", although they don't really have much left going for them any more. Last I heard, even the most vociferous had given up on the lie that "there is no warming", and there don't seem to be any sun/orbit/natural-cycle theories that haven't been thoroughly discredited around at the moment. Let's hope the data gets us one!

  7. Wade Burchette

    @Evil Graham

    Maybe you should realize a joke and lighten up. Or do we need to end all statements with end tags now? [end joke]

  8. chris


    Depend on your definition of harmless. Most powders are pretty harmless until they are airborne and you breath them in.

    Hydrogen chloride does react with almost anything to form generally unreactive compounds. On the other hand it's the cloud of hydrochloric acid step that's the dangerous part, not what they end up as

  9. Paul Smith


    Of course it was a joke; we see piss-poor variations of it after every CO2 story, making it instantly recognisable. Complaining that somebody called Evil doesn't laugh every single time is a bit surprising though.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Dude -

    I would say yes, you do need to add the little joke icon to your posts. At least until you get the hang of making them funny.

  11. Norfolk Enchants Paris

    Dear Gawd

    Well surprise, we're sending something up into space that has created a few nasties. That is hardly surpirising. However, sometimes in order to get the long-term goal you have to make some short-term sacrifices.

    I'm all for looking at what can be done to minimise the impact of people on the planet, and I am all for preventing the excesses of dirty greed but I still have the opinion that the whole global warming cause-and-effect thing is being manipulated to suit the aims and objectives of a group of people, rather than a fully balanced & wholly scientific approach being taken here. When you start with the assumption/hypothesis/position that the reason for global warming is X, the drive is to prove that this is the case. Classic science is based on *disproving* a theory and moving on to the next one.

    My personal opinion is that this is too complex an issue to blame on any one thing, and that there may well be more than one 'thing' that we need to do about it. For example, reducing the worst fossil fuel use is one thing, but other issues - such as population control, changing building materials (and building lifetime objectives) - should be looked at as well. At the moment it's all like 'lets drive electric cars and ride pushbikes and we will save the polar bear and Father Christmas's house' and not a holistic look at the balance between man and planet.

    Mark (if you're out there today) would you disagree?

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