Attention: The forums will be placed on read only mode this Saturday (Oct. 20, 2018)

During this outage (6:30 AM to 8 PM PDT) the forums will be placed on read only mode. We apologize for this inconvenience. Click here to read details

Speakeasy forum

General discussion

Decision On Orbiter Frustrates Scientists...

by Blake Cook / July 19, 2004 4:16 AM PDT

NASA is allowing a highly successful satellite to fall out of Earth's orbit by refusing to fund it for as little as $28 million, dismaying the scientists and forecasters who use its unique abilities to study climate change and track hurricanes.

NASA officials said engineers did not order a planned firing of its rockets in early July to hold the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission satellite in orbit 241 miles above Earth. Without periodic assists from its thrusters, atmospheric drag will send the satellite's remains to a watery grave in six to nine months.

Engineers said the satellite, a joint venture with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency, is working perfectly and could still be saved, but NASA officials said neither the Japanese nor other U.S. agencies were willing to contribute to the estimated $28 million to $36 million needed to keep the mission operating for as long as two more years.

The satellite is a unique space platform whose instruments have proved invaluable not only to researchers studying global change, but also to meteorologists who use its one-of-a-kind "rain radar" to probe deep into cloud cover to determine whether the makings of a cyclone lurk there.

In 2002, a NASA study determined that the potential lifesaving value of the satellite was great enough to justify keeping it aloft until it ran out of fuel and tumbled unguided back to Earth, possibly killing or injuring someone.

The decision instead to use a "controlled de-orbit" for the satellite, known by its initials TRMM, was announced quietly July 13 in an internal NASA memo, and came at a time when NASA's Earth observation budget is shrinking as the agency begins to focus on President Bush's plan for human exploration of the moon and Mars.

More...

Discussion is locked
You are posting a reply to: Decision On Orbiter Frustrates Scientists...
The posting of advertisements, profanity, or personal attacks is prohibited. Please refer to our CNET Forums policies for details. All submitted content is subject to our Terms of Use.
Track this discussion and email me when there are updates

If you're asking for technical help, please be sure to include all your system info, including operating system, model number, and any other specifics related to the problem. Also please exercise your best judgment when posting in the forums--revealing personal information such as your e-mail address, telephone number, and address is not recommended.

You are reporting the following post: Decision On Orbiter Frustrates Scientists...
This post has been flagged and will be reviewed by our staff. Thank you for helping us maintain CNET's great community.
Sorry, there was a problem flagging this post. Please try again now or at a later time.
If you believe this post is offensive or violates the CNET Forums' Usage policies, you can report it below (this will not automatically remove the post). Once reported, our moderators will be notified and the post will be reviewed.

Popular Forums

icon
Computer Newbies 10,686 discussions
icon
Computer Help 54,365 discussions
icon
Laptops 21,181 discussions
icon
Networking & Wireless 16,313 discussions
icon
Phones 17,137 discussions
icon
Security 31,287 discussions
icon
TVs & Home Theaters 22,101 discussions
icon
Windows 7 8,164 discussions
icon
Windows 10 2,657 discussions

FALL TV PREMIERES

Your favorite shows are back!

Don’t miss your dramas, sitcoms and reality shows. Find out when and where they’re airing!