Satellite Failure A Tragedy for Climate Science

In a blow to climate science, last Friday a rocket carrying a NASA satellite failed to reach orbit and fell back to Earth. The $424 million Glory climate observation satellite was lost when the  rocket’s nose cone did not separate as planned and the satellite failed to make orbit and  crashed into the southern Pacific Ocean.  Another satellite failed two years ago for similar reasons. Bruce Wielicki, senior scientist for earth science at NASA’s Langley Research Center, observed, “The loss of the Glory satellite is a tragedy for climate science.”

Glory was equipped to examine and analyze the activity of aerosols – particles in the atmosphere — their sources, how long they stay in the atmosphere, and their interaction with sunlight and how these interactions affect Earth’s climate.The satellite’s sensors had the ability to distinguish manmade particles, such as from fertilizer use or tailpipes, from natural ones by measuring reflected light. The data would have been an important advance toward clarifying the argument over how much of climate change is due to human activity.

This quietly dramatic footage from NASA shows the launch and six minutes of the flight before  the grim moment when a “flight contingency”, i.e, failure, is announced.

Technological failure is not the biggest threat to advancing climate science. Republicans have urged a cutback on climate science spending along with efforts to weaken the Environmental Protection Agency.

Photo: Still from NASA video via YouTube at


Grace Adams
Grace Adams5 years ago

Regardless of whether or not global warming exists and regardless whether or not human activity is at least a contributing factor, we really need to get a sustainable substitute for petroleum BEFORE we run out altogether. The U S military is already buying both bio-diesel from algae and kits for a remote military base to raise its own algae and extract its own bio-diesel from the algae. This shows that bio-diesel from algae is at the pilot plant stage. If the big oil firms consent, switching from the corporate income tax to excise taxes on externalized costs, even if only for the oil industry might be enough of a subsidy to pay for the transition.

John Coleman
John Coleman6 years ago

Gee Louise there isn’t any one pushing the “global whatever” farce that has a vested interest in that phony issue??? Try everyone getting grants to “investigate” global “warming”, Gore and his company that trades in carbon credits, GE and all its “green energy” business, etc. Looks like there are also a lot of vested economic interests in “proving” carbon causes problems. Then there are all the radical environmental and left wing interests that push “climate whatever” for their philosophical interests.

Louise Duthie
Louise D6 years ago

This is the thing about the climate change there are people who have a vested interest for there not to be a any evidence for climate change. They may have their pet Climate change deniers who are quite adept at turn facts to their arguments and lying through their teeth. The most baffling thing is that virtually all the climate change deniers are not trained as climate scientists. The fact that the Satellite launch failed suggest that there may be some people quite happy to take back handers at Nasa it also gives he GOP to cut nasa funds again.

Cecile G.
Cecile G.6 years ago

I voted yes for NASA earth science program in one condition: REAL SCIENCE and NOT the CORRUPTED science.
How can NASA loose the $424 millions climate control satellite - by having incompetant people?....this is serious matters!

Maira Sun
Maira Sun6 years ago


Sumit jamadar
Sumit jamadar6 years ago


Angela Dubie
Angela Dubie6 years ago

Global pole shift?

Jay Evas
Jay Evas6 years ago

i like how people always ASSUME that global warming is not true BUT they are too blind to the facts that face them everyday.
i'll give one example because i don't care to argue with blind people all day over OBVIOUS global issues. here in canada nationwide winter now is mostly 3 months long, where as when i was younger it was 5 months long. we've set records in winter for it being so warm. a lot less snow that over the last 5 years than say compared to the 90's 80's, 70's, 60's,50's,40's,30's,20's,10's,1900,1890............
yeah there's no global warming, just like second hand smoke is okay and eating mcdonald's for every meal everyday is good for your health.

Scott M.
Its wonderful e6 years ago

All on my own, but impossible to prove..
Reason I propose is
1. Many people have an agenda to keep the hoax alive, billions of dollars every year. (So yes people would profit by sat failing)
2. Second Global Warming Satellite in recent years failed(2 of 2)
3. Difference between an agenda and a conspiracy--involves illegal action, in this case sabatoge would be illegal.

David Wolfanger
David Wolfanger6 years ago

Wow, what a shock, Scott started his very own conspiracy theory. Did you come up w/ that on your own?