Eyes Wide Shut: Earth observation satellites are failing

In a recent article on Scientific American, author Lisa Palmer, reports on the failings of some of the 15 Earth observation satellites. These instruments provide crucial data on the state of our planet, data that is needed for the assessment of the detail of climate change. Without it, we are almost blind, we can’t see how our planet is changing under the growing human pressure against the natural enviroment. The loss of future data will result in handicapped time-series, the gaps will challenge our ability to predict the outcome of current climatic trends. Quoting from the article:

“If we don’t have continuous measurements, we basically close our eyes for awhile,” says senior scientist Thorsten Markus, head of the Cyropheric Sciences Branch at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. “It is critical that we continue those time-series observations. For climate change, the satellite provides the only means to truly monitor the Earth on a global basis. There is simply no other way.”

14 out of these 15 satellites are already beyond their planned life expectancy and only few will be replaced in the next years. The main culprit of this situation is a shortage of research funds, a diet that started some years ago with the Bush administration. In fact, why spend money on satellites that provide the data that challenge his vision of a natural climate change, not affected by human fossil fuel consumption?

Indeed this is the big question to ask. Why were the funds reduced and why haven’t they been reinstated with the new administration? Who want us to be blind in face of assessing the true causes of climate change?

To know more:
Nasa Earth Science program

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