News of the WeekClimate Monitoring

Solar Sensor Grounded on Revamped Satellite Program

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Science  09 Jul 2010:
Vol. 329, Issue 5988, pp. 127
DOI: 10.1126/science.329.5988.127

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U.S. climate scientists were hoping that the restructuring of a troubled $14 billion environmental satellites program would elevate the importance of climate sensors among instruments scheduled to fly over the next decade. But last week's announcement that the first spacecraft of the newly reconfigured program previously known as the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System wouldn't be able to measure the intensity of sunlight has left them feeling out in the cold again. Officials with NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration say they're committed to maintaining solar measurements, either by adding the Total and Spectral Irradiance Sensor to future missions or dedicating one to it. The tight budget environment, however, makes it more likely the sensors won't fly anytime soon.