NASA cancels greenhouse gas monitoring mission due to cost

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA has canceled a planned launch of a satellite to track greenhouse gas emissions over North and South America because the project had become too costly and complex. However, the space agency has said it will continue to monitor anthropogenic carbon dioxide pollution.

NASA announced on Tuesday that its GeoCarb mission, which was supposed to monitor carbon dioxide, methane and plant life changes in the Americas, is being terminated due to cost overruns.

When the mission was announced six years ago, it was estimated to cost $166 million, but the latest figures from NASA show that the cost will exceed $600 million.

Unlike other satellites that track greenhouse gases from low Earth orbit and get a big picture of different parts of the globe, GeoCarb was supposed to be at an altitude of 35,786 kilometers and focus on the Americas. This mission proved to be too complex and costly to be completed on budget and on time.

The hardware alone more than doubled in price, and then non-technical problems arose that would have added even more, NASA said. The agency has already spent $170 million on the now canceled program and will not spend more.

Instead of this project, NASA is considering a new Earth-oriented mission, which should be larger and less risky. Now the space agency is getting methane data from a special instrument on the International Space Station that was designed to study mineral dust but also tracks greenhouse gas as a bonus.

There are also methane monitoring satellites launched by the European and Japanese space agencies and some commercial and non-commercial organizations.

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