The Sciences

NASA's carbon observatory launch fails

Bad AstronomyBy Phil PlaitFeb 24, 2009 1:23 PM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

I just heard that the launch of Orbiting Carbon Observatory -- a NASA satellite designed to measures the sources, sinks, and amount of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere -- failed today. They say that it looks like the fairing, the clamshell surrounding the satellite at the top of the rocket, on the Taurus XL rocket failed to separate.

So it's in orbit, but the satellite is still inside the fairing, rendering it useless.

It never made orbit, and came down in the ocean near Antarctica. NASA has organized a Mishap Investigation Board and they are looking into it. The rocket is built by Orbital Sciences. I'll have more info as it develops.

[Update (10:00 Mountain time): As noted in the comments below, is reporting that the satellite and fairing dropped into the ocean near Antarctica. I have not heard the official word from NASA yet, but if true then my statement above about the satellite reaching orbit is incorrect.]

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month
Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
1 free articleSubscribe
Want unlimited access?

Subscribe today and save 70%


Already a subscriber? Log In or Register
More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2021 Kalmbach Media Co.