NASA’s already thin Earth observing network of satellites became a little thinner late last month with the loss of the Orbiting Carbon Observatory during launch.
The $280 million mission was lost minutes after launch on February 24 when a fairing – a protective cover on the satellite – failed to release and fall away from the craft. That left the satellite too heavy to reach orbit, and it crashed into the ocean near Antarctica.
The satellite was designed to track the carbon cycle and measure the extent to which Earth’s ability to absorb CO2 emissions is slowing, as scientists suspect. Japan had launched a CO2 tracking satellite last month, leaving the U.S. behind in this critical research area.
The Knight Science Journalism Tracker has compiled a useful listing of various news organization’s coverage of the loss of the satellite and the significance of the failure.