Sunday, April 18, 2010

NASA readies to study climate change with SAGE III

Cory Nealon in the Newport News Daily Press: Before climate change debate went international, before people went green, there was SAGE. A metallic satellite that could fit into a car trunk, SAGE began orbiting Earth and measuring greenhouse gases during the Carter administration. For decades, it and two predecessors provided insight into how humans alter the planet.

But the experiment came to a halt more than four years ago when the satellite lost power. Now, as NASA recommits itself to earth science, Langley scientists are preparing another launch of SAGE. With it comes details that scientists say are necessary to understand climate change. "We're looking at the bits and pieces of it," said Joseph M. Zawodny, the Langley scientist leading the endeavor.

Donning a white protective suit that covered everything but his bespectacled face, Zawodny offered a rare glimpse at the latest incarnation of the satellite, dubbed SAGE III after a similar effort that ended four years ago. Built with two other satellites during the mid-1990s, SAGE III has sat in a clean room at Langley for at least a decade.

Assuming the plan is approved by Congress, NASA will launch SAGE by 2014 aboard a rocket. Astronauts will attach it to the International Space Station, where it will measure greenhouse gases and other air pollution….

The original SAGE satellite, from NASA

No comments: