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With more missions to Mars and the moon planned, researchers are forgetting the importance of the needs of people on Earth

A recent report done by the National Research Council has found that the U.S. satellite system that monitor's the environment and climate needs on Earth must undergo vast upgrades or scientists may lose ability to accurately forecast hurricanes, severe thunderstorms and winter storms. The report also called for NASA to launch 17 new satellites to launch by 2020. NASA and NOAA now have 25 satellites in orbit that specifically only conduct environmental measurements and observations – however, many of them are working past their initial expected service time.

“This is the most critical time in human history, with the population never before so big and with stresses growing on the Earth,” said Richard Anthes, co-chair on the committee which wrote the report.

The National Research Council of the National Academies also warned that by 2010, the number of instruments on satellites for Earth-observing purposes will be cut by around 40 percent.

The NOAA yearly budget of $1 billion per year for environmental satellites must continue to remain available to the organization. Spending $3 billion per year on new equipment and satellite missions through the year 2020 would sufficiently get Earth-observation back on the level it needs to be, according to space officials.



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RE: Satellite Congestion?
By masher2 (blog) on 1/18/2007 10:08:09 AM , Rating: 2
A NEO (near-earth-orbit) satellite will deorbit and crash to earth; a geosynchronous satellite stays where it is if left alone. Usually a satellite in geosynch is boosted to supersychronous orbit upon decomission, in order to reduce clutter at that level.


RE: Satellite Congestion?
By Spivonious on 1/18/2007 10:12:27 AM , Rating: 2
So rather than burning them up in reentry, we jettison them out to space? What a horribly wasteful practice. In 50 years we'll have to equip space shuttles with trash armor to break through the layer of old equipment littering space.


RE: Satellite Congestion?
By masher2 (blog) on 1/18/2007 10:34:40 AM , Rating: 2
I guess people can't do math any more...or have been watching too many episodes of Planet ES. Compute the surface area of a sphere 84,000km in diameter...an area roughly 36 times larger than the earth's surface. Now compare that to the size of your average satellite. We can launch satellites for millions of years and not appreciably fill up that space.

NEO orbit, now, has the potential to be considerably more crowded. But that's not what's under discussion here.


RE: Satellite Congestion?
By drank12quartsstrohsbeer on 1/18/2007 5:23:13 PM , Rating: 2
I thought the geo sats were only in the equatorial plane. Learn something new every day.


RE: Satellite Congestion?
By Eris23007 on 1/18/2007 7:52:21 PM , Rating: 2
That's only geostationary.

Geosynchronous might move relative to latitude on the ground, while maintaining the same longitude. Much less frequently used (since it stinks to have to keep moving a fixed satellite dish around), true, but still....


RE: Satellite Congestion?
By masher2 (blog) on 1/18/2007 9:22:00 PM , Rating: 2
> "Geosynchronous might move relative to latitude on the ground, while maintaining the same longitude"

Actually, a geosynch orbit traces a figure-eight upon the ground, varying both longitude and latitude. With enough eccentricity, its ground track more resembles a teardrop. A geostationary orbit is a geosynch orbit, which also sits with zero inclination at the equatorial plane.

BTW, technically, we don't have any geostationary satellites at all, as a "true" stationary orbit would require too much fuel for stationkeeping. So we let them have a small degree of inclination, and correct them if they get too far out of whack.


RE: Satellite Congestion?
By masher2 (blog) on 1/18/2007 9:26:41 PM , Rating: 2
> "I thought the geo sats were only in the equatorial plane..."

Many are, or very close to it. Yet quite a few speciality satellites are not. Take the Sirius Radio satellites for instance. They are geosynchronous, but not geostationary....so they trace a large, distorted figure eight over much of North and South America.


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