$US 963,723 per day for an answer to a non-problem

The?Ice, Cloud and land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, is NASA’s most technologically advanced ice-monitoring spacecraft to date.? It was launched on the weekend on the last of the Delta II rockets.? It is scheduled to operate for three years and cost?$US 1.056 billion, or $963k/day. reports on this pretty impressive piece of kit (as you would expect for that moolah) Quote.

Capable of measuring changes in ice thickness, forest growth and cloud height down to 0.02 inches (0.4 millimeters) every year ? the thickness of a No. 2 pencil, according to NASA ? ICESat-2 offers scientists an unprecedented view of Earth’s changing systems, especially at its poles. End of quote.

0.4 mm resolution?? Really?? Seemingly not. The official NASA specifications say 0.4cm/year on an ice sheet or?0.25 m/year for an outlet glacier,?surface elevation change rates for dynamic ice features to an accuracy of better than or equal to 0.4 m/year along 1-km track segments or?ice-sheet elevation change to 10 cm. Quote.

“Watching and understanding how it [ice] is changing helps us understand why it?s changing,” said Waleed Abdalati, a geographer at the University of Colorado in Boulder and a concept designer of ICESat-2. In turn, the information will sharpen environmental-prediction models and help scientists better forecast rising sea levels and climate shifts because of melting ice. End of quote.

An interesting unspoken assumption by this concept designer is that there will be melting ice and sea level rise.? Surely they have not spent a billion bucks with a predetermined outcome in mind? Quote. Read more »


? The Age

North Korea’s?missile?launch was a fizzer, not only that they blew hundreds of million on the rocket which could?have?been used to feed their starving population:

North Korea has launched a long-range rocket that disintegrated shortly after blast-off, South Korean authorities say.

South Korea’s Defence Ministry said the rocket was launched at 7.39am (8.39am AEST) today, but failed shortly after.

“A few minutes after the launch, the rocket disintegrated into several pieces and lost its altitude,” Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told journalists.

This will be North Korea’s second consecutive failure to get a satellite into orbit, although it claimed success with a 2009 launch.

There was no immediate comment on Friday’s launch from North Korea’s official media, but an official statement was expected.

North Korea said it wanted the Unha-3 (Galaxy-3) rocket to put a weather satellite into orbit, although critics believed it was designed to enhance the capacity of North Korea to design a ballistic missile to deliver a nuclear warhead capable of hitting Australia or the continental United States.

Such a move would be banned by United Nations resolutions.

The regime?spent more than $800 million on the rocket, enough to feed millions in the impoverished country, London’s?Daily Telegraph?reported.

Satellite photo of Costa Concordia

from Digital Globe:

Space Junk

Some Russian space junk may be heading our way:

Kiwis may have to watch out for ‘space junk’ falling from the sky as an out-of-control Russian satellite orbits over the country over the next two days.

After a decade of planning and an estimated cost of $205 billion (NZD), “Phobos-Grunt” was launched from Kazakstan in November.

Its mission was to land on the moon and to release a further satellite to orbit Mars and send information back to Earth.

However, for unknown reasons the Russian agency lost communication and control of it and as it travels on an elliptical earth orbit, said Department of Archaeology lecturer at Adelaide’s Flinders University Dr Alice Gorman.

From tracking the craft, it is expected to fly over New Zealand several times between tomorrow and Monday and there was a chance of ‘space junk’ such as metals and other materials falling onto the country, she said.

“There are things that could fall – fuel tanks, robust metals like titanium and a few other components. There’ll be some parts that survive re-entry.”