Trump Proposes Shutting off DSCOVR’s Cameras

This image shows the far side of the moon, illuminated by the sun, as it crosses between the DSCOVR spacecraft’s Earth Polychromatic Imaging Camera (EPIC) camera and telescope, and the Earth – one million miles away. (Credits: NASA/NOAA)

Donald Trump’s first budget proposal terminates three NASA Earth science missions now under development: Orbiting Carbon Observatory – 3 (OCO-3), Climate Absolute Radiance and Refractivity Observatory (CLARREO) Pathfinder, and the Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem (PACE).

It also “terminates” the “Earth-viewing instruments” on the Deep Space Climate Observatory (DSCOVR) spacecraft, a joint NASA-NOAA project that monitors the Earth, the solar wind and space weather from a location 1 million miles from Earth.

The table below shows the instruments aboard the DSCOVR, which was launched two years ago.

“NOAA will operate DSCOVR from its NOAA Satellite Operations Facility in Suitland, Maryland and distribute the data to its users and partner agencies,” according to a NOAA fact sheet. “NOAA will process the space weather data, providing products and forecasts through the NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center in Boulder, Colorado, and archive the data at the NOAA National Geophysical Data Center in Boulder, Colorado. NASA is responsible for processing the Earth sensor data.”

DSCOVR was launched in February 2015 after a long development period. Al Gore proposed the satellite — originally named Triana — in 1998. Congressional Republicans dubbed the spacecraft “Goresat” and questioned its scientific value. A subsequent review by the National Academy of Sciences found the project to be “strong and scientifically vital.”

The George W. Bush Administration removed the $100 million spacecraft from the space shuttle manifest and placed it in storage in 2001. DSCOVR was removed from storage in November 2008 and refurbished for launch.

The OCO-3 mission involves the installation of a spare carbon dioxide monitoring instrument from the stand-alone OCO-2 satellite on to the exterior of the International Space Station. It would be launched aboard a cargo ship headed for the station.

“The OCO-3 instrument “consists of three high resolution grating spectrometers which collect space-based measurements of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) with the precision, resolution, and coverage needed to assess the spatial and temporal variability of CO2 over an annual cycle,” according to NASA’s website. “After launch and docking with the International Space Station, the OCO-3 instrument will be installed on the ISS Japanese Experiment Module- Exposed Facility (JEM-EF) where it will be operating for the duration of the mission.”

CLARREO Pathfinder is another space station mission. It is designed to test instruments that would allow scientists to refine climate modeling on a larger, stand-alone spacecraft.

“The allocated funds support the flight of a Reflected Solar (RS) spectrometer, hosted on the International Space Station (ISS) in the 2020 time frame. The key features of the CLARREO Pathfinder (CPF) mission-integration of CPF payload with the ExPA, slotted on the ExPRESS logistics carrier (ELC-1). The CPF is a Class D mission with 1 year of operations on orbit and 1 year for analysis of acquired data,” according to the agency’s website.

“The foundation of CLARREO is the ability to produce highly accurate climate records to test climate projections in order to improve models and enable sound policy decisions,” the website states. “The CLARREO mission accomplishes this critical objective through accurate SI-traceable decadal observations that are sensitive to many of the key climate parameters such as radiative forcings, climate responses, and feedbacks. Uncertainties in these parameters drives uncertainty in current climate model projections.”

NASA’s PACE mission “will deliver the most comprehensive look at global ocean color measurements in NASA’s history. Not only will PACE monitor the health of our ocean, its science data will expand atmospheric studies by sensing our skies over an exceptionally broad spectrum of wavelengths.”

“Being built and tested at the Goddard Space Flight Center, PACE will expand our knowledge of key climate variables such as aerosol particles and clouds,” according to the space agency. “It will extend NASA’s long-term record of the phytoplankton pigment, chlorophyll, while providing new insights on ocean biodiversity.”

  • Robert G. Oler

    Its. Amazing how badly this administration is doing….

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Gotta love it. Literally closing of eyes in the face of what they don’t want to see.

  • If they actually do cut funding, I bet Morehead State or someone else will take it over.

  • windbourne

    my god, these ppl are IDIOTS.
    OCO-3 is needed to map the CO2 emissions in the SAME FASHION from each nation.
    if that goes up, then rather than have ICAU simply using data from a lying Chinese gov, it will have REAL ABSOLUTE NUMBERS on the CO2.

    These ppl are absolute MORONS. Killing this would be akin to killing off Radar back in WWII, or sats in the cold war. Radar and sats showed us what was going on. Now by stopping the one instrument that will show in real time the co2 emissions IN AND OUT of nations, they are killing America’s abilities on the international scene.

    I have always given every president 6 months to settle in, but this guy is proving to be a loon.

  • WhoAmI

    Ignorance is bliss.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    The optimist in me hopes that some moneyed interests, or creative business type can pick up the work and keep it going. But Planetary Science is pretty esoteric. There’s the House and the Senate to chime in yet. The American model of government might save some days yet. But to give the Trump admin some good press, it’s nice to see a conservation principle being applied to federal spending where if you want to raise spending somewhere, you have to cut it somewhere else. Can’t say I agree with the politics behind the decision, but at some point spending will have to come back into balance, and it’s nice to see the exercise done.

  • Douglas Messier

    The proposal would save $1.2 million. From Science magazine:

    NASA spends only $1.2 million a year operating the satellite’s Earth-facing instruments, as DSCOVR’s primary costs, for its sun-facing space weather instruments, lie with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. “This is a silly thing to cut,” said Casey Dreier, director of space policy at the Planetary Society, based in Pasadena, California, on Twitter.

  • JamesG

    Oh please…

    Did you not believe him when he said he didn’t believe in global warming? He fully intends to kill the Paris Accords and this is a measure to do that because it was going to be the tool by which the “carbon police” were going to throttle the US, while ignoring China and the rest of the nations that wiggled out of it.

    The ESA or Japan are free to build their own CO2 sensor and stick it on the ISS if they want to instead of sitting back and waiting for us to do it.

  • savuporo

    Kickstarter the funds. Totally doable.

  • WhoAmI

    You really think Trump will allow someone else to take over and fund this? He will definitely block it citing state secrets or some other phony reason to block that data from being used to as evidence to further support AGW.

  • Kapitalist

    The global warming doomsday myth is dead. The Marxists who preach it still don’t get it, but it’s dead. In a couple of years no one will remember what the global warming myth was, people will worry about the coming ice age instead. The weakness of the leftists is that they greedily refuse to spend any of their own monies on anything. They rely on using the government to violently steal other peoples money. Well, that doesn’t work anymore when the people finally elected to get rid of the leftists and their doomsday myths.

  • windbourne

    OCO3 is ready to to the ISS. Basically, it has NO REAL COST.
    In fact, it was supposed to go up several years ago, but was stopped by Obama after he met with CHina. Idiot.

  • windbourne

    The OCO3 costs us NOTHING to add. It is ready to go. In fact, It WAS supposed to go up several years ago, but was delayed by Obama after visiting with China.

  • windbourne

    This guy is making it very difficult for me to give 6 months to before I make up my mind.
    All I can say is that I HOPE that GOP will do better than what the electoral college did, and start fighting a number of these things.

  • windbourne

    You do not have to be leftists to accept facts.
    The lack of science and logic on your part simply means that you are an extremists.

  • JamesG

    No such thing.

  • windbourne

    Actually, it does. After all, the crew is up there for other things including training how to work in space.

  • ReSpaceAge

    Mean while in my state, we had no winter this year. All our fruit trees blumed early and got killed by the late frost. Been a trend for the last decade.

    Keep your head stuck in the ground.

  • Douglas Messier

    You are as ignorant as Trump is about this issue. Sad.

  • patb2009

    If NASA shuts off these three spacecraft, can we declare them surplus assets and sell them to the state of California?

  • Kapitalist

    Al Gore’s hockey stick forecast 20 years ago, like ALL climate doomsday forecasts made in the 1990′,s have very convincingly proven to be WRONG. false alarm. Good news! Human industrialization does NOT cause any climate doomsday. Instead, more CO2 actually increases all wild life globally and increases harvest productivity so fast that land use for food production is decreasing although the population increases and east more and better food. CO2 emissions, fossil fuel usage, has thus for exclusively had GOOD effects for the environment.

  • Kapitalist

    “As ignorant” is synonymous to “as smart”, right?
    Do you still believe in Al Gore’s hockey stick forecast? Don’t you see any problem with the difference between the forecast and the outcome? The climate is obviously way too complex to predict, so any multi trillion dollar investment in trying to manipulate it doesn’t make sense.

    Beyond data, the extreme political and hateful “journalism” on the topic rings a revealing alarm bell in itself. This is fraud! And the fraudsters are now desperate because they lose their tax money income because they have been proven wrong and have been very humiliated.

    Can you mention anything that could change your belief in anthropogenic global warming? If it is a theory, there must be some hypothetical data that could disprove it. No warming for 20 years didn’t seem to make it. What would?

  • Douglas Messier

    That’s the thing about the cuts. The OCO-3 instrument just needs a ride on a cargo ship that’s going up there anyway. CLARREO Pathfinder is another instrument set to be attached to the space station. I don’t know what it cost, but certainly not as expensive as a full spacecraft. Shutting off the Earth-facing instruments on DSCOVR will save $1.2 million per year (a piddling sum).

    At least three of the four canceled projects are very affordable. The clear point of the blueprint isn’t really to save money but as the opening salvo in an assault on NASA’s climate change research. I wouldn’t be surprised to see even deeper cuts proposed next year one the review called for in Trump’s executive order on government restructuring is completed.

  • Douglas Messier

    “As ignorant” is synonymous to “as smart”, right?

    No, that’s not how these things work. Perhaps in Trump’s bizarro world, but not here.

    The attacks on global warming have nothing to do with data (which are overwelming) and everything to do with ideology (the right can’t accept the changes required to combat it). The inability to accept reality gives rise to conspiracy theories.

  • Kapitalist

    So you do claim that Al Gore’s hockey stick forecast 20 years ago is still valid?

  • duheagle

    The looniness index is certainly rising, but the sources are not inside the White House.

    Tracking sources of CO2 is only useful if you believe CO2 is bad. Given that there is essentially zero empirical evidence for the atmospheric water vapor forcing CO2 is assumed to produce by all climate models, there, indeed, seems little point in collecting this data. China’s CO2 will continue to help reverse desertification in the Sahel and boost crop yields worldwide. It isn’t going to melt the icecaps or flood South Beach. It isn’t going to exterminate the polar bears.

    There are a lot of actual pollutants being churned out in China these days that are deserving of tracking, especially particulates, aerosols and nitrogen and sulfur oxides. None of them, so far as I know would be addressed by OCO3.

  • duheagle

    I wouldn’t be surprised either. In fact I’m counting on it. The ongoing perversion of research programs into platforms for left-wing advocacy has got to stop. If that takes a thorough housecleaning and mass quantities of pink slips, so be it.

  • duheagle

    More like declining to spend further funds obsessively staring at something already demonstrated not to matter while failing to note things that might be or definitely are harmful.

  • duheagle

    There aren’t any facts to accept. AGW is a complete put-up job and has been from the get-go. Simulation isn’t science. Defective simulation for sure isn’t science. un-“adjusted” data is science. None of that supports the whole Climate Change (nee Global Warming) hysteria.

  • duheagle

    What state do you live in? There sure is something suspiciously resembling Winter still going on along most of the U.S. East Coast. Here in California it’s been atypically cold and wet too. But I’ve been here awhile. These things go in cycles. There are things called El Nino and La Nina that cyclically crop up in the far Pacific. No bogus AGW required.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Yeah, closing your eyes to what you don’t want to see. …. Taking data in the field is the most basic of scientific activities. Given that the satellite is deployed and operating, it’s a crime to turn it off when it’s operating perfectly well. If you think you’re right about your climate beliefs, you should want this system operating from this vantage point to prove your point.

  • duheagle

    A lot of people are certainly ignorant about this subject. Kapitalist, Trump and me are not among them.

  • duheagle

    Would you be so good, then, as to point to any actual data – as opposed to incompetently written computer simulations – that, in any way, support the idea that the planet is warming at an accelerating rate?

  • windbourne

    No doubt this was a major assault. To be honest, I’m amazed at the actions by Trump et. al. It went much further than I expected. Oddly, it points to the fact that Peter theil has a lot less sway than what I thought.

    The question becomes what will the Republicans within the GOP do? There are enough of them, like mccain, that will hopefully shut down such BS.

  • windbourne

    First off, not Gore’s hockey graph.
    Secondly, absolutely NOTHING was disproven about it.
    Third, if a little co2 is good, then a lot will be great is a total lie. Plants require certain % of gases just like we do. A raise in co2 DID help plants, but we have already gone past the point where it helps in most plants, and what remains, are not crop plants.

    A lack of knowledge on your part is what is causing fools to believe your tripe.

  • ReSpaceAge

    Very much aware of the cycles. I live in the upstate of South Carolina near Clemson University. I have some fruit trees. I have lived in this area for 40 years. This pass winter was by far the warmest I have experienced since being here.
    For the passed decade or so the fruit have been getting burnt more often because they have been bluming sooner. This past February we had No cold days and nights. it was has if February was March. I’m in touch with the temperate because walk a lot at night.
    This passed winter was almost non existent compared to normal.

    The winters are much milder than when I came to Clemson 40 years ago.

    All the fruit blossoms are dead again!

  • duheagle

    My problem is that, despite claims by the so-called “climate science community” I don’t see how the NISTAR instrument on DSCOVR can do what is claimed for it.

    NISTAR is actually four instruments, each of which looks at a different, but partially or fully overlapping band of frequencies in the infrared through ultraviolet spectrum and purports to be useful for research anent planetary warming. It does this by capturing data on Earth’s total sun-side radiation intensity levels at the EM frequency bands to which its four instruments are sensitive.

    Total radiative intensity over a given frequency band will consist of both reflected energy from the sun and black body radiation attributable to the temperature of the Earth. This is a summation of two contributory sources that are collected as a single combined measurement.

    It seems obvious that one can draw no useful conclusions about whether the Earth is or is not warming unless one can separate the two sources of NISTAR’s aggregated readings to a sufficient degree of accuracy. For any given sampling interval, for instance, it would seem one would need to know both what the actual magnitude of incoming solar radiation is in the interval and also what the Earth’s reflectivity is over the interval.

    The first of these, I think, cannot be determined by an Earth-facing instrument alone. It seems to me one would need a Sun-facing instrument to look at the same frequency bands to objectively determine what radiation intensity the Sun is putting forth.

    The fact that there is also a roughly 12 second gap between incoming solar radiation arriving at DSCOVR and the partial reflection of that same solar-origin radiation back to DSCOVR after it impinges on Earth is an additional complication, but also, one presumes, a managable one.

    But NISTAR has no such Sun-facing instrument. Solar radiation intensity is known to be variable and to a degree that is fully capable of swamping the magnitude of any radiative signature of actual planetary warming included in the aggregated data DSCOVR’s Earth-facing radiometers can collect.

    The matter of Earth’s moment-to-moment reflectivity is even more fraught as it is even more variable than is insolation. Cloud cover is quite variable, even over fairly short intervals, especially considering the Earth is constantly turning as DSCOVR takes its data. The relative amounts of cloud, ocean surface, land area and the actual reflectivity of each due to variables such as ice cover, vegetation of highly various kinds and angle of incidence of insolation at the surface and/or at some altitude in the atmosphere down to the 625 sq. km. pixel level is continuously changing.

    So, even if one could obtain a direct measurement of actual insolation intensity – which NISTAR cannot do – the variability in reflectivity, both at a single-pixel level of granularity and aggregated over an entire image frame, still makes teasing out an exquisitely small Global Warming residuum signature from an extremely noisy reflectivity signal a practical impossibility so far as I can see.

    The average daily temperature change embodied in the purely black body radiation component of the NISTAR-gathered data would amount to only 4.6 millionths of a degree C. even if the planet were actually warming at a rate of 4 degrees C. per century. Even the IPCC no longer regards that as likely.

    In short, I have no problem with shutting down DSCOVR’s Earth-facing instruments because I can see no way they can be genuinely useful to any faction of the Global Warming/Climate Change debate.

    The “Blue Marble” pictures processed from DSCOVR’s NISTAR data are nice, but not $1.2 million per year nice.

  • duheagle

    No, it’s Dr. Michael Mann’s hockey stick graph. And it has been thoroughly demolished by both climate skeptics and even by many on the “Warmist” side of the fence. The IPCC doesn’t put it in their pubs anymore.

    Given that you are entirely wrong about the hockey stick graph, I’m not about to cut you any slack on your assertions about plant growth.

    Not sure, in any case, what you include under the heading of “not crop plants.” Are grass and trees “not crop plants?” People can’t eat trees, but it’s not like they don’t have their uses to us humans. Ditto grass. We don’t eat it, but both wild and domesticated animals do.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    Do the bands of SOHO and DSCOVR overlap? There’s also a slew of solar observatories world wide, surely there are research groups correlating solar efflux in those bands at the same time as the satellite. Are you familiar enough with the research grants associated with this satellite that you know these basic instrumentation limitations you are mentioning are not being addressed? As far as who has a great black body model for the globe, the DOD does going back to the mid 1960’s. I can’t say I’ve seen it, but you can bet one has been constructed to eek out as much performance from the various IR platforms in orbit and airborne platforms as well. I find it very hard to believe a full up mission was proposed, built and flown, absent the ability to close the model upon which the basic sensors are predicated.

  • Andrew Tubbiolo

    “The global warming doomsday myth is dead”. Really? Tell that to the Alaska roads folks, the pipeline owners, and the folks who’s homes are shifting due to the perma-frost, no longer being perma. Or do you assert, that’s not happening?

  • Kapitalist

    Isn’t it a great thing to get rid of perma frost? It makes Alaska more habitable. More life and more food. Why should we pay our money and our freedom in order to prevent that? The climate is changing, yes,m it is always changing, and now maybe human civilization plays a part in it. But what is bad about it?

  • Paul Thomas

    You don’t know what you are talking about.
    Lots of waffle about what you believe, zero science facts.

  • Paul Thomas

    It’s not true that there has been no warming for 20 years. The data you are spouting is for the U.S. (5% of the Earths surface), far from ‘global’.

  • Kapitalist

    You’re lying!
    How do you yourself compare Al Gore’s warming and disaster forecasts with what has actually happened out there in the reality?

    Do you really claim that his fear mongering doomsday threat has happened now? Is doomsday this good?

    Why do you believe that North Korean style central planning is the salvation? That has no kind of relation to natural sciences at all, that is a moral and economics and political question. Climate science has no kind of relation to that stuff, do you understand that, or are you a Marxist who lies that politics is science and therefor has to be violently imposed on the people by the self proclaimed wise (although always failing) elite?

    There’s lots of evidence for how human CO2-emissions, by burning fossil fuels, has benefited not only the economy and agriculture, but also global wild life. Why are you and your gang unable to relate to these facts? Why are you robotically repeating the same old lies and threats instead of discussing the topic?

    In a couple of years the global warming doomsday myth will be as burried as the previous global ice age myth. The tax parasiting doomsday mongers are a bit too daft to realize it, but it is happening. When the parasites no longer can suck the blood out of other people, by parasiting on US government tax monies, they will immediately disappear. The global warming lie was never about anything else than greedily profiting from oppressing US tax payers. Pull the plug and the whole fraud suddenly ceases to exist.

  • Flatley

    it has been thoroughly demolished

    Provide a source link for that claim along with a precise and concise explanation of your interpretation of your source. I warn you in advance that low quality sources such as blogs will not be looked upon kindly.

    Meanwhile, numerous studies have confirmed Mann’s initially proposed trend. See, for example, Mann’s 2008 paper, which is paywalled but does provide access to the figures. I’ve attached the key result, which helpfully compiles Mann’s original graph, a variety of new reconstructions, and a variety of actual instrumental records.

    You could also check out the PAGES 2k 2013 reconstructions, which displayed prominently on the Wikipedia page for “Hockey Stick Graph” for means of additional confirmation.

    It’s a non-controversial fact that the last decades have been the warmest in at least 500 years, if not 1000. I suggest you give up trying to argue that the Earth isn’t warming (it is) and instead take the next step along the Trail of Deception: Either take the position that warming is somehow good for humanity (see your colleague Kapitalist) or follow Scott Pruitt’s approach with the weaselly lie that “measuring, with precision, human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do. You’ll still be fighting a losing battle against the truth, but at least your arguments will be a decade more up-to-date.

  • Flatley

    Al Gore’s hockey stick forecast 20 years ago, like ALL climate doomsday forecasts made in the 1990′,s have very convincingly proven to be WRONG

    You made that claim several months ago on this very blog and were called on it not once but twice by people presenting actual data (I was one of them). You did not see fit to even attempt to respond to me. Your response to the other poster was an odd deflection which invoked George Orwell. Regardless, you had no response to actual factual data.

    Based on that behavior I can only conclude that you are not interested in participating in evidence-based discussion. If you make a factually incorrect claim once, I can interpret it as an honest mistake. If you are presented with evidence to the contrary, ignore the evidence, and then continue to make that same factually incorrect claim, you are a liar.

  • Kapitalist

    So you DO claim that Al Gore’s hockey stick doomsday has happened yesterday?
    You DO claim that all polar bear have been extinct, that there no longer exists any ice on Earth, that it is no longer possible to grow any food, that rising sea level is drowning all cities, that we suffer from mass killing storms.

    Why are you unable to look out of your window to see that this didn’t happen? Why can’t you accept good news, doomsday didn’t happen.

    Why can’t you argue for how a changed climate would be bad (while it actually is only good!) and how communist violence could save us? If I steal all of your money and jail you so that you cannot eat. How does that help the climate? You refuse to explain that. Because you are wrong, you lie, you are fooled by fraudsters and it is emotionally hard for you to realize that.

    Climate science has failed, the forecasts are humiliating. It is a disgrace of the name science. And fooled idiots like you cannot handle it mentally. You still “believe” in the lies that your master politicians once told you.

  • Flatley

    The “hockey stick” curve has been repeatedly vindicated both by other reconstructions and by further collection of data, as shown below in my reply to duheagle. It looks like you already realize this — the fact that the Earth is warming — and have moved into “warming is good for humans” mode. This is also disputed by scientists, mostly due to the effect it’ll have on water levels around the world, but it’s more of a qualitative discussion and I don’t feel the need to get into it.

    What’s not qualitative is that the Earth is warming and that humans are causing it.

  • Kapitalist

    The Earth is NOT warming, since 20 years, and the sea level is not drowning coastal real estate. As if that would be anything important or new, the Netherlands, Venice and St Petersburg and many other places are built under sea level and manage it quite well, no problem there. No motivation for abolishing all industry, abolishing all transportation, abolishing all energy production, abolishing all agriculture and abolishing all space flight. This Soviet North Korea style devastation of society that all these violent climate haters preach, has no logic to it. They talk about non-understood complex natural science issues, but draws conclusions about economics and politics. And their only argument is shouting: “I’M A SCIENTIST!!!”” Like Bill Nye, CEO of the Planetary Society, unfortunately, as the worst example of a screaming fanatic. Yeah, sure. But a failed scientist, and not a scientist on the topics you preach about.So just go to Hell please!

  • Flatley

    The Earth is NOT warming, since 20 years

    Yes it is, per the information I posted. Provide your own reputable information to the contrary and we will have something to discuss. Until then, you are simply making unsupported claims, which is hardly surprising because that is all you lot ever do.

    I could do without your toothless insults as well, but if you want to flail ineffectually in lieu of providing concrete evidence then be my guest. Just don’t expect anyone to respect you or your worthless opinion.