OCO-3 Ready to Extend NASA’s Study of Carbon

OCO-3 sits on the large vibration table (known as the “shaker”) in the Environmental Test Lab at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

Updated at 12:35 a.m. PDT (3:35 a.m. EDT) on May 10

NASA’s OCO-3 was removed from the Dragon spacecraft and robotically installed on the exterior of the space station’s Japanese Experiment Module-Exposed Facility as of approximately 9 p.m. PDT on May 9 (12 a.m. EDT on May 10). Over the next two days, a functional checkout will be performed and the OCO-3’s Pointing Mirror Assembly (PMA) will be deployed. The PMA and context cameras will then perform an initial survey of OCO-3’s surroundings to make sure nothing unexpected is interfering with its view of Earth.

Updated at 9:10 a.m./p.m. PDT (12:10 p.m. EDT) on May 4

SpaceX CRS-17 launched Friday, May 3, 11:48 p.m. PDT (Saturday, May 4, 2:48 a.m. EDT).

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA/JPL-Caltech PR) — When the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3, OCO-3, heads to the International Space Station, it will bring a new view — literally — to studies of Earth’s carbon cycle.

From its perch on the space station, OCO-3 will observe near-global measurements of carbon dioxide on land and sea, from just after sunrise to just before sunset. That makes it far more versatile and powerful than its predecessor, OCO-2.

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A Closer Look at NASA’s FY 2018 Budget


by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Despite a last minute threat of a veto, President Donald Trump signed an $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill on Friday that boosts NASA spending by about $1.1 billion to $20.7 billion.

So, with the fiscal year nearly half over, let’s take a closer look at NASA’s FY 2018 budget, which the Administration had tried to cut. The table below lays out the numbers from the omnibus bill, the Administration’s request and the FY 2017 budget.

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What Might Happen to NASA’s Earth Science Programs Under Bridenstine?

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Imagine the following scenario: NASA’s Earth Science division gets its budget cut with key missions focused on climate change canceled.

The new NASA administrator then announces the division will be dismantled, with various programs divided among other federal departments, in order to better focus the space agency on exploration. The bulk of the programs end up at NOAA, which the NASA administrator says is a much more appropriate home for them.

NOAA, however, is already reeling from spending cuts. Struggling to perform its own forecasting duties on a reduced budget, the agency has little bandwidth to take on any additional responsibilities. And the funding allocated for the NASA programs that were just transferred over is woefully inadequate for the tasks at hand.

The result is a bureaucratic train wreck in which America’s Earth science and climate research programs gradually wither away due to mismanagement, neglect and lack of funding. The ability of the nation — and the world — to understand and address the changes the planet experiencing is greatly reduced. At some future date, another administration will have to rebuild a program in shambles that was once the envy of the world.

Sound far fetched? Think again. It could very well happen if the Trump Administration and the man it has nominated to lead NASA get what they want out of Congress.

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