NASA Space Missions to Study Effects of Global Warming
December 27, 2009
(ChattahBox)—As the future direction of NASA is debated by lawmakers in Congress and the space agency’s aging fleet of shuttles are about to be retired, three new missions have been announced for 2010. The staff for the upcoming missions will be chosen for their scientific background, with studies planned on the earth’s climate, the relative health of the earth’s oceans and the sun’s effects on intergalactic weather.
With the ongoing debate on the cap-and-trade legislation to reduce man-made carbon emissions, which cause global warming, the new missions will offer scientists and lawmakers current data on the health of our planet. Michael Freilich, head of NASA’s Earth-science division, is aware of the need for climate change studies. “They are extraordinary timely,” said Freilich about the three missions. He expects the results of the studies would aid the science of global warming.
Two of the planned space missions will analyze the level of salt in the earth’s oceans, with the launch of the SAC-D Aquarius satellite that will measure salinity levels around the globe, once a month for three years. The satellite is a joint project with Argentina.
The salt concentrations are a major indicator of a change in ocean currents, which are altered by global warming. And changes in global ocean currents have been shown to have an impact on global weather patterns. The NASA scientists will study the impact of melting glaciers and increased rainfall, which dumps greater amounts of fresh water into the oceans of the earth.
Another mission plans to measure the amounts and types of presence of aerosol particles in the atmosphere, such as soot.
And the third mission will study solar flares and other effects the sun has on space weather.
All three missions will contribute to the continued study of climate change.