In the early hours of March 4th, 2011 NASA launched Glory, an orbital climate change observatory designed to study the effects of aerosols in the atmosphere. Glory was also carrying what NASA calls the “Total Irradiance Monitor,” which would have measured the amount of radiation the Sun strikes the Earth with.
Or so the plan was. You see, Glory crashed.
After its initial launch, the casing around the satellite failed to open, and the weight was simply too much to fight Earth’s gravitational pull. So, down it came. In an effort to study climate change, NASA only managed to burn $420 million from their already minuscule budget (“minuscule” in relative terms, of course). To make matters worse, this is the second satellite of its type to fail to establish orbit.
Will NASA attempt a third? Will NASA have the money for a third? The answers, I think, are “hopefully” and “probably.”