NASA’s about to lend a heavier hand in the fight against climate change. The news that President Obama would be rearranging NASA’s budget to focus more on what can be done to stop global warming was met with some opposition, but we’re elated that he’s bringing some of that cash down to Earth. Though the shuttle program may be ending soon NASA was just awarded $2.4 billion over the next five years to use their spacey knowledge to study the Earth more closely — from a distance.
The new cash will be used to spruce up NASA’s Earth Science Division which has fallen in importance over the last 20 years. The division uses NASA technology to launch satellites and take measurements on ecological situations on Earth. Recently they’ve had little cash to fix up their instruments that were in disrepair and were unable to keep track of crucial eco-issues on Earth. With the money they’ll relaunch and repair the instruments that are important in the study of the main issues of climate change — glacier melt, chemicals in the atmosphere, coastal wetlands health and ocean temperatures.
“We’ve got to measure how fast the ice is being depleted, how fast carbon dioxide is being added to the atmosphere as opposed to being taken out of it,” says Edward Weiler, the associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. NASA plans to reconstruct and relaunch the Orbiting Carbon Observatory which crashed immediately after launch last year. Scientists still don’t know a lot about what happens to carbon once it has reached the atmosphere and tools like the Observatory will help figure that out. With all the intelligence over at NASA we’re hoping this speeds up the study of climate change and helps to solidify the science we already have.