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Our ability to monitor our planet is at risk; aging Earth-observing satellites are being replaced too slowly, and older satellites are failing. By 2020 we may only have 25% of our current observing capacity. The shortfall comes as a result of funding cuts, canceled missions, lost satellites, failed launches and a shortage of launch vehicles to deliver new satellites to orbit. We have an urgent need to gather data on our planet to better understand the changes taking place on earth. (And yes, some of the funding cuts were targeted directly at missions that would have settled climate change. Those proclaiming "the science isn't good enough yet!" are among those who have torpedoed the science.)
Gus Mancuso's profile photoAaron Sherman's profile photoWalter Guyll's profile photoKal Kallevig's profile photo
what, there's no app for this.. shocked i'm shocked. well. back to post a pic -of -shoes .com
The failing empire is being eaten by its military, just like Rome but without the culture. They should be able to rent time on Chinese and EU satellites though. For as long as there's anyone left able to interpret the data.
News like this always give me the feeling that maybe we have passed the peak of our civilization already, and the long way down may have begun. :-(
Not surprising in that the bottom line is: People don't want to know how much damage we're doing / what the consequences will be. This saves them the trouble of putting their fingers in their ears and singing LALALALA...
Space funding is captured by the whims and motives of politicians. As this realm is privatized this problem should go away.
Quite depressing. +Andreas Eschbach - agreed, this denial of facts, logic and science is the sure path back to the stone age.
David, you're falling into the classic trap of assuming that just because something is a good idea, the government ought to do it. Our decades of experience with the Space Shuttle, contrasted with the burgeoning promise of SpaceX and other endeavors (you like that pun?), should make us think twice about how he get to those goals.
+Chris Wuestefeld I don't think +David Brin said anything about making the government pay for it. He's just stating that because previously the government was the only game in town, and funding has been cut hard, there's been a serious drop in launches and replacement.

The funding's got to come from somewhere, but personally if it's corporate or government or something else I don't think it makes a difference.
I don't understand why we need to observe the Earth. Why don't we just ask our respective political parties what we want the environment to be doing at any given time and then assert that that's exactly what it's doing... oh wait, we already do that!

You're welcome.
+Chris Wuestefeld you're falling into the classic trap of assuming that just because something is a good idea the government ought not to do it. Private money goes to pay for private profits. Just because there are no direct private profits does not mean it is not worth doing.
+Kal Kallevig Ah, but the potential for profit may prove more reliable than the interest of politicians.
+Walter Guyll Indeed it may. But there are many useful things to society that will never be profitable to private companies. And there will be services that essential to normal residents that they can not afford without subsidy. It is simply ridiculous to expect all useful functions to be privately funded.
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