The Orbiting Carbon Observatory was the US space agency NASA’s first craft dedicated to monitoring carbon dioxide on a global scale. Measurements collected from the $280-million mission were expected to improve climate models, and help researchers determine where the greenhouse gas originates and how much is being absorbed by forests and oceans.
But minutes after the launch in California on Tuesday, a protective cover – or fairing — on the rocket failed to separate and drift away from the satellite, according to a preliminary investigation. The fairing is a clamshell-like cover that protects the satellite as the rocket blasts through the earth’s atmosphere.
Last month, Japan successfully launched the world’s first satellite to monitor the planet’s rising greenhouse-gas emissions, which are linked to climate change.
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