After the loss, engineers went back to the drawing board and built a near-identical twin that was set to launch before dawn Tuesday.
Instead of using the same rocket, the replacement will be flown on a Delta 2, a workhorse booster that once faced a murky future.
Scientists who have no role in the mission welcomed the latest flight attempt. They said it would have taken even longer to get to the launch pad with a completely new design.
"We don't have time to waste. We need solutions now," said
There has not been an Earth-observing satellite dedicated to tracking carbon dioxide since the Japanese launched one in 2009.
"It's really the fate of carbon dioxide once it's in the atmosphere that we're trying to really put our finger on," project scientist
Since the industrial age, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air has increased dramatically. Some 40 billion tons of the greenhouse gas are pumped out yearly from the burning of fossil fuels.
About half ends up trapped in Earth's atmosphere while a quarter is absorbed into the ocean. Another quarter is sucked up by trees and plants.
The mission, designed to last at least two years, will identify places on Earth responsible for inhaling carbon dioxide.
"This will allow us to understand what processes are controlling how much carbon is absorbed in a given time and place,"
Scientists hope for better luck at the upcoming launch of
After the 2009 failure, a team of experts appointed by
Two years later, it happened again. Despite a design change,
The back-to-back fiascos led
The new mission costs almost twice as much as the original, mainly because it will ride on a more expensive rocket. Engineers also had to swap out obsolete parts, adding to the mission price tag.
Once in polar orbit 438 miles high, the satellite will circle Earth every 100 minutes, measuring carbon dioxide levels. It will join a constellation of 17 other
"We're excited about this opportunity — this opportunity to finally be able to complete some unfinished business," he said during the pre-launch briefing.
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