End of SeaWiFS

Narration: None


Silence [Gene Feldman] SeaWiFS was launched back in August of 1997. and began operating and sending data down in September of 1997 and lasted until December 11th of 2010. So, that's more than a 13 year data set. The original idea behind SeaWiFS, which stands for Sea Viewing Wide Field Sensor, was to monitor the color of the ocean. The color of the ocean is related to the amount of microscopic plants that live in the ocean that have a pigment called chlorophyll, which is green. And the more chlorophyll, more phytoplankton, in the water the greener the water, the less the bluer the water. So, we've demonstrated that we can actually measure the color of the ocean from space. But what we haven't had is a long term record of how ocean color and hence, the amount of plants and productivity in the ocean, changes over time. And that was the main goal for the SeaWiFS mission. Space is a very, very harsh environment. Every 90 minutes, you go from frigid, frigid cold to very, very hot. And, you know, imagine doing that every day 14 times a day for 13 and a half years, operating continuously. The mission was only supposed to last for 5 years. We lasted actually for over 13. But over time things begin to wear out. In December what happened was we lost communication with the spacecraft. Which is kind of important because what it said was the spacecraft could no longer contact Earth and send data down. But more importantly we could not contact the spacecraft to try to fix a problem. And so finally, in February, it was decided that it was hopeless, we were not going to be able to reach the spacecraft and the people that operated it, GeoEye, declared it lost. Before SeaWiFS, ocean color as a measurement was seen as an experimental mission, an experimental data set. We never really were sure that it was going to give us the kind of information we needed. But as a result of SeaWiFS, ocean color as a parameter is now one of the key variables that need to get measured by all future missions. So, there will be ocean color measurements from this point forward. They may not be exactly like SeaWiFS, they may present other challenges, but as a parameter, ocean color will continue into the future and that is solely because of the success of the SeaWiFS mission. (satellite beeping) (satellite beeping)