Short items, April 2009

CO2 rocket crashes 

NASA’s eagerly awaited Orbiting Carbon Observatory - designed to study from space the human and natural sources and sinks of carbon dioxide - crashed shortly after launch on 27 February. The rocket failed to reach orbit and fell into the ocean near Antarctica. NASA said the cause of the accident is being investigated with the aim of moving the project forward as rapidly as possible. 

Chemical weapon destruction faces delay

The global recession may impact on the likelihood of chemical weapons stockpiles being destroyed by the agreed 2012 deadline. Rogelio Pfirter, the director general of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, said that chemical disarmament is expensive and that the current financial climate would make it hard for countries to foot these multi-billion pound bills. 

ERC review

After two years of operation, the European Research Council (ERC) have announced that they have set up a review panel to examine their work so far. The panel, which includes former UK science minister Lord Sainsbury, will take stock of the funding body’s achievements and also provide advice on its future directions. 

Go Figure 

5 billion tonnes  

The amount of extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere as a result of the 2005 drought in the Amazon. This figure includes carbon dioxide released from decomposing trees killed in the drought and the reduction in carbon dioxide being absorbed by the forest due to there being fewer trees. This amount exceeds the annual emissions of Europe and Japan combined.