Triana (a.k.a. the "Goresat"), A Lament

It seems as if space topics are en vogue this week in “Everything else”, so I’ve decided to throw my hat in.

I was partially tempted to post about this in Politics and Religion, because it seems to me that the demise of Triana was due to politics at its worst, but maybe I’m just being naive.

Let’s begin:

I remember hearing some time ago about a proposed television channel that would broadcast a high definition, 24-hour-a-day view of the whole Earth from space. I remember hearing that Al Gore’s name was somehow attached to the project. And I remember thinking “What a great idea!”

I didn’t think anything more about this cool idea until the recent launch of Al Gore’s Current TV. I don’t have access to this particular news channel (probably worthy of its own discussion thread) but it reminded me of the rumour I’d heard about Gore’s involvement in the 24 hour a day space-view of Earth channel. So, I did some digging today.

The result of my very preliminary Googling is Triana. It seems as if the plan was to put a satellite up at the L1 point between the Earth and the Sun, 1 million miles away, that would take continuous video of the light-side of the Earth. This video would have been in glorious high-definition, and available on the Internet and television 24 hours a day in near real-time. The primary purpose of this was to awaken people to the wonders of science and to give people a holistic view of the Earth and its majesty (environment, beauty, cool-looking from space natural disasters, etc…).

I think it’s an amazing idea. In fact, I’d probably pay to have access to this channel, whether it be online or on TV. Unfortunately, it seems House Republicans did not agree and the whole thing was shelved.

Sure, it would have cost up to $220 or so million (that was the last project estimate) but I think it would have been worth every penny. The counterargument was that the money could be spent on very practical research on the International Space Station to help with things like cancer and diabetes.

Am I just being nuts about wishing this thing had happened? Apparently $90 million worth of parts has been mothballed somewhere at NASA, and that this could some day see the light again, but I doubt it. Playing around with the Google Earth stuff makes me pine for something like this even more.

Here’s a bit of politics that might have belonged better in P&R: America nearly had the most tech interested President ever in Al Gore, but ended up with one of the least in George W. Bush. The only tech initiative I’ve heard come from GWB is his “Mission to Mars” talk that seems to have completely dropped off the map. Al Gore may not have invented the Internet, but he at least knew what it was and could dream up (literally!) cool new things to do with it. His current involvement in Current makes me believe that he just “gets it”. Will someone else, a visionary like Gore, whether they be Republican or Democrat, ever get elected to the White House?

Will we ever see science - fun science, stimulating science - make a comeback as a priority of the governments of the developed world? Or is the world leader in this area (the US) only focused now on curing diseases and fighting terror? Both laudable goals, but ultimately so very, very mundane.

And does anyone else wish that Triana would exist today and think that they’d rush out to buy an HDTV just to get to watch this thing?! Imagine seeing forest fires from space while cooking your dinner. Imagine getting a glimpse of the incredibly glory of our planet from space that makes the “Should… have… sent… a poet…” line make perfect sense to me?

/Eph

Thats a lot of money for a live web cam of the earth.

Yeah, it’s a lot of money, I can’t disagree.

It just strikes me that it’s a Web cam with a purpose, and that purpose is to wake people up to the fact that there’s more to living on this planet than waking up, getting ready for work/school, toiling the day away to make money, and get home to the family, rinse and repeat.

PLUS it’s not as if the money is just set on fire. People would be employed to build the thing and send it off into space. Money is a funny thing, even when its “wasted” it somehow manages to move around to the right places.

Broken window fallacy. Look it up.

It would have been a waste of money. Sure you could argue that the amount is insignificant to other things the government wastes money on but its still a waste.

Just did, bago. Thanks for the pointer. Good article on it over at the Wikipedia.

OK, I did indulge in that particular fallacy in my 2nd post, but I do clearly point out that I do get the opportunity cost involved in such a project (less space research done on the ISS on cancer/diabetes).

That would be an insane waste of money. I wouldn’t want to have to pay for it as part of a suite of cable channels, let alone having my taxes go for it (not that I actually have a say in that). If you want to spend money on tech, how about stem cell research.

Besides couldn’t we just have ILM make a looping CG version for way less? Wouldn’t it be the same effect?

OK, what if it weren’t the government doing it, then? What if it were a private corporation wanting to charge people for it? Let’s say the typical cost of a cable TV channel. Is it something you’d be willing to pay for? Any interest in it at all?

If no, then no, I’m really just wondering if I’m the only one that loves this idea (well, besides Al Gore).

[EDIT] I should also point out that there were to be some actually quite important other instruments on board the satellite, so it wasn’t just a “Web Cam” - read the NASA site link above. I’m simply personally most interested in the camera aspect. And no, CGI wouldn’t do as a substitute for reality. Real is real, and it certainly isn’t replaceable by a CGI globe.

I wouldn’t have a moral problem with it if it were a private corp that did it. I doubt I’d pay money for it though. Sounds like the kind of thing that would be cool to look at for a few minutes, kinda like the satalite view in mapquest/google maps. Something fun that I could never justify paying for.

Its not the governments place to make ‘fun and stimulating science’ a priority.

It certainly would be cool. Totally! But it’s not 220 million dollars worth of cool. And for me, it wouldn’t be $1.95 / month worth of cool as a TV station. The image would not doubt be wonderful, but that’s it. The channel is really just as useful as a screensaver.

images at 15 minutes intervals with a resolution of about 8 km

High definition maybe, but you’re not going to be seeing forest fires with that resolution.

What a great idea! The terrorists could totally plan their attacks with that much more effectiveness, if they could see the globe in HD near-RT!

What’s the average cost of a single shuttle launch? I think it’s a pretty neat idea actually, and more inspiring than a single shuttle launch.

I wouldn’t pay for it. However, I’d certainly have a look if the American taxpayers would pay for it. While you’re at it, please also provide me with free movies and free games. Thanks! :P

Well, according to this the average shuttle mission costs $1.3 billion.

I’m glad I’m not the only person around who would find something like this inspiring, Quaro!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that most people who’ve taken the time to post in the thread have been pragmatists, concerned with the government spending their tax dollars on a screensaver, but I’m a believer that sometimes governments have a job to do that goes beyond building vital infrastructure and defending our lives. I think I’m in quite the minority there, so I guess my only hope of seeing something like this come to fruition is if some insanely rich philanthropist comes along and just does it 'cause it’s cool. Woz, Paul or Bill, I’m thinking of you here…

/Eph

Stupid question, but who’s Paul?

Prolly paul allen.

Definitely Paul Allen. Unless Paul McCartney wants to get in on the act, that’d be cool, too.

I was just reading the actual (dated) NASA homepage for Triana and it notes:

Except for a few planetary fly-bys (e.g., Galileo), NASA has not had a spacecraft to provide the public with a full disk image of the Earth since Apollo.

This just makes me sad.

The tiny, animated GIF simulation looks intriguing, too.

Well, according to this the average shuttle mission costs $1.3 billion.

I’m glad I’m not the only person around who would find something like this inspiring, Quaro!

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that most people who’ve taken the time to post in the thread have been pragmatists, concerned with the government spending their tax dollars on a screensaver, but I’m a believer that sometimes governments have a job to do that goes beyond building vital infrastructure and defending our lives. /Eph[/quote]

I think you raise a good point, but how about this–I don’t think this is a lot of bang for the buck. I would like to see more public art, especially playful pieces, like Christo’s Gates, and wouldn’t mind it if the government funded (or partially funded) it.

No opinion on the HOT LIVE CAM Earth action that hasn’t already been said.

But I’m pissed that Current TV replaced Newsworld Int’l! It was the perfect example of “the more boring the presentation, the better the news show.” And I was pretty displeased to find that it had been replaced by something that, upon initial view, reminded me of a truth.com commercial.

So instead of being able to watch NHK Newswatch, I was presented a segment about a woman’s bare ass on a billboard that, apparently, not everyone was aware was a woman’s bare ass (albeit a rather nice one).