It was 2 a.m. on February 24, 2009, and six years of George Mount’s work had just launched toward space.
Mount, then a physicist in the WSU Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, had been part of a team led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory to develop the Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), a sophisticated instrument to measure carbon dioxide from space.
It looked like a picture-perfect launch. The researchers had boarded buses from the launch site and were riding back to their hotel when they learned the news: The rocket carrying their satellite had failed to reach orbit. Instead, the … » More …