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NASA’s Freilich said airplanes and other satellites can track climate change, though not as well. The solar radiation tracking is done by other older satellites and will continue, while a new proposed satellite, scheduled for launch by the end of the decade, can look for aerosols, he said in a telephone interview from Vandenberg.

The loss of Glory will mostly hurt projections and modeling of future climate change, he said.

“The NASA team does the things that are important, not necessarily the things that are easy,” Freilich said. “Sometimes it takes more than one try at it.”

Investigators spent several months testing hardware after the 2009 accident, interviewing engineers and reviewing data and documents. The probe did not find evidence of widespread testing negligence or management shortcomings, but NASA declined to release the full accident report, citing sensitive and proprietary information.