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Gore's satellite would give 24-hour view of Earth

March 13, 1998
Web posted at: 3:10 p.m. EST (2010 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Under instructions from Vice President Al Gore, NASA is scrambling to put a satellite in space that for the first time would broadcast live pictures of the Earth 24 hours a day for Internet users and television outlets.

The project, which would need approval by Congress, is expected to cost between $20 million and $50 million. Gore sees it as an invaluable resource for scientific, educational and weather research.

It would show hurricanes and other threatening weather patterns, forest fires, cloud formations and other phenomena in real time. There are no full-Earth images now available, although existing satellites track regions of the world.

The vice president announced the program Friday at a technology conference at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge.

"As we connect all our classrooms to the Internet, we have the opportunity to bring new education and potential scientific projects as well as global weather observations to millions of American classrooms and living rooms via television and computer," Gore told an audience of academics, industry leaders and politicians.

An adventure for science buffs

White House officials said the endeavor is the vice president's pet project, and that he persuaded NASA officials to embrace it.

Officials involved said the satellite would orbit at a point of equal gravity between the Earth and sun, so that unlike traditional satellites that orbit the Earth, this one will provide a constant picture of the sliver of Earth that is getting sunlight.

Gore's primary purpose in pushing the project is his belief that science buffs would be fascinated by the chance to access an around-the-clock snapshot of Earth. But the officials said the satellite also will transmit data that will aid weather forecasting and serve other educational purposes.

The program would advance Gore's reputation as a computer buff and environmentalist as the 2000 presidential race nears. Gore hopes to have the satellite in space by 2000.

Correspondent John King and The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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