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Re: {MPML} DOD to "engage" satellite (slightly OT)

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  • Alan W Harris
    Thanks Patrick for calling attention to this. I must say though that the whole thing is absurd, at least on the face of what is claimed. Consider that the
    Message 1 of 13 , Feb 14, 2008
      Thanks Patrick for calling attention to this. I must say though that the
      whole thing is absurd, at least on the face of what is claimed. Consider
      that the Space Shuttle Columbia, at least an order of magnitude more
      massive than this satellite, was actually aimed to re-enter over a
      populated area (Texas), and when it tragically failed and disintegrated, it
      caused no significant damage on the ground. And yes, tons of material made
      it to the ground, but even over land, there is a lot of empty space. I
      would add that (1) the shuttle was a vehicle designed to survive
      atmospheric entry, (2) hydrazine is the standard propellant used for
      control jets, so it is likely that the shuttle had as much or more aboard
      when it re-entered, and (3) in any case, a can of liquid fuel is about the
      last part of a re-entering satellite one would expect to make it down into
      the lower atmosphere, let alone to the ground. All this leads me to
      conclude either (a) there are some real idiots in charge of making
      decisions like this, or (b) the military really has quite another motive
      for being sure certain pieces of their satellite get the deep-six and not
      land in somebody's back yard, especially in some other country. I'm not a
      big fan of conspiracy theories, but in this case I'd bet on (b).

      Cheers,

      Alan

      At 02:54 PM 2/14/2008, P. Clay Sherrod wrote:
      >Although seemingly "exciting" at first glance, this is not quite such a
      >pretty picture
      >if folks read between the lines on this event. The debris scatter, as
      >well as any fall
      >of the rocket fuel payload (nearly 5,000 pounds, all toxic) are of great
      >concern, even
      >if the "destruction" is successful. If the satellite is successfully
      >engaged, there is
      >still a high chance of land impact of nearly 200 meters of material. In
      >my opinion,
      >this is a no-win situation and we can only hope and pray for a watery
      >resting place for
      >this either way.
      >
      >Clay

      *******************************************************************
      Alan W. Harris
      Senior Research Scientist
      Space Science Institute
      4603 Orange Knoll Ave. Phone: 818-790-8291
      La Canada, CA 91011-3364 email: awharris@...
      *******************************************************************
    • Michael Smith
      ... They seem to be worried about another country getting their hands on some secret technology. This is speculation but there might be firmware on that
      Message 2 of 13 , Feb 14, 2008
        Alan W Harris wrote:

        > All this leads me to
        > conclude either (a) there are some real idiots in charge of making
        > decisions like this, or (b) the military really has quite another motive
        > for being sure certain pieces of their satellite get the deep-six and not
        > land in somebody's back yard, especially in some other country. I'm not a
        > big fan of conspiracy theories, but in this case I'd bet on (b).

        They seem to be worried about another country getting their hands on
        some secret technology. This is speculation but there might be firmware
        on that vehicle which you wouldn't want to get into (say) Chinese hands.

        I would have thought that sensitive items like that would be wrapped in
        something like thermite which would make sure it never made it to the
        ground in this situation.

        Maybe they didn't plan this far ahead.
        --
        Michael Smith
      • Scott Stuart
        On Thu, Feb 14, 2008 at 7:40 PM, Alan W Harris ... Or, perhaps, (c) they want to test their own anti-satellite missile capability
        Message 3 of 13 , Feb 14, 2008
          On Thu, Feb 14, 2008 at 7:40 PM, Alan W Harris <awharris@...>
          wrote:

          > All this leads me to
          > conclude either (a) there are some real idiots in charge of making
          > decisions like this, or (b) the military really has quite another motive
          > for being sure certain pieces of their satellite get the deep-six and not
          > land in somebody's back yard, especially in some other country. I'm not a
          > big fan of conspiracy theories, but in this case I'd bet on (b).


          Or, perhaps, (c) they want to test their own anti-satellite missile
          capability in a
          situation that won't leave a debris cloud.

          Scott


          [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        • Matson, Robert D.
          ... I can think of no reasonable explanation for why the military (or our government, take your pick) would EVER publicize their intentions to intercept this
          Message 4 of 13 , Feb 14, 2008
            > Or, perhaps, (c) they want to test their own anti-satellite missile
            > capability in a situation that won't leave a debris cloud.

            I can think of no reasonable explanation for why the military (or
            our government, take your pick) would EVER publicize their intentions
            to intercept this satellite. There is absolutely no advantage in
            announcing it, no international law requiring them to do so, and a
            long list of good reasons not to ... not the least of which is the
            risk of a failed intercept. When I heard about this this morning,
            I honestly thought I was in a Twilight Zone episode. A colossally
            idiotic PR decision. --Rob
          • Dave Tholen
            ... Unfortunately, the story has caught the attention of local media, and they dispatched a reporter to our fine institution to get the story . I was given
            Message 5 of 13 , Feb 14, 2008
              > Thanks Patrick for calling attention to this. I must say though that the
              > whole thing is absurd, at least on the face of what is claimed. Consider
              > that the Space Shuttle Columbia, at least an order of magnitude more
              > massive than this satellite, was actually aimed to re-enter over a
              > populated area (Texas), and when it tragically failed and disintegrated, it
              > caused no significant damage on the ground. And yes, tons of material made
              > it to the ground, but even over land, there is a lot of empty space. I
              > would add that (1) the shuttle was a vehicle designed to survive
              > atmospheric entry, (2) hydrazine is the standard propellant used for
              > control jets, so it is likely that the shuttle had as much or more aboard
              > when it re-entered, and (3) in any case, a can of liquid fuel is about the
              > last part of a re-entering satellite one would expect to make it down into
              > the lower atmosphere, let alone to the ground. All this leads me to
              > conclude either (a) there are some real idiots in charge of making
              > decisions like this, or (b) the military really has quite another motive
              > for being sure certain pieces of their satellite get the deep-six and not
              > land in somebody's back yard, especially in some other country. I'm not a
              > big fan of conspiracy theories, but in this case I'd bet on (b).

              Unfortunately, the story has caught the attention of local media, and
              they dispatched a reporter to our fine institution to "get the story".
              I was given the dubious distinction of being the one to answer the
              reporter's questions on camera. The problem is that the reporter
              didn't have a clue about the story and couldn't ask a coherent
              question about it. I hate doing interviews like that.
            • Walt Cooney
              ... My favorite is when a newspaper reporter interviews you, doesn t take ten words of notes down in a half hour interview, and then ascribes long nonsensical
              Message 6 of 13 , Feb 14, 2008
                Dave Tholen wrote:
                >>
                >
                > Unfortunately, the story has caught the attention of local media, and
                > they dispatched a reporter to our fine institution to "get the story".
                > I was given the dubious distinction of being the one to answer the
                > reporter's questions on camera. The problem is that the reporter
                > didn't have a clue about the story and couldn't ask a coherent
                > question about it. I hate doing interviews like that.
                >
                My favorite is when a newspaper reporter interviews you, doesn't take
                ten words of notes down in a half hour interview, and then ascribes long
                nonsensical quotes to you in the story. It -almost- makes you feel
                sorry for politicians. Almost. :-)

                Clearest skies,
                Walt
              • Richard Kowalski
                Unless this satellite surveys for minor planets, can be mistaken for a minor planet or crashes into an observatory or institute that studies minor planets, it
                Message 7 of 13 , Feb 14, 2008
                  Unless this satellite surveys for minor planets, can be mistaken for
                  a minor planet or crashes into an observatory or institute that
                  studies minor planets, it is more than slightly off topic for this
                  list; It IS off topic.

                  Please take this thread to an appropriate list of site.

                  Thanks



                  Richard Kowalski



                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • Andrea Milani
                  I also had a close approach with the media a few weeks ago, in this case the RAI International TV channel. I explained briefly that the risk associated to a
                  Message 8 of 13 , Feb 15, 2008
                    I also had a close approach with the media a few weeks ago, in this case
                    the RAI International TV channel. I explained briefly that the risk
                    associated to a falling satellite is very, very low.

                    Then the journalist interviewing me on the air tried to find a way of
                    saving his scoop by suggesting that even a tiny piece of satellite could
                    kill someone by hitting at high velocity. When I replied that a tiny piece
                    would arrive at the ground at low velocity, he just cut me out.

                    Maybe the idea of blowing up the satellite, apart from the explanations b)
                    and c) which appear both likely, is not even a serious project but is
                    amplified by the media needing something extraordinary to report.

                    Yours Andrea


                    Yours Andrea

                    On Thu, 14 Feb 2008, Dave Tholen wrote:

                    > > Thanks Patrick for calling attention to this. I must say though that the
                    > > whole thing is absurd, at least on the face of what is claimed. Consider
                    > > that the Space Shuttle Columbia, at least an order of magnitude more
                    > > massive than this satellite, was actually aimed to re-enter over a
                    > > populated area (Texas), and when it tragically failed and disintegrated, it
                    > > caused no significant damage on the ground. And yes, tons of material made
                    > > it to the ground, but even over land, there is a lot of empty space. I
                    > > would add that (1) the shuttle was a vehicle designed to survive
                    > > atmospheric entry, (2) hydrazine is the standard propellant used for
                    > > control jets, so it is likely that the shuttle had as much or more aboard
                    > > when it re-entered, and (3) in any case, a can of liquid fuel is about the
                    > > last part of a re-entering satellite one would expect to make it down into
                    > > the lower atmosphere, let alone to the ground. All this leads me to
                    > > conclude either (a) there are some real idiots in charge of making
                    > > decisions like this, or (b) the military really has quite another motive
                    > > for being sure certain pieces of their satellite get the deep-six and not
                    > > land in somebody's back yard, especially in some other country. I'm not a
                    > > big fan of conspiracy theories, but in this case I'd bet on (b).
                    >
                    > Unfortunately, the story has caught the attention of local media, and
                    > they dispatched a reporter to our fine institution to "get the story".
                    > I was given the dubious distinction of being the one to answer the
                    > reporter's questions on camera. The problem is that the reporter
                    > didn't have a clue about the story and couldn't ask a coherent
                    > question about it. I hate doing interviews like that.
                    >

                    ================================================
                    Andrea Milani Comparetti
                    Dipartimento di Matematica
                    Piazzale B. Pontecorvo 5
                    56127 PISA ITALY

                    tel. +39-050-2213254 fax +39-050-2213224
                    cellular phone +39-349-4482751
                    E-mail: milani@...
                    WWW: http://copernico.dm.unipi.it/~milani/
                    ================================================
                  • Dave Herald
                    This reminds me of a situation a few years ago where a serious current affairs program interviewed me (in my official government capacity) for a show they were
                    Message 9 of 13 , Feb 15, 2008
                      This reminds me of a situation a few years ago where a serious current affairs program interviewed me (in my official government capacity) for a show they were producing on the brca-1 gene for breast cancer. There were allegations about avaricious conduct of a certain company, and they were keen to get me to say certain things that could be used against the company. I hold it as a major achievement that, despite them interviewing me for well over an hour, I didn't make it into the program....I succeeded in sticking to the facts, and was not seduced into their spin on the facts. It is a fact of life that most media interviews are heavily influenced by populist appeal and the prejudices of the reporters. And they can usually get away with it because when technical experts try to explain things, they usually fail miserably at providing a simple, approximate, answer that is correct and understandable to the masses.


                      Dave Herald
                      Canberra, Australia


                      ----- Original Message -----
                      From: Andrea Milani
                      To: Dave Tholen
                      Cc: Minor Planets Mailing List
                      Sent: Friday, February 15, 2008 7:47 PM
                      Subject: Re: {MPML} DOD to "engage" satellite (slightly OT)



                      I also had a close approach with the media a few weeks ago, in this case
                      the RAI International TV channel. I explained briefly that the risk
                      associated to a falling satellite is very, very low.

                      Then the journalist interviewing me on the air tried to find a way of
                      saving his scoop by suggesting that even a tiny piece of satellite could
                      kill someone by hitting at high velocity. When I replied that a tiny piece
                      would arrive at the ground at low velocity, he just cut me out.

                      Maybe the idea of blowing up the satellite, apart from the explanations b)
                      and c) which appear both likely, is not even a serious project but is
                      amplified by the media needing something extraordinary to report.

                      Yours Andrea


                      Yours Andrea

                      On Thu, 14 Feb 2008, Dave Tholen wrote:

                      > > Thanks Patrick for calling attention to this. I must say though that the
                      > > whole thing is absurd, at least on the face of what is claimed. Consider
                      > > that the Space Shuttle Columbia, at least an order of magnitude more
                      > > massive than this satellite, was actually aimed to re-enter over a
                      > > populated area (Texas), and when it tragically failed and disintegrated, it
                      > > caused no significant damage on the ground. And yes, tons of material made
                      > > it to the ground, but even over land, there is a lot of empty space. I
                      > > would add that (1) the shuttle was a vehicle designed to survive
                      > > atmospheric entry, (2) hydrazine is the standard propellant used for
                      > > control jets, so it is likely that the shuttle had as much or more aboard
                      > > when it re-entered, and (3) in any case, a can of liquid fuel is about the
                      > > last part of a re-entering satellite one would expect to make it down into
                      > > the lower atmosphere, let alone to the ground. All this leads me to
                      > > conclude either (a) there are some real idiots in charge of making
                      > > decisions like this, or (b) the military really has quite another motive
                      > > for being sure certain pieces of their satellite get the deep-six and not
                      > > land in somebody's back yard, especially in some other country. I'm not a
                      > > big fan of conspiracy theories, but in this case I'd bet on (b).
                      >
                      > Unfortunately, the story has caught the attention of local media, and
                      > they dispatched a reporter to our fine institution to "get the story".
                      > I was given the dubious distinction of being the one to answer the
                      > reporter's questions on camera. The problem is that the reporter
                      > didn't have a clue about the story and couldn't ask a coherent
                      > question about it. I hate doing interviews like that.
                      >

                      ================================================
                      Andrea Milani Comparetti
                      Dipartimento di Matematica
                      Piazzale B. Pontecorvo 5
                      56127 PISA ITALY

                      tel. +39-050-2213254 fax +39-050-2213224
                      cellular phone +39-349-4482751
                      E-mail: milani@...
                      WWW: http://copernico.dm.unipi.it/~milani/
                      ================================================


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                      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                    • Herbert Raab
                      ... I hate to disagree, Andrea. Even when a small piece of space junk (or a small meteorite, to stay closed to the topic of this list) does not retain any of
                      Message 10 of 13 , Feb 15, 2008
                        Andrea Milani wrote:

                        > Then the journalist interviewing me on the air tried
                        > to find a way of saving his scoop by suggesting that
                        > even a tiny piece of satellite could kill someone by
                        > hitting at high velocity. When I replied that a tiny
                        > piece would arrive at the ground at low velocity, he
                        > just cut me out.

                        I hate to disagree, Andrea. Even when a small piece of
                        space junk (or a small meteorite, to stay closed to the
                        topic of this list) does not retain any of its cosmic
                        velocity, these things still come down in free fall, with
                        a speed of several hundret kilometers per hour.

                        Now imagine dropping a 1kg piece (or 100g, or whatever
                        you consider a "tiny piece") of junk metal or stone from
                        the top of a really tall skyscraper on the head of someone
                        walking on the street... Ouch!

                        So, keep watching for falling objects! ;^)

                        Herbert
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