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NASA Baffled by force acting on probes

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  • derhexer@aol.com
    URL to an interesting article in MSNBC _http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23410705/_ (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23410705/) (If this was a movie, this sort of thing
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 29, 2008
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      URL to an interesting article in MSNBC
      _http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23410705/_
      (http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23410705/)

      (If this was a movie, this sort of thing would be part of the introduction,
      with Twilight Zone music in the background)

      First few paragraphs
      "Mysteriously, five spacecraft that flew past the Earth have each displayed
      unexpected anomalies in their motions.
      These newfound enigmas join the so-called "_Pioneer anomaly_
      (http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/070327_scitues_pioneeranom.html) " as hints that
      unexplained forces may appear to act on spacecraft.
      A decade ago, after rigorous analyses, anomalies were seen with the
      identical Pioneer 10 and 11 spacecraft as they hurtled out of the solar system. Both
      seemed to experience a tiny but unexplained constant acceleration toward the
      sun.


      A host of explanations have been bandied about for the Pioneer anomaly. At t
      imes these are rooted in conventional science — perhaps leaks from the
      spacecraft have affected their trajectories. At times these are rooted in more
      speculative physics — maybe the _law of gravity_
      (http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/070810_gm_gravity.html) itself needs to be modified.


      Now Jet Propulsion Laboratory astronomer John Anderson and his colleagues —
      who originally helped uncover the Pioneer anomaly — have discovered that five
      spacecraft each raced either a tiny bit faster or slower than expected when
      they flew past the Earth en route to other parts of the solar system.
      ‘Humble and perplexed’
      The researchers looked at six deep-space probes — Galileo I and II to
      Jupiter, the NEAR mission to the asteroid Eros, the Rosetta probe to a comet,
      _Cassini to Saturn_
      (http://www.space.com/php/multimedia/imagegallery/igviewer.php?imgid=3986&gid=287) , and the Messenger craft to Mercury. Each spacecraft
      flew past our planet to either gain or lose orbital energy in their quests to
      reach their eventual targets.
      In five of the six flybys, the scientists have confirmed anomalies.
      "I am feeling both humble and perplexed by this," said Anderson, who is now
      working as a retiree. "There is something very strange going on with
      spacecraft motions. We have no convincing explanation for either the Pioneer anomaly
      or the flyby anomaly."
      In the one probe the researchers did not confirm a noticeable anomaly with,
      Messenger, the spacecraft approached the Earth at about latitude 31 degrees
      north and receded from the Earth at about latitude 32 degrees south. "This
      near-perfect symmetry about the equator seemed to result in a very small
      velocity change, in contrast to the five other flybys," Anderson explained — so
      small no anomaly could be confirmed."

      Chris

      (The avalanche has started and the pebbles don't get to vote)




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