Multilectual Daily Online Magazine focusing on World Architecture, Travel, Photography, Interior Design, Vintage and Contemporary Fiction, Political cartoons, Craft Beer, All things Espresso, International coffee/ cafe's, occasional centrist politics and San Diego's Historic North Park by award-winning journalist Tom Shess
Monday, February 18, 2013
NASA AND CHEESY MOVIE VYING FOR CLOSE ENCOUNTER SOLUTION
Starring Natalie Wood as Mrs. Nostradamus...
UPDATE: On Feb. 26 NASA released a video explaining the two recent meteor
GEEZ, THAT WAS TOO CLOSE--Just noticed in the news the
Pentagon’s latest tally is now at $400 billion spent on a F-35 fighter that might
need more bucks to fix its problems.
Also, last week, all eyes were on an asteroid that missed our planet by
17,000 miles but those of us without dashboard cameras failed to predict much
less see the meteor of the century that exploded over Coldistan, Russia with a
force of 20 atomic bombs.
those possibilities? You think 20 atomic
bombs over North Park might just make us forget the $400 billion F-35 lemon?
Maybe, some of those fighter jet funds could be better spent working on a
meteor defense system. Where is James
Bond’s “Q” now that we need him?
SHOT ACROSS THE BOW OF GOOD SHIP
that the Russian meteor got our attention, NASA did have a prepared dialogue
regarding the near miss and it its credit the space agency is addressing the
big elephant in the room. But is it
enough? I don’t think so. Maybe, here’s the time for the UN to give
North Korea and Iran a science project to help the rest of us work on a meteor
shield. Merde! Shouldn’t this shield system be a number one
project—world wide--given the fact we just took a 20 atomic bomb hit that we
didn’t see coming. OK, we’re getting
hysterical. To calm myself down I
checked out “Meteor” with Natalie Wood and Sean Connery. Set in 1979 (34 years ago), we can see
clearly that NASA is a bit behind Hollywood.
But seriously folks:
Q: What is NASA
doing about Near-Earth Objects?
A: NASA has several ongoing programs regarding
asteroid discovery and science.
Near Earth Object Observation (NEOO) Program detects and tracks asteroids and
comets passing close to Earth using both ground- and space-based telescopes.
The network of projects supported by this program, commonly called
"Spaceguard," discovers these objects, characterizes a subset of them
and plots their orbits to determine if any could be potentially hazardous to
observations from observatories worldwide are sent to the NASA funded Minor
Planet Center, operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for the
International Astronomical Union, where they are combined to maintain the
database on all known asteroids and comets in our solar system. The Near-Earth
Object Program Office at JPL manages the technical and scientific activities
for NASA's Near-Earth Object Program of the Science Mission Directorate in
Washington. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in
Pasadena. The NEO Program Office performs more precise orbit determination on
the objects, and predicts whether any will become an impact hazard to the
Earth, or any other planet in the solar system. The NEOO Program also performs
orbit analysis on the discovered Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) at Goddard Space
Flight Center to determine which ones may become good robotic or human
spaceflight destinations in the near future.
70-meter (230-foot) Goldstone antenna, located about 35 miles north of Barstow
on the Ft. Irwin Military Base, is part of NASA's Deep Space network. The
antenna is one of only two facilities capable of imaging asteroids with radar.
The other is the National Science Foundation's 1,000-foot-diameter (305 meters)
Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. The capabilities of the two instruments are
complementary, and NASA’s NEOO Program supports the radar capability at both
these facilities. The Arecibo radar is about 20 times more sensitive, can see
about one-third of the sky, and can detect asteroids about twice as far away.
Goldstone is fully steerable, can see about 80 percent of the sky, can track
objects several times longer per day, and can image asteroids at finer spatial
resolution. JPL manages the Goldstone Solar System Radar and the Deep Space
Network for NASA.
also started several basic research and technology demonstration projects to
better understand the nature of asteroids and how they might best be deflected
from an Earth impacting trajectory, or to develop the space technology required
to do this. This development work includes improved Solar Electric Propulsion
(SEP) systems that could push or pull an asteroid for an extended time, and
close proximity operations and grappling mechanisms to work in and around
asteroids and manipulate their surfaces. This technology will also be useful
for future robotic and human missions to these objects, and even potentially
resource mining operations.
current/future NASA missions are targeting asteroids and near-Earth objects?
A: NASA has one asteroid mission underway and
another slated for launch in 2016.
in 2007, NASA’s Dawn spacecraft has just finished orbiting the giant asteroid
Vesta and is on its way to the dwarf planet Ceres. These two worlds are the two
most massive objects in the main asteroid belt. The main asteroid belt is the
likely region of origin for most NEAs. At each target, Dawn will acquire color
photographs, compile a topographic map, map the elemental and mineralogical
composition, measure the gravity field and search for moons. The data gathered
by Dawn will enable scientists to understand the conditions under which these
objects formed, determine the nature of the building blocks from which the
terrestrial planets formed and contrast the formation and evolution of Vesta
and Ceres. Dawn’s quest to understand the conditions that existed when our
solar system formed provides context for the understanding of the observation
of planetary systems around other stars.
mission is managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, for NASA’s Science Mission
Directorate, Washington, D.C. It is a project of the Discovery Program managed
by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville, Ala. The principal
investigator resides at UCLA, and is responsible for overall Dawn mission
science. Orbital Sciences Corporation of Dulles, designed and built the Dawn
spacecraft. Other partners include the Max Planck Institute for Solar System
Research, Katlenburg-Lindau, Germany, the German Aerospace Center, Berlin, the
Italian Space Agency, Rome, Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics, Rome,
Los Alamos National Laboratory, N.M., and the Planetary Science Institute,
information about the Dawn mission, please visit:
launch a spacecraft to an asteroid in 2016 and use a robotic arm to pluck
samples from an Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) that could better explain our solar
system's formation and how life began. The mission, called Origins-Spectral
Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer, or
OSIRIS-REx, will be the first U.S. mission to carry samples from an asteroid
back to Earth. After traveling two years, OSIRIS-REx will approach the
primitive Near Earth Asteroid designated 1999 RQ36 in 2018, discovered by the
NEOO Program back in 1999. Once within three miles of the asteroid, the
spacecraft will begin six months of comprehensive surface mapping. The
spacecraft gradually will move closer to the site, and the arm will extend to
collect more than two ounces of material for return to Earth in 2023.
Lauretta from the University of Arizona is the mission’s principal
investigator. NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center provides overall mission
management, systems engineering and safety and mission assurance for NASA’s
Science Mission Directorate, Washington, D.C. It is a project of the New
Frontiers Program managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, Huntsville,
Ala. Lockheed Martin Space Systems of Denver is constructing the spacecraft.
In 1979, a
Hollywood flick named “Meteor,” was released to box offices and frankly, if art
imitates life—this movie might make latter day Nostradamus’s out of Natalie
Wood and Sean Connery. Check out the
plot below from Wikipedia:
Plot of “Meteor”
After a collision between a
comet and an asteroid named Orpheus, a five-mile-wide chunk of Orpheus is set
on a collision course with Earth, with devastating results expected on impact.
While the United States
government and military engage in political maneuvering, other smaller and
faster moving fragments rain down on Earth...[wait, this is supposed to be
fiction]. The United States has a secret orbiting nuclear missile platform
satellite named Hercules, which was thought of by Dr. Paul Bradley (Sean
Connery) of the U.S. It was intended for defense against a massive space rock,
but instead, it was demoted to an orbiting super weapon, its missiles now aimed
at Russia. However, its 14 nuclear missile armament is not enough to stop the
[Meanwhile,] the U.S.
government discovers the existence of another weapon satellite constructed by
the Soviet Union. The President (Henry Fonda) goes on national television and
reveals the existence of Hercules, explaining it as a foresighted project to
meet the threat that Orpheus represents. He also offers the Soviets a chance to
save face and join in by saying they had the same foresight and have their own
satellite weapon. Bradley requests a scientist named Dr. Alexei Dubov (Brian
Keith) to help him plan a counter-effort against Orpheus.
Bradley and Harry Sherwood
(Karl Malden) from NASA have already arrived at the control center for
Hercules, which is located beneath the AT&T Building (now known as 195
Broadway) in Lower Manhattan. [Reason for this site being selected is the
presence of nearby deli’s for the film crew].
Major-General Adlon (Martin
Landau) is the commander of the facility. Dubov and his assistant and
interpreter Tatiana Donskaya—[Donttella] played by Natalie Wood arrive and
Bradley works at breaking the ice of distrust held by Hercules commander Adlon.
Since Dubov cannot admit the existence of the Soviet device, he agrees to
Bradley's proposal that they work on the "theoretical" application of
how a "theoretical" Soviet space platform's weapons would be
coordinated with the American ones.
fragments of the meteor affect Earth, and the Soviets finally admit that they
have the device and are willing to join in the effort. It appears that the
satellite has a lot in common with Hercules, it was built with 16 nuclear
missiles for defense against a massive space rock, but it too was demoted to an
orbiting super weapon, its missiles now aimed at the United States.
The new collaboration satellite
is christened Peter the Great by the joint US-Soviet team working at Hercules
control, and both satellites are turned around to aim into space.
fragments and "splinters" still continue to strike many places on
Earth, some causing great damage, including in Hong Kong, where a fragment hits
the ocean and causes a Tidal wave that devastates the city. On Sunday morning,
Peter the Great's missiles are fired off because of its position along the
orbit, Hercules's missiles are fired 40 minutes later.
Just after Hercules's
missiles are fired off, New York is struck by a large fragment of the meteor,
destroying most of the city. Several workers inside the control center are
killed when the facility is partially destroyed and the survivors slowly work
their way out of the control center by going through the New York subway
system, which has become somewhat of a trap due to the East River breaking into
"Meteor" missed so did the movie
Meanwhile, the two sets of
guided missiles link up into three waves of mixed nationality, each wave bigger
than the last. The Hercules crew reach a subway station filled with other
people and wait while others try to dig out. Back in space, the missiles reach
the meteor. Two Russian missiles and one U.S. missile have been lost in the
journey. The first wave of missiles strikes the space rock, making an explosion
[you think?]. The second wave follows with a bigger explosion. Finally, the
third wave hits the meteor making an explosion that fills the screen. When the
dust settles, the space rock is nowhere to be seen.
Back at New York, the radio
stations broadcast news of the result: Orpheus has been either obliterated or
shifted to a harmless trajectory. Just then, the subway station occupants are
The scene then switches to
an airport some time later, with a Soviet flag and an American flag on an open
hangar door. From here, Dubov and Tatiana say goodbye to Bradley and others,
then they board a plane with the Soviet star and it takes off for Russia.