Tag Archives: engineering

Mystery missile an optical illusion?

At least one expert claims that the mystery missile launch off the California coast on was merely an optical illusion. Key quote:

John Pike of the security analyst group globalsecurity.org said the video shot by a news helicopter owned by KCBS is an optical illusion. Pike said the video is of an airplane heading toward the camera and the contrail is illuminated by the setting sun. He said the object can’t be a rocket because it appeared to alter its course.

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The first images of Deep Impact’s flyby of Comet Hartley 2

Here are the first images of Deep Impact’s flyby of Comet Hartley 2. The first is a montage, the sequence in time going clockwise. The second is a close-up of the second image.

montage of Hartley 2

close-up

The feature that I find most intriguing is the narrow smooth waist of the comet’s dogbone shape. The whole thing looks almost like a piece of taffy that’s being pulled apart.

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An Early Warning System for Asteroid Impact

In a paper posted tonight on the Los Alamos astro-ph website, an astronomer is proposing an early warning system for asteroid impact. Key quote from the abstract:

This system, dubbed “Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System” (ATLAS), comprises two observatories separated by about 100km that simultaneously scan the visible sky twice a night, and can be implemented immediately for relatively low cost. The sensitivity of ATLAS permits detection of 140m asteroids (100 Mton impact energy) three weeks before impact, and 50m asteroids a week before arrival. An ATLAS alarm, augmented by other observations, should result in a determination of impact location and time that is accurate to a few kilometers and a few seconds.

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Watching the Deep Impact flyby of Hartley 2

Watch the Deep Impact flyby of Hartley 2 this instant (11:06 AM eastern)! The images are incredible. Update: The fly-by is over, but the live stream is still available (as of 11:30 am Eastern), showing some of the images taken. The comet itself is a peanut-shaped object about two miles long, with a jet of water coming out one end.

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Overhaul of NASA’s Deep Space communication system completed

NASA has completed a significant upgrade of its Deep Space communication system. These unheralded antennas and the engineers who maintain them make it possible for scientists to communicate with the far flung planetary probes in orbit around Venus, Mars, and Saturn, as well as the spacecraft visiting comets or traveling beyond the edge of the solar system.

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UN treaty language threatens to ban all “climate-related geoengineering”

Treaty language being written at a United Nations conference on biodiversity is so vague it threatens to bar almost all new development. Here is the language, via Science:

8 (w) Ensure, in line and consistent with decision IX/16 C, on ocean
fertilisation and biodiversity and climate change, in the absence of science-based, global, transparent and effective control and regulatory mechanisms for geo-engineering, and in accordance with the precautionary approach and Article 14 of the Convention, that no climate-related geoengineering activities (1) that may affect biodiversity take place, until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities and appropriate consideration of the associated risks for the environment and biodiversity and associated social, economic and cultural impacts, with the exception of small scale scientific research studies that would be conducted in a controlled setting in accordance with Article 3 of the Convention, and only if they are justified by the need to gather specific scientific data and are subject to a thorough prior assessment of the potential impacts on the environment.

(1) Without prejudice to future deliberations on the definition of geo-engineering activities, understanding that any technologies that deliberately reduce solar insolation or increase carbon sequestration from the atmosphere on a large scale that may affect biodiversity (excluding carbon capture and storage from fossil fuels when it captures carbon dioxide before it is released to the atmosphere) should be considered as forms of geoengineering which are relevant to the Convention on Biological Diversity until a more precise definition can be developed. Noting that solar insolation is defined as a measure of solar radiation energy received on a given surface area in a given hour and that carbon sequestration is defined as the process of increasing the carbon contact of a reservoir/pool other than the atmosphere. [emphasis mine]

This language is so broad that, if agreed to by the United States, it could easily put almost any activity that affects the environment, including technology, business, property, recreation, or practically anything at all, under the control of UN regulators.

But wait, there’s more. The goal of this UN conference, to quote their own webpage, is to achieve “a significant reduction of the current rate of biodiversity loss at the global, regional and national level as a contribution to poverty alleviation and to the benefit of all life on Earth.” Obviously, this UN group is not merely interested in protecting the biodiversity of life on Earth, but to also redistribute the wealth so as to help poorer nations.

God help us if our government agrees to this.

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