5/25/2000

ABC News has a good

Filed under:General — eric @ 5:04 am

ABC News has a good story on NASA’s plans to crash the scientifically valuable Compton Gamma-Ray Observatory back into the earth next week. Should one of the telescope’s two remaining gyroscopes fail, it would crash uncontrollably, and it’s so large it would not completely burn on re-entry. Rather than risk life on the ground, NASA will crash it while they still have control. The story also talks about space junk and the new telescope in New Mexico that can track objects as small as buckshot(!) from the ground. While an astrophysics student in New Mexico, I got to tour the NORAD telescopes in the northern end of the White Sands Missile Range used to catalogue and track space debris. Both MIR and a shuttle were up at the time, and we could see both as if we were looking at a jet liner with nice binoculars. The astonishing part of the evening, though, was when we saw a cylindrical object tumbling end over end as it passed overhead, and were told it was a mere three feet long and an inch or so wide. (ObSimpsonsQuote: “Three cheers for this inanimate carbon rod!”) It’s a pity that we have to use telescopes so good to keep track of our junk.

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