Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Considering the mass (8e+10kg estimated), orbital inclination (3.3 deg), and eccentricity (.191276) 2004MN4 is a pretty good candidate for exploration.
The probability estimate needs to be refined to account for the Yorp effect
Further observations will show approximately what 2004MN4 is made of. I have hope that it's a rocky body with quality ores such as nickel/iron... but only a Deep impact style probe would give us truly hard data.
Now, if you look at the orbital plot [nasa.gov], you'll note just how close this rock is right now... and how close it gets twice a year, not just on april 13, 2029.
While the newspapers and the slashdot articles are focused on the potential impact energy, (m*v), I'm far more interested in m. This rock has more mass than mankind has put into space since the beginning of the Space age; far, far more mass than is projected to be in the International Space station. It's bigger than a football stadium! And there it goes by, whizzing overhead, on near miss after near miss, for the next couple centuries.
(note I may have slipped a decimal point here) Assume 2004MN is 1% nickel. Earth value of 8,000,000 tonnes of nickel is: 12,200,000,000 US dollars. (well, until the nickel futures market crashes harder than this asteroid will). Value of any material, if it were in earth orbit, is 10,000/lb and that's too many zeros for me to type here. For just the nickel. Oxygen is even more valuable. Slag is valuable.
If we just had a booster on the pad with enough oomph, we could get a probe there in a matter of weeks [nasa.gov].
IF this asteroid contains valuable materials (be they platinum, iron, nickel, gold, oxygen, or carbon), it would be a bonanza for mankind's space efforts.
Let's find out! Divert Dawn [ucla.edu](launch date 06/06), or Deep Impact [nasa.gov] (launch date 01/12/05).
This asteroid (and many other NEAs like it [nasa.gov]) is not just a threat, but an opportunity [blogspot.com]. It's an opportunity to get a leg up into space.
Can we afford to take a look? Can we afford not to, with the odds of it striking us currently at 1 out of 45?
Bonus Link: Alas, Clementine:
In October 1997, the Administration wielded its line-item veto power against the Department of Defense (DoD) Clementine II mission.
Launched in 1999, the mission would have approached an asteroid named Toutatis, sending a rocket equipped with a camera directly to the asteroid. After taking close-up pictures of Toutatis, the camera would have smashed into its surface while the Clementine spacecraft recorded the impact flash and then analyzed any ejected material. The million asteroid intercept mission would have provided vital input to the construction of weapons capable of deflecting asteroids or comets on a collision course with Earth.
Clementine II would have undertaken the first step in direct asteroid mitigation by attempting to strike one or more asteroids to determine their structure and how easy it would have been to move them. At the time, the National Space Society strongly objected to the President's veto and has continued to follow the progress being made by the Department of Defense and other partners to develop alternative solutions.
The Reverse Velikovsky Triple Kiss Double Solar
... ending with a Four-World Cluster. Two giant craters. Two major celestial bodies relocated. Three great worlds made habitable. Four lesser worlds utterly destroyed. A hundred twenty eight thousand trillion trillion Newton-seconds of total impulse. One hundred eighty seven million billion megatons of propulsive, aerobraking, and impact
Degree of difficulty, 10.0
8 cpus on a die
Illusions and the RH-53D
I knew I had conciously blocked out a lot of stuff while I tried to write an uplifting tale in Uncle Bill's Helicopter
, but not how much, until today.
I knew I'd got the wrong helicopter in the first version of the story. I knew I'd kind of mentally substituted for the CH-53D variant afterwards...
I didn't know the details of the most famous mission they went on, until today: Operation Eagle Claw
- the failed mission to rescue Iranian hostages in 1980
A representative of a film company just contacted me in the hope of finding some RH-53Ds still flying and I've emailed around looking for anyone that might know something. Any blog readers know anything? I'd still like to fly in one, one day.
But by now the thing is an example of how flawed my approach to life has been and now the analogy of UBH grows more tarnished, as Josh is back in rehab. My own "operation eagle claw", as it were.
What's the risk, Colonel Beckwith?"
"Oh, about 99.9 percent."
"What's the probability of success?"
"Well, we can't do it."
"You're right, Boss."
"I've got to buy time from the JCS."
It wasn't the helicopter's fault...
The helicopter pilots were told to fly at or below 200 feet to avoid radar. This limitation caused them to run into a haboob, or dust storm, that they could not fly over without breaking the 200 foot limit. Two helicopters lost sight of the task force and landed, out of action. Another had landed earlier when a warning light had come on. Their crew had been picked up but the aircraft that had stopped to retrieve them was now 20 minutes behind the rest of the formation.
Battling dust storms and heavy winds, the RH-53's continued to make their way to Desert One. After recieving word that the EC-130's and fuel had arrived, the two aircraft that had landed earlier started up again and resumed their flight to the rendevous. But then another helicopter had a malfunction and the pilot and Marine commander decided to turn back, halfway to the site.
It was the situation that FUBAR.
In finally making peace with one of the true stories behind the helicopter
, and in all of my attempts to find one... I just found one in a museum, in a place I'd never would have thought of looking. In southern NJ
shrink wrap EULAs take a stab through the heart
A California court has required that the terms of shrink-wrap eulas must be disclosed before purchase.
And I just read the most devastating sets of rants against HP
I've read in an eon.
I had a 20 year love affair with HP, starting with my first HP-41C calculator. I admired Mr Hewlet and Mr. Packard for being the "Ben & Jerrys ice cream" of quality engineering. I wish the fight over the company had gone another way. Ever since Carly started gutting the company and ratcheting up the PR machine
... and I ended up with two dead HP scanners and one HP printer in my basement - I've refused to buy HP products. Once you've lost your sense of what Bob Persig called "Quality", you've lost it forever. Carly never had it, but she's a wall street darling and covergirl for at least a couple more years while she finishes gutting one of the best companies that ever existed.
Coping with monday with a little help from emacs's built in shrink
I am the psychotherapist. Please, describe your problems. Each time
you are finished talking, type RET twice.
I need to speak chinese.
Why do you say you might want to speak?
Because speaking only english is very frustrating.
Is it because speaking only english is very frustrating that you came
I wish there was a universal language.
What makes you believe you wish there was an universal language?
Because people need to be able to understand one another.
Does it bother you that people need to be able to understand one
It doesn't just bother me, but wars seem to accumulate at the borders
between people's comprehension indexes.
When did you first know that wars seem to accumulate at the borders
between people's comprehension indexes?
I guess I was 8, when the first war in Israel that I'd heard of broke out.
Is the fact that you would heard of broke out the real reason?
Well, I had only recently graduated from "goo goo, and Gaa gaa" at the time.
Earlier you said you would like to speak?
Maybe your plans have something to do with this.
Well, I'm planning on going to China in a month or so, and I'm just
bewildered by the language barrier going both ways.
Are you sure of that?
I would appreciate it if you would watch your tongue!
Why would watching my tongue help?
Does the fact that would watching your tongue help explain anything
I'd have stayed out of a lot more trouble had I held my tongue more often.
You mentioned that speaking only english is very frustrating?
Well, I speak C, C++, shell, lisp, php, perl, and multiple assembly languages - but all of these languages were derived from english, and from english mneumonics - so trying to interact with a programmer that doesn't speak english natively is a real trial.
Are you sure does not speak english natively is a real trial?
Perhaps you could avoid such unwholesome thoughts.
Well, the managers of the world seem to think they can outsource all
of engineering overseas, and I think it's because they think software
engineers don't speak english in the first place, but we do,
everything we code is merely a specialized subset of English.
Is it because they think software engineers do not speak English in
the first place that you came to me?
Yea. Thanks doc.
... used to be my favorite author, but it just took me two plane flights and an entire sunday to wade through 927 very wide pages of the first book of the baroque cycle
, and I'm exausted and resentful from the effort.
I do often find myself fascinated by the same sorts of things as he, and that's why, maybe in a month or two, when I recover, I'll tackle the next book in the series, but it's more of an exercise in self torture than actual interest in the plot or characters.
Reading Stephenson's books always sparks me into reading some of his fascinating original references, Cryptonomicon, for example, caused me to read the autobiography of the german Admiral Donitz, which was the best book about the Atlantic war I'd read in many a year; it enlightened me considerably.
"Real Character" - a language invented by one of Newton's contemporaries - fascinates me. Lately I've been struck by how limited the English language is. Given how discerning an eye can be, we seem to have bandwidth-limited ourselves artificially by limiting ourselves to 26 characters, when, in Real Character (or in Chinese or Japanese, or any of the ideographic languages), whole words can be compressed down to a single symbol. Perhaps 10x more concepts could be presented on a single page, and scanned with a quick mind, if we could adopt some more complex representation for our thoughts than ASCII.
That, of course, only speeds entering new information into your brain - the mechanism of a keyboard is illsuited for a character set like the above.
There will be a revolution in computing when voice and mind data can directly be transferred to a computer and translated into an ideographic language.