Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Friday, July 01, 2005

  the Nubile Projectile gets no respect

What the heck is Deep Impact, anyway?

National Geographic:Deep Impact is a trashcan. We're flinging trashcans at 23,000 mph around the solar system?

No, actually - It's a table, and a washing machine!.

JPL calls Deep Impact an "Impactor" - which is about as sexless a term that NASA could come up with, which much have been chosen with great deliberation and forethought.

So, anyway, as Deep Impact is a washer, a dryer, a trashcan, a table, and an impactor, I know what it is now.

it's absolutely everything a 50s woman could use in space.

It's a washing machine:

Great. And what 2050s woman would want to do laundry? Let's hurl our appliances at the stars. What if we actually did start - purposefully - flinging our malfunctioning gear to immolate itself against various comets, asteroids, and worlds?

At least Deep Impact spacecraft ready for climax of comet-busting mission has a sexy title...

And 625,000 names on a mini-cd are getting smashed against it:Not one single news article I've read talks about the potential material value of mining comets or asteroids... not one.

After the spectrographic analysis is performed (I have to stop reading these NASA press releases, it's making me overuse passive voice!), we'll be able to calculate the comet's value on earth, in dollars. It's liable to be a big number - but an even simpler number, if we could use the cometary materials IN space (in-situ), is easy to calculate. Launch costs from earth are well over 100,000.00 $/lb, and estimates for the comet's mass range from .1x10^14 to 2.2x10^14 kg, a kg is 2.2 lbs and thusly we could get a headline like:

Comet Tempel 1 worth 2.2 million trillion dollars in earth orbit!



Now look. That's a really big number. It's hard to cope with.

I wish it was possible to do a fantasy plot of this asset vs google's assets on some fictional stock exchange, and I remember how hard people tried to open new routes to India, Japan and the Americas.

It's easy to repeat this mission for other objects that are equally interesting - and closer. I am so tired about endless talk of defending against asteroids and never talk about using them. I'd go on - by I have written about it too many times before.

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