TODAY SHOW: US Military Making Plans for Alien Invasion

Uploaded by TheEthereal420 on Apr 8, 2012

What would we do if earth was invaded by aliens?

US Military Making Plans for Alien Invasion? – YouTube.

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Debris prompts space station crew to seek shelter

Irene Klotz, Reuters
March 25, 2012, 5:03 am

Nighttime view from the International Space Station shows the Atlantic coast of the United States in this NASA handout image dated February 6, 2012. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

CAPE CANAVERAL, Florida (Reuters) – A passing piece of potentially dangerous space debris forced astronauts at the International Space Station to temporarily seek refuge in escape ships early on Saturday, U.S. officials said.

The debris, a fragment from an old Russian satellite named Cosmos 2251 that smashed into an Iridium Communications spacecraft in 2009, passed harmlessly by the $100 billion orbital outpost at 2:38 a.m. EDT (0638 GMT), NASA said.

With enough advance notice, NASA will maneuver the space station, which orbits about 240 miles above the planet, to put more space between it and passing debris. The other option is for the station’s six crew members to shelter inside the two Soyuz capsules berthed at the station in case the outpost is struck and depressurizes.

“This was a very erratic piece of Cosmos 2251 debris and tracking it was very difficult,” NASA spokesman Michael Curie wrote in an email to Reuters.

“Its size and exact distance are unknown, and the crew sheltered in place as a highly-conservative, cautionary measure. The predicted miss distance prior to its passing was 11 to 14 kilometers (6.8 to 8.7 miles) in overall miss distance. But again, we do not know its exact distance at 2:38 am EDT, the time of closest approach,” he said.

It was the third time a crew has had to shelter in Soyuz spacecraft when debris was predicted to pass close to the space station, NASA said.

More than 20,000 pieces of man-made debris larger than a softball currently orbit Earth. Space junk travels at speeds of up to 17,500 mph, so even small pieces have enough energy to cause significant damage upon impact.

NASA says the greatest risk from debris comes from untrackable objects. The February 10, 2009, collision of the Russian and Iridium satellites added more than 2,000 pieces of trackable debris to the growing list of space junk. Two years earlier, China intentionally destroyed one of its defunct weather satellites to test a missile, generating more than 3,000 pieces of debris.

The U.S. military’s Space Surveillance Network tracks objects as small as two inches in diameter in orbits close to Earth, such as where the space station flies, and about one yard (.9 meter) in orbit in higher orbits.

(Editing by Paul Simao)

Debris prompts space station crew to seek shelter – Yahoo! New Zealand News.

Solar Flares Likely Knocked Military Satellites Offline

Solar storms earlier this month may have caused military satellites to reboot

Jason Koebler
U.S. News & World Report
March 23, 2012

Despite being made to withstand radiation emitted from solar flares, a storm caused by the sun earlier this month may have temporarily knocked American military satellites offline, according to General William Shelton, head of the Air Force’s Space Command.

The energy particles associated with two solar storms March 9 and 10 may have caused what are called “single event upsets” on military satellites. “The timing is such that we say this was likely due to [solar radiation],” Shelton told reporters at a Defense Writers Group breakfast Thursday. Although it’s impossible to tell exactly what caused the events–essentially a temporary reboot of satellite instrumentation software–solar storms are known to wreak havoc on satellites.

“We’re very concerned about solar activity,” he said. Military satellites are “hardened [to withstand radiation], but maybe in some cases, not every part is as hard as we would like it to be.”

That’s because building a satellite to withstand solar storms is costly, which is why NASA says commercial satellites are often most vulnerable. Yihua Zheng, head of NASA’s Space Weather Services at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., says each satellite is built to withstand a different level of radiation, and that there’s a “cost-benefit analysis” to radiation hardening during a satellite’s development. Most mission-critical military satellites are built to sustain short bursts of solar radiation. Satellites “can reset and come back online.” But if the solar storm is lengthy, the damage could be severe enough that the satellite’s software won’t be able to reboot.

“Most of the satellites are built for this,” she says. “They should be OK.”

In recent years, the military has become more reliant on satellites operated by the Air Force’s Space Command, Shelton said. “Space capability is integral to everything [the military does],” he said, “from GPS targeting and communications to incoming missile warnings for our troops overseas.”

Shelton said the outages following this month’s solar storms didn’t affect any missions. “There were dire predictions preceding [these flares],” he said. “We didn’t see it to that degree.”

Zheng says NASA alerts the Air Force whenever a solar flare is incoming, and they have about 20 minutes of advance notice to de-activate sensitive instruments onboard satellites.

“They can turn sensitive instruments off as a preventative measure,” she says. “They can go into a ‘safe mode.’ Once the storm dies down, they can turn it back on.” Shelton says that NASA’s close relationship with the Air Force space command gives them good “advance notice of when a solar storm is headed our way.”

NASA says the recent wave of solar storms is only likely to intensify through the end of 2012, but Shelton believes the military’s satellites will be able to withstand any future storms.

“I don’t believe that anything–short of something truly catastrophic, that would be catastrophic to those of us on Earth as well, I don’t believe there’s a scenario where we’d wholesale lose spacecraft,” Shelton said.

Solar Flares Likely Knocked Military Satellites Offline: Solar storms earlier this month may have caused military satellites to reboot – chicagotribune.com.