Thursday Morning – Spaced Out
Here we are at the end of January, a month of transition. We started the month in the midst of all the holiday hoopla and then gradually settled back to normal operations. The sun has suddenly started rising earlier and setting later, and the weather has been as screwy as ever. Yesterday at Geezer Central we had 75º temperature and tomorrow we are expecting some snow. But we've still got a great cup of coffee.
Meanwhile, plans are going forward to set up a space experiment that is hoped to be pulled off in October of 2022. That sounds like a long way off yet, but space experiments take time because you only get one good shot at it. The European Space Agency (ESA) wants to launch a pair of small spacecraft toward a "binary asteroid" that is hurtling our way, but expected to pass well away from the earth's orbit. However the asteroid will be close enough to practice on and the ESA wants to see if and how well a constructed collision will be able to deflect the asteroid off its path. You know, the old science fiction movie about saving the earth from impending gloom as the alien spaceball closes in on an earth-ending ka-boom.
A binary asteroid is one which has a smaller blob orbiting around a larger one as they travel together through the inky black. This planned experiment will send one spacecraft – code-named DART - to intercept it and possibly alter its course while the second, smaller spacecraft (AIM) will be a short distance away photographing the smashup and grabbing samples, etc.
Quoting from an article in Gizmag:
The plan is to target the binary near-Earth asteroids named Didymos. Their collision with DART would be timed to take place when the asteroids are close enough to Earth for easy ground observation, while AIM records the action at the scene. DART would strike the secondary member of the pair, which is 150 meters (492 ft) in diameter. DART is estimated to weigh over 300 kilograms (661 lb) and would be moving at a relative velocity of 6.25 km/sec (13,980 mph, 22,500 km/h).
At that speed, the collision would be an example of "hypervelocity impact." DART would hit the asteroid so hard that the materials at the impact point would turn into plasma. That’s a very hard hit, but the question remains … how much would an asteroid be deflected by such a collision? For this reason, the AIDA team have chosen a binary asteroid pair, which makes the deflection easier to measure and evaluate because of the weaker gravitational forces involved. The hope is to deflect the target by 0.5 to 1 percent.
Inching closer to the reincarnation of Buck Rogers.
Now let's inch closer to our apparatus and get this equipment checked out. I will hurtle over to the Bunn-O-Matic and get the carafe refilled before we meet back in the day room. See you there in a little while.
* * * * *
Firetruck crash update: We just received this important notice from Chief Billy G. at Firefighter Close Calls in reference yesterday's tragic accident in Prince George's County, Maryland, involving a pumper. (See our report from yesterday HERE for details.)
A Prince Georges County (MD) Volunteer Fire Lieutenant injured in that early morning crash with a semi yesterday underwent 9 hours of surgery to reattach his severed arm. Lt. Ryan Emmons of the West Lanham Hills (Co. 28) VFD then returned for another round of surgery this evening for a small complication. The next 72 hours are critical – veins were taken from his legs to repair the ones torn in his arms. Lt. Emmons was taken to MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore following the violent crash that detached his arm from the elbow down.
"It requires repairing everything – the bone injury, the tendons, the veins, the arteries, the nerves," Dr. James Higgins, whose surgical team was involved in Emmon's procedure, told the media. "He is certainly doing great right now and we're in a very watchful state." Lt. Emmons faces several critical days ahead but that rescuers helped save Emmon's arm by wrapping it in ice.
The 0300 crash along the Inner Loop of the Washington Capital Beltway injured 7 people including three other West Lanham firefighters, the tractor-trailer driver and two people in an SUV, which was also involved in the wreck. Cops say that the big rig rear-ended the fire truck as the truck attempted to make a U-turn on the Interstate after completing a run.
We wish Lt Eammons a successful recovery.
WEST LANHAM HILLS VFD WEBSITE: http://www.wlhvfd.com
WEST LANHAM HILLS VFD FACEBOOK: http://tinyurl.com/am68zya
RADIO TRAFFIC FROM THE CRASH: https://soundcloud.com/alertpage-1/pg-beltway-crash
* * * * * * *
* * * * * * *