Friday, April 29, 2016

Martyr Weasel Shuts Down LHC, Japanese Satellite Kills Itself

* In a maneuver bearing an uncanny resemblance to Luke Skywalker's single handed defeat of the Death Star with a tiny rebel fighter, a seemingly ordinary weasel without any tools whatsoever, has managed to single handedly shut down the entire Large Hadron Collider, the largest machine every built by man in the history of the world.


It will take days, if not weeks, to repair the damage.

Alas, the heroic weasel paid with his life for his anti-science crusade.

* In other bad news for science, the Japanese Hitomi space satellite, which was on a ten year, $286 million mission, catastrophically failed in an unforced error, just five weeks after it was launched and after just three days on the job making observations.
Confused about how it was oriented in space and trying to stop itself from spinning, Hitomi's control system apparently commanded a thruster jet to fire in the wrong direction — accelerating, rather than slowing, the craft's rotation.

On 28 April, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) declared the satellite, on which it had spent ¥31 billion (US$286 million), lost. At least ten pieces — including both solar-array paddles that had provided electrical power — broke off the satellite’s main body.

Hitomi had been seen as the future of X-ray astronomy. “It’s a scientific tragedy,” says Richard Mushotzky, an astronomer at the University of Maryland in College Park.
One of the greatest challenges of "rocket science" is that you absolutely, positively have to get it right the first time because once something goes wrong in space, generally speaking, there is very little that you can do to fix the problem.

1 comment:

andrew said...

Americans are apparently more valiant than Europeans, Tevatron scientists fended off a raccoon attack successfully in 2006. And, you don't see American atom smashers getting shut down by baguettes as the LHC was in 2009.