Friday, 23 December 2011

"Space Ball" Drops On Namibia

A large metallic ball fell out of the sky on a remote grassland in Namibia, prompting baffled authorities to contact NASA and the European space agency.
The hollow ball with a circumference of 1.1 metres (43 inches) was found near a village in the north of the country some 750 kilometres (480 miles) from the capital Windhoek, according to police forensics director Paul Ludik.
Locals had heard several small explosions a few days beforehand, he said.
With a diameter of 35 centimetres (14 inches), the ball has a rough surface and appears to consist of "two halves welded together".
It was made of a "metal alloy known to man" and weighed six kilogrammes (13 pounds), said Ludik.
It was found 18 metres from its landing spot, a hole 33 centimetres deep and 3.8 meters wide.
Several such balls have dropped in southern Africa, Australia and Latin America in the past twenty years, authorities found in an Internet search.
The sphere was discovered mid-November, but authorities first did tests before announcing the find.
Police deputy inspector general Vilho Hifindaka concluded the sphere did not pose any danger.
"It is not an explosive device, but rather hollow, but we had to investigate all this first," he said.

Earthquake rattles New Zealand's Christchurch

No immediate reports of casualties following 5.8 magnitude quake of the coast of New Zealand's third city.

An earthquake of 5.8 magnitude struck near the New Zealand city of Christchurch, the US Geological Survey said, prompting the evacuation of public buildings.
There was no tsunami warning issued and no immediate reports of serious injuries or widespread damage.

Friday's quake struck 26km north of Christchurch at a depth of 4km.

"It was incredibly violent," one caller told Radio New Zealand.

"All the water in my birdbath slopped out and I could hear everything falling over inside. When I walked inside, the cat streaked out the door, ornaments were all over the floor, contents of the pantry were lying on the floor, a little bit of smashed glass and picture frames lying over."

Christchurch, New Zealand's third city, is recovering from a quake measuring 6.3 which killed about 180 people in February and caused estimate damate of NZ$15bn ($8.8bn).

Radio New Zealand said malls and office blocks had been evacuated and power had been knocked out in some districts. Goods had been toppled from some store shelves. 

A quake of lesser intensity struck Christchurch in September last year.

Former IRGC Cyber War Commander: Iran Can Make Drones More Advanced than RQ-170

TEHRAN (FNA)- Former Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Electronic Warfare Division Ali Asqar Zare'i stressed Iran's giant advancement in electronics, and said the country can and will make drones much better and more advanced than the US RQ-170 Sentinel that it downed on December 4.

Zare'i who is now a member of the Iranian parliament pointed to the hues and cries made by the US after Iran brought down the US stealth drone, and said, "Americans want to wage a propaganda campaign to make the world believe that if Iran gains any progress in this field (drone technology) it has been learnt from the (downed) drone."

"That is not true. In fact our drone industries is right now not much behind this plane technically," Zareii noted.

"Today the stealth technology has been indigenized in the Islamic Republic of Iran. We have a radar-evading plane which enjoys a home grown and fully stealth technology and has been tested by the most precise systems and can continue flying for tens of hours," the commander said, adding that the US officials should wait and see how Iranian experts make a drone much more advanced than the American RQ-170 Sentinel.

"In response to Mr. Obama's demand for the return of this plane, I recommend the Americans to be patient a bit since God willing our friends will manufacture a drone more advanced than the US RQ-170 Sentinel soon and then they can come and buy it to regain their morale and stop their (present) feeling that they are loosing everything," the former IRGC Electronic Warfare commander said.

Since Iran captured the US drone through a cyber attack on December 4, the US has been pretending that their Sentinel technology is way beyond Iran's knowledge and technology and Tehran cannot extract its information or reproduce it.

The American media also tried hard to make the world believe that if Iran makes any progress in decoding the intelligence systems of the drone it has been due to the Chinese or Russians' help.

But eventually the Chief of Staff of the US Air Force General Norton A. Schwartz acknowledged that Iran is able to extract the intelligence and information of the United States' hi-tech stealth drone and reproduce a similar aircraft through reverse engineering.

"There is the potential for reverse engineering, clearly," Norton Schwartz said on December 8 during a taping of "This Week in Defense News."

Earlier this month, a senior parliamentarian in Tehran underlined Iran's advanced technological capabilities and possibilities, and said the Iranian Armed Forces intend to simulate the design and reproduce the US RQ-170 Sentinel drone.

"Relying on their scientific capabilities, the Armed Forces will be able to simulate the RQ-170 aircraft soon," Vice-Chairman of the parliament's National Security and Foreign Policy Commission Hossein Ebrahimi told FNA days after Iran displayed the hunted drone on TV.

"Iran enjoys different possibilities and precious technologies that the enemies are not aware of," he added.

The drone is the first such loss by the US. US officials have described the loss of the aircraft in Iran as a setback and a fatal blow to the stealth drone program.

The RQ-170 has special coatings and a batwing shape designed to help it penetrate other nations' air defenses undetected. The existence of the aircraft, which is made by Lockheed Martin, has been known since 2009, when a model was photographed at the main US airfield in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

US officials admitted earlier this month that the drone is used for secret missions by the CIA. The aircraft is among the highly sensitive surveillance platform in the CIA's fleet that was shaped and designed to evade enemy defenses.