Friday, 30 March 2012

Earth Has A Second Moon: Our Planet Usually Has At Least One 'Minimoon' In Orbit

The moon has been orbiting Earth for nearly four billion years - but for most of that time, it's had at least one unseen companion. 
The 'minimoons' are only a few feet across, and each tends to do a stint of around a year in orbit - before resuming their previous lives as asteroids. 
Scientists hope to one day 'catch' one of the objects - which could offer a valuable sample of material largely unchanged since the dawn of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.
The 'minimoons' are only a few feet across, and each tends to do a stint of around a year in orbit - before resuming their previous lives as asteroids
The 'minimoons' are only a few feet across, and each tends to do a stint of around a year in orbit - before resuming their previous lives as asteroids.

Our 2,000-mile-diameter Moon, so beloved by poets, artists and romantics, has been orbiting Earth for over 4 billion years. Its much smaller cousins, dubbed ‘minimoons,’ are thought to be only a few feet across and to usually orbit our planet for less than a year before resuming their previous lives as asteroids orbiting the Sun.
A team including Robert Jedicke of the University of Hawaii at Manoa calculated the probability that at any given time Earth has more than one moon.
They used a supercomputer to simulate the passage of 10 million asteroids past Earth. 
They concluded that at any given time there should be at least one asteroid with a diameter of at least one meter orbiting Earth. 
According to the simulation, most asteroids that are captured by Earth’s gravity would not orbit Earth in neat circles. Instead, they would follow complicated, twisting paths. 
This is because a minimoon would not be tightly held by Earth’s gravity, so it would be tugged into a crazy path by the combined gravity of Earth, the Moon and the Sun. While the typical minimoon would orbit Earth for about nine months, some of them could orbit our planet for decades.
When a minimoon 'breaks free', the space rock will resume its orbit around the sun.
According to the simulation, most asteroids that are captured by Earth¿s gravity would not orbit Earth in neat circles. Instead, they would follow complicated, twisting paths

According to the simulation, most asteroids that are captured by Earth¿s gravity would not orbit Earth in neat circles. Instead, they would follow complicated, twisting paths

‘This was one of the largest and longest computations I’ve ever done,’ said Vaubaillon. ‘If you were to try to do this on your home computer, it would take about six years.’
In 2006, the University of Arizona’s Catalina Sky Survey discovered a minimoon about the size of a car. 
Known by the unimaginative designation 2006 RH120, it orbited Earth for less than a year after its discovery, then resumed orbiting the Sun.
‘Minimoons are scientifically extremely interesting,’ said Jedicke. ‘A minimoon could someday be brought back to Earth, giving us a low-cost way to examine a sample of material that has not changed much since the beginning of our solar system over 4.6 billion years ago.’
The team’s paper, ‘The population of natural Earth satellites,’ appears in the March issue of the journal Icarus.

US sees lifetime cost of F-35 fighter at $1.45 trillion

F-35 Lightning II planes, also known as Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) planes, arrive at Edwards Air Force base in California in this May 2010 file handout photograph. (Photo: Reuters)
29 March 2012 / REUTERS , WASHINGTON
The US government now projects that the total cost to develop, buy and operate the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 Joint Strike Fighter will be $1.45 trillion over the next 50-plus years, according to a Pentagon document obtained by Reuters. 
The Pentagon's latest, staggering estimate of the lifetime cost of the F-35 -- its most expensive weapons program -- is up from about $1 trillion a year ago, and includes inflation. While inflation accounts for more than one-third of the projected F-35 operating costs, military officials and industry executives were quick to point out that it is nearly impossible to predict inflation over the next half-century. 

They also argue that no other weapons program's costs have been calculated over such a long period, and that even shorter-term cost projections for other aircraft do not include the cost of modernization programs and upgrades. 

The new cost estimate reflects the Pentagon's proposal to postpone orders for 179 planes for five years, a move that US official say will save $15.1 billion through 2017, and should avert costly retrofits if further problems arise during testing of the new fighter, which is only about 20 percent complete.

 The Pentagon still plans to buy 2,443 of the new radar-evading, supersonic warplanes, plus 14 development aircraft, in the coming decades, although Air Force Secretary Michael Donley last week warned that further technical problems or cost increases could eat away at those numbers. 

The new estimate, based on calculations made by the Cost Assessment Program Evaluation (CAPE) office, includes operating and maintenance costs of $1.11 trillion, including inflation, and development and procurement costs of $332 billion. 

The Government Accountability Office last week projected it would cost $397 billion to develop and buy the planes, up from its earlier forecast of $382 billion. 

The Pentagon office that runs the F-35 program office has a lower estimate for lifetime costs, although it is still around $1 trillion, according to two sources familiar with the estimates. 

Both industry and government have put a huge emphasis on reducing operating costs and keeping the plane affordable. The new estimates are part of a revised F-35 baseline dated March 26 that will be sent to Congress on Thursday.

Average unit cost $135 mln

The new baseline forecasts the average cost of the F-35 fighter, including research and development (R&D) and inflation, at $135 million per plane, plus an additional $26 million for the F135 engine built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp. In 2012 dollars, the average cost of each single-seat, single-engine plane, including R&D, would be $112.5 million, plus $22 million for the engine. 

This is the first year that the government has separated out the cost of the plane and the engine, and comparison figures were not immediately available. Lockheed Martin has said the average cost of the plane will be around $65 million to $70 million, based on 2010 dollars.

 Lockheed Martin declined comment on the new estimate, saying it had not yet received the Pentagon's latest report. Lockheed spokesman Joe LaMarca said the company still believed the new fighter jet would cost the same or less to operate and maintain than the seven legacy warplanes it will replace, while offering far greater capabilities.

Defense analyst Loren Thompson said three quarters of the cost increases on the F-35 program were linked to government changes in the scope of the program, and the way it was estimating costs. For instance, he said, the Pentagon initially planned to station the plane at 33 bases, but later changed the number to 49. It initially calculated operating costs over 30 years, but then chose a longer timeframe of 50 years, he said.

 "The program costs appear to be rising much faster than they actually are because the government keeps changing how it calculates things," Thompson said.

 The Pentagon's proposal to postpone buying 179 planes for five years added $60 billion to the operations and support cost of the program, since those planes will now be delivered in later years when inflation is higher.

 The push also added two years to the duration of the program, according to an internal Lockheed calculation obtained by Reuters. But Winslow Wheeler, a critic of the program, predicts cost growth on the program will be even greater than estimated by the Pentagon, given the complexity of the F-35 fighter.

 Lockheed is developing three variants of the new plane for the US military and eight partner countries: Britain, Australia, Canada, Italy, Turkey, Denmark, Norway, Australia and the Netherlands. They now plan to buy a combined total of 697 planes, down from 730 in the previous Pentagon estimate.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Pole Shift Data Coverup – 2012

The NOAA National Geophysical Data Center has updated (revised – massaged) their magnetic north pole-shift positional data and has projected the location of the pole through 2015. The pole shift, if you will, continues to race along in the same direction since it dramatically accelerated back in the mid 1990′s. But…
NOAA made some significant and apparently linear changes to the pole location data going back to the years 2001 through 2010. The most noticeable result of the changes that they made was an overall linear slow down of the shift during the past decade, although still currently high at 30 miles per year. They have projected positional data through 2015 and have slowed the pace of movement each subsequent year from 30 miles (2012) to 24 miles (2015).
No apparent reason for the change was listed. A 10 year change nonetheless! Given the fact that they suddenly changed their previously posted data of the previous decade to indicate a slower pole-shift progression, they are now able to project a slowing trend through 2015. If it were not for changing their own data, they would not have been able to project this trend through 2015. It is beginning to look like the USGS, who when they change their earthquake magnitude numbers, they always (95% of the time) revise them downward. The revisions made are always in a ‘less alarming’ direction.
The following map shows the position of the magnetic north pole, and its shift since 1977. Read here for the past 400 years of magnetic north pole shift. Clearly it can be seen where the annual pole location begins to spread during the mid 1990′s when the acceleration rapidly increased.
The following image plot shows the comparison between the original magnetic north pole locations and now the new revised locations (2001 onward) from NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration).
Chainmate Survival Pocket Chain Saw
While this could be the result of a NOAA factoring error of some sort, one wonders why it wasn’t caught at any other time between 2001 and today. It took 10 years to find it? Hmmm…
Or, could this be a coverup to slow the progress of the messaging from the pole shift advocates out there?
I suppose we won’t know the truth until the pole flip.
previous NOAA datarevised NOAA data
Note this author does not know for certain if NOAA themselves changed the numbers, or if the data set is from another source prior to NOAA processing. We also do not know the details why the change, as it is not apparently publicized. This is simply an observation and opinion.