Friday, March 18, 2011

Fortean / Alternative News: Iran Builds Flying Saucer, Exorcist Mother and NASA Space Junk Laser


Iranian Built Flying Saucer

dailymail - It's not clear how far or how high it can fly – or even how big it is and what makes it take off.

But an aircraft created by scientists in Iran is, they claim, the world’s first flying saucer.

Called the Zohal - or Saturn in English - it said the unmanned spaceship is designed for 'aerial imaging' but added it can be used for 'various missions'.

Real? The Fars News Agency illustrated their copy about Iran's Zohal with this picture. (above)

The hardline Fars news agency illustrated its story with a photo of a flying saucer, akin to one appearing in a 1950s Hollywood B-movie, hovering over an unidentified wooded landscape.

The reports gave no indication of the spaceship’s size. But they indicated it was small by claiming, somewhat bizarrely, that it can also fly indoors.

'Easy transportation and launch and flying, making less noise, are some of the advantages of the device,' said ISNA, Iran’s students’ news agency.

'The device belonging to the new generation of vertical flyers is designed for aerial photography.

'It is equipped with autopilot, image stabiliser and GPS and has a separate system for aerial recording with full HD quality!'

Iran, which prides itself on its 2,500 year-old civilisation, is also keen to show that it is at the cutting edge of modern science.

Tehran’s ambitious space programme alarms the West because the same technology used to send missiles into space can be used to build intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Last year the country announced it had successfully fired a rocket that carried a mouse, a turtle and worms into space.

Tehran insists it will be able to send a man into space in nine years' time.

For president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the advances demonstrate the country's ability to push on with its science programme despite international sanctions over its nuclear programme.

The flying saucer was said to have been unveiled at an exhibition of 'strategic technologies' attended by Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

At the same time Iran’s Space Agency launched a test spacecraft designed to sustain life in orbit.

The state IRNA news agency said the capsule was carried by a rocket called the Kavoshgar-4 (Explorer-4) 75 miles into orbit before returning to earth.

Iran’s often outlandish scientific claims usually prove difficult to confirm.

American naval forces in the Persian Gulf have yet to come across a 'super-modern' radar-evading flying boat Iran claimed to have tested four years ago.

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Nantucket child killed in exorcism by mom according to court docs

myfoxboston - Police say a Nantucket woman accused of killing her 3-year-old daughter told a priest and hospital officials that God told her to push a rose down the girl's throat to ward off the devil.

Documents filed in Nantucket District Court said 26-year-old Dora Alicia Tejada Pleitez said she realized that the "rose" was her fist and the devil bit her through the child.

Tejada Pleitez was held without bail pending a competency hearing after pleading not guilty Tuesday.

Police say emergency personnel responded to the family home Monday after getting a 911 call reporting that the little girl had stopped breathing. The child, Nicole Garcia, was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

Tejada Pleitez's lawyer says her mental state will play a "critical role" in the case.

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NASA Studies Laser for Removing Space Junk

technologyreview - In 1978, the NASA scientist Donald Kessler predicted that a collision between two pieces of space junk could trigger a cascade of further impacts, creating dangerously large amounts of debris.

Kessler pointed out that when the rate at which debris forms is faster than the rate at which it de-orbits, then the Earth would become surrounded by permanent belts of junk, a scenario now known as the Kessler syndrome.

By some estimates, the Kessler syndrome has already become a reality. In January 2009, a collision between the Iridium 33 and Cosmos 2251 satellites created just this kind of cascade. Two years earlier, the Chinese military tested an anti-satellite weapon by destroying one of its own satellites called Fengyun 1C. Both incidents took place at altitudes of about 800 km.

Today, the European Space Agency's Earth observing satellite, Envisat, orbits at about this height and is regularly threatened by potential impacts. Over 60 per cent of these threats can be traced back to the Iridium/Cosmos collision or the Fengyun incident.

But while space junk threatens most space operators, few have a real incentive to do anything about it. If a significant threat arises, it's usually possible to move a satellite out of the way. That's much cheaper than actually clearing the junk.

The result is a "tragedy of the commons" situation, where a common resource is exploited to the point where it becomes unusable.

Which is where a government agency like NASA comes in. Various ideas have been floated for removing space junk, most of them hugely expensive.

Today, James Mason at NASA Ames Research Center near Palo Alto and a few buddies describe a much cheaper option. Their idea is to zap individual pieces of junk with a ground-based laser, thereby slowing them down so that they eventually de-orbit.

Of course, laser removal isn't entirely new. In the 1990s, the US Air Force studied the idea, thinking that a powerful enough laser could ablate an object, creating a force that could be used to de-orbit it. The trouble with this idea is that such a powerful laser has an obvious dual purpose, which is unlikely to please other space faring nations.

So Mason and pals have studied the possibility of using a much less powerful system which uses the momentum of photons alone to decelerate the junk. Focused onto a piece of junk for an hour or two every day, they calculate that a 5 KW laser could do the trick and that such a device could tackle up to ten objects a day.

That could help move junk away from potentially dangerous orbits and ultimately to de-orbit it entirely. In fact, Mason and co say that the system could reverse the Kessler syndrome, so that the rate of debris removal once again exceeds its rate of creation.

They say their system could even be used for manoeuvring suitably-designed satellites, without the need for them to carry propellant. Such a system could be marketed as a commercial venture, thereby helping to pay for it.

Not that it need be terribly expensive. Mason and co estimate that a test device could be knocked up for a million dollars, which would have to be shared by many spacefaring nations, to avoid the inevitable legal issues that using such a device would raise.

Of course, the US (and obviously China), already have the technology to this kind of work, using their own antisatellite systems. Indeed, Mason and co say "it may be possible to perform a near-zero cost demonstration using existing capabilities such as those of the Starfire Optical Range at Kirtland AFB."

It's only a matter of time before a piece of space junk causes serious havoc in orbit, by threatening a crewed mission, for example. There'll be plenty of interest in this kind of technology after such an incident. And then we'll be asking why we didn't invest in the technology when we had the chance to prevent this kind of disaster.

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Japan attempts to explain nuclear crisis to kids using bodily functions

As we speak, emergency crews are trying to contain the radiation leaking out of cracked reactors in Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. It's a difficult time, with the nuclear crisis coming on the heels of an earthquake and tsunami, and it is uncertain whether the seawater and boron mixture that the crews are using to cool down the plant's reactor core will succeed. People are evacuating their homes as our own government tries to figure out the best way to send aid.

But how do you explain all of this to a child living in Fukushima, or in Japan in general? Their lives have been disrupted, and while "earthquake" and "storm" are ideas they may be able to comprehend, nuclear science is not.

That's why Japanese artist Kazuhiko Hachiya has made a cartoon to help ease the small minds of the nation. "Nuclear Boy" chronicles Fukushima's reactor cracks and radiation leaks in a way that's easily relatable to kids: The nuclear power plant has a tummy ache, and we're trying to make sure it's not going to take a great big poop all over the country.

I'm all for explaining stuff to children in a light and humorous way to take the edge off of such a terrifying event, but I also never thought I'd be more disturbed by the images of Chernobyl until I started thinking about them covered in explosive diarrhea.


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