Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Visiting Triton

In the most recent week, the American, European, as well as Russian space programs suffered from bummers.

Elon Musk's new SpaceX F9R rocket self-detonated over Texas. Something went wrong and we're told that this rocket's suicide was their mundane Plan B. It's sort of hard to believe that they really planned such a "maneuver" but maybe it's right. One can't get rid of the feeling that these attempts to privatize the space research are perhaps "too cheap" for them to succeed.

Triton, to be discussed later

The second bummer is linked to the unAmerican competitors of the GPS system. A year ago, a Proton-M rocket carrying a GLONASS (Russian GPS) satellite exploded shortly after it was launched.

I want to believe that only the Russian shortage of perfectionism, and not some "intervention" by other powers, was behind that explosion. Now, in Summer 2014, Europe thought it was sending its own GPS competitors, the Galileo satellites, into the orbit. They didn't explode but they did end on a wrong orbit after the flawless launch of the Soyuz rocket in French Guiana. Yes, somewhat speculatively, I may imagine that the U.S. could have sabotaged this thing, too. Needless to say, it's equally plausible that Musk's failure has been helped by some Russian boffins and hackers, too.

Some sources suggest that the botched Galileo launch could undermine the Russian space industry.

I don't want to enumerate additional recent failures although this wasn't a complete list.

Instead, let's return 25 years and 1 day into the past. On August 25th, 1989, months before the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia, Voyager 2 (launched in 1977) was flying near Triton, a moon of Neptune's. The video looks so cool and three-dimensional, like an advertisement luring you to visit the place.

If you need to know, Triton's radius is 1350 km, 4.7 times smaller than Earth's. So you won't be shocked that the surface area is about 23 million squared kilometers, just like the area of North America (minus one-half of Mexico). It would be fun to colonize such places at some moment.

Europa, Jupiter's moon (similar size to Triton), may be even lovelier. After the possibly looming complete failure on Earth, the European Union could be moved to that moon.


  1. And at a toasty 38 K, global warming on Triton is hardly a threat! Especially since any CO2 put into the (1/70,000 Earth's atmosphere) would instantly freeze out.

  2. Global warming isn't a threat for Triton? What a breathtaking global warming denier you are! See


    to check your stupidity. ;-)

  3. If I understand correctly, the French manage the launch, and the Russians build the rockets. What could possibly go wrong? :-)
    I apologize in advance to the French and Russian readers of this blog but sometimes stereotypes are just too precious.

  4. Hopefully, the launch site’s cafeteria was not run by the English.

  5. The stereotypical jobs of all these nations could be easily done by the Czechs, see


    Too bad that the lyrics about the Czech expedition to the other celestial bodies - where we were, as usually, third after the U.S. and Russia - takes too much time to translate. ;-) Mládek created this megasong for money, as an advertisement for Biostar, a diet food of a sort.

    In the video, the Czechs are going to conquer the Universe, even before the Slovaks. The constructor on the ground is surprised that the rocket hasn't exploded yet. They land somewhere and a UFO biddy captures them and wants to eat them. They finally escape, when they're fat etc. etc.

  6. Hu hu hu... how funny ! As if United-Statians didn't make mistakes.

  7. Damn, man, that was laugh-out-loud funny even without comprehending the dialogue.

  8. A new engine mounted on a new airframe typically goes whoopsie. Like macroeconomics, assembling flawless components exposes defective interactions. The US desperately wanted von Braun for the V2, More for the astoundingly expensive and prolonged learning curve the Nazis had already purchased.

    The US also went full bore after Otto Roelen (Ruhr Chemie), inventor of the oxo process. A churl might say the US did not win European WWII for some perverse hallucination of freedom and democracy. The US was first in line to steal the entire German patent universe. 1940 US was mostly rural. 1950 US was an industrial powerhouse, no royalties paid.

  9. The reality is that space science is dying because the welfare is a black hole consuming all resources. Militaries are dying too. Maybe that's not a totally bad thing, but it means ISIS and its ilk will win at least locally.

    We are sliding into a new ans self-inflicted Dark Age.

  10. Rockets have long failed quite frequently - one doesn't need paranoid explanations of international interference.

    Re: SpaceX. It is standard practice in the US to have explosives which will destroy a rocket if it malfunctions or strays from course. Typically, a range safety officer is monitoring things and pushes the button to blow it up.

  11. Off topic

    Dear Lubos

    "Free energy, saviour of mankind", Andrea Rossi has encroached onto your turf recently.

    I would be delighted to hear your professional opinion. Is it genius or gibberish?
    Andrea Rossi

    August 25th, 2014 at 10:18 PM


    The concept of Symmetry in Physics is not substantially different from the common use: in the common language we define “symmetric” an object that reflects the same shape in two parts of it, for example a face is symmetric if its left side is equal to its right side. In Physics is defined symmetric a characteristic that is equal separately at every point ( in case of “gauge symmetry) or uniformely everywhere at the same time ( in case of global symmetry).

    As we saw, from symmetry arise the 4 forces: strong force, electromagnetic force, weak force and gravitational force arise all from symmetry: let’s try to see how.

    Imagine gauge symmetry to be like a system of trails along which multiplets of particles travel like trains and imagine that the trails are not straight and flat, but like roller coasters; now imagine that the wheels of the train are of four type: one type feels the strong forces, one the e.m. forces, one the weak f., one the gravitational f.: imagine that the strong forces are the ones that push the wheels rightward, the e.m. the ones that pull and push the wagons up and down, the weak the ones that try to slow down the trains, the gravitational the ones that try to make the train fall along the perpendicular of the train’s axis: obviously, these examples have nothing to do with the reality, are just analogies; where these forces are felt is because the displacement from the position of the trail respect the straight and flat position is filled up by means of the FIELD relative to the specific force, so that are the fields that vibrating make the train subject to their force: so we can say that forces arise from symmetry. All this would conserve the gauge symmetry, should not exist the Higgs Field. Imagine that upon the top of the wagons there are pebbles. Now imagine that the train arrives to a terrain full of grass, high grass that makes fluffy the space between the two leads of the trails and upon the trails: obviously the attrite between the wheels and the grass covering the trail will slow down the train, and the wagons would feel their mass, mainly the wheels, while the pebbles not being affected by the attrite, are projected ahead: the grass ( the Higgs Field) breaks the symmetry, now wheels feel their mass because the attrite with the grass slows them down, while the pebbles are not affected and continue to go ahead. Now if we make bosons correspond to the train before the Higgs Field, photons the pebbles, we can say that the Higgs Field has turned the Bosons into Fermions breaking the symmetry.

    As a matter of fact, symmetry is a much more complicated thing, but I think this analogy can give an idea of a possible model.

    Warm Regards,



  12. It doesn't have to do anything with porn, it's just that it is an industry and thus lowers the living standards of human integral, it is the same as comparing rihanna to billie holiday, the same goes for science, too much indeferent and mistaken forbids the right

  13. when human discovered industrialization they where scientists, so called human integrals. They where not good at business though too so the industry passed with time to the hands of greedy people. When integral beings shall stop existing, wich happens day by day, the world will collapse.

  14. And another US army total failure just yesterday : http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/188675-us-militarys-experimental-hypersonic-weapon-explodes-seconds-after-launch

  15. In this usage, “object” means the almost same thing as the word “objective”, that is, an aim or an intent is implied.
    In the absence of a context that implies intent, calling a dog an “object” is insulting and our furry friends have every right to be annoyed. :-)

  16. Agreed. Luboš should make amends.

    I recommend SAUSAGES! :)

    Woof woof!

  17. No, the dog’s owner did not act responsibly. If an elderly person had been knocked down and seriously injured or killed the dog’s owner would be responsible. He could have found a safer place to play fetch with the big dog.
    Where I live and, I suspect, in most places, a dog’s owner (or temporary guardian) is solely responsible for any canine damages.

  18. That would make amends!

  19. No sausages were harmed in the filming of this documentary and it doesn't contain flashing images. Also, there's no sex and violence. So I was quite surprised I bothered to watch it.

    The Ultimate Dog Tease

    Fancy that! A dog with an American accent!

  20. František ZitrickýAug 29, 2014, 8:56:00 PM

    Now it is a year since I came to live in Pilsen, a wonderful city!
    Which pub can one find you in? :)

  21. They must be using Windows XP.

  22. Reading between the lines, I'd consider that weapon system as a fully operational asset in the arsenal of democracy. They burned one to throw rubes off the scent.