Thursday, February 21, 2008

Media hail amateur satellite watchers while waiting for further news from the military

The have given us an amazing (if somewhat fuzzy) video (also linked now to the original press release and celebrated on Fox - plus what the numbers mean) and some of their insights from the aftermath: "We have a fireball, and given that there's no fuel, that would indicate that that's a hydrazine fire. We have a vapor cloud that formed. That, again, would be likely to be the hydrazine. We also have some spectral analysis from airborne platforms that indicate the presence of hydrazine after the intercept. So again, that would indicate to us that the hydrazine vented overboard in some quantity, and we're starting to see that in space. Any one of those as a stand-alone is not a smoking gun, so we're putting the pieces together. I would tell you that it's probably going to take us another 24 to 48 hours to get to a point where we are very comfortable with our analysis that we indeed breached the tank. [...]

What we have afterwards is a debris field. We're tracking that debris field. It is already starting to reenter. We're seeing reentries in the Atlantic and Pacific right now, and we'll track that over then next 24 to 48 hours. It generally takes us about a day to two days to start to get a good sense of each piece of material that's up there. Thus far, we've seen nothing larger than a football, which tells us that we're in the right area. But again, it's not conclusive, because it's going to take us more time to make sure that we've got all of the reporting in, we've been able to correlate the data." Those data, howewer, have not been presented per se, and so even the mainstream press like the NYT, MSNBC and is now discussing a handful of amateur observations. A later one is actually rather confusing as one massive object was seen in the satellite's orbit. More reentries - which can be amazing - could be observed now.

In other news many more pictures of the lunar eclipse this morning have been received. e.g. the rising partiality in the shadow of Haleakala (high-res) or the eclipse against Lick Observatory. Many pictures have turned up in the usual gallery and another one and come from many individuals (more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more, more).

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