What REALLY Happened to the LCROSS Centaur?

<conspiracy mode>

In the early hours of Friday morning at 4:31am, the spent Centaur rocket from the NASA LCROSS mission slammed into the surface of the south pole of the moon. What was the point in that?

Well, NASA was hoping that the tumbling chunk of metal the size of a small bus would kick up a huge plume of dust. Following 4 minutes behind was the shepherding LCROSS spacecraft, also on a kamikaze dive, hoping to drop through the plume, sensitive instruments ready to analyse the dust for water.

I know what you’re thinking: what right does NASA have to BOMB the Moon? They have NO RIGHT AT ALL!!

It turns out that they are actually waging a top secret war against the population of peaceful extraterrestrials that live on the far side of the Moon. This “experiment” was in fact a reckless attack against a superior alien civilization, intended to strike fear into the hearts of the aliens.

If you were to believe the NASA promo video of the event, this should have been spectacular, vast quantities of lunar regolith blasting into space… it should have been akin to the biggest Fourth of July firework detonating. This “shock and awe” tactic is typical of the US space agency. The huge mass of the Centaur (a little under 2400kg), combined with its break-neck speed (1.5 miles per second) should have unleashed the equivalent energy of a tonne of TNT exploding. However, what NASA didn’t tell us was that Centaur was also carrying plutonium, so the explosion should have been a LOT bigger, easily visible to the naked eye.

But what did we see? Nothing. What did NASA see? Nothing. So what happened? Well, the answer to that is a little more compelling than what NASA is telling us.

Yes, they can show us images of a meagre “flash” as the Centaur hit inside a lunar crater, but I don’t think Centaur hit the Moon at all… the Centaur rocket was swallowed by the Moon.

Don’t believe me? Moments before impact, NASA’s lunar satellite — the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) — was approaching the location and it took this photo. What you see here will shock you. It will astound you. And what’s more, it’s REAL.

Aliens DO live on the Moon, and they were prepared for the NASA bombing…

lcross-conspiracy

</conspiracy mode>

I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist. In the run-up to the LCROSS impact, the sheer amount of crazy conspiracy theories hit fever-pitch (I blogged about it on Space Disco 2 hours before impact). Some of my favourite theories involved alien civilizations on the lunar surface, plutonium on LCROSS (to destroy the Moon), the “fact” that it was all just a publicity stunt and the LCROSS mission didn’t exist at all… and the strange theory that the Moon feels pain.

Yawn.

A polite message to the conspiracy theorists: Come on people, stop making stuff up and understand the real science. You might find reality more interesting than your twisted fantasies.

Image: The Sarlacc pit monster from Star Wars, Copernicus lunar crater and the LCROSS Centaur rocket. Photoshopping: Me.

Oops… I really geeked out this time, didn’t I.

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2012 Movie TV Teaser Trailer Micro-Review

2012

For context, you might want to read Want a Little Doom for Supper? first.

Give me some DOOM!

As scheduled, the extra-special 2012 teaser trailer appeared on the TV. Mildly excited, I flicked between the channels in the hope of catching a glimpse of what lies in store for November cinema screens. I tried to keep up the typing in real time… alas, it was too hard, the doom was moving too fast for my fingers, but this is what I remember…

We start off with John Cusack’s panic-stricken face warning his family on the phone while driving a stretch limo (stretch limo?) through LA streets, “When they tell you not to panic, that’s when you RUN!!!” Poetry.

Then a scene that can only be described as hilarious silly gratuitous insane the most over-powering CGI I have ever had the pleasure of seeing.

It was basically the Planes, Trains and Automobiles version of doomsday. Just without the trains. Add a crying child.

High-speed car sequences, palm trees snapping, ground cracking, houses folding… ooh look out for the obligatory exploding petrol tanker!!!! [extra !!! for effect] Then, buildings fall to the ground, people dying everywhere… but Cusack, plus brood, fly through the surprisingly uncongested LA streets at hyperspeed! Oh crap! Look out for the– PHEW! The car jumped through (jumped through!!) a disintegrating building (disintegrating building!!!), popping out the other end unscathed.

There’s more!

The Huge Massive CrackTM advances through California, with Cusack and co.’s car always in front of the impending doom that’s unfolding behind them.

Oh! There’s a plane! We’re now on an airfield… it’s okay, the family have an escape route! They fly off, Huge Massive CrackTM ripping through the asphalt as the pilot accelerates into the air. Buildings crashing down, toppling sideways (sideways!!!), crying child looks out the window, people are being squashed by cars down there!! That’s not for young eyes goddammit! They keep flying– NOOO!! More collapsing buildings!! Fly under them!!! YESSS!!! That pilot just flew UNDER a sideways collapsing building. Los Angeles is toast, looks more like the Grand Canyon than a city.

I’m tired… that was intense. Totally silly, too. Did it make me want to see the movie more? Not really, looks like it’s going to be very basic disaster pr0n, as predicted, with a very loose plot. Ah well.

Disclaimer: This in no way, shape or form indicates that I now think something is going to happen in 2012. All of the above is based on a trailer for a movie. A movie people! The theories about doomsday in 2012 are still nonsense. If you don’t believe me, have a read.

Image: Still from the awesome 2012 parody video 2012: It’s a Disaster!!! by Garrison Dean (io9)

Wildfire? Volcano? Warzone? Hell? All of the above?

wildfires

I think this timelapse video pretty much puts the Station Fire into perspective. The fire has so far destroyed over 120,000 acres of land, gutted dozens of homes and taken the lives of two fire fighters. Although it would appear fire crews are slowly getting a handle on the blaze (it was around 20% contained at time of writing), should there be a change in weather, the fires could flare up once more, but there are hopes that humidity should continue to rise through the night.

Also, it would appear the earlier fires spotted on the summit of Mount Wilson were primarily controlled backfires (i.e. small fires started deliberately by the fire service to burn off brush, thereby removing fuel for an uncontrolled fire). Now, an airborne assault has begun, water and fire retardant being dropped to slow the advance of the Station Fire around the mountain leading to the observatory. And now, the word is that fire crews seem to be winning the fight to save the Mount Wilson Observatory (thank you @palomarskies for the update!).

So, for now, I’ll leave you with this phenomenal HD timelapse video of the Station Fire created by willieworks. The view is of the mountains to the north of LA, from Mulholland Drive, above Universal Studios. It’s a scene that really does belong in the movies. What a sight.

Special Ops Bunnies

Blood-thirsty bunnies? If only you knew... (The Oatmeal)

Blood-thirsty bunnies? If only you knew... (The Oatmeal)

Thank you Kate (@KateSherrod) for thinking of me and sending me this hilarious post called “8 Ways To Prepare Your Pets For War” from The Oatmeal. No science here, just funny cartoons.

However, do you think Barney could be trained for special ops? You decide:

He has the stealth of a ninja...

He has the stealth of a ninja...

...but the brains of a bunny.

...but the brains of a carrot.

Banff Ground Squirrel Witnessed Apollo 11 Landing

Buzz Aldrin poses for Armstrong's camera in 1969. Little did the astronauts realize... they were being watched... (NASA/NatGeo/Ian O'Neill)

Buzz Aldrin poses for Armstrong's camera in 1969. Little did the astronauts realize... they were being watched... (NASA/NatGeo/Ian O'Neill)

Ever wonder why some of the Apollo lunar landing shots are a little out of focus? Ever wonder why chunks of photographs from the Moon have been cut out, leaving a a little squirrel-like shape behind?

Wonder no more, even the Moon has a colony of ground squirrels (plus mini-space helmets, of course), ready to pop out of hiding when they feel the vibration of lunar lander thrusters, astronaut footsteps, and the whine of focusing cameras. This is one Moon conspiracy solved, once and for all!

Don’t worry, I haven’t lost it quite yet, I’ve just been playing with Photoshop. This is in response to the wonderful National Geographic photograph of a curious ground squirrel that managed to pose for the perfect holiday snap in Canada’s Banff National Park. Now the image is going viral, with little squirrel cut-outs appearing in a huge range of photos and videos.

So here’s my effort. The Banff Lunar Squirrel!

Feline Physics

funny-pictures-cat-reaches-critical-mass

I thought this was funny, so I thought I’d share and in the process prove to the intertoobs that Astroengine is still alive and well. Just returned from an uber-cool trip to New York, so I’ll be writing a blog post about that later.

But for now, beware the glowing kittens, a couple of neutrons here or there and more than just fur will fly…

Source: ICanHasCheezburger.com