Skip to comments.Military Ordered To Keep Fireball Reports "Classified"
Posted on 06/10/2009 8:47:48 PM PDT by NorwegianViking
A recent U.S. military policy decision now explicitly states that observations by hush-hush government spacecraft of incoming bolides and fireballs are classified secret and are not to be released, SPACE.com has learned.
The satellites' main objectives include detecting nuclear bomb tests, and their characterizations of asteroids and lesser meteoroids as they crash through the atmosphere has been a byproduct data bonanza for scientists.
The upshot: Space rocks that explode in the atmosphere are now classified.
"It's baffling to us why this would suddenly change," said one scientist familiar with the work. "It's unfortunate because there was this great synergy...a very good cooperative arrangement. Systems were put into dual-use mode where a lot of science was getting done that couldn't be done any other way. It's a regrettable change in policy."
Scientists say not only will research into the threat from space be hampered, but public understanding of sometimes dramatic sky explosions will be diminished, perhaps leading to hype and fear of the unknown.
Most "shooting stars" are caused by natural space debris no larger than peas. But routinely, rocks as big as basketballs and even small cars crash into the atmosphere. Most vaporize or explode on the way in, but some reach the surface or explode above the surface. Understandably, scientists want to know about these events so they can better predict the risk here on Earth. !
Most "shooting stars" are caused by natural space debris no larger than peas. But routinely, rocks as big as basketballs and even small cars crash into the atmosphere. Most vaporize or explode on the way in, but some reach the surface or explode above the surface. Understandably, scientists want to know about these events so they can better predict the risk here on Earth.
Yet because the world is two-thirds ocean, most incoming objects aren't visible to observers on the ground. Many other incoming space rocks go unnoticed because daylight drowns them out.
Over the last decade or so, hundreds of these events have been spotted by the classified satellites. Priceless observational information derived from the spacecraft were made quickly available, giving researchers such insights as time, a location, height above the surface, as well as light-curves to help pin down the amount of energy churned out from the fireballs.
And in the shaky world we now live, it's nice to know that a sky-high detonation is natural versus a nuclear weapon blast.
Where the space-based surveillance truly shines is over remote stretches of ocean far away from the prospect of ground-based data collection.
But all that ended within the last few months, leaving scientists blind-sided and miffed by the shift in policy. The hope is that the policy decision will be revisited and overturned.
"The fireball data from military or surveillance assets have been of critical importance for assessing the impact hazard," said David Morrison, a Near Earth Object (NEO) scientist at NASA's Ames Research Center. He noted that his views are his own, not as a NASA spokesperson.
The size of the average largest atmospheric impact from small asteroids is a key piece of experimental data to anchor the low-energy end of the power-law distribution of impactors, from asteroids greater than 6 miles (10 kilometers) in diameter down to the meter scale, Morrison told SPACE.com.
"These fireball data together with astronomical observations of larger near-Earth asteroids define the nature of the impact hazard and allow rational planning to deal with this issue," Morrison said.
Morrison said that fireball data are today playing additional important roles.
As example, the fireball data together with infrasound allowed scientists to verify the approximate size and energy of the unique Carancas impact in the Altiplano -- on the Peru-Bolivia border -- on Sept. 15, 2007.
Fireball information also played an important part in the story of the small asteroid 2008 TC3, Morrison said. That was the first-ever case of the astronomical detection of a small asteroid before it hit last year. The fireball data were key for locating the impact point and the subsequent recovery of fragments from this impact.
Link in public understanding
Astronomers are closing in on a years-long effort to find most of the potentially devastating large asteroids in our neck of the cosmic woods, those that could cause widespread regional or global devastation. Now they plan to look for the smaller stuff.
So it is ironic that the availability of these fireball data should be curtailed just at the time the NEO program is moving toward surveying the small impactors that are most likely to be picked up in the fireball monitoring program, Morrision said.
"These data have been available to the scientific community for the past decade," he said. "It is unfortunate this information is shut off just when it is becoming more valuable to the community interested in characterizing near Earth asteroids and protecting our planet from asteroid impacts."
The newly issued policy edict by the U.S. military of reporting fireball observations from satellites also caught the attention of Clark Chapman, a planetary scientist and asteroid impact expert at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
"I think that this information is very important to make public," Chapman told SPACE.com.
"More important than the scientific value, I think, is that these rare, bright fireballs provide a link in public understanding to the asteroid impact hazard posed by still larger and less frequent asteroids," Chapman explained.
Those objects are witnessed by unsuspecting people in far-flung places, Chapman said, often generating incorrect and exaggerated reports.
"The grounding achieved by associating these reports by untrained observers with the satellite measurements is very useful for calibrating the observer reports and closing the loop with folks who think they have seen something mysterious and extraordinary," Chapman said.
Nothing to see, folks, move along, move along...
Keeping the general public out of the information loop so as to prevent a panic over an ELE?
You might be offended. I mean it. DONT CLICK THERE!!!!!!
I do know for a fact that the DOD is playing around with ball-lightning pretty seriously...the natural phenominon also has some fancy German name, but I heard they want to make it a weapon.
Don’t know if this is really related, though.
I think a lot of times what some folks are seeing is R&D tests of an emerging weapons system.
More 0bama “transparency”...
Nice try, but how would you know that the data released by the military wasn't already edited? In fact, you'd have to presume it was, which would mean it wouldn't represent the full capabilities of the satellite anyway.
I could see a minimal risk to reporting when one of our satellites spots an impact, but if handled properly the risk would be minimal at best.
If we report a satellite spotting an impact, an enemy could look where the impact was and could possibly estimate where our satellites are. Of course I’m mostly ignorant about this, this is just an idea that came to mind as far as any potential risks are concerned. Our adversaries probably already know where most of our satellites are anyway. lol
An extinction event (also known as: mass extinction; extinction-level event, ELE) is a sharp decrease in the number of species in a relatively short period of time.
The dinosaurs are believed to have been the victims of an ELE from a asteroid collision with Earth.
Ah, thank you
All about “I have the power to...I have the power to...I have the power to....over you!!!
I’ve been wondering for some time now just why the world ecomony tanked so fast - a known ELE might explain a lot.
We're putting up newer sensors, time to pull the curtain down completely. When it comes to military secrets and capabilities, I'm all for keeping everything out of the public eye.
Over reach ping
>Keeping the general public out of the information loop so as to prevent a panic over an ELE?
No, it’s just N. Korea... move along, move along. ;)
N. Korea nukes a neighboring country (S. Korea?) - the U.S. responds in kind - China nukes the U.S. . . . etc, etc. ELE completed.
Russia, China, India and probably other countries have their own satellites in orbit. There are also private satellites that provide images for, say, Google Earth. Scientific loss will be the greatest for US scientists. Other countries will continue to feed sat images to their science.
To ensure secrecy of capabilities the DoD could, for example, give security clearances to a few people who will be working with original pictures. But I guess simple practical solutions are not wanted these days; it's much easier to throw the bathwater out, and the baby, and the bath itself for a good measure.
BTW, this is a great way to hide a nuclear detonation as an exploding comet (e.g. "No Muslims at fault for that flattened city"), or an exploding comet as a nuclear detonation ("Right wing extremists flattened that city").
Satellites have been killing satellites for years.
>N. Korea nukes a neighboring country (S. Korea?) - the U.S. responds in kind
What do you have against Canada? ;)
>But I guess simple practical solutions are not wanted these days; it’s much easier to throw the bathwater out, and the baby, and the bath itself for a good measure.
“Keep the plug though, it might come in handy.” ;)
Yep, it’s the capability of the satellite in question...not the UFO side of the house. I don’t see an issue here...we don’t need to reveal capabilities.
The Nazi’s perfected “feuerballen” in WWII. We took up on those designs when secret weapon papers and plans were taken at war’s end. But, of course, I am just some nut who makes stuff up.
It’s possible that there is a new surveillance satellite, whose capabilities we do not wish to reveal. Handing out the data would at minimum run the risk of revealing those capabilities, or even just the mere existence of that new bird.
Well, free country and all that... makes this a little more of a delicate subject than simply issuing an imprimatur for universal data denial.
Besides, what's being blocked here is nothing less than the verification of non-threatening, visible space explosions. In the event of any such explosions, this decision will inevitably greatly increase fear in the population due to denying the availability of third-party non-threatening explanations.
But, if no such explosions are expected, why issue the security lockdown?
maybe we're expecting ET, or a made-up ET:
Jun 9, 2009 - Channel One TV, Israel claimed "an American official in Jerusalem" told Netanyahu, "We are going to change the world. Please, don't interfere." (this comment was viewed as threatening)
Jun 9, 2009 - Uruguay releases UFO files
May 10, 2009 - Italian AF releases UFO files
May 9, 2009 - Sweden opens online archive of UFO files
May 4, 2009 - Brazil releases UFO files
Mar 26, 2009 - Britian releases third round of UFO files
Feb 17, 2009 - Canada opens online archive of UFO files
Jan 28, 2009 - Denmark releases UFO files
Mar 14th, 2008 - Vatican City Believing that the universe may contain alien life does not contradict a faith in God
now all this may be neither here nor there, but, I do recall Reagan wondering aloud, something to the effect that, maybe an outside threat to the world would be the one thing to bring the world together. And I also recall Bill Cooper's thoughts on this exact topic, some 10 years ago, as to how a phantom ufo threat could be used to wipe out all freedom. call me crazy but sumthin is in the wind.
forgot to add to the list:
April 21, 2009 - former Astronaut Edgar Mitchell, at National Press Club, claims government UFO coverup
Oh, I feel so protected by the 0b0z0b0ts.
If the electricity stays on, it was natural.
I’d add SF/Chicago/NY City/LA, among other locations throughout the U.S.
Perhaps they are now flying the ‘Delta blimp’/Aurora/Hammer of Thor/X-51 HCM/Minotaur/your fav black project.... Or not.
Simply because reporting what you know is one of the best ways of compromising the full extent of you're intelligence gathering capabilities.
Wow, nice timeline. Something does indeed seem to be drawing nigh.
Wow, nice timeline. Something does indeed seem to be drawing nigh.
Ping of interest
The coming of the new Hijre Aswad or black stone of the Kaaba (Mecca) is arriving soon. The soon to be Caliphate doesnt want its arrival reported.
“In the 60s there were sightings on radar scopes all over this country of UFOs...”
I launched a dozen or so “crafts” myself in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
The response from various news media, military sources,
and law enforcement was quite a hoot!
But I was a mere rowdy and nerdy juvenile at the time.