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Military's Satellite Meteor Data Sharing May Soon Resume

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the so-we'll-know-what's-about-to-hit-us dept.

The Military 35

jbdigriz writes "Leonard David has a followup piece to his original story, referenced here on June 22nd ('US Military Blocks Data On Incoming Meteors'). Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Rego explains his decision to suspend the meteor data sharing program due to 'loopholes' in the informal arrangement. He and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher hold out some hope that the program will resume on a more secure basis at some unspecified but not too distant point."

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Conspiracy. (5, Funny)

Seumas (6865) | about 5 years ago | (#28664285)

The big one is clearly headed for us and the planet is doomed and they just don't want people to know and start panicking. So, I would encourage everyone to panic.

Re:Conspiracy. (5, Funny)

cupantae (1304123) | about 5 years ago | (#28664353)

Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it's time for our viewers to crack each other's heads open and feast on the goo inside?

Re:Conspiracy. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664401)

Indubitably no, I would say it is time to relive shitty old movies by quoting them incessantly on Slashdot. That will make sure that their grey matter really DOES turn to goo inside ...

Re:Conspiracy. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28665859)

I'm new to slashdot, what movies are you talking about? (seriously)

Re:Conspiracy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28665991)

Tis ain't no movie, pal!

Re:Conspiracy. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664849)

I plan to follow the advice of the Hitchhiker's Guide and not panic, although I may hold my towel a bit tighter until we get an all clear.

Re:Conspiracy. (1)

bigpat (158134) | about 5 years ago | (#28665173)

The big one is clearly headed for us and the planet is doomed and they just don't want people to know and start panicking. So, I would encourage everyone to panic.

Since these particular sensors point towards the Earth, then I don't think we would have time to panic if they glimpsed the "big one".

Re:Conspiracy. (1)

Misterfixit (890118) | about 5 years ago | (#28667911)

Not a problem, we's call up Engineer Jorgasnovara at Technical Service Unit 25 on the Interocitor and have him do the same thing they did out there on Metaluna. Oh, crap, that didn't work and the Monster is now a talking head on Futurama. Oh well, maybe Doctor Morbius could help? Oh crap, that didn't work and the Monsters from the Id got him. But Anne Francis was hot and Leslie Nielson slammed her for sure.

No! Don't tell us! (2, Funny)

Tubal-Cain (1289912) | about 5 years ago | (#28664293)

I want the civilization-ending meteor strike to be a surprise!

Re:No! Don't tell us! (1)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 5 years ago | (#28664309)

I had the same reaction, why would meteor data ever be classified????

Re:No! Don't tell us! (5, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 5 years ago | (#28664341)

I had the same reaction, why would meteor data ever be classified????

Because it gives you information about the sensors used to detect the meteors.

Re:No! Don't tell us! (4, Informative)

mpoulton (689851) | about 5 years ago | (#28664347)

I had the same reaction, why would meteor data ever be classified????

Did you RTFA? This actually makes some sense when taken in context and explained... as in the article. The problem is that providing the data collected about incoming meteors necessarily describes the functionality and implied limitations of the detection system. Knowing the capabilities and limitations provides a strategic advantage to those who might try to avoid detection. Since the system is so complex and advanced, it is reasonable to believe that the capabilities will not be fully known by other militaries unless the information is leaked - or released in the form of data output.

Re:No! Don't tell us! (3, Insightful)

santax (1541065) | about 5 years ago | (#28664551)

They did provide that data for years... You could look at the old data to understand the system. Still wouldn't do you any good though. There is a sat system that can detect big sources of energy. Nothing secret about it. This only proves that it's about bloody time that China or the EU puts some sats of her own in the skies. Before we know it GPS coordinates will be a national secret to the US also.

Re:No! Don't tell us! (5, Informative)

John Hasler (414242) | about 5 years ago | (#28664615)

The data was being released in a somewhat informal fashion. There may not have been any classified stuff leaked in the past, but it could happen in the future if, for example, the system is upgraded and the quality of the released data suddenly changes. The general wants the data to be properly declassified to make sure that doesn't happen, but declassification is expensive and he doesn't have a budget for it. It's possible that the deal he has struck involves some other agency reimbursing his command for the cost of declassifying and publishing the data.

Re:No! Don't tell us! (5, Informative)

theshibboleth (968645) | about 5 years ago | (#28664977)

Actually the U.S. military has already used its control of the GPS satellites to its strategic advantage - during the Persian Gulf War the U.S. made the GPS satellites give data that was slightly off and then reset the satellites so the Iraqis had to waste time recalibrating their weapons systems twice before the war started.

Also (1)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | about 5 years ago | (#28666499)

Because they control it they can be more sure they get a true read and nobody else is doing some kind of local jamming/misrepresentation. That's the main function of the P(Y) channel. It is encrypted and the keys aren't public. So, if your military enabled GPS can decrypt it correctly, you can be fairly confident the signal is indeed coming from a sat, and not someone generating a false signal. With the C/A signal, no such luck.

That is (or at least seems to be) the reason for keeping P(Y) information classified. They are actually currently working on (with a hopeful ETA of 2013) adding other signaling to make civilian equipment capable of getting a more accurate signal. Why do this rather than just release the keys for P(Y) or stop encrypting it? Well because of the verifiability aspect. They want to make sure that the military can tell if the signal is real GPS, not spoofed.

The US military paid for GPS, it isn't surprising they wish to have advantages in using it.

Re:No! Don't tell us! (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 5 years ago | (#28664829)

Yup, we sure don't want any incoming enemy meteors to figure out how our detectors work and deploy counter measures.

Re:No! Don't tell us! (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 5 years ago | (#28665547)

During the cold war, something went flash and a sat noted it. In theory it was South Africa and Israel doing something with a nuke. []
With scientists come the press. They might ask how could South Africa get the bomb?
Who helped them? Where where they getting support from and who let them test?
The political leaders who lied back then, groomed the 30 somethings around them. They are now in power and have learned from past mistakes.
Now if the sat never saw the flash, its just another day in the anti communist "bush war" in southern africa.
Sat data can make a generation stand up and say "No" []
"Google Earth exposes a U.S. drone base in Pakistan."
Its not the "meteor data" its what else could leak or be questioned via the data.
Look up the data now and you might see traces of weather experiments or some other new 'science' that will be spoon fed over the next 40 years as emerging.

Re:No! Don't tell us! (1, Troll)

Dolohov (114209) | about 5 years ago | (#28665079)

If it makes you feel better, it only reports on objects that have already entered the atmosphere and started glowing from the heat of entry.

That's because the war is over (2, Funny)

cupantae (1304123) | about 5 years ago | (#28664339)

The war ended on July the 4th, so this is no longer confidential military information. For more information on the invasion, see this recent documentary []

Re:That's because the war is over (2, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 5 years ago | (#28664939)

Not a problem. The aliens recieved a bunch of e-mail greeting cards from .ru domains. They opened a couple of them and it'll be weeks before they can clean the corrupted codecs off their systems.

Not that we can do anything about it, anyway... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664399)

Why allow a bunch of amateur doomsdayers to get in on the action, and create a panic?

If a meteor is gonna hit us, it's gonna hit us...

Re:Not that we can do anything about it, anyway... (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | about 5 years ago | (#28666727)

Not while we have Bruce Willis.

I watched "Armageddon" last night. What an utter pile of shite.

Scientists are Liberals? (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28664461)

So, if you read TFA, the military specifically didn't want sensor data compromised, and some asshat scientist ruined the show by publishing a lightcurve off one of the meteors, which was a no-no per the agreement. I can see why the military stomped on that hard. And yes, sensor capability is a big deal; It's not like you can launch another satellite without the world knowing about it, and upgrading the sensors already got nuked by congress for being over budget.

Re:Scientists are Liberals? (0)

MrMista_B (891430) | about 5 years ago | (#28664831)

How does improperly publishing a lightcurve determine someone's political leanings?

I sense a troll.

Re:Scientists are Liberals? (1)

Misterfixit (890118) | about 5 years ago | (#28667885)

I don't agree about the trollishness of the post. Asshat can refer to just about anyone who does something very stupid without thinking about the consequences. I know this for sure since I have been an Asshat here on ./ a few times, making what I thought were pithy or irreverent comments and then saying "uh oh" after I posted (without previewing, of course, which is another type of asshat behavior) I suspect that the professor who posted the lightcurve data either didn't think through the consequences of disclosure of what could be considered sensitive data, or was motivated by some other reason. I've worked with a lot of scientific folks at the US Army's Night Vision Laboratories. Ft Belvoir, back in the day, and found most of them to be conscientious about reviewing what they wrote about in public. There were some, of course, whose minds were in the clouds or they were thinking of pussy and made security violations. Those were the Asshats of that day and age.

Re:Scientists are Liberals? (4, Informative)

Decker-Mage (782424) | about 5 years ago | (#28664869)

Political leanings are irrelevant here. From the light curve, you can extrapolate sensor capability in a various applications such as boost-course, mid-course, even late-course ballistic missile/warhead intercept capabilities, which should, given known albedo characteristics for those phases, liklihood of detection. That's just one engineer's perspective.

Re:Scientists are Liberals? (2)

kaiser423 (828989) | about 5 years ago | (#28664969)

Exactly! Non-story!

They had an informal agreement that benefited all, some one goes and pisses in the pool. Responsible General kicks him out of the pool, and quickly creates new rules that allow everyone to benefit again and share while keeping jack-asses out.

Actually sounds like responsible governing/program management to me...

It makes sense (2, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 5 years ago | (#28664921)

After all, we know that the aliens monitor our communications. So broadcasting the distance and bearing of near misses will provide them with information they can use to adjust their targeting.

only if.. (1)

binaryseraph (955557) | about 5 years ago | (#28665069)

That is, unless its a meteor of mass size that will impact: an Axis of Evil Country, Russia, Cuba or anything in Africa of strategic value.... We might omit that information.

Eeeeh. They are ridiculing themselves. (1, Offtopic)

unity100 (970058) | about 5 years ago | (#28665145)

half of the G8 countries opened up their official ufo files. there are ufo filmings and sightings in every goddamn corner of the world so that they have almost become mundane, a touristic event. yet, the bozos in america STILL try to shuffle shit, putting their citizens in the place of fools. really, THAT much effort is not needed. people dont need the fucking government to tell them what exists, and what does not.

Re:Eeeeh. They are ridiculing themselves. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#28666135)

Of course not. It is the job of religion to tell what exists and what does not.

Re:Eeeeh. They are ridiculing themselves. (1)

Sheen (1180801) | about 5 years ago | (#28667051)

We get UFOs close to the border every day, usually coming from and returning to russia almost every day! -Norwegian

Why is this sensitive data? (1)

nurb432 (527695) | about 5 years ago | (#28667073)

Why on earth would there be a reason to hide this in the first place?

Im sure there is a technical/political reason but at this time of morning, i'm not sure what it is.

When the data will be available... (1)

Lost Penguin (636359) | about 5 years ago | (#28667149)

It's coming back online in 2012, December 22nd.
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