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Why NASA Launched Millions of Tiny Copper Wires In Orbit

samzenpus posted about 6 months ago | from the up-up-and-away dept.

NASA 86

coondoggie writes "Imagine 500 million short copper wires — no longer than the tip of your index finger — floating in space creating what amounts to an antenna belt that could be used to send messages and conduct other space communications research. That would describe the 1960s era Project Space Needles or Project West Ford as it was sometimes called that NASA and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology last undertook in 1963 which saw the blasting of millions of those copper hairs into space. NASA's Orbital Debris Program Office this month did a 'Where are they now' look at those copper wires and said that after 50 years, some of them indeed still make up a small amount of orbital debris."

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86 comments

Re:dup (3, Informative)

worf_mo (193770) | about 6 months ago | (#45288699)

Today must be Alzheimer's Day, the previous story was a dupe, too.

Re:dup (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45288717)

Today must be Alzheimer's Day, the previous story was a dupe, too.

Copper may play key role in Alzheimer's disease

August 19, 2013|By Melissa Healy

Copper, including trace amounts in water that passes through copper pipes like these, appears to cause a cascade of events that feeds the progression of Alzheimer's disease, a new study says.
New research finds that copper in amounts readily found in our drinking water, the foods we eat and the vitamin supplements we take likely plays a key role in initiating and fueling the abnormal protein build-up and brain inflammation that are hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease.

link:http://articles.latimes.com/2013/aug/19/science/la-sci-copper-alzheimers-disease-20130819

Re:dup (5, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 6 months ago | (#45288759)

Today must be AIzheimer's Day, the previous story was a dupe, too.

Re:dup (2)

geogob (569250) | about 6 months ago | (#45288763)

Yes! This post regarding an article published yesterday, citing a NASA report from octobre 2013, most totally be a dup from august 2013.

If you are so clever, I bet you are clever enough not to read something that doesn't fit your personal interests or something you've already read about, maybe in some other context. But maybe you should read this article and the report cited to see how far this is from a dup.

But I suggest you skip the Journalistic touch and jump direct to the NASA report. I found it quite interesting - not just the part about the copper needles.

Re:dup (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | about 6 months ago | (#45290221)

Yes, it's totally a dupe from August 13 - because the October report contains nothing substantially new. Project West Ford hits the Slashdot front pages about three or four times a year, with nothing new each time.

More junk. (1)

andy_spoo (2653245) | about 6 months ago | (#45288813)

So, NASA spends millions every year monitoring debris (more commonly knows as space crap) and are worried that even a flake of paint can damage a space station because of its speed, and they deliberately put debris (crap) into space. Well done NASA.

Re:More junk. (3, Insightful)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 6 months ago | (#45288871)

So, NASA spends millions every year monitoring debris (more commonly knows as space crap) and are worried that even a flake of paint can damage a space station because of its speed, and they deliberately put debris (crap) into space. Well done NASA.

Do what I say not what I do.

Re:More junk. (1)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 6 months ago | (#45290209)

"Do what I say not what I do."
More like don't make the mistakes I did... This was in 1961.

Re:More junk. (5, Insightful)

tinkerton (199273) | about 6 months ago | (#45288989)

and they deliberately put debris (crap) into space

Past tense. They put the copper in space 50 years ago.There's nothing hypocritical about it. The situation has changed. Attitudes have cahnged

Re:More junk. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45289389)

Spelling has cahnged too.

Re:More junk. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45289425)

But by all means, let's still rag on the Chinese space program for polluting our orbits. Only we should be able to do that.

Re:More junk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45289453)

We did that. It was a damn bad idea. This is *a* reason we're down on nuke testing (aside from the obvious we don't want 'enemies' to have nukes). We went there, did that, and the Bikini islanders still can't return home.

Re:More junk. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 6 months ago | (#45292741)

But by all means, let's still rag on the Chinese space program for polluting our orbits.

Once again, the moral equivalence excuse gets trotted out. Let's note the obvious differences. First, our knowledge of the danger of space debris has advanced considerably in the last 50 years. The Chinese anti-satellite weapon test in question was done only six years ago and, unlike a later US anti-satellite test the next year, was done at an altitude guaranteed to generate a lot of long term orbital debris. They have no excuse for why they endangered everyone else's property in orbit.

Second, it was a test of a military weapon while the NASA experiment wasn't.

Only we should be able to do that.

Who is "we" here? It's funny how criticism of the US is ok, but criticism of a country that is worse is not.

Re:More junk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45293279)

They have no excuse for why they endangered everyone else's property in orbit.

Actually they do have at least one reason: economics

They probably think it's cheaper to pay for damages caused later (if any, endangering isn't the same as actually damaging somebody else's property) instead of paying now (well, 6 years ago) for a safer test.

Oh, and they have guns. If they can't pay those damages in money, they can pay in threat of violence.

Who is "we" here? It's funny how criticism of the US is ok, but criticism of a country that is worse is not.

It makes sense if you think about it. Slashdot is a US centric site. So be it praise or criticism, it focuses on the US

Slashdot is also a site for nerds. Nerds are usually concerned with efficiency and productivity. One nasty habit of efficient and productive people is being self critical, and look at what other people are doing well/better. Identifying those things helps you improve your own efficiency and productivity

Re:More junk. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 6 months ago | (#45296623)

It makes sense if you think about it. Slashdot is a US centric site. So be it praise or criticism, it focuses on the US

No. If you were to really think about it, then it wouldn't make sense - as I noted earlier.

Slashdot is also a site for nerds. Nerds are usually concerned with efficiency and productivity. One nasty habit of efficient and productive people is being self critical, and look at what other people are doing well/better. Identifying those things helps you improve your own efficiency and productivity

Which is what I was doing. You can thank me later.

Re:More junk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45299045)

No. If you were to really think about it, then it wouldn't make sense - as I noted earlier.

No, if you really REALLY think about it, it makes sense - as I noted earlier.

Which is what I was doing. You can thank me later.

No you were/are not. You're not being critical of the US, as nerds would do as I noted. You're critical of people being critical of the US.

Re:More junk. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 6 months ago | (#45300253)

You're critical of people being critical of the US.

And I had good reason for doing so. Very misguided criticism just gets in the way of well placed criticism.

Re:More junk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45300527)

And I had good reason for doing so.

Why you did it doesn't matter. It doesn't change what you did.

Very misguided criticism just gets in the way of well placed criticism.

That's not true. It's not a zero sum game. You can always ignore those criticisms.

Re:More junk. (1)

khallow (566160) | about 6 months ago | (#45301147)

Why you did it doesn't matter. It doesn't change what you did.

Look back at your original post [slashdot.org] . No indication that criticism of the US is the only sort of criticism that applies. I think this is just another case of shifting goal posts. By the terms of that post, my "why" matters because it fits what you were describing as "criticism".

I was criticizing the original poster because their criticism was just plain wrong, and because because it indicated that they held a deeply erroneous idea in their skull which would (contrary to your assertion about the non-zero sum nature of holding bad ideas) crowd out good ideas. That holds with the ideals of "efficiency and productivity" which you mention in that past post.

Re:More junk. (1)

mwu (784824) | about 6 months ago | (#45297889)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2007_Chinese_anti-satellite_missile_test [wikipedia.org] Debris aside (sorry for the pun), the move by the Chinese was strategically aimed at the US military space program and it basically forestalled the US from any further attempts on the militarisation of space. Quote: "In January 2001, a (US) congressionally mandated space commission headed by Donald Rumsfeld recommended that “the U.S. government should vigorously pursue the capabilities called for in the National Space Policy to ensure that the president will have the option to deploy weapons in space to deter threats to, and, if necessary, defend against attacks on U.S. interests." Moreover, the U.S. withdrawal from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty in 2002 has given the United States a free hand to move forward with missile defenses, and space-based missile defenses In response to US weaponisation of space, the Chinese started a space defense program, including anti-satellite defense.[11]" Of course, now there is the X37 program, which the Chinese is countering as well ...

Re:More junk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45289835)

and they deliberately put debris (crap) into space

Past tense. They put the copper in space 50 years ago.There's nothing hypocritical about it. The situation has changed. Attitudes have cahnged

Spelling has cahnged (sic) too!

Re:More junk. (1)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 6 months ago | (#45293531)

Yes, but we look at the actions of 50 years ago with the attitudes of today. Why do you think modern people dismiss Marilyn Monroe with phrases like "She didn't work out, look at her stomach, nothing but flab there, where are the six-pack abs?"

Re:More junk. (1)

tinkerton (199273) | about 6 months ago | (#45294789)

Because they're trying to fool the competition. It won't help though , she's dead innit.

Anyway, NASA is also allowed to look at their faraway past with the attitudes of today without being hypocrites.

Re:More junk. (2)

LWATCDR (28044) | about 6 months ago | (#45290193)

That was in 1961.... Back when people tested hydrogen bombs on the surface of the earth, in space, and under water, drove cars that had no real emission controls, and dumped chemicals into the water without restriction. AKA we have learned better since then....

Re:More junk. (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 6 months ago | (#45291335)

no, we pollute more now, including radioacitve pollution. your rosey view of the world is cute though

Re:More junk. (2)

FrankSchwab (675585) | about 6 months ago | (#45292145)

I don't know where you live, but in the US your comment would be simply wrong.

Having grown up in the LA basin in the 70's, and going back there on a regular basis now, I can safely say that there is significantly less air pollution now than there was then. Open dumping of toxic chemicals in places like the Stringfellow Acid Pits (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stringfellow_Acid_Pits) is no longer tolerated. Rivers are no longer used as open cesspools or convenient dumps for industrial chemical processes. Landfills are now designed to catch and remove all leachate.

I would guess that we release more CO2 these days than we did then, and due to coal-burning perhaps more mercury and radiation (although shutting down atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons certainly helped on the radiation front). But the environmental movements of the 60's and 70's were vastly more successful than your comment gives them credit for.

If you'd like to see the difference, visit any major US city and note the quantity and kinds of pollution you see. Then go visit any major Chinese city and do the same.

Re:More junk. (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | about 6 months ago | (#45292699)

No we don't. Pollution used to be much worse. The Cuyahoga river hasn't caught fire in decades. Back in the 60's, pollution like that was rampant.

The EPA was created in 1970 by Richard Nixon, and things have improved much since. Yes, before Reagan, the Republican party actually had pretty thoughtful stances on many topics, hard as that may be to believe.

Re:More junk. (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 6 months ago | (#45293725)

yes the human race does. most the human race does not live in the USA

the USA is 6.6% of the planet's land mass, and 4.5% of the population.

Re:More junk. (1)

LurkerXXX (667952) | about 6 months ago | (#45295379)

And ~20% of the world's energy.

But I was replying on a U.S. based site, to an article about a U.S. based agency.

Re:More junk. (1)

rubycodez (864176) | about 6 months ago | (#45295989)

if we only talk about USA, what happens when we include our share of China's pollution that comes from making the exports to USA?

Re:dup (3, Interesting)

gatzke (2977) | about 6 months ago | (#45288847)

Back in the day, a story wasn't a story until it hit slashdot at least three times, a trupe.

I still remember seeing a story duped on the front page just a couple of posts between the two, like the "editors" didn't even look at the site.

Re:dup (1, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | about 6 months ago | (#45288991)

Back in the day, a story wasn't a story until it hit slashdot at least three times, a trupe.

Surely it's a "tripe"...

1963? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45288697)

But things were so primitive then!

Look up "Window" from WWII RAF tactics (5, Interesting)

Freshly Exhumed (105597) | about 6 months ago | (#45288757)

The RAF screwed up Nazi radar with "Window", which is the precursor of the NASA Project West Ford:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Window_(codename) [wikipedia.org]

Re:Look up "Window" from WWII RAF tactics (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45288887)

The RAF came like 20 years after the nazis...

Re:Look up "Window" from WWII RAF tactics (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | about 6 months ago | (#45288911)

I'm pretty sure he meant the Royal Air Force, not the Rote Armee Fraktion.

Re:Look up "Window" from WWII RAF tactics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45288947)

Oh! My bad.

Re:Look up "Window" from WWII RAF tactics (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 6 months ago | (#45289599)

"The RAF came like 20 years after the nazis"

Actually the RAF was around before the NAZIs

It was formed in 1918, and Adolf didn't start the National Socialist Party until the 1920s

Re:Look up "Window" from WWII RAF tactics (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45293451)

Well Adolph didn't found the Nazi Party, but he was the 55th member.

Re:Look up "Window" from WWII RAF tactics (4, Funny)

dargaud (518470) | about 6 months ago | (#45289491)

Just made me waste 2 hours on wikipedia. Proud of yourself ?

Re:Look up "Window" from WWII RAF tactics (1)

Provocateur (133110) | about 6 months ago | (#45289769)

They called it West Ford since they thought that the original project name Can we just throw crap out the window of a spaceship, was too long, and maybe not easy to classify as Top Secret

lenght of index finger tip ... (2, Funny)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | about 6 months ago | (#45288795)

very exact measurement ... NOT!

Re:lenght of index finger tip ... (2)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#45289063)

Well, it's not meant to be exact, is it? Unless you were planning on building your own device on the basis of a Slashdot summary?

Re:lenght of index finger tip ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45289479)

Why even bother including a meaningless measurement? What comprises the "tip" of a finger, and what is its "length"?

Re:lenght of index finger tip ... (1)

Sockatume (732728) | about 6 months ago | (#45299665)

Look at your finger. The part between the last knuckle and the end is the tip. The distance between those two points is its length, That gives you an order of magnitude estimate of the size of these particles.

Do me a favour, never go into engineering. The art of approximation is dying and the last thing we need is people who can't make even ballpark guesses by themselves.

Re: lenght of index finger tip ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45289083)

I've been reading the news and i just want to know how many football fields is that?

Or how many can I put inside a football stadium?

Failing that, I would like to know if you place them end to end , how many times will it encircle the earth?

Re: lenght of index finger tip ... (2)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 6 months ago | (#45289379)

I've been reading the news and i just want to know how many football fields is that?

Or how many can I put inside a football stadium?

As many as ping pong balls you can fit inside the Library of Congress.

Failing that, I would like to know if you place them end to end , how many times will it encircle the earth?

Exactly once. Any more than that and you wouldn't be placing them end to end but parallel to each other.

Re:lenght of index finger tip ... (1)

MiniMike (234881) | about 6 months ago | (#45289561)

very exact measurement ... NOT!

You're right, how about 1.00 index finger tips?

Re:lenght of index finger tip ... (1)

isorox (205688) | about 6 months ago | (#45289641)

very exact measurement ... NOT!

It's 1 microfootballfield, or 1/700th of a London bus.

Re:lenght of index finger tip ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45290499)

very exact measurement ... NOT!

It's 1 microfootballfield, or 1/700th of a London bus.

Still not precise enough. Is that a double deck? With or without a fatty riding bumper?

Re:lenght of index finger tip ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45291169)

1.8 cm x 0.00178cm

Re:lenght of index finger tip ... (1)

YoungManKlaus (2773165) | about 6 months ago | (#45292387)

thank you! the first one who does not use retarded comparisons. ANYONE WITH MOD POINTS, UPVOTE THIS!

DARPA works on reading brains in real time (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45288841)

Pentagon's DARPA works on reading brains in real time

http://rt.com/usa/darpa-pentagon-reading-brain-860/ [rt.com]

And you call people paranoid who claim others can read your mind.

Chemical imbalance? Or do we have gov 'monitors' everywhere testing this tech as it develops on a scale similar to or more than COINTELPRO?

The 1960's, when you could pollute all you want... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45288853)

Isn't it lovely that even in space we still have waste from the 1960's?

In my local neighborhood, all we have left from the 1960's is a landfill, a nuclear waste storage, a couple of concrete monstrosities (and obviously some good music on the radio - it wasn't all bad) and some old people :-). But I am glad to hear that there are some remnants of the 1960's above me too.

Re:The 1960's, when you could pollute all you want (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | about 6 months ago | (#45288873)

Hey, who is calling me old? You young whipper snappers...

Re:The 1960's, when you could pollute all you want (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45289575)

We pollute far more today and in more serious ways at larger and sustainable scales. Diet, genomes, noise, wavelengths, chemicals, nuclear, nano tech; you name it.

Re:The 1960's, when you could pollute all you want (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 6 months ago | (#45289333)

You Americans! Waste from the 1960's? In Europe, they deal with waste from the 60's, and even the -1960's

Re:The 1960's, when you could pollute all you want (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45290439)

It's '60s not 60's. The apostrophe in '60s is a contraction for 1960s, the apostrophe in 60's is a grocer's apostrophe [wikipedia.org] and pegs you as someone who isn't very educated.

Re:The 1960's, when you could pollute all you want (1)

ArbitraryName (3391191) | about 6 months ago | (#45290695)

Wrong. It's 60s. He was referring to the years 60-69 CE, which was obvious from the context.. Perhaps further education should also be on your bucket list.

Re:The 1960's, when you could pollute all you want (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 6 months ago | (#45290731)

No. There is a fringe case for when you're using things that aren't normally 'real' words, ergo this is not really a case of grocer's apostrophe:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostrophe#Use_in_forming_certain_plurals [wikipedia.org]

Re:The 1960's, when you could pollute all you want (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 6 months ago | (#45292511)

No. There is a fringe case for when you're using things that aren't normally 'real' words, ergo this is not really a case of grocer's apostrophe:

Actually, this is the scenario here. I debated back and forth on the apostrophe for a while, and decided to go with it for the following reasons: To me, 60s looked too much like 60 seconds, especially in my pre-morning-coffee state. Additionally, I was matching the style used by the parent post (and I notice nobody's jumping on the apostrophe misuse there). Further, I was hoping it would enhance the difference between 60s and '60s. Normally, I would not put it in.

Re:The 1960's, when you could pollute all you want (1)

TangoMargarine (1617195) | about 6 months ago | (#45293375)

I noticed it also displayed internal consistency with your two uses of "1960's" in your post, which is good.

Re:The 1960's, when you could pollute all you want (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45290827)

It appears from his comment that his first language is not English so why would you make such a silly comment.

Hopefully... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45288909)

all those idiots stealing copper will try to go after these.

Re:Hopefully... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45290755)

If it will get us space elevators sooner I say good on them!

i just love the NASA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#45289793)

http://usefulcontents.com 20 minutes? That’s good! I bet you do that more often. Ha! Jethro loves apples. I know that onions, garlic and avacado aren’t good for dogs. Too bad that avacado’s aren’t good for them because before I knew that I’d give Jethro a sliver of one every once in a while or let him lick my hand after I peeled one. He absolutely loves avacado. But when I found out it wasn’t good for him I stopped giving it to him. Now when I fix guacamole he sits next to me and cries the whole time. Poor boy.

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