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Satellite Spotters Make Government Uneasy

CmdrTaco posted more than 6 years ago | from the other-checks-and-balances dept.

Space 439

An anonymous reader found an interesting little story about satellite spotters and how, not surprisingly, their painstakingly methodical hobby doesn't exactly make gazillion dollar government agencies all that excited. Of course the article raises the very obvious point that if a guy with a pair of binoculars in his back yard can spot a satellite, so can the Chinese government.

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well (5, Insightful)

someone1234 (830754) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463424)

If they are spotted, they failed. I think they should thank the spotters for the free bugtesting.

Re:well (5, Insightful)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463474)

Um, maybe I'm missing something obvious here, but if you have an object in low Earth orbit, it would seem to me that as long as there is line of sight to it, there's no way you can really hide it.

Dupe (4, Informative)

mrxak (727974) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463534)

Isn't this a dupe? I could've sworn there was an article about this just a week or two ago.

Re:Dupe (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22463752)

Was it circling Uranus when spotted?

Re:well (2, Informative)

kannibal_klown (531544) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463562)

I don't know what spy satellites look like, but I imagine they coud:
  • Make it look like an ordinary weather/GPS/comm satellite.
  • Go all out in trying to hide it
    • Encase it in the same material as the stealth bombers (radar)
    • Paint it black
    • Remove all blinking lights
The problem with the second option is that it would be even more expensive, and watchful eyes could still see it as it passes by a bright moon. And then there would be little doubt as to what kind of satellite they were looking at.

So sans a Star-Trek-style Cloaking Device, it will always be detectable at some leve. So they might as well just make it look like some random satellite so there's always a question as to what kind it is.

Re:well (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463604)

Encase it in the same material as the stealth bombers (radar)
But it's not just the material that hides stealth bombers from radar, it's the shape. But perhaps making a satellite to be shaped similarly to a stealth bomber is not impossible.

Re:well (5, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463830)

Remove all blinking lights

You Goddamn surrenderniks make me sick. Get rid of the blinkenlights? Blinkenlights are the only thing that separates us from the animals (or the "Chinamen", as we're apparently supposed to call them these days). More blinkenlights! I want those things lit up like Xebusmass trees. I want the commies to look up and have our superior technology slap them in the face like the dangling genitalia of an angry neon God. More blinkenlights!

Re:well (5, Funny)

denmarkw00t (892627) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464080)

Also, Dude, chinaman is not the preferred nomenclature. Asian-American, please.

Re:well (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464106)

If that entire text is yours, know that, in my eyes at least, you're a superior writer than most of what I find here.

Re:well (5, Informative)

Glock27 (446276) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463914)

So sans a Star-Trek-style Cloaking Device, it will always be detectable at some leve. So they might as well just make it look like some random satellite so there's always a question as to what kind it is.

It's worse than that. Visible light isn't the problem, it's self emission of long wave infrared (LWIR) radiation. The background of space is very cold (a few K above absolute zero), so anything with any significant temperature contrasts very nicely. In theory it might be possible to cool the front side of the (notionally black) satellite to near zero deg K, but in practice that'd take prohibitive energy, since that nice black surface would absorb a whole lot of solar energy when exposed (~1/2 the time).

So, civilian satellite spotters aren't the real problem, it's inimical militaries with LWIR telescopes...and there's pretty well nothing to be done about it.

Re:well (1)

gsslay (807818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463926)

Make it look like an ordinary weather/GPS/comm satellite.
So that's what they've been going wrong. Instead of dressing it in a dark cape with sunglasses, they want bright knitwear or a techie jumpsuit.

Cos that's what weather/GPS/comm satellites look like, right?

Re:well (1)

SQLGuru (980662) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463706)

Camoflage! Paint it black....probably using that "blackest black" from a few weeks ago to reduce the liklihood of shining like a star at the correct angles to the sun.

Layne

Re:well (5, Insightful)

phil reed (626) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463764)

Black absorbs sunlight. The satellite would overheat.

Re:well (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22463818)

Then make it transparent! Like a ... giant ... spy ...jellyfish ... in space. Yah.

Re:well (4, Funny)

ArcherB (796902) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463968)

Black absorbs sunlight. The satellite would overheat.
That's why you launch it at night... duh!

Seriously, you only need to paint the side that faces the earth, since that's where all the eyes are and the sun is not. You can "paint" the other side whatever color you want since there's not going to be anyone on the far side looking for it (for now anyway).

Re:well (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464072)

And when the satellite is going around to the night-side, and then has the black part facing the sun before it goes behind the earth's shadow--what then?

Re:well (4, Insightful)

maxume (22995) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463850)

If I did have a way to hide satellites, I would make damn sure that I had some satellites that weren't hidden, and I would publicly complain about the fact that people were tracking them.

Nothing like a little misdirection in the morning.

(That the Allies sent spotter planes out to get spotted by the enemy that they had located by intercepting and decrypting message traffic, and gave the enemy time to radio home that they had been spotted, is one of my favorite things, ever.)

Re:well (2, Interesting)

CarpetShark (865376) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464034)

Re:well (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464132)

The new technology uses cameras and projectors to beam images of the surrounding landscape onto a tank.
Right. Because energy to power all those cameras and projectors would be available and abundant on a satellite likely powered only by small solar panels.

Re:well (3, Interesting)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463506)

Just what I came in to say. If you're going to be putting up a covert satellite, you should put some sort of countermeasures on it to make sure nobody can see it.

What the US gov't should do is encourage this satellite spotting for two reasons:

Number 1, as mentioned, it's one hell of a great stress test for your anti-spotting capabilities if everybody's looking for it.

Number 2, if you have everyone keeping track of the -foreign- satellites as well, then you have a very large volunteer intel force to take advantage of.

There's really no such thing as secrecy--there's just things that haven't been found out yet.

OSS wins once again (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22463788)

What makes this even worse/funnier is that most satellites run properietary, closed source operating systems like Windows, reducing security and making them very easy to hack. Even leaving out the hardcore Linux hackers (to whom hacking even the most secure Windows system is a breeze), all you need to do is have some Joe Sixpack in the Canadian Alps browse porn via his satellite internet connection, and the satellite's Windows software gets infected with malware as it transmits the HTML to the user. Then you need some astronaut to go up and fix the registry, something that just does not need to be done with an Open Source operating system, like Ubuntu.

Combine this with the difficulties in running Windows update on the satellites (let alone keeping the virus checking software up to date - which is often closed source, proprietary software itself, and therefore demonstrably inferior) and you end up with satellites running software that is months or even years out of date.

When governments start putting up satellites that run Open Source Software, they will be much more secure. The elegant, secure-from-the-ground-up design of OSS means that these satellites would be virtually unhackable. And the best part is, wether these are used for good or bad, is ultimately up to the users, as they can check the source code and fix any problems or malware that the government tries to slip in.

Re:OSS wins once again (0)

Lobster Quadrille (965591) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463870)

Mod me troll, but you sound like you're talking out of your ass. Care to reference some of those 'facts', such as the need to send astronauts up to fix the registry, satellites running windows, and the satellites getting infected from a user browsing the internet through it...?

Re:OSS wins once again (2, Informative)

Old VMS Junkie (739626) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463946)

Ummmm.... no.
Satellites run proprietary, custom computers that run dedicated, real time operating systems.

Re:OSS wins once again (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22464022)

That whooshing noise you hear is an orbiting joke going over your head.

Re:OSS wins once again (1)

LoofWaffle (976969) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464124)

So what you're saying is that this satellite failed because someone from IT forgot to load the latest Win SP? Must have been part of the MSDN community to not get it in time.

Sorry, governments... (4, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463456)

...but the sky is pretty much Public Domain. Or are you going to outlaw looking up?

Re:Sorry, governments... (5, Funny)

Smidge204 (605297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463550)

1) Provide free, unlimited, high-speed internet access (and /. subscriptions) to all citizens.
2) People stop going outside.
3) Secrecy!

=Smidge=

Re:Sorry, governments... (1)

qortra (591818) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463586)

Probably not, but a cynic might believe that they would try to curtail technology designed to do so. Consider Argus [naapo.org] , an omni directional radio telescope (by same people who ran the Big Ear telescope of "Wow Signal" [wikipedia.org] fame). It was mostly designed with SETI purposes in mind, but I imagine that finding satellites would be trivial for it. The government might be inclined to ban or require "oversight" for known omni directional telescopes.

Re:Sorry, governments... (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463646)

While that may be true, I doubt that the government could manage to ban optical telescopic instruments over a certain resolving power. Even if this did come to pass, that wouldn't stop China.

Re:Sorry, governments... (1)

omeomi (675045) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463654)

Or are you going to outlaw looking up?

They could try to outlaw talking about what you've found once you've looked up. Sure, it's against the 1st amendment, but that hasn't stopped the DCMA from preventing people from talking about DRM hacks.

Re:Sorry, governments... (5, Funny)

SydShamino (547793) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464062)

My guess would be that the government, in the interests of national security, would simply ban discussion of the movements of heavenly bodies, as well as research on their movement patterns. We've already seen what happens when radicals [wikipedia.org] start tracking heavenly bodies and make claims about their movement patterns and relationship to earth.

sarcasm

my 20x60 Russian binocs and strange lights (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22463460)

I have some 20x60 Russian binocs I've used for satellite spotting in the past... long ago, however, I discovered that there were more interesting things in the sky than satellites - I'm talking UFOs...

Based on my observations, I do not believe that UFO's are nuts-and-bolts physical craft. Often, they are polymorphic, sometimes they seem to be made only of light and they solidify before my eyes, they defy our physical laws. In short, I do not believe that they are fully "in" this universe. For this reason, I think they might be extradimensional rather than extraterrestrial.

Sort of like when the sphere appears to the square in Flatland.

Same s**t, different wrapping. (2, Informative)

15Bit (940730) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463464)

Not quite a dupe, but damn close:

http://science.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=08/02/05/1734208 [slashdot.org]

Re:Same s**t, different wrapping. (1)

Old VMS Junkie (739626) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463806)

It's a different article but it's about the same guys.

Re:Same s**t, different wrapping. (1)

sledge_hmmer (1179603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464030)

The IHT is part of the NY Times group so they often use each other's articles. This IHT article is the same as the NYT article, by the same author with the same introduction - so definitely a dupe

There's only so much to see... (1)

Nemilar (173603) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463466)

There's only so much one can see from the ground. Okay, so you can look up at the sky and say, "hey, there's a satellite, and it isn't listed publicly on the internet. It must be a secret government satellite!" Now, alright - this may be a small problem. It lets the enemy know where our spy satellites will be, and when. But they won't know what kind of sophisticated spying equipment is on them; whether they have a resolution of 5 meters or 5 inches. All they know, basically, is that there's a hunk of metal at some point in the sky, at some point in time.

The only way around this would be to create a bunch of decoy satellites. That is, until clocking technology is invented, I suppose. Unless you can keep the satellite with the sun behind it all the time, but then it isn't very stationary, now, is it.

Re:There's only so much to see... (1)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463532)

The only way around this would be to create a bunch of decoy satellites.

Gaah! Don't give them any ideas! The last thing we need is a bunch of satellites that serve no real purpose, clogging up the orbits!

Re:There's only so much to see... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22463786)

So you're saying the sky is a tube and not a dump truck?

Re:There's only so much to see... (5, Funny)

altinos.com (919185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463576)

That is, until clocking technology is invented, I suppose.
When the big hand is on the 12 and the little hand is on the 1, then the satellite will be invisible!

Re:There's only so much to see... (4, Informative)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464002)

According to the PBS special on the MOL project, the very first spy satellites had a resolution of 3 inches. That was in the 70's. I don't think they've gotten any worse over time.

What enemy?? (4, Insightful)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464012)

Is the whole rest of the world enemy to the US now?

Combining forces? (5, Funny)

adnonsense (826530) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463470)

Of course the article raises the very obvious point that if a guy with a pair of binoculars in his back yard can spot a satellite, so can the Chinese government.

Just think what the Chinese government would be capable of if they were to stand in this guy's backyard with his binoculars!

Stealth Satellites? (0, Troll)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463480)

Yet again another story that props up a straw man argument so the lefties can bash the government. All the government folks are saying is that they would rather not have folks doing the work for the Chinese government. You are also perfectly free to stand outside a government building, log anyone going in or out and put it on the web. But don't be surprised if someone calls you an a**hole for doing it.

Re:Stealth Satellites? (3, Insightful)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463584)

All the government folks are saying is that they would rather not have folks doing the work for the Chinese government.

That's not what the article said. The article said that if hobbyists could do it, so could the Chinese government. I doubt very much that the Chinese government is relying upon hobbyists to spot our satellites, given how easy it can be done.

Talk about a Straw Man argument. Sheesh.

Re:Stealth Satellites? (1)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463632)

But it assumes the argument that we were some how try to hide the satellites in the first place - hence my "straw man" argument.

Re:Stealth Satellites? (4, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463676)

Actually, we are [gwu.edu] , which neatly demolishes that argument.

Re:Stealth Satellites? (0, Flamebait)

N8F8 (4562) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463836)

Don't quit your day job. The fact that you can spot the satellite with binoculars proves my argument. And from an intel standpoint, this is one piece of a puzzle to knowing what the satellites are sued for but I'd rather have the Chinese or whoever have to pay for it themselves. But go ahead, go report to your communist friends. It's your right.

Re:Stealth Satellites? (2, Informative)

TripMaster Monkey (862126) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463994)

The fact that you can spot the satellite with binoculars proves my argument.

The fact that you can spot a spy satellite with binoculars proves that the government it belongs to isn't trying to hide it? Is that really what you're trying to say?

Here's some more reading [wired.com] for you.

And from an intel standpoint, this is one piece of a puzzle to knowing what the satellites are sued for but I'd rather have the Chinese or whoever have to pay for it themselves.

Um, I already exposed your contention that the Chinese are relying on American hobbyists with binoculars to locate spy satellites as a Straw Man argument. Please stop embarrassing yourself.

But go ahead, go report to your communist friends. It's your right.

Honestly...if you can't even be bothered to accept the most elementary facts of the situation, you're not worth responding to.
Good day, sir.

Re:Stealth Satellites? (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463746)

We do.

The times of launch are obscured, the orbits are not announced, the satellites themselves tend to be relatively small and relatively hard to see, etc.

It's not really a strawman. A bit overblown, perhaps, but not a fallacious argument.

Re:Stealth Satellites? (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463616)

If the gov't doesn't want people doing work for the Chinese government, then perhaps they ought to get smart and have 'em start doing work for their own purposes.

And I would note that rhetoric about 'lefties bashing the government' is somewhat disingenuous: if something the government is doing is counterproductive, then it is in every citizen's best interest--left, right, center, or whatnot--to do their best to correct it.

Re:Stealth Satellites? (2, Insightful)

badfish99 (826052) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463880)

Actually, no: anyone making notes about who is going in and out of a government building is likely to be arrested as a terrorist (see, for example, here [texashomel...curity.com] ).
The government would stop you looking at satellites too, if they could. At the moment, they can't. But if I lived in the US, I would think twice about publishing that sort of stuff on a web site.

What's this new obsession with the Chinese... (5, Insightful)

kaos07 (1113443) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463492)

Seriously, two articles in the same day scaremongering about China. Slashdot is turning into The New York Times in the lead-up to the Iraq War.

If the Chinese can develop tiny robots good for them. If the Chinese can spot satellites, good for them. Why the summary decided to single out China, I don't know. I'm sure if a guy with binoculars can do it, so can just about every government in the world, including the United States government. Remember, you guys aren't the only with satellites up these days.

First of all we aren't all American here so we don't all quite understand this paranoia about the Chinese. Secondly, I highly doubt the average Slashdotter, who is generally well educated, has the kind of irrational paranoia that Slashdot seems to be provoking in these articles.

Re:What's this new obsession with the Chinese... (4, Interesting)

Gyga (873992) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463566)

Why Americans are uneasy about China: China owns American hand, foot, and soul. China is not a democracy. China has blatant censorship and other policies that Americans hate. Americans like pretending such policies don't exist here. China is one of the few contries that have a military that can take ours and who is not a trustworthy friend.

Re:What's this new obsession with the Chinese... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22463670)

In short: China is to the US what the USSR used to be. Except instead of CCCP it's CCP.

Re:What's this new obsession with the Chinese... (1)

zappepcs (820751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463674)

Scare mongering IS the point. Without it, this is not a story. at. all.

I'm reasonably certain that the US and other governments pay people to look at the sky to find things, like rocks that might land on people some day, and junk floating around the planet that might destroy 'spy' satellites.

The ONLY reason this is a story is scare mongering. Anyone that had half a clue could have told you with reasonable certainty that tracking satellites was being done by hobbyists. Those with more than a clue could have pointed you to the website showing the information.

Bad news for the governments of the world: There are other groups that monitor other activities that they may or may not (wink) be involved in. At least here in the US it is still considered by many to be part of your civic duty to provide at least tacit oversight of the government, while some folks make a hobby of it.

The only embarrassment that I can see coming of this is someone having to explain what that satellite was for, and how much it cost. Oh, sorry, my bad. That is the whole oversight thing again.

Re:What's this new obsession with the Chinese... (1)

Otter (3800) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463730)

Why the summary decided to single out China, I don't know. I'm sure if a guy with binoculars can do it, so can just about every government in the world, including the United States government.

If you RTFA (or even if you don't) it's perfectly obvious that your point is precisely the one being made in the article, not that the Chinese and some space buff are the only people with binoculars.

Re:What's this new obsession with the Chinese... (5, Funny)

qoncept (599709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463866)

"I highly doubt the average Slashdotter, who is generally well educated, ..." I wish I had mod points so I could mark this post funny. People here, in general, are idiots like everywhere else. When I was in the Air Force people always used to be surprised when someone would do something stupid; they thought that since you had to score in the 40th percentile in the ASVAB test to get in the Air Force rather than the 30th as in the Navy, the people should be smarter.

keep saying that (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463936)

when after their economic bubble bursts a demagogue in beijing announces the invasion of taiwan to assuage empty stomachs and shortcircuit criticism of the technocrats with a little rally round the wagons ultranationalism

of course, that's totally impossible. of course. i'm a false alarmist for saying that. of course. han imperialism is a myth, a lie. of course

it's hardly an american obsession friend. if america disappears into a giant lake tomorrow, i hardly think the rest of the world will toast the peace and benevolence of a country that machine guns democracy activists and outlaws and imprisons religious practioners and sells the organs of prisoners in reeducation work camps and belches tons of pollution and occupies tibet

yes, lovely peaceful china. it's just an american obsession to criticize china. you're on the money friend

Re:keep saying that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22464112)

I wish I had some sassuage for my empty stomach...

They act hostile towards us ... (3, Interesting)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464058)

First of all we aren't all American here so we don't all quite understand this paranoia about the Chinese.

Well they are number one with respect to industrial and military espionage directed at us. They attempt to manipulate our electoral system with illegal campaign contributions. Their military is a bit aggressive with us, recall their ramming of our surveillance aircraft and the games played with the aircraft on the ground. Their currency manipulation to remain an extremely inexpensive exporter. The blind eye turned towards piracy and counterfeiting. Their involvement in the drug trade (precursor chemicals and opium exports, and money laundering). Their transfer of ballistic missile and nuclear technologies. ... Then there is also the little detail that they have militarily attacked us, they entered the Korean War to save the North Koreans when they were on the verge of defeat.

Now look at how they treat their own citizens. The growing unrest of these citizens. The unavoidable crisis coming as the countryside becomes even poorer, and the population becomes older overall, ... They seem well poised to need a diversion and a scapegoat. We seem to be their number one candidate. The cold war only ended in the west, in the east the same people are still running things. Only their strategy has changed.

Re:What's this new obsession with the Chinese... (1)

olddotter (638430) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464108)

Get to understand Chinese culture. Then ask yourself what the world will be like when THEY are the defacto military and economic power.

It's common sense. (1)

hey! (33014) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464120)

First of all, you're reading this article from the wrong angle. It isn't about distrusting the Chinese government; it's about the US government being uncomfortable with the free flow of information.

A person in TFA brings up China for good reason; China is one of the few countries in the world this particular information would have any use to.

With respect to nanotechnology, this is an important story. China still plays by the old rules in a world of free trade. When was the last time you heard about a serious US effort to establish national leadership in some technological area? Oh there's talk about it, but the ideology for both major parties has been free trade; national trade and research policy is no longer based on gaining advantage for American workers or products or companies, although politically the government will advocate for American commodities within a free trade context.

China is the last major power, economic or military, that still does things for national prestige, or which associates its national interest with the industries within its borders rather than the unrestricted flow of capital across borders. However its massive, low paid and unenfranchised workforce makes it a vital element in other nation's economic policies. It is sensible for other governments to be wary of Chinese economic nationalism.

It's also sensible for other countries to be wary of Chinese military ambitions. China is a major economic power that is deeply involved in serious territorial disputes, both its own with ROC, and on the Korean peninsula. Of course you could say that with US in Iraq, but we're just shooting ourselves in the foot there. If China calculated that it could take Taiwan by force with sufficient swiftness, they would do it as a matter of national prestige.

Re:What's this new obsession with the Chinese... (1)

khallow (566160) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464134)

Simply put, China will be the US's biggest competitor. and I figure the odds are better than 50% that there's a new cold war this time with China within the next thirty years. One which the US can lose.

I spy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22463500)

I Spy with my eye, something smal-

Lay off the Chinese! (5, Funny)

Cathoderoytube (1088737) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463516)

Hey! Hold on! Hold on! Lay off the Chinese! I thought they were our friends I mean they ARE hosting the Olympics. Nobody who hosted the Olympics ever turned out to be bad. Am I right folks? Am I right?
So what if they can see all the satellites the Yanks ever launched? It's not like they'd be developing some means to shoot them down. It's pretty obvious they're working on a weather control machine at the moment.

Re:Lay off the Chinese! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22463882)

+5 most subtle Godwin in history

Re:Lay off the Chinese! (1)

SargentDU (1161355) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463998)

I think you should be modded up! Let's see, Hitler is the most famous Olympics host in the 20th Century, I would guess. And remember how he would not award the real (Black or Amer Indian winners?

Re:Lay off the Chinese! (1)

msuarezalvarez (667058) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464066)

The misunderstanding about the meaning of the word law in `Godwin's law' (essentially, `observation') that one can see in this sight is distressing...

GOOD!! (5, Insightful)

krygny (473134) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463530)

The people charged with our defense and national security are *supposed* to be uneasy, ...lay awake nights, ... constantly wonder if all they've done is enough. That way, the rest of us don't have to.

Many LEO satellites are visible to the naked eye, and certainly with only a little optical assistance. Spotting one and speculating what it's doing are two different things. But maybe it's time to employ a little stealth for satellites too.

Re:GOOD!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22463600)

Many LEO satellites are visible to the naked eye,

Law Enforcement Officers [glocktalk.com] have satellites now?

Nothing to see here. Move along.

Re:GOOD!! (1)

Old VMS Junkie (739626) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463778)

Low Earth Orbit It's impossible to see satellites in higher orbits with your basic backyard optics.

Re:GOOD!! (1)

commieneko (1190011) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463884)

I've looked at geosynchronous satellites lots of times with my 10 inch dobsonian. Not exactly an uncommon backyard scope. You can tell if its a geosynchronous satellite if it is on the equator and doesn't move with relation to the background stars. Not much else it can be.

Re:GOOD!! (1, Troll)

Entropius (188861) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463736)

The people charged with our defense and national security are *supposed* to be uneasy, ...lay awake nights, ... constantly wonder if all they've done is enough.

Yes, I know some of them. They lay awake at night wondering if there's a way they can swindle even *more* money out of the American taxpayer.

Re:GOOD!! (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463754)

The people charged with our defense and national security are *supposed* to be uneasy, ...lay awake nights, ... constantly wonder if all they've done is enough. That way, the rest of us don't have to.

Haven't you been paying attention, especially in the last week? It's now reversed! Those charged with our defense and national security are making the citizens of this country uneasy by laying on thick and heavy the guilt trip bullshit and scare tactics so that they can sleep easier at night knowing that they did what they could to get us one step closer to a complete police state.

German scientists discovered... (2, Funny)

TransEurope (889206) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463546)

... a revolutionary new way of cloaking secret, spacebased facilities.
The new method is called black, dull color.

Re:German scientists discovered... (3, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463700)

... a revolutionary, new method of self-destructing secret, space-based satellites. The new method is called overheating, due to a black, dull color.

German scientists discovered... (1)

TransEurope (889206) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463842)

...a revolutionary new way of preventing secret, spacebased, black, dull colored facilities to burn up by attaching heatresistant ceramics at the hull.

Re:German scientists discovered... (1)

KublaiKhan (522918) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464016)

Would still have a bit in the way of heat problems. Even with a very low coefficient of heat transmission, you're still only going to have a limited lifespan before the electronics burn out.

I said this in the last thread, but I'll repeat it here--the best way to hide a satellite would be to make it look like something other than a satellite--a discarded upper stage for a 'legitimate' satellite, for instance.

They Already Know (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22463580)

The US government isn't worried about China or vice versa. We both know where each other's satellites are; both public and "secret". You don't put two billion dollar objects in orbit on a potential crash course. It just doesn't happen. That's why they know, we know they know, they know we know they know, and we're all comfortable with that.

Next question?

WARNING: (5, Funny)

Ihlosi (895663) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463656)

Do NOT look through binoculars at secret government laser satellite with remaining eye.

Cold War (1)

nerd65536 (692353) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463688)

"...so can the Chinese government."
Thus begins the Cold War with China.

Why China? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463724)

When did China become "The Enemy"? I thought you were still working on Al-Qaeda. Did I miss a memo?

Re:Why China? (4, Insightful)

Scrameustache (459504) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463846)

When did China become "The Enemy"? I thought you were still working on Al-Qaeda. Did I miss a memo?
America has always been at war with China.
Good news about our increased chocolate rations, though!

Re:Why China? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22463948)

Enemies are like fads. You need to have the next big thing on deck so you control the market and not let your competitor get the rei(g)ns.

Sheeple are figuring out that Al-Qaeda, Al-Qaeda-in-Iraq, etc., etc., aren't actually a threat to them (the scarecrow becomes a perch) so something new and scarier has to come along. Jack Bauer can fight terrorists, but could he fight all of China? Probably not.

Re:Why China? (1)

chill (34294) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464060)

Yeah, that memo when China shot down their old weather satellite. Last I checked, only three parties -- the U.S., Soviet Union (Russia) and China -- not al-Queda, have conducted anti-satellite weapon tests.

Let the suing begin! (1)

zarkzervo (634677) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463760)

Clearly these spotters were actively violating the security measures implemented in the systems by "being small, being far away and travel fast". Teens across all of USA will be visited by the feds, getting all their viewing equipment seized (telescopes, binoculars, glasses, contact lenses). You just wait and see! ;)

...if only... (0)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463798)

...Knowledge is unquestionably a dangerous thing. We can't have people with knowledge on our streets.

In the interests of safety and security, we should create two groups of people. "Leadership" and "workers." This will create the peace and order we've all be craving for so long! Naturally, we wouldn't actually call them "Leadership" and "workers." I think something less obvious should be used... let's say maybe "Moreloks" and "Eeloy" perhaps?

This is NOT news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22463832)

When backpacking in the Sierra Nevada, above 6,000 feet or so, you don't need binoculars. You can look up to the sky at almost any moment, and see satellites going by.

Re:This is NOT news (1)

msuarezalvarez (667058) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464102)

From that to tracking and even identifying them, well, there is a distance...

I have a plan (4, Funny)

nsebban (513339) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463840)

Let's just restrict the access to that guy's backyard, and forbid he let any chinese people use his binoculars.

China is not the issue. (5, Interesting)

donscarletti (569232) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463858)

"If Ted can track all these satellites," Pike said, "so can the Chinese."

Of course the Chinese can track these satellites, the Chinese have a multi-trillion dollar economy. With that you can afford the education, staff and equipment to track satellites with far more accuracy than these hobbyists since they can use things like Radar and large telescopes. The Chinese got these things by being a stable and peaceful (albeit repressive) state. The Chinese know where the satellites but they're not the ones who anyone's worried about. Smaller groups such as certain terrorist organisations possibly do not have the organisation or patience to find out this information themselves, but they do have the ability to look up web pages.

Despite their benign intentions, there are consequences for exposing any information of this nature. Information has always been one of the most important weapons in any human conflicts. Whether you believe you have a nationalistic duty to protect the secrets of your nation and its allies or not, one must consider that by publishing data of this nature, despite it just being numbers one can calculate in one's backyard can result in bad things happening to good people. One must consider that just because one is fairly safe from terrorism in most of the developed world, it is a way of life in Northern India, Pakistan, Israel, Iraq where it claims life on a steady basis, if public satellite data prevents the governments of these regions from suppressing those who attack civilians, then those deaths are a consequence of the publishing of the information. This isn't about protection of the revenue model of some fat record labels, this isn't about exposing government lies or software patents. This is information who's revelation could lead to death and it should be treated with serious discretion.

Re:China is not the issue. (2, Interesting)

nagora (177841) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463952)

This is information who's revelation could lead to death.

In what way? And are there really no people working for highly-funded terrorist networks who can't afford a decent telescope and take advantage of the dark, dark desert nights? If they can't get as good a dataset as these hobbyists then they're probably not much of a threat.

TWW

Re:China is not the issue. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22464078)

This is information who's revelation could lead to death and it should be treated with serious discretion.
Bollocks. Any terror-sponsoring state has sufficient resources (guys with binoculars and some math skills) to track our satellites. As far as the poor schleps that are desperate or dumb enough to strap TNT to their chests and blow themselves and everyone around them to hell, do you really think they're bothered by getting their picture taken from 200 miles up? Until we get space lasers that can zap a "suspicious-looking" person wearing a heavy coat from LEO, I'd say they have nothing to fear from our satellites.

I for one... (1)

LM741N (258038) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463890)

Just kidding. If the rocket scientists doesn't get off their ass China will be seeing its own satellites up there- with red, white, and blue stripes. I wish I had a list or link of rocket failures by country, but the US is up there.

Why not make them non-reflective? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22463906)

It seems sort of obvious, so clearly I'm missing something. But why not make the sats non-reflective? Make them fuzzy, not flat, paint them black, that sort of thing.

You don't have to worry about the solar panels, these are spook sats, put a nuke in it.

I can only assume that the sats owners are doing this, so why isn't it working?

Spy Sat Storys (0, Offtopic)

Frosty Piss (770223) | more than 6 years ago | (#22463972)

What's interesting about this satellite that is going to get shot down is that the News Media is pretty much parroting the PR that it's being shot down so the hydrazine that powers it could kill a lot of people. But we know that's not the case, the true reason is they are paranoid that super secret technology will land in China...

Controlled Information Management (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22463992)

C'mon people. How stupid do you think we are?

We want you to think you can track our "secret" sats. We want you to change your behavior when you think we are watching.

It just makes it that much easier to confirm if something suspcious is going on.

You don't know the schedules of our other sats. You only know the schedules of the ones we want you to know about.

China the new boogeyman? (1)

pembo13 (770295) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464070)

I know some people don't like how China runs their country. But I suspect a lot of those people are the same preaching "sovereignty" from the UN and other such orgs. How about letting China run the country how they want, and only decrying what they do outside their country. I find I it weird how the news media is descrying China for spying... as if the US doesn't spy... totally disregarding that some of the satellites are called "spy" satellites.

Isn't that extra data useful? (1)

jyoull (512280) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464086)

I agree that you can't hide something that's orbiting the planet.

Nonetheless, isn't it also true that the amateur spotters and their extensive records are providing a lot of data points that other governments could not amass on their own without a lot of work? In the past a government might have had some home-based resources for this kind of tracking, with data collected at intervals and lots of gaps. But with the hobbyists they've now got an international network of tracker/spotters and more continuous datasets.

There must be some value to unfriendlys in having that kind of information, both for the information itself, and for the stresses the release of the information imposes on the operators of the satellites.

Re:Isn't that extra data useful? (1)

base3 (539820) | more than 6 years ago | (#22464094)

And they could provide data points that would help individuals compute satellite vulnerability windows now that satellite data are being used in domestic law enforcement (i.e. to spy on Americans).
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