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Details of Chinese Spacecraft's Asteroid Encounter

Soulskill posted about 2 years ago | from the veni-vidi-vici dept.

China 89

the_newsbeagle writes "Chinese aerospace engineers have revealed, for the first time, details about their Chang'e-2 spacecraft's encounter with the asteroid Toutatis last month. They have plenty to boast: The asteroid flyby wasn't part of the original flight plan, but engineers adapted the mission and navigated the satellite through deep space (PDF). Exactly how close Chang'e-2 came to Toutatis is still unclear. The article states that the first reports 'placed the flyby range at 3.2 km, which was astonishingly—even recklessly—tight. Passing within a few kilometers of an asteroid only 2 to 3 km in diameter at a speed of 10,730 meters per second could be described as either superb shooting or a near disaster.' If the Chinese spacecraft did pass that near, it could provide a "scientific bonanza" with data about the asteroid's mass and composition."

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Figures. (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42765905)

How dare the chinese try something that the US wouldn't approve of. Mankind should kept in the suborbit.

Re:Figures. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42765995)

Where the fuck did that come from?

Re:Figures. (1, Redundant)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42766137)

A reckless near-disaster that the Chinese only got through from luck is the underlying message of the submission (which is likely a copy-paste of the article, as so many are, though I haven't RTFA yet).

Re:Figures. (1, Insightful)

MichaelSmith (789609) | about 2 years ago | (#42766259)

Its speculative though. They don't know it got to 3.2 km range. And if your vehicle is disposable and the mission is a bonus, why not take risks?

It needs more time to transmit the data (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | about 2 years ago | (#42769023)

Please remember, the data speed between the Chinese satellite and the ground stations is 20kbps or less.

I think the Chinese needs more time to download more data before they themselves can digest what exactly transpired during the flyby.

Re:Figures. (3, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#42766291)

I read it as the American author feeling threatened by the Chinese space programme that is apparently now rivalling or even surpassing NASA. Yes, surpassing. When they get their space station up it will be bigger than the largest US one, putting Skylab in third place behind the Russians.

It's stupid. We should be congratulating them and thanking them for advancing science and mankind's exploration of space. Maybe work with them on the ISS, or getting back to the moon. Don't feel inadequate, just accept that you are not funding NASA enough to be the leaders at everything and that it really doesn't matter.

Cautiously optomistic? (2)

englishstudent (1638477) | about 2 years ago | (#42766895)

I agree with you and yet I felt deeply uneasy while reading the article. Why? I guess I'm kind of hoping for the best while expecting the worst.

Re:Figures. (4, Interesting)

DoctorStarks (736111) | about 2 years ago | (#42768727)

They were in talks to participate in the ISS. The ISS partners invited them in as potential responsible, collaborative partners in the future of manned space flight..

Then they conducted a reckless ASAT test at relatively high LEO altitudes and nearly doubled the number of trackable debris at that altitude [see Johnson Space Center's Orbital Debris Quarterly Newsletter for the chart]. At that altitude, the pieces of their defunct weather satellite will remain a hazard for many decades. That got them uninvited.

China needs to decide whether the PLA is running the show or not, and decide whether they want to be a responsible space-faring nation... or not.

Re:Figures. (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 2 years ago | (#42770215)

How childish of the US to take that attitude. On the one hand it routinely and openly spies on China with satellites, participating fully in the international dick-measuring contest. If you hadn't noticed other countries have been protesting your anti-satellite weapons as well. When China gets fed up and decides it needs to demonstrate to the US that it cannot act with impunity the US gets in a huff and blocks co-operating with the ISS, even though the other partners want China in.

The US needs to realize that the same rules apply to it as everyone else. Diplomacy is not actively antagonising the other party and then using their reaction to justify polarizing the situation even further and making co-operation even less likely. Look how many times the UK forgave or ignored the actions of the US in order to get a better outcome for everyone.

Re:Figures. (2)

DoctorStarks (736111) | about 2 years ago | (#42771941)

So, at a time when orbital debris is very much a major problem for a sizable number of space-faring nations, the US forced China to create in LEO the largest and longest-lived debris field since the dawn of the space age [space.com] , posing a hazard to everybody trying to operate there.

And they are complete and helpless victims of "open spying by satellites", with no spy satellites of their own [globalsecurity.org] .

When China finally reaches the modern era and actually lets its people have free access to information, such ignorant posts as yours might become less common. Well, no, this is Slashdot.

Re:Figures. (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about 2 years ago | (#42770351)

Recall that at the time 'son of star wars' was kicking off - it isn't like the Chinese conducted this test in a vacuum (you know what I mean...)

Re:Figures. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42769341)

Surpassing NASA? "When they get their space station up?"

  NASA has had space stations in orbit for over 30 years.
"getting back to the moon"

Someone needs to come up with a reason to go back. However, if it looks like China might send a manned mission to the moon the US would fund and plan to go back just to protect the ultimate high ground. All you need to get the funding is attach some military benefit to the project. One example would be the X-47B vehicle that was funded by the Air Force. And I don't know if China is advancing any science. They bought their space related technologies off the shelf from the Russians. China figured out a long time ago that it is much cheaper to buy or steal new technologies from others. When you get rid of the R&D expense everything else is pretty cheap.

Re:Figures. (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about 2 years ago | (#42770349)

It was a calculated risk; the primary mission of Chang'e 2 was completed, so it made complete sense to go for as close a flyby as possible rather than take that risk with a dedicated asteroid fly-by mission - which would be more expensive. Portraying this as carelessness on the part of the Chinese is just nationalistic BS on the part of Americans nervous about the new kid on the block.

Re:Figures. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42772361)

Yeah, that was my point, but I've been modded down and told I'm wrong because the US would never propagandize against an official non-enemy (most favored nation status and all).

Re:Figures. (3, Funny)

postbigbang (761081) | about 2 years ago | (#42766141)

It was a payload destined for the NYTimes, but somehow, it was re-routed.

Re:Figures. (1)

Ogive17 (691899) | about 2 years ago | (#42766095)

Have you seen some of the missions NASA has undertaken?

I'm not belittling the Chinese accomplishment, I think it's very cool they were able to adjust their mission to get these photos.

Re:Figures. (4, Interesting)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42766191)

Have you seen some of the missions NASA has undertaken?

Yes, and even when they fail or kill people, they aren't usually described as "reckless" or "disaster" (even if near). If someone died, it was a tragedy, but not a disaster. At least in mainstream media. But this, a well-executed fly-by, is a reckless near-disaster. It wasn't the mission that was the complaint, but the coverage of it. It was described in a negative manner. Why?

Re:Figures. (2)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 2 years ago | (#42766823)

Do you have to work hard to avoid everything that conflicts with your bizarre word view?

http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/01/28/challenger.anniversary.teacher/index.html [cnn.com] - "The Challenger disaster's teachable moment"
http://www.cnn.com/2013/02/01/us/columbia-anniversary/index.html [cnn.com] - "NASA, Texas towns mark Columbia disaster"

But yes given Apollo 1, Challenger, and Columbia it takes a lot for something to reach "disaster" level for NASA.

Re:Figures. (2)

poity (465672) | about 2 years ago | (#42767441)

Why?

Maybe this ieee Spectrum author has a subtle personal bias and he injected a single provocative word, who knows? At least the story wasn't written for a government owned media outlet, passed through government censors working under the guidance of national political bias. Try People's Daily sometimes.

Re:Figures. (3, Informative)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42767643)

I've watched state news in China. It's less biased than Fox news, and there are other news sources with dissenting opinions.

Re:Figures. (2)

poity (465672) | about 2 years ago | (#42768221)

Fox News isn't a government sanctioned or government supported news outlet. You should at the very least compare NPR with CCTV to get anywhere close to a valid comparison. By the way, did you watch Chinese language CCTV or CCTV-9 International? Big difference there if you didn't know.

Re:Figures. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42768559)

Capitalism, where the government lets the corporations make law and enforce law so that our rights can be trampled and a few people who don't believe in innate rights will be able to defend everything because "the government didn't do it" because they outsourced it. Modern fascism and communism are the same thing, it's just one got there by the government nationalizing everything, and the other an oligarchy bought everything, including the government.

By the way, did you watch Chinese language CCTV or CCTV-9 International? Big difference there if you didn't know.

Yes, I know. I watched a variety of the available TV to get an idea of what the natives get, but mainly CCTV, but how does it matter if they compete against themselves within China with what you imply is a less edited version? Anyone in China could have gotten what I got.

Re:Figures. (1)

poity (465672) | about 2 years ago | (#42769387)

By constructing this equivalency, you are essentially saying that the US would experience no change whatsoever, either for better or for worse, if it were to nationalize and place under a propaganda department every existing media outlet, make private publishing illegal, and punish bloggers and celebrity commentators for publishing views different from the government narrative.

Most Slashdotters typically have a history of voicing disgust at the encroachment of government censorship within the US. However, if you truly believe your above equivalency, then there should be no disgust towards the US government at all in your comment history. Am I correct?

Re:Figures. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42769849)

make private publishing illegal, and punish bloggers and celebrity commentators for publishing views different from the government narrative.

Celebrity commentators are punished for views different from the government narrative. Granted the punishment is much less, but the Dixie Chicks had financial penalties for their anti-government comments. That they were imposed by "private" companies in support of the government than a fine by the government directly makes it all ok, right?

However, if you truly believe your above equivalency, then there should be no disgust towards the US government at all in your comment history. Am I correct?

I don't understand how you would make that leap. I'm guessing that you've seen me be critical of the US and are trying to trick me into answering a "when did you stop beating your wife" question. That China is worse than the US in degree only doesn't mean I can't complain about the US.

Re:Figures. (1)

poity (465672) | about 2 years ago | (#42771645)

Explain Michael Moore's fortune in embarrassing government and politicians, and his continued freedom to do so
I'm saying your drawing of an equivalency is irrational given the difference in degree that you have admitted.

Re:Figures. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42772331)

Part of keeping the people in line is giving them no choice. China's government is bad, but the alternative (violent overthrow) is worse. Michael Moore is an entertainer. He is not part of the false choice we get at the polls. Yes, he makes fun of politicians sometimes (much more rarely than people give him credit for), but in the US, making a politician look stupid doesn't cause them any loss of face. Actually doing so is looked down upon. When Trump was running for president (though never officially declared, he was running), it wasn't mentioned that he had 5 bankruptcies while his party changed many rules to make it hard for the poor to declare bankruptcy. His economic policies were referenced only in a positive light, other than his financial dealings with his ex-wife.

Call me when Michael Moore starts a political party and starts putting out propoganda movies. They'll be download only (censored by movie theaters and TV), and even then will get occasionally taken down, not unlike what would happen in China, other than Michael Moore would not end up in jail in the US.

Re:Figures. (1)

poity (465672) | about 2 years ago | (#42772723)

What country are you from, AK Marc? And in what capacity and how long did you stay in China? From this utter ignorance of the differences between US and China, I have a feeling you took the tourist route.

Re:Figures. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42773039)

Ah yes, if you can't counter the arguments, attack the person. Why do I feel like a teller in a bank robber where the note says "give me all your guns so I can rob you with them."?

Re:Figures. (1)

da5idnetlimit.com (410908) | about 2 years ago | (#42770361)

I roughly translate a good word from a french comic named Coluche :
"In the communist system man is a wolf for man. In the capitalist system it's the opposite"

Re:Figures. (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about 2 years ago | (#42773175)

It's a dog eat dog world.

Re:Figures. (1)

fufufang (2603203) | about 2 years ago | (#42771349)

Oh really? I am from China. I can tell you with 100% certainty that nobody believes the 7pm news from CCTV-1. Chinese netizens tend to make fun of them. It is totally biased. It shies away from serious issues such as train crashes. It is a mouth piece for the communist party. You have absolutely no idea what you are on about.

Re:Figures. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42772235)

Have you not seen the level of fun people make fun of Fox News? Heck, about half the time someone refers to them here, they spell it Faux News. I never said CCTV-1 is true. I said that the issues between China and the US are much more similar than people give them credit for. That Chinese netziens *do* make fun of them means the totalitarianism isn't nearly as bad as the media in the US portray it.

Re:Figures. (1)

fufufang (2603203) | about 2 years ago | (#42773789)

Except that most of these funny posts about CCTV get taken down by the Internet police in China, CCTV is sponsored by the central government. One of my friend's parent's company got visited by the police, because one of his employee made fun of CCTV, they figured out that IP address came from that company. Fox News is not sponsored by any branch of your government, you can bad mouth it as much as you want, and you won't get visited by the police.

Re:Figures. (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42775719)

People have been visited by the police for bad mouthing Fox. You are so insistent that I'm wrong that you keep proving me right.

Re:Figures. (1)

Raenex (947668) | about 2 years ago | (#42854741)

People have been visited by the police for bad mouthing Fox.

Really, who? Fox is a regular dumping ground for the Left. The Daily Show trashes them all the time. You have a rather skewed view of the freedoms Americans enjoy. It's not perfect, but comparisons to the state run media in China are a joke.

Re:Figures. (1)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about 2 years ago | (#42770391)

All that is technically true of the BBC too, and many Americans take that to be a source of news better than their own domestic, private outlets...

Re:Figures. (1)

poity (465672) | about 2 years ago | (#42771661)

When speaking of bias, substance trumps technicality. Lies of omission and lies of fabrication are technically all lies, but are substantially different.

Re:Figures. (2, Interesting)

mikael (484) | about 2 years ago | (#42767689)

Because they are jealous - that the Chinese could afford to remission a probe to do something "trivial" as photograph an asteroid. Of course when NASA decides to remission probes to deliberately crash into the Moon then that is "discovery". To me, deliberately crashing anything man-made into an extra-terrestrial object runs the risk of contaminating samples for future experiments.

Re:Figures. (1)

cavreader (1903280) | about 2 years ago | (#42773267)

"To me, deliberately crashing anything man-made into an extra-terrestrial object runs the risk of contaminating samples for future experiments"

Does that mean it's OK to destroy a satellite in orbit and creating a debris field scattered across a wide chunk of LEO? That's exactly what China did when they shot down one of their own satellites during a test. China can conduct all the space missions it wants but they still have about 30 years of catchup before you can start comparing their achievements with NASA's. Also realize that China purchased the vast majority of their space technology from the Russian going out of business sale. China has always known that buying or "appropriating" technology from others is cheaper than paying for the R&D needed for pushing science ahead.

Re:Figures. (1)

crovira (10242) | about 2 years ago | (#42772563)

It was described in a negative manner. Why?

'Cause we doan like them Chiners much?

Its because we can't believe that anybody else is pulling the same kinds of asinine stunts we used to pull all the time...

Re:Figures. (3, Interesting)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 years ago | (#42769685)

NASA shot Cassini through gaps in the rings of Saturn, twice! However, if you want to see reckless then watch Armstrong navigate onto the moon in a tinfoil box.

Re:Figures. (1)

MrKaos (858439) | about 2 years ago | (#42770789)

However, if you want to see reckless then watch Armstrong navigate onto the moon in a tinfoil box.

Yeah but that was cool.

Re:Figures. (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | about 2 years ago | (#42773949)

Agree! Watched it live on TV as a 10yo. :)

However since then there has been a growing stream of "cool" coming from space exploration - mostly cool engineering, discoveries, and Hubble style pictures, where the heroes are off camera.

They flew close but... (0)

mwn3d (2750695) | about 2 years ago | (#42766027)

The Chinese make a historic pass by an asteroid with one of their satellites but unfortunately they left the lens cap on. All for naught.

Re:They flew close but... (0)

ganjadude (952775) | about 2 years ago | (#42766105)

Did they also beat stan kyle and eric to heaven?

Re:They flew close but... (0)

sconeu (64226) | about 2 years ago | (#42766727)

Wasn't that the Japanese?

Re:They flew close but... (4, Funny)

AK Marc (707885) | about 2 years ago | (#42766203)

But was the camera Sorny, Cannonn, or Nycon?

More importantly (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42766109)

Is anyone else concerned about the missing Iranian space monkey?

Dr. Zaius Ahmadinejad

Re:More importantly (0)

X0563511 (793323) | about 2 years ago | (#42766133)

No, but there has been some concern as the point of your post has yet to be discovered.

Re:More importantly (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about 2 years ago | (#42766197)

AC's a Planet of the Apes fan.

WHOOOSH! (3, Funny)

new death barbie (240326) | about 2 years ago | (#42766251)

that was either a Chinese satellite on a close flyby, or the joke.

"near disaster" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42766165)

now why would he throw that in the article eluding to the possibility that their level of accuracy was accidental, just speculating? once they get that +7 for holding Asia one full turn it's over, run to the escape pods.

Re:"near disaster" (1)

boundary (1226600) | about 2 years ago | (#42766555)

He's ex-NASA. Maybe he is bitter and twisted.

China! China! ... (5, Insightful)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#42766253)

Passing within a few kilometers of an asteroid only 2 to 3 km in diameter at a speed of 10,730 meters per second could be described as either superb shooting or a near disaster.

I'm not often a "Yay, China!" kind of guy, but I do admit that's pretty cool; ballsy even. I'm happy for the engineers who stuck their necks out to try it. Pretty neat!

Re:China! China! ... (-1, Offtopic)

vyrtguya (2830805) | about 2 years ago | (#42766527)

http://www.cloud65.com/ [cloud65.com] just before I saw the paycheck of $4936, I have faith that...my... best friend could truly receiving money in their spare time at there computar.. there dads buddy started doing this for under a year and recently cleared the loans on there place and bought a brand new McLaren F1. read more at,

Re:China! China! ... (1)

imsabbel (611519) | about 2 years ago | (#42766587)

I wonder if they were actually able to take pictures or something. I mean, there is no way that the thing was ever designed for such tracking rates...

Re:China! China! ... (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#42769455)

... there is no way that the thing was ever designed for such tracking rates

If you're playing with something like space, you need to design in the exponential. Eleven klicks per sec. is pretty slow compared to a lot of stuff that's flying around out there.

Re:China! China! ... (1)

imsabbel (611519) | about 2 years ago | (#42772713)

Tracking rate. At 1000 degree/s tracking rate if you want to keep the target stable in focus at closest appoach. I doubt that thing has gyros to give it that much rotational momentum...

Re:China! China! ... (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#42772959)

... there is no way that the thing was ever designed for such tracking rates

If you're playing with something like space, you need to design in the exponential. Eleven klicks per sec. is pretty slow compared to a lot of stuff that's flying around out there.

At 1000 degree/s tracking rate if you want to keep the target stable in focus at closest appoach. I doubt that thing has gyros to give it that much rotational momentum...

We've sent out stuff that are damned near blasting past planets, yet they manage to handle the flyby easily even at the velocity at which they're moving.

Cosmic particles go quite a bit faster than that mere "stuff."

Re:China! China! ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42776615)

On the other hand, maybe their satellite engineers designed a tracking camera system that doesn't rely on the whole satellite rotating? I don't know how heavy these space cameras and lenses are, but if they are heavy, maybe the tracking design incorporates a light weight aluminium mirror or something?
I know. It just comes to me. I hope you never know the burden of being this smart. :P

Re:China! China! ... (1)

Ryanrule (1657199) | about 2 years ago | (#42767911)

Problem with china is, you stick your neck out and fail, your head is promptly removed.

Re:China! China! ... (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#42774725)

Problem with china is, you stick your neck out and fail, your head is promptly removed.

That's Japan. "It was a good death." -- The Last Samurai.

Re:China! China! ... (0)

Tagged_84 (1144281) | about 2 years ago | (#42768237)

What's wrong with China? I'm hoping my country, Australia, starts aligning more with China and less with the USA. They're less threatening in my world view.

Re:China! China! ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42769375)

That because your world view is narrow and hasn't been in Africa recently. Ask anyone that works in one of the mines they run.

Re:China! China! ... (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#42769633)

What's wrong with China?

There's nothing wrong with China. The Chinese, on the other hand ... Ca. four billion people who treat each other like shit, all of who treat everyone who's not Chinese like shit. Bravo. What a stupid culture, Yeah, great, your civilizatiion's four thousand years old. Big deal. What've you done with that other than bury pottery armies and oppress your own people (and other people)?

Re:China! China! ... (1)

da5idnetlimit.com (410908) | about 2 years ago | (#42770395)

people who treat each other like shit : China Y / USA Y
all of who treat everyone who's not [LOCAL] like shit : China Y / USA Y
What a stupid culture : China Y / USA Y
great, your civilizatiion's four thousand years old : China Y / USA N
bury pottery armies : China Y / USA N
oppress your own people (and other people)? : China Y / USA N

|/flamebait
Ahem... Seems they beat you on Culture and artifacts. /flamebait

Re:China! China! ... (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#42771831)

oppress your own people (and other people)? : China Y / USA N

You got that one wrong. China Y / USA Y.

Re:China! China! ... (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#42774807)

Yeah, great, your civilization's four thousand years old. Big deal. What've you done with that other than bury pottery armies and oppress your own people (and other people)?

Okay, they've done some fantastic things with food, including pasta/noodles, admitted. And rocketry, and gunpowder, and weaponry (lots of weaponry), ... Still, ...

The Korean War pretty much sucked in every way. Ditto The Cultural Revolution, the Red Guard, and everything related to Mao. Ditto VietNam, Tibet, ... Tsianenman Square ...

Tell me when to stop. :-P

Re:China! China! ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42776663)

Don't stop, keep going. Oh wait...there's not much more after that is there.
Would you mind listing all the shitty things the United States has don'e over the same time frame? America has overthrown 14 governments in the last 120 years, a bunch of which were democratically elected governments. But of course they were all justified weren't they, cuz you guys are the good guys, ergo, the other guys must have been the bad guys.

Re:China! China! ... (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#42780775)

Don't stop, keep going. Oh wait...there's not much more after that is there.

Hmm ...

Would you mind listing all the shitty things the United States has done over the same time frame?

Note I'm not a Murrican, and yeah I know about all the shitty things they've done, and are doing. I often wonder how they manage to sleep at night.

I was just ranting. They've both done some marvelous, and some marvelously ugly, stuff.

Man ... That's playing chicken ... (1)

crovira (10242) | about 2 years ago | (#42772535)

I'd love to have a video of THAT flyby.

10+ kilometers/second (36000k/h) with those kinds of tolerances must look like being on a bullet aimed at a bull's eye right up until the end.

Re:China! China! ... (1)

tqk (413719) | about 2 years ago | (#42772889)

... I do admit that's pretty cool; ballsy even.

For the girls/females/women out there, ovaries are ballsy-ish, yes? I didn't intend that epithet to exclude you, just so's you know. Had to say that (for whatever reason, I'm not entirely sure). Carry on; kthxbye. Tooduls!!!111 :-)

unimpressed; amateur effort (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42766313)

We (the U.S.) actually landed on one, and a staunch documentary about it starred Bruce W.

Re:unimpressed; amateur effort (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42767815)

isn't it german, then?

North Korea's satellite (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42766425)

NK's satellite, engineered and launched by Kim Jong Un himself, passed with 1 km of an even smaller satellite and then directly landed on a larger one and claimed it in the name of their beloved leader whom all the world adores.

Changed Orbit (1)

CHIT2ME (2667601) | about 2 years ago | (#42767533)

Did anyone notice in the article where it said the probe may have been close enough for the asteroid to alter its flight path? While this may sound amazing, I just hope the Chinese were smart enough to realize that the encounter would also change the orbit of the asteroid ever so slightly. I would suggest that we closely observe the orbit of Toutatis in the future to make sure this "ever so slight" orbital change doesn't aim it toward earths' big red bulls-eye on subsequent orbits. I also noticed other posts quickly pointing out the use of the words "reckless" and "disastrous" as being just the authors' NASA bias. I hope for their sake they're correct!

Re:Changed Orbit (1)

koxkoxkox (879667) | about 2 years ago | (#42769481)

And when launching the probe, they changed the orbit of the Earth ! Why is it that no one showed us the calculations proving it is safe ?!

Re:Changed Orbit (2)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about 2 years ago | (#42770379)

A satellite can change the orbit of an asteroid; one play to deflect them is a 'gravity tractor' that uses ion engines to station keep some distance from the asteroid, and its gravitational pull alters its orbit.

However, that technique (which is what I presume you were thinking of) depends on the probe spending months near the asteroid. This flyby was on a timescale of ~1s. Chang'e 2 has a mass of ~2500kg, so we are talking an effect that is likely to be tiny compared to other influences such as solar light pressure, and gravitational interaction with planets.

Photos (2)

spasm (79260) | about 2 years ago | (#42768809)

For once, the phrase "photos or it didn't happen" seems about right, if only to encourage the Chinese to publish their data sooner rather than later. Excellent achievement though!

Re:Photos (1)

Audin (17719) | about 2 years ago | (#42769087)

Uh. Didn't actually read the article did you? Or maybe you were using lynx and didn't note the [image] on top?

Re:Photos (1)

spasm (79260) | about 2 years ago | (#42771853)

Ha! Guilty as charged :)

Re:Photos (2)

EdgePenguin (2646733) | about 2 years ago | (#42770359)

Please note that them hanging on to their data is hardly out of order. It routine for principal investigators to be able to hang on to data from expensive space missions for a set amount of time - its a funding thing, basically.

Science done right (2)

EmperorOfCanada (1332175) | about 2 years ago | (#42768937)

Taking chances, dancing near the fire, I love them. This is science done right. I am glad they didn't listen to some risk adverse nitwit who would rather have a useless "successful" mission than a risky useful mission. This why we have curiosity tramping around on mars with a computer with 2G of storage on it. It probably was the only computer to be able to pass all the bureaucratic tests as opposed to some simple physics tests. But if it fails not a single stone could be cast at the guy who picked it.

Re:Science done right (4, Insightful)

thrich81 (1357561) | about 2 years ago | (#42770089)

Holy (bleep), did you see the landing sequence of Curiosity? -- that's dancing near the fire! The reason it worked is because of all of those "bureaucratic tests", and there is now a laboratory on Mars which no other nation or agency could have put there. Kudos to the Chinese for the Chang'e-2 mission, but NASA is still so far ahead of anyone else in robot exploration of the solar system, measured by current, operating, successful missions (Cassini, Messenger, Curiosity, New Horizons, etc, etc), that there is really no comparison.

Re:Science done right (1)

sysrammer (446839) | about 2 years ago | (#42773269)

When Curiosity was in the planning stages, 2gb for a comp was a major improvement. At some point they had to freeze the specs. If they had tried to keep up with Moore's Law, I doubt we'd have a functioning vehicle.

As far as bureaucracy goes, I hate it as much as the next person, maybe more. I wish humanity could come up with something better to ensure the success of complex projects.

Chang'e 2's moon photo (1)

fufufang (2603203) | about 2 years ago | (#42771407)

in high resolution glory:
http://159.226.88.59:7779/CE1OutENGWeb/ [159.226.88.59]
It is hosted on some weird IP address... I know... You need to register to download too. NASA tend to release everything on their website, and you don't tend to need to register.

Re:Chang'e 2's moon photo (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42773283)

My mommy says don't follow strange links. They might reach out and touch me.

Re:Chang'e 2's moon photo (1)

lazy genes (741633) | about 2 years ago | (#42776411)

Im amazed that even though the asteroid looks like a penis there were no uranus jokes in the entire thread.

One word (1)

slick7 (1703596) | about 2 years ago | (#42775411)

Splat!
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