Listen, I’m a little upset, but, I learned many moons ago, to “🎶 always look on the bright side of life.” I try, I do.
The bright side is that very few people read my last post. Here’s what you missed: after a list of depressing news reports, of which I did not expound, I shared an item that offered an escape from it all, a satellite asteroid meetup.
Ten months ago, NASA launched a satellite. T’was a mission with a fitting acronym, “DART,” Double Asteroid Redirection Test. Scientists directed a satellite at one of two asteroids orbiting together “near-Earth.” While not so near that they present a risk, they are close enough to apply as “planetary defense” target practice. Mama asteroid was christened Didymos, but it was baby Dimorphos that scientists had in their crosshairs. The experiment was to see if the course of an asteroid could be altered with a bump. If successful, theoretically, a well aimed satellite could save the planet someday.
Don’t go all hysterical vegan — “That asteroid was orbiting peacefully, not bothering anyone.” “It’s like the movie Blackfish when they kidnapped baby whale, Tilikum.” (That was my fleeting thought.) Anyway, perhaps the dinosaurs made similar comparisons, leading to their demise. These are uninhabited rocks—from my understanding — which appears to be scant.
Would we soon learn the answer to the question: Is it possible that a nudge, by a high-speed satellite, could redirect the trajectory of Dimorphos, the asteroid? It reminded me of the idea once posed by that poser, the “space-force” spy: “Why can’t we nuke the hurricane?” No sharpies were harmed in the making of this mission.
The satellite was expected to hit the small asteroid at 7:14 pm ET (eastern time, not extra terrestrial.) Coverage, the NASA website said, would begin at 6 pm. Having knowledge of this event changed the orbit of my evening. I was giddy with anticipation until I saw the time. NOOOO! It was just before 7 pm ET, when I used my phone, a device I’ve mastered, to google “asteroid satellite live.” I thought I had an extra hour to find the remote, dust off the television, and relearn how to use it. I blame my dying wall-clock battery for this miscalculation. I clicked on a PBS link, they were broadcasting NASA TV!
Another bright side- I’m thankful that I don’t work for NASA, as is NASA.
I had to find the remote so I could watch this event on a screen bigger than the one on my phone. My television is a dusty nod to a time when I still held an interest in things like… I dunno. Anyway, I tore apart the family room, searching. My heartbeat louder and faster than the crooked clock with the dying battery on my wall. Yes, I’ll say it, the clock is right twice a day.
My daughter came in, taking in what looked like a crime scene, and asked what was happening. She casually picked up the remote off a side table.
With it in hand, I tried to download PBS onto that damned box.
While I waited for that to hook up, I pulled my 88-year-old mom off the lazy-boy in her bedroom and dragged her ass into the family room.
It wasn’t downloading. My wunderkind suggested that somehow I sync my phone to the TV, so I threw it at her, (the phone not the TV,) and distracted myself by changing the clock battery. SUCCESS! (the clock battery) I could barely hear her above the roaring in my ears, when she said my phone didn’t have whatever was required to connect, so that wasn’t an option. UGHHHH!
We could all watch it on my phone, I guess. My mother was not happy that I’d relocated her, but now she had a front row seat to my imbecilic meltdown. My daughter stated the obvious. My son would know how to put it on the TV, to which I hissed, “well he isn’t here, is he?”
And then he walked in the back door.
I grabbed his arm and pulled him in, thinking I’d explained the situation clearly, but I’ve since learned that what I said, while shakily handing him the remote, and profusely perspiring, was, “AN ASTEROID IS GOING TO HIT IN NINE MINUTES! CAN YOU GET NASA ON THE TV!?!?”
It took him seconds to connect. He was clearly alarmed. [Pee break.] We all sat facing the dusty flat screen. I felt nostalgic, recalling a movie scene of a family sitting on a sofa watching a boxy TV as Neil Armstrong took his first step on the moon.
I texted a link for NASA TV to my other daughter, who lives in New York. She responded, “no one ever tells me anything!” (I thought I just did.) The daughter sitting across from me complained that I hadn’t told her sooner, while my son asked for clarification on exactly what was going to happen in…
FOUR MINUTES, oh my god!
This was the split screen image. You can see the people, dressed like Best Buy staff, at Mission Control cheering. The satellite was on target. My daughter complained—she was now bored. I shot her with my laser beam eyes.
This was the next image.
I could barely contain my excitement. I could not imagine that of those controlling the satellite. As it approached the asteroid we could see rocks getting closer and closer…
Wait! This is too close! Blink, blink, blink.
THE SCREEN WENT RED. We didn’t see the impact.
As with everything in life, high expectations lead to disappointment. But I’d dragged four others into my idiocy this time. I thought, out loud, “what shitty camera work!” To which my son responded, “the camera was on the satellite, which is why it stopped on impact.” Okay, I’m dumb and angry. I expected a Star Wars explosion.
My son turned on comments. It was filled with conspiracy theorists, who said “it was fake.” 🙄
Meanwhile, the control room was alive with celebration, clapping and cheering. It was a direct hit. It turns out we won’t know the results of this damn experiment for a couple of years. So, that was it.
I guess we can talk about Italy and their newly elected nationalist nightmare.
Florida friends, stay safe!