RE: institutionalized confusion, ephemeris server, sample size

Ted Molczan (molczan@fox.nstn.ca)
Tue, 31 Dec 1996 13:40:07 -0500

Walter Nissen wrote:

>It also seems=20
>that an ephemeris server to run it, together with a team of computors =
and=20
>updaters of orbits, would make a great deal of sense.  It is my =
perception=20
>that much of the remaining "activation energy barrier" from Molczan's =
Law=20
>lies in the difficulty of elset maintenance. =20

I am not against further automating the process of elset updating and=20
ephemeris generation; however, I strongly doubt that they are the=20
significant activation barrier holding back potential observers.=20

Observation, data reduction and analysis are far more difficult and =
time-
consuming than maintaining elsets and making ephemerides. Of course =
there=20
are ways to partially automate the data reduction and analysis, but that =

only goes so far. Orbit determination/updating, requires human judgment,
which can only come from having understood the underlying math/physics =
and
lots of experience.

And observation requires coping with excessive cold or heat/humidity and =

sleep deprivation, while remaining alert and coordinated. Then there are =

the frequent disappointments due to sudden cloudy weather, and having to
pass up other, easier forms of leisure activity.

So I doubt very much that those who are stymied by maintaining elements
and running predictions are going to fare much better when it comes to
observing/analyzing.

In the end, some folks have the necessary ability and drive, while =
others
do not. There are many worthwhile activities, so it is no tragedy if one
does not pursue satellites in favour of something else.

>The team might consist of=20
>Ted Molczan, Mike McCants, TS Kelso, Bj"orn Gimle, Alan Pickup, Pierre=20
>Nierinck, Rainer Kracht, Ron Dantowitz, (myself? in this crowd, despite =

>my extensive experience with Mir and shuttles, I'm definitely a junior=20
>member) and other trusted computors (my apologies to anyone I've=20
>forgotten).=20

The best way to make me lose interest in this hobby is to make it into a
job. I already have one of those, and one is enough! (Hmmm, perhaps I=20
have stumbled upon Molczan's 2nd law.) We have all of the organization=20
we need right now. Through SeeSat-L, phone and fax, we have created an=20
informal team of hobbyists, who work together on an ad hoc basis to =
pursue=20
whatever pleases them.=20

Go back an read the archives regarding the TSS, NOSS 2-3/Tips, =
96038A/SDS, Superbird, and the present KeyHole, just to name a few, and =
you will see=20
how well we work together. There was no formal organization: in some =
cases=20
someone had to take the first step, then others joined in; in other =
cases=20
the activity was more or less spontaneous. Let's keep it that way!

Well-intentioned folks might think we could benefit from more =
organization,
but I doubt it. My experience has been that organizations tend to become
bunged up by administration issues, often to the point where content =
becomes
secondary. Voltaire's Bastards, and The Unconscious Civilization, both =
by
John Ralston Saul, offer lots of examples and insights into this =
problem.

Happy New Year!
Ted