Re[2]: Mirror in space

Jason Hatton (
Thu, 23 Jul 98 09:04:51 -0500

Jim Varney wrote:

>IMHO the Leonids are overrated as a danger to spacecraft.  Even if the 
>great 1966 display of 100,000 meteors per hour is repeated, the actual flux 
>of meteors is surprisingly thin.  I did a very rough calculation and found 
>that 100,000 meteors per hour works out to less than one meteor per square 
>mile at LEO heights.

>So my guess is the thin mylar mirror will end up with a few holes but won't 
>be destroyed.

I agree with Jim's assesment of the Leonid "threat".  There's an awful lot of
space up there, and satellites (even Mir) are pretty small targets on that

>Even though I don't think the meteoroids will be the demise of the mirror, 
>I would still like to see this monstrosity fail.  This project is an 
>example of gross light pollution and we should all condemn it as such.  My 
>wish will be for the mylar to be hopelessly ripped and tangled when 
>unfurled.  Then I'll join you on the floor for a good laugh!

Agreed 100 percent!!  This is a just plain stupid idea, and the threat to
ground-based astronomy would be very real if this hare-brained scheme were to
gain an ounce of credibility.  thankfully I hear that there are bankroll
problems which may ground the development of this plan.  I don't mind the
occasional -8 mag Iridium flare, but to have a -14 mag steady beacon beaming
down would certainly ruin my night....


| Geoff Chester       Public  Affairs Office |
|                                                    US Naval Observatory |
| (202) 762-1438                            3450 Massachusetts Avenue, NW |
| (202) 762-1516 (FAX)                              Washington, DC  20392 |
| "Each passing hour brings the Solar System 43,000 miles closer to the   |
| globular cluster M13 in Hercules; yet there are still some misfits who  |
| insist there's no such thing as progress!"     --    Ransom K. Fern     |