Laser firing?

Rob Matson (
23 May 1996 11:03:34 -0800

Paul Maley wrote:

I saw the rather intriguing message on the net this morning reporting a laser
firing from STS-77.  I followed this up and talked directly with
the Mission Manager at GSFC who is in charge of this experiment. Their team
reports that:

1) the laser is very low power (5 watts)  and has no visible emissions. It is
an infrared laser.
2) the laser was not powered at the time of the observation.
3) the laser is not directed at the ground; tests are being conducted with the
PAM/STU at selected times. The laser was powered on briefly today but it was
at 7:20 Eastern Time.

So, all of this would lead one to believe that the report was of something
else.  But, what was it?


I was immediately skeptical of the report, since the observer seemed to imply
that the actual beam was visible.  It doesn't matter *what* frequency that
laser is operating at -- it can't be visible.  There's nothing in a vacuum for
it to scatter off of!  Sure, it happens in Star Trek and Star Wars, but not in
the real world.  No mention was made of the color of the "beam" -- could it
have been a water dump or something similar?  --Rob