Tuesday, September 05, 2006

That’s One Small Step For Man, One Giant Leap For Skee-Ball

The European Space Agency (ESA) crashed its first lunar satellite into the surface of the moon over the weekend. Believe it or not, they are happy about that and consider it a success. The satellite was launched from Europe in 2003 and its collision with the moon was the plan all along.

According to Reuters, the object of the mission was to test a new form of ion propulsion. Telescopes on earth were focused on the satellite as it neared its impact site and the crash was photographed. The satellite was photographing the surface of the moon prior to its impact. Just a few thousand feet above the moon’s surface, a course correction had to be made to avoid hitting the rim of a large crater.

“We were really lucky we were able to avoid that crater,” said an ecstatic member of the team. “Some of us had like $150 on hitting the spot we did. That crater would have cost me a ton of money,” he added.

The real mission objective however was part of a cosmic competition between the ESA, the Russian space program, and NASA. However, unlike normal space competitions, a lucrative contract will not be awarded to the winning agency. The winner will receive intergalactic bragging rights and that’s all.

What is the competition you ask? It’s called Lunar Skee-Ball and its creation can be traced back to the early days of instant messaging. It seems that teams of scientists from all three space agencies started bragging about how they could hit a target on the moon late one night. After enough “your mamas” and “our satellite launching is more precise than yours,” the competition was elevated to a primary space objective. Each agency added cameras and a whole bevy of scientific equipment that probably doesn’t work and got funding for their “programs.”

In the late 90s, the moon was divided into sections and assigned point values. Over the next 15 years or so, each competing space program will launch satellites aimed at the point values on the moon. Each competitor is allowed three attempts to collide a satellite into the point zones. At the end of the 15 years, the agency with the most points wins the competition and its scientists will be considered the coolest around.

So there you have it. The ESA leads Lunar Skee-Ball 1-0. Up next is Russia and rumor has it they are going to risk everything and go for the biggest point value. The U.S. will follow that and then round two will begin. ESPN2 is slated to broadcast the third and final round. Officials have said that if this competition is successful “scientifically” more countries will be invited to participate. It is their hope that it will garner enough attention to make it as popular as the World Cup and pave the way for better funding of future space programs. Something tells me that folks will be curling on Mars before that happens.

***I wanted to mention that I recently upgraded to Blogger Beta, so if you cannot post a comment, please forgive me. Also there are some blogs I read that I cannot make comments on right now because I upgraded, but I am still visiting them daily. I'm sorry about that too...In general, I guess I'm just sorry, not lame, but sorry...


Alex said...

When will the moon be protected as human heritage lands? I mean enough is enough with the space junk out there.

Awesome Mom said...

I don't have anything to say about the moon but I am happy to finally be able to leave a comment on someone's blog. I too am in comment hell due to my upgrade to beta.

Dr. A said...

You don't know if the ESA operates any passenger trains, do you? What they would call a "success" and what I would call a success are two different things.

I did hear that the ESA was disqualified and no longer leads 1-0. Apparently, Russia disputed the landing, and on videotape review, the satellite actually did hit the rim of the large crater, thereby making the Euro-weenies lose out on their $150 bet. *chuckle*

Michael C said...

Alex: Come to think of it, there is a lot of space stuff floating out there lately, ain't there?

Awesome: It feels like we can't speak when we can't leave comments, doesn't it?

Dr. A: I also heard that Russia was disqualified for using performaning enhancing 'boosters' on their rocket. Get it, booster rockets, oh never mind ;-)


Too bad the 'balls' in galactic skee-ball cost $$$$$$$ each, because I think this would make a great addition to the summer Olympics.

Michael C said...

Parlancheq: It would make a great addition. For the cost of each satellite, you could probably host 2 whole summer olympics!

By the way, I haven't been able to comment on your blog after switching to beta, but I'm still visiting it...sorry

ShadowFalcon said...

I feel sorry for the moon, first it gets battered by all sorts of space stuff (comets etc), leaving it scared and fragile and now the poor thing has us throwing stuff at it.

This just proves that all the space agencies are just big bullies

Meloncutter said...

AAAAAH.... We are now once again comment compatable.

Since the dawn of man, we have been trying to knock the moon out of the sky, even if it was just to get the green cheese. We started with rocks couldn't hit it. Spears. Couldn't hit it, Arrows, Couldn't hit it. We finally hit it with Apollo 11. The space program was the best thing to come along.

No longer does mankind lose so many people from rocks, spears and arrows being embedded in the skulls of the people watching a moon launch.

As a final thought to this comment... You should hope they don't target Uranus next. (just had to say that. Sorry)

Later Yall

P.S. Word V. was audiwnnz. Kinda make ya wish they would let foreign cars into Nascar don't it.


mist1 said...

Do you know how hard it is to parallel park a satellite?

Lizza said...

Some of us Earthlings just have no respect at all. First they demoted Pluto; now they're hurling stuff at the moon. I wonder what the man in the moon has to say about this. They should've at least made him honorary judge or something like that.

Odat said...

So that's where the holes in swiss chesse come from!


Odat said...

btw, I figured out how to leave comments on those "non-beta" blogs,
(ha ha ours are beta). Just click on "other". Type your name in the first box and your blog address in the second box. e.g. (like I need to splain this to ya) I type odat in the first box and odatmumbles.blogspot.com in the second box and there ya go.
good luck, and