By Jaime Yarbrough – Science Editor – January 22, 2021

What am I about to read?  Why do I need to read it? How will it make my life better?

I thought about other questions like ‘who am I?’ ‘where did I come from?’ but the first is too broad and the second too deep for ‘general information’ that might be of use in a ‘friendly conversation.’

Today, because I started out with the article on the International Space Station (published December 24, 2020) I would follow up with some general information about space and man’s space history. You already have some information from the ISS article but what you may not know is how truly vast it is and how important this tiny area we call “Low Earth Orbit” is to our everyday modern existence.

The beginning of “outer space” is roughly around 62 miles above sea level. There are several layers of our “atmosphere” that ‘thin as the skin on a peach’ envelope that contains at least some breathable ‘air.’ Even though no one would be able to breath most of it due to below freezing temperatures and extremely low pressures.

“LEO” starts ‘around’ 99 miles and goes “out” to ‘around 1200 miles (160km-2000km). So, in Del Norte county terms from a low of from here to Fortuna to from the Smith River boarder to Mexico. I used the term “out” because once you enter “outer space “up” looses much of it’s importance. UP is mostly a convenient term we use to use in relation to the surface of the earth. Up in the sky, down in the ocean, etc. It is also useful when talking about the effects of gravity.  So, once you have escaped earth’s gravity, and have gone beyond the ‘observable’ sky you are ‘out of this world’ and IN space.

Currently there are over 1900 satellites in LEO. Most of these are photographic satellites taking terrain and weather photos. There are a new number of ‘mini-sats’ recently placed in orbit by Elon Musk for potential communications including the internet.  Several countries first ventures are often into LEO. The Russian Sputnik launched in 1957 was in LEO for 3 months before most of it burned up upon re-entry.

It only took 3 ½ years from the launch of Sputnik for there to be 115 satellites in orbit. The benefits of having our technology ‘off world’ has profoundly changed our existence. At first it seemed novel and awesome that we could see the ground from that perspective. To see continents, to see weather patterns, and most spectacularly throughout time. To see seasonal changes, migrations of animals, changes in vegetation, even the movement of people and industry. 

There have been tremendous military observations and implications. While there were the purely scientific forces that drove man into space with the invention of the rocket itself the military has been and will always be a part of the mix. Our satellites prevented a WW III opportunity during the Cuban Missile crisis in 1962 only 5 years after the first launch.

Man has always looked to the stars. In fact the term “astro” we use in reference to our off world activities (e.g. astronaut) comes from the Greek “Astron”, meaning “star.” From our earliest times we have observed the motions of the ‘heavenly bodies. Even before the invention of the telescope elaborate use of these motions have been used to tell time, predict seasons and from which to navigate.

We knew a lot about ‘space’ even before we went there. What used to be called “celestial mechanics developed into ‘orbital dynamics’ because the objects in space had been placed there by human beings. Of course, orbital mechanics also addresses the motion of moons and planets around stars (which we know as ‘suns’ – yes, our sun is actually ‘a star’!) 

Next time I will delve more into the vastness I mentioned, geosynchronous orbits, the satellites placed and found there before we explore more of the “how we got there.”  If this has created any questions you want to ask, please do. I will do my best to answer, find the answer or find a path to the answer.

Keep looking to the sky.

3 thoughts on “WHY DO I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT . . . SCIENCE ? #2”
  1. Jamie, Interrupting Cow never brings up religion but the religion of science. Obviously the word religion sets you off. The term religion of science is afforded a certain power over people, not a Deity.

  2. Just part of a ‘friendly conversation’:

    Lots of feel-good rhetoric to package and sell the religion of science to the masses, but you gloss over a glaring contradiction.

    You stated: “While there were the purely scientific forces that drove man into space with the invention of the rocket itself the military has been and will always be a part of the mix.”

    The military will always be the integral component when it comes to developing mankind’s infrastructure in space, for the same reasons the military has always been keenly invested in science and technology. The military is merely a physical extension of the politics of the ruling state. The purpose of the state is to govern and control its subjects. And if the ruling state has any dreams of expanding its reach and power over others, it needs to first build the critical infrastructure by which to move its armies.

    This is precisely why the Roman Empire specialized in building roads.

    Now, of course, the Romans are building satellite relay systems and super-highways that encircle the earth. You can package the strategy and market it any way you like, but the desired outcome is the same: control of the populace.

    People need to start divorcing themselves from the globalist propaganda of a Star Trek universe where socialism and science are the only substantial virtues that man will embrace.

    If you really think that Elon Must is going to colonize Mars simply to build more electric vehicles, you are deluding yourself.

    Empiricism as a discipline and methodology is great and has allowed humans to make wonderous discoveries and leaps forward.

    “Science” is just religion, packed in such a manner that you will accept the dominance and conquest that come with it.

    Don’t be fooled.

    1. With all due respect you are welcome to your own belief and perspective. You also have the use of the same internet I have. If you struggle with these assumptions, presumptions and biases, you might want to, as I did ask the question of the great oracle: “How is science different from religion?” These are some of the answers I received (you can look up the references from my cut an paste) :
      “One way to distinguish between science and religion is the claim that science concerns the natural world, whereas religion concerns both the natural and the supernatural”
      “The belief that God or gods exist is usually called theism. … People who believe in God but not in traditional religions are called deists. People who believe that the definition of “God” should be defined before taking a theological position are ignostic. In some religions there are many gods. This is called polytheism.”
      “Science and religious beliefs need not be in contradiction. If they are properly understood, they cannot be in contradiction because science and religion concern different matters.”

      “Agnosticism is of the essence of science, whether ancient or modern. It simply means that a man shall not say he knows or believes that which he has no scientific grounds for professing to know or believe.”
      As I eluded to in the beginning of my articles (the ISS was the beginning) the military was but an element in our beginnings but those beginnings were not in a vacuum. Due to the strategic potential of space and it’s abuse NSAS set the stage for international cooperation that survives to this day (with, perhaps excluding China) (re: https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/whyweexplore/Why_We_10.html ) It would be hardly a control mechanism to be exploited if we weren’t operating from the same playbook. Least I remind you, the US was able to use Russian rockets in the absence of the Space Shuttle. Sure we had to pay for it but they had the same skin in the game as we did.
      The United Federation of Planets is comprised of many worlds, civilizations and species. Seems like something we could all learn from. We’re just falling woefully short. (IMHO)

Leave a Reply to The Interrupting Cow Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.