“Most Toxic Falling Satellite,” Phobos-Grunt, Almost Certain to Reenter by Mid-December

The first Russian interplanetary mission in 15 years, called Phobos-Grunt (or “Phobos-Ground” or “Phobos-Soil”) because it was destined for the Mars moon Phobos and it contained soil experiments, is now almost certain to be stuck in low Earth orbit until it reenters within the month.  The difference between this reentry and the other 2 large satellite reentries this year, NASA’s 6-ton UARS and the German 2.4 ton ROSAT, is that this vehicle was meant for a very lengthy journey away from the Earth.  As such, it’s radioactive power supply was of no concern, but that’s changed now that it will be dispersed in our atmosphere.  Of more concern to this Grunt is the 10 tons of deep-space storable propellants on board.

That’s right.  Ten tons.  That propellant is divided between fuel and oxidizer.  Unfortunately, the oxidizer is not harmless liquid oxygen, which cannot be used for long missions.  This more stable oxidizer, nitrogen tetroxide, is a highly corrosive acid and a very toxic chemical.  The fuel, unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine, is unfortunately one of the most toxic carcinogens known to man.  But people exposed to it rarely have time to die from cancer.  Exposure to even a drop or small amount of vapor means very quick and certain death.

Let me be clear.  There are ten tons of these substances neatly packed aboard this spacecraft.  I’m fairly sure that no object has ever reentered the Earth’s atmosphere before with this enormous quantity of storable propellant onboard.  Therefore, no one can predict whether it will all vaporize before it hits the ground.  Even the residue left on surviving pieces will be exceedingly dangerous if anyone comes in contact with it.  Let us hope for a nice mid-ocean breakup.


About GruntOfMonteCristo

Fearless and Devout Catholic Christian First, Loving Husband and Father Second, Pissed-Off Patriot Third, Rocket Engineer Dork Last.
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21 Responses to “Most Toxic Falling Satellite,” Phobos-Grunt, Almost Certain to Reenter by Mid-December

  1. zmalfoy says:

    . . . ok, um, a few questions from the peanut gallery. ..

    Did this ever get to Phobos? Or did it just get out to space and stall out?

    If intended to go, get samples, come back, didn’t they have a landing plan? So they could study the samples and hopefully not release an alien virus that turned the lot of us into zombies? A landing plan that involved not busting up some tanks of amazingly deadly materials? Or was the idea to go, get samples, have the thing do the analysis and study there (like the mars rovers). . . leaving behind tanks ofmoldy old poison as a nice present for the first colonists?

    I guess my question is: Since when is the Obama Administration planning Russian Space stuff?

    • You would think, right? The way it was messed up, you’d think Obama had a hand in it.

      Your answer #2 is right. It was supposed to be like the Mars rovers: one-way trip…touch down on Phobos…inject some Russian lab bacteria into the soil to see if it grows. Radio back the results. Very science fictiony, don’t you think? The goal was to test out the theory of “transpermia,” which postulates that life on Earth began as a seed from Space. Seems kinda pointless to me, given how hostile Phobos is to life, but whatever.

      The glitch is in the transfer stage that was supposed to boost the vehicle on the way to Mars. The whole package was rocketed into a low parking orbit, and when the time came to bug out, the engine didn’t light. So, it never made it to Phobos, just barely out of the atmosphere…for a while. It only has a few weeks before it comes back down. Truth is, it’s probably not much of a threat. My concern is that the propellant tanks, which are often made out of titanium, have a habit of surviving reentry. Then they could plunge into some lake in Michigan and then wash up on the beach right by the dock at Michael Moore’s place. Then, who knows, he might eat it. 😉

      • zmalfoy says:

        Well, that would be a tragedy. . . (/sarc)

        The experiment-as-planned seems like the kinda dumb sh*t some moron would put in a movie that would get it panned for being too-stupid-to-be real. Because, either the bacteria all dies, or it doesn’t. And if it doesn’t, then you’ve got not Martian, but Phobian Bacteria, almost assuredly mutated and still mutating, running among in the same system as earth and, whenever we get out that far, awaiting the arrival of colonists. Fantastic! I think this is a great idea! (again, /sarc). It’s like someone read the Complete Michael Criton, and said “Hey, how can we combine all of this together into one Super Awesome Sciency Thingy?” Andromeda Strain Meets Jurassic Park. . . geniuses. . .

        I take it these are the same sort of smart folk who believe in Global Warming, and are itching to take a crack at those Moldy Ol’ Elder Gods from Beyond the Deeps . . .

      • zmalfoy says:

        Of course I always see the dire consequences of poorly planned science. . . which is why I stick to Alchemy, myself. When an Alchemist screws up, we only endanger ourselves and those immediately around us. When a scientist screws up, Cthulhu knocks at the door. . .

      • I would say “Oh, you have NO idea,” but apparently, you do. 😉 I think you got it pretty well said. Nice ref to Michael Crighton, there. I was thinking the same thing. There’s a reason why the Viking spacecraft were kept in a sterile environment until launch, and no one has ever dared purposely export bio-science experiments to another planet. I tell ya, the Russians are way bigger loose cannons now than they were under Kruschev. We could be in for some fun…

  2. You know the arrogance of humans….be the first to contaminate somebody’s place regardless of the out come or posible germs that they might leave there.
    And now let me ask you all. Do you believe there is life on anoyher planet other than ours?
    This might provolk an interesting topic.

    • I agree. This is a subject of argument between my youngest and me fairly often. He feels that there may be life. I don’t. Mostly because evolution is an armchair hobby of mine, and I think there’s no basis to it. I’m convinced that life was created overtly. Was it put elsewhere? I’m not completely ruling it out, but I don’t believe it is randomly scattered like Carl Sagan and others believe, and I reason that if it were put elsewhere, then we would be able to detect it, most likely. Our signals rattle a big chunk of the galaxy, but when we listen to incoming signals…nothing. I think it’s the only rational conclusion. What do you think, GFC?

    • zmalfoy says:

      I don’t know. My position is this: I’m perfectly open to the possibility of life elsewhere in this cosmos. It’s a big place, getting bigger all the time. And, life existing elsewhere wouldn’t have anything to to with my religious beliefs, either way. God and His Love are Infinite, so other life would simply be more of an overflowing of His Love into His Creation, while no other life would be a testament to how much he treasures humans, that he made us this unfathomably huge universe to play around in. Spoiling us rotten, really, if that’s the case. How big a sandbox do we really need?

      In addition, If there is life elsewhere, I doubt they would be atheist. Simply because atheism in humans seems to be correllated with a different, um, brain set-up. Seeing what atheists managed last century, an atheist species would likely never make it to civilization, much less space. If there are aliens, they’d likely have some sort of Belief, because without the idea and belief in SomeThing Bigger, Better, and Perfect, where is the drive to go? Atheism is a stalled train in a desert, going nowhere. Atheists in general only manage to keep from self-destruction when surrounded by an expicitly non-atheist environment. When they become the norm, Very Bad Things Happen. (In fact, I’ve a hard to articulate theory that sentience and religious experience are two sides to the same coin. That sentience is a by-product of interaction with Something Greater, and that atheism is a brain-mutation that in previous generations would have died out in one generation, and only exists today as a testament our level of surrounding civilization, much like people born blind. Can’t hunt if you can’t see. . . but if there are enough other hunters etc, the society can support you long enough for you to find your other strengths.)

      That said, I also think that the emotional need that many have for there to be aliens comes from the lonliness that comes when one doesn’t believe in God or His Angels. If you don’t believe in God, much less the other Unseen of Heaven (or other places), then a universe without aliens is a vast, very cold, very lonely place. Almost enough to induce a very real, existential despair. Some people emotionally need aliens to fend off that cold, empty despair.

      • Kinda like how Sagan envisioned future “Contact” with aliens, and they turned out (surprise!) to be just like angels? I think you’re absolutely right about the powerful motivation to believe in aliens. It also explains why I have absolutely no motivation to expect aliens to exist. Not ruling it out, but it’s not necessary to complete my view of the “Cosmos.”

        I’m not quite with you on atheism, though. Why would an alien civilization be expected to be “all atheist” or “all believers?” Wouldn’t it be more likely that there would be a believing segment with a small parasitic atheist segment, just like we have? (Sorry atheists, no apologies for that statement. Gotta right to my opinion.) And how do you see atheism as “brain-mutation?” Or do you mean that metaphorically? Because it surely must be a free choice, right? But I totally agree that sentience is a by-product of interaction with Something Greater, or I might rather say that it is a gift from something greater… But I see that gift given to believers and non-believers alike. The only difference is that believers are aware of the gift. The others are idiots. 🙂

      • zmalfoy says:

        Ok, Grunt, I wrote out a reply to this a few days ago, but the computer sneezed and the whole dang thing was lost. Similar problems had been keeping me out of my personal email for a couple weeks, so I only just got your message. Will be replying soonish. To both, lol. . .

      • No hurries, Z. Looks like we’re both working on Black Friday, so there’s lots of more important stuff in the queue. Reply when you get a chance. Thanks for the heads-up.

  3. I like to keep it simple and try not to complex my mind and make decissions that might affect my health or my spiritual health I should say. Not that I am sweeping anything under the rug. I just try to embrace what the bible teaches us and also use the brain that God gave me to reason with.
    With that being said, lol, now I can try and answer your question. I believe that God created man first. Why couldn’t he create something that was already aged? He could cause He is God. Faith remember. Now that really puts a dampner into the scientist. My problem with most scientist is that they are so busy trying to prove that there isn’t a God that they miss it completely. They find the answers but don’t reason with them. Instead they recreate a new “theory” and run off in search of the next “godless” clue. Then they take their theory and teach it as fact in school. That is completely wrong and angers me. Take for instance the theory of EVILution. Now evolution of the species or adaptation of the species I can completely understand, however, these science teachers taught for many years that evilution was the way it is. And along comes God and He allows man to “find” DNA which should have been their euphoria and all the lights going off in their head saying that sevilution was not posible but instead they create quatum leap or what ever it is called. Just another diversion from the truth that God gives them a chance to “find” (in His goodness) but like the idiots that they are they continue in their foolery looking for their own proof that “see God doesn’t really exist” theory. I find God fascinating and everything He allows man to see should bring him closer to God but the old addage of Satan in the Garden of Eden remains that you will be liken unto God or a god, you get the point. Satan promised Adam and Eve in the garden that they would be as great as God and know all things if they partook of the fruit. Now Satan was right in many ways that they would know the difference between good and evil and unfortunately with that comes a heavy price to pay. And guess what man has done ever since? What man doesn’t realize is that Satan has been using him ever since trying to do what he cannot do and that is create. And he wants to crete life as only God can. He fills mans mind with the lust to create life on his own without God so man can say “look what I have created” and be likened to God. Now we have the right to choose to terminate life (abort), choose what color of eyes we want, what sex of the child we want, what color of hair we want, the height of the child we want etc…… Boy what do we need God for anyway? I guess I could go on and on here.
    Now do I believe that there is life abroad. No. That doesn’t mean I am right I just choose to believe that God sent His only Son to die for our sins and save man from himself. How would this affect another being and would it have a soul and on and on and so forth. I am not going to say that I am certain but I will say that there is the spiritual world that we barely understand and man is getting futher from the truth not closer to it.
    I believe that mans brain capacity was in better use than it is now. Does that mean we aren’t technically smarter now than then? Yes we might be technically smarter in mechanical areas but the spiritual area of the brain is non functional for most of us. I also believe that mistcis, telepathy, healing, and many more such things are remnants of what we use to have at one time. think about it. Man use to walk with the angels. He must of had an understanding of it. It is said that God walked in the Garden with man and regularly talked with man, well man must have had an understanding about that also. We can’t even begin to understand what that would be like. I also believe that mans brain becomes less used with the fact that Grace is lost and over time it is lost more and more. If Light is understanding than it would only make sense to me that we have less understanding because of our sins and less Light. If we think about Noah”s time and how angry God must have been to flood the entire earth killing off mankind, think about what horrors the world would have had at the time. Now there wasn’t God’s Grace at that time the way there is now that Christ open the doors for this with His Death and Resurection. So I think that man had a greater capacity of knowledge in the spiritual realm back then which also means that those who went bad also had a greater capacity to do evil in the spiritual realm. So mankind fell fast and fell hard enough to where God flooded the world ( which would also throw off all the scientist theories of age) and destroyed man as it was then.
    If we could only spend our time enlightening ourselves on God’s terms we would be so much better off, but, because of the old curse of Satan that we would be like God we continue on our quest to become our own gods.

    • Wonderful stuff, GFC! You’re making me consider some things I haven’t before. I’ve always thought, based on history and ancient literature, that mankind has not changed an iota in his capacity for brilliance or for good or evil in the 5000 or so years for which we have records. He appears exactly the same in character and composition. The Epic of Gilgamesh describes people not at all different from the inhabitants of Homer’s Odyssey or modern Istanbul. Technology is irrelevant, in my opinion, to the character of men; it just changes their tools. But you point out that early men and women walked with angels, and may have been much more attuned to the supernatural. Good point! Lots of other good stuff, too!

  4. Hi. I have no idea what y’all are talking about, so I’ma just make a snow angel and leave.

    *makes snow angel*


    • ???? Hey Tilda, you have no idea of guardian angels?

      • Oh is that what all this is about? I thought it was something else.

        I believe in angels (obviously!)…never really thougt about guardian ones? Do you reckon I have one?

        • Aloha Tilda
          There are many refernces, in the bible about guardian Angels. Yes I believe every one of us born in God’s Light is assigned a guerdian angel. In the spiritual realm of life, our angels are actually doing (at least they are trying) what yhey ate suppose to do. Help guide us in our life and help us to attain the beautiful life with God which we were created to do. For Gods Glory.

  5. I also believe that we can drive our Angels away feom us through sin. Although they will always be near remember that they exisy in Gods Light and our own sin creates a darkkness within us that seperates us from them. Where there is Light there can be no darkness. Laws of physics in our world is no different. They are Creatures of the Light and love us. Where there is true Love there is a great desire to draw those you Love to the Light. Laws of Spiritual Physics.

    • Mahalo, dear GFC. I do believe I will make an effort to get to know my Guardian Angel. I have heard people talk about them, and it is a great comfort to think I might have one.

      • Tilda, when I was a young boy shortly after President Kenedy was shot a favorite nun of mine died in her sleep and i was very upset a person came to console me at night in my bed. I wasnt scared or frightened but i could smell roses and it was in the middle of winte. I rememberthis angel embracing me and i was no longer sad. The angel said to me clear as day that Sister Henrietta was very happy to be with God. The stangest thing though was i didnt hear a voice like you or me, just an inner one that was so clear. I also remember telling my oldest brother who said i wasgoing to go to hell for telling a lie. 9 months later his favorite nun and teacher died and he was upset. Then we woke up in the middle of the night smelling smoke and went downstairs to find my unbelieving brother who was shaking to death scared out of his gord. He had lighten every candle in the house, turned on every light and was praying cause he said the nun had shakened his leg very vigorously and asked him to pray for her. This was huge for mr. Doubting oldest brother who never believed in many things.

      • Wonderful account, GFC. I knew that the “odor of sanctity,” or smell of roses, commonly accompanied heavenly visits in stories of the Saints, but I’m delighted that 3 or 4 Treepers have actually experienced it themselves. Quite a group we have here!

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