Thursday, December 14, 2006

A Highly Lucrative Target

On Wednesday, Undersecretary of State Robert G. Joseph announced that the terrorists hate our commercial and military satellites. It was good timing, given the advent of an awe-inspiring geomagnetic storm that’s expected to cause problems for our satellites and communication infrastructure.

Apparently, the threat of an Al-Qaeda strike against U.S. satellites – perhaps using an array of migratory birds like the one that, in more innocent times, carried Francis Godwin’s Domingo Gonsales to the moon – is serious enough to scuttle any talk of signing a treaty to restrict the militarization of space:

He…said terrorists "understand our vulnerabilities and have targeted our economy in the past, as they did on 9/11." He said terrorists and enemy states might view the U.S. space program as "a highly lucrative target," while sophisticated technologies could improve their ability to interfere with U.S. space systems and services.

Joseph did not identify terror groups or nations that might have such motives. An aide to Joseph, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the matter, said that information was classified.
There you have it. Try to remain calm, if you can.

Anyway, the current geomagnetic storm is expected to produce aurorae at unusually low latitudes. (FYI, a solar storm in 1859 resulted in aurorae in Rome and Hawaii, and caused telegraph wires in the United States to burst into flame.) You can check Space Weather for updates.

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