Crowded Skies

Military Hush-Up: Incoming Space Rocks Now Classified

I’m posting this 2009 article now as it seems to be relevant to recent events having to do with the meteor incident in Russia.  The Russians claim that it was a US weapons test (see Russia Puts Nuclear Bombers On High Alert Over American UFO Attack) using new technology (Bessel Beams: The Coolest Physics Phenomena That Technically Don’t Exist).

by Leonard David,’s Space Insider Columnist
Date: 10 June 2009 Time: 05:35 PM ET

For 15 years, scientists have benefited from data gleaned by U.S. classified satellites of natural fireball events in Earth’s atmosphere – but no longer.

A recent U.S. military policy decision now explicitly states that observations by hush-hush government spacecraft of incoming bolides and fireballs are classified secret and are not to be released, has learned.

The satellites’ main objectives include detecting nuclear bomb tests, and their characterizations of asteroids and lesser meteoroids as they crash through the atmosphere has been a byproduct data bonanza for scientists.

The upshot: Space rocks that explode in the atmosphere are now classified.

“It’s baffling to us why this would suddenly change,” said one scientist familiar with the work. “It’s unfortunate because there was this great synergy…a very good cooperative arrangement. Systems were put into dual-use mode where a lot of science was getting done that couldn’t be done any other way. It’s a regrettable change in policy.”

Scientists say not only will research into the threat from space be hampered, but public understanding of sometimes dramatic sky explosions will be diminished, perhaps leading to hype and fear of the unknown.


Most “shooting stars” are caused by natural space debris no larger than peas. But routinely, rocks as big as basketballs and even small cars crash into the atmosphere. Most vaporize or explode on the way in, but some reach the surface or explode above the surface. Understandably, scientists want to know about these events so they can better predict the risk here on Earth.

Yet because the world is two-thirds ocean, most incoming objects aren’t visible to observers on the ground. Many other incoming space rocks go unnoticed because daylight drowns them out.

Over the last decade or so, hundreds of these events have been spotted by the classified satellites. Priceless observational information derived from the spacecraft were made quickly available, giving researchers such insights as time, a location, height above the surface, as well as light-curves to help pin down the amount of energy churned out from the fireballs.

And in the shaky world we now live, it’s nice to know that a sky-high detonation is natural versus a nuclear weapon blast.

Where the space-based surveillance truly shines is over remote stretches of ocean – far away from the prospect of ground-based data collection.

But all that ended within the last few months, leaving scientists blind-sided and miffed by the shift in policy. The hope is that the policy decision will be revisited and overturned.

Critical importance

“The fireball data from military or surveillance assets have been of critical importance for assessing the impact hazard,” said David Morrison, a Near Earth Object (NEO) scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center. He noted that his views are his own, not as a NASA spokesperson.

The size of the average largest atmospheric impact from small asteroids is a key piece of experimental data to anchor the low-energy end of the power-law distribution of impactors, from asteroids greater than 6 miles (10 kilometers) in diameter down to the meter scale, Morrison told

“These fireball data together with astronomical observations of larger near-Earth asteroids define the nature of the impact hazard and allow rational planning to deal with this issue,” Morrison said.

Morrison said that fireball data are today playing additional important roles.

As example, the fireball data together with infrasound allowed scientists to verify the approximate size and energy of the unique Carancas impact in the Altiplano — on the Peru-Bolivia border — on Sept. 15, 2007.

Fireball information also played an important part in the story of the small asteroid 2008 TC3, Morrison said. That was the first-ever case of the astronomical detection of a small asteroid before it hit last year. The fireball data were key for locating the impact point and the subsequent recovery of fragments from this impact.

Link in public understanding

Astronomers are closing in on a years-long effort to find most of the potentially devastating large asteroids in our neck of the cosmic woods, those that could cause widespread regional or global devastation. Now they plan to look for the smaller stuff.

So it is ironic that the availability of these fireball data should be curtailed just at the time the NEO program is moving toward surveying the small impactors that are most likely to be picked up in the fireball monitoring program, Morrision said.

“These data have been available to the scientific community for the past decade,” he said. “It is unfortunate this information is shut off just when it is becoming more valuable to the community interested in characterizing near Earth asteroids and protecting our planet from asteroid impacts.”

The newly issued policy edict by the U.S. military of reporting fireball observations from satellites also caught the attention of Clark Chapman, a planetary scientist and asteroid impact expert at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado.

“I think that this information is very important to make public,” Chapman told

“More important than the scientific value, I think, is that these rare, bright fireballs provide a link in public understanding to the asteroid impact hazard posed by still larger and less frequent asteroids,” Chapman explained.

Those objects are witnessed by unsuspecting people in far-flung places, Chapman said, often generating incorrect and exaggerated reports.

“The grounding achieved by associating these reports by untrained observers with the satellite measurements is very useful for calibrating the observer reports and closing the loop with folks who think they have seen something mysterious and extraordinary,” Chapman said.

Mystery Over Thousands of Dolphins Spotted Off The Coast of San Diego

Mystery over the SEVEN-MILE long ‘super mega-pod’ of 100,000 dolphins spotted off the coast of San Diego. A group of over 100,000 dolphins spotted off the coast of San Diego caused a spectacle for nature watchers as they traveled together in an enormous pack. ‘They were coming from all directions, you could see them from as far as the eye can see,’ Joe Dutra said after seeing the spectacle first hand.

Mr Dutra, who captains Hornblower Cruises, was out on his daily tour with a boat full of nature watchers when he spotted the massive group of dolphins.

‘I’ve seen a lot of stuff out here… but this is the biggest I’ve ever seen, ever,’ he told the local NBC affiliate.

Dolphins typically travel in groups of anywhere between 15 and 200 which are called pods.

What Mr Dutra spotted on Thursday however is best described as a super mega pod given the astonishing size of the group.

He estimated that the trail of dolphins was seven miles long and five miles wide, and he was able to steer the boat alongside them for over an hour.

Experts are unable to pinpoint any specific reason as to why so many of the mammals were traveling together on this particular night.

‘They’re definitely social animals, they stick together in small groups. But sometimes, the schools come together,’ marine expert Sarah Wilkin told NBC.

While it does seem like a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a very similar flock o
f thousands of dolphins were seen swimming together about this time last year.

At the end of February in 2012, an unspecified group of dolphins was spotted swimming about 65 miles north of San Diego, implying that there may be an unacknowledged migratory pattern.

Russia Puts Nuclear Bombers On High Alert Over American UFO Attack

A truly unsettling Space Forces Command (VKS) report circulating in the Kremlin today states that President Putin had ordered a fleet of Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bombers equipped with Kh-55 nuclear armed cruise missiles to “prepare for strikes” against US targets in the Pacific should Russia be attacked by the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM), whom military analysts in Moscow had detected this past week were preparing for a “Bessel Beam” test against at least one of the estimated 40 “celestial objects” traveling towards our Earth and accompanied by Asteroid 2012 DA14.

2012 DA14, this report says, is a near-Earth asteroid with an estimated diameter of 50 meters (160 ft) and an estimated mass of 190,000 metric tons that was discovered on 23 February 2012, and yesterday (15 February) passed 27,700 km (17,200 mi) from the surface of our planet, which is a record close approach for a known object of this size.

A “Bessel Beam”, this report continues, is a field of electromagnetic, acoustic or even gravitational radiation whose amplitude is described by a Bessel function of the first kind, and in a NASA funded research paper published last year, New York University physicists David Ruffner and David Grier proposed they could build a “working tractor beam” which, among other uses, could be used to gather samples of from space.

The “test” USSTRATCOM was preparing for, and which caused “grave concern” among top Russian space scientists, this report says, was an American attempt to use their High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HARRP) facilities located in Alaska, Norway and Guam to create a “tractor beam” around the “celestial objects” traveling with 2012 DA 14 with the “goal” of having at least one of them “crash land” in the remote barren regions of either the Alaskan or Canadian Arctic.

The value of being able to capture an asteroid cannot be overestimated, VKS scientists say in this report, as one single asteroid in our solar system, 241 Germania, alone has an estimated mineral wealth value of $95.8 trillion, which is nearly the same as the annual GDP of the entire world.

Two of the Tu-95 nuclear armed strategic bombers put on alert by Putin, US news reports say, traveled towards Guam immediately prior to this USSTRATCOM “test” utilizing “multiple refuelings” and causing both American and Japanese fighter aircraft to take flight to block them.

Aside from Putin’s anger over this USSTRATCOM “test”, this report says, Foreign Minister Lavrov became so “incensed” over the Americans “space lunacy” he refused to return the calls made to him this past week by US Secretary of State John Kerry, though Russian diplomats say they may meet in March.

To the grim outcome of the USSTRATCOM “test”, this report continues, was the Americans first “tractor beam” attempt on 13 February which failed when the “celestial object” they were trying to “direct” towards the Arctic plunged into the atmosphere and exploded with great destructive effect over the Cuban town of Rodas, Cienfuegos.

The second, and most catastrophic, “tractor beam” attempt occurred over Russia when military defense forces fired upon the “celestial object” causing it to explode with a force estimated to be equivalent to a 300-kiloton nuclear warhead causing over 1,200 injuries, and which we had reported on in our previous report titled “Russia Goes On High Alert After UFO Shoot-Down Injures Hundreds”.

The third, and final, “tractor beam” attempt, this report says, occurred last evening when the “celestial object” trying to be retrieved by USSTRATCOM erupted in a massive fireball that lit up the night sky throughout Northern California terrifying many residents already uneasy after the Russian explosion earlier in the day.

Though under strict orders from Putin not to “publicly discuss” anything related to these USSTRATCOM “tests”, this VKS report says, nationalist lawmaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky defied the President (once again) telling RIA Novosti reporters in Moscow that the catastrophic blast over Russia was, indeed, a “US weapons test”.   

Curiously, though not mentioned in this VKS report, Zhirinovsky further stated to RIA Novosti that US Secretary of State John Kerry had “wanted to warn Foreign Minister Lavrov about the “provocation” on Monday, but couldn’t reach him.”

Equally important to note is that within a few hours after the catastrophic blast over Russia, President Obama privately called Putin, after which the G-20 summit, which the Russian President had been hosting in Moscow, declared there would be no global currency war, the significance of which we reported on in our 9 February report titled “‘World War C’ Warned To Crash US Economy By April”.

To what the ultimate consequences of these US “tractor beam tests” will be it is not in our knowing, other than to note (of course) that the last people to know the truth about them will be the American people, who continue to fail to monitor the madman they have elected to run their despotic and cruel empire and whose latest actions do, indeed, put our entire world in danger.


Bessel Beams: The Coolest Physics Phenomena That Technically Don’t Exist

xlarge_bessel_beamBessel Beams are impossible to create, can’t be destroyed, and don’t diffract. In other words, physics has discovered yet another thing that makes no sense.

Bessel beams bear the name of Friedrich Bessel, a man whose life straddled the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. And yet he helped create something that seems like it should be from the 24th century. Right now, Bessel beams are used as optical tweezers in microbiology — literally, they are beams of light that can move tiny things like cells. But someday they’ll probably be used as tractor beams. It’s an impressive feat for things that don’t really exist.

What the hell are Bessel beams?

Bessel beams are lasers that behave very differently from ordinary lasers. Consider how the typical laser pointer behaves, creating a small red dot where you point it. Instead of a single point on a wall, Bessel beams create a bullseye: one dot surrounded by concentric rings. The number of rings is some indication of the strength of the beam. Many commercial Bessel beam devices create beams with about eleven rings. The ideal Bessel beam would have an infinite amount – because an ideal Bessel would use an infinite amount of energy. Since infinite energy isn’t available, the true Bessel beam doesn’t actually exist. Right now, we’re working with knock-offs, but we’re still doing impressive work.

medium_gauss2Unlike a typical laser beam, a Bessel beam does not diffract and get larger as the beam gets farther from its point of origin. Your pen-sized laser pointer creates a tiny dot on your wall because the wall is relatively nearby. If your laser pointer were focused on the moon, and its beam were visible, you wouldn’t see a red dot; you’d see an entire red moon. That household laser will spread so widely that the beam would be wider than the Moon’s diameter. Bessel beams don’t do that. In an ideal Bessel beam, although the rings around the dot spread out, the central beam itself stays focused. Real-world Bessels don’t stay focused forever, but they do hold together a great deal more than the average laser.

One of the most prized attributes of Bessel beams is the fact that the central core of the beam can be blocked, without interrupting the beam. The laser essentially self-heals by using the rings which were not blocked. It’s the optical terminator. It’s also the idea building block for a tractor beam because it won’t drop its load just because a stray space rock zooms through its beam.

How do people make Bessel beams?

Bessel beams are lasers: beams of “coherent” light whose waves are all in phase and moving in the same direction. A standard laser is made by exciting a substance inside a tube, rather like the tube in a neon sign, causing its electrons to jump up a level. When they fall back down they emit photons of one specific wavelength – making the laser one color. But how does their light become coherent? At one end of the covered laser tube is a mirror, bouncing all light off of it, and at the other end a mirror that lets only a certain percentage of light through – and generally only the light that’s coming at it from the right angle. The photons bounce off the walls of the tube until they’re all in phase and moving in the same direction, at which point a certain percentage of them leave in a directed, focused stream.

medium_axicon01Creating a Bessel beam laser meands adding more technology. The laser is put through an axicon lens – a conical lens that directs the different photons of the laser towards a central point. Since light travels in waves, this means that at least two different waves are all hitting each other at the focus point beyond the lens. When light waves collide, two peaks amplify while a peak and a trough cancel out. A Bessel beam is a beam constructed when the peaks of different streams of light hit each other at the right angle to form the central core. The rings around the core are the troughs and peaks of more light waves interfering with each other. (Often scientists will include other elements to create Bessel beams, such as devices that reflect light to the right spot on the lens, or amplify the beam.)

What are Bessel beams used for?

Right now they’re used for working with living cells. Most laser beams have to be focused for peak intensity, and so they require incredible precision. Cells have to be positioned just at the most focused part of the beam. Any error and they’ll be killed. Bessel beams, with their continuous focus, allow scientists more leeway when using things like optical tweezers, or making optical injections into a living cell.

Bessel beams have recently demonstrated their use in physics. Scientists have made a tractor beam from ordinary lasers, but these can only be used to push objects away from the beam, and pin objects down. That’s because all the momentum comes from the direction of the stream of light. Bessel beams, on the other hand, have the ability to reconstruct themselves on the far side of objects. This allows scientists to reach to the other side of an object and pull it back towards the stream of light, Star Trek style.