Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Living in the Future
Technology is so seamlessly woven into our daily lives that it's easy to forget how amazing it is. It's only on those occasions when something breaks down that we get a glimpse of the technical underpinnings that make it all possible.
Take, for instance, the Galaxy 15 satellite, which has recently malfunctioned and may cause problems with cable television broadcasts. There's nothing particularly extraordinary about it, just another run-of-the-mill communications satellite in geostationary orbit. But did you know that it's sitting out there in space approximately 22,000 miles above the surface of the Earth? That's almost 1/10th the distance to the Moon. Of course it's not really sitting out there; it's zooming around in the [Arthur C.] Clarke Belt covering about 165,000 miles everyday. Just like all the other geostationary satellites.
These little robots are zipping around all over the sky, but they don't get any press. It's easy to take these things for granted.