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Comment Re:Restrict orbits (Score 1) 129

The IADC and its member space agencies (which I think includes the work of Drs. Lewis and Krag) are all studying the effects these large constellations will have on the space debris environment. Here's the IADC statement from last year. The ESA conference this week and IADC next week are starting to show the results.

One issue is that the existing debris-reduction standards allow a certain small probability of payload/mission failure per payload. When a single "mission" launches hundreds or thousands of (possibly identical) payloads, even those small failure rates practically guarantee an increase in failed and abandoned satellites.

The new work will help determine if the regulations should be applied per-satellite (no change), per-constellation (expensive), or something else.

Comment Re:Never mind microbes (Score 1) 231

They can survive, but don't thrive in extreme environments. From what I've read they're pretty much dormant until the environment returns to something they can handle. Also, wikipedia says they "feed on plant cells, algae, and small invertebrates". The seeded bacteria, which survive on heat/light and chemicals, might eventually provide an environment for waterbears.

Comment Re:Banking in Space (Score 1) 131

Agreed. Inertial dampers and gravity generators make stories easier, so even a little bit of physics shows the writers are trying harder. The fictional Starfury of Babylon 5 probably addresses the force and acceleration issues. I think the ideas of modern aerial combat (e.g., drones, missiles) have passed by the N-Dimensional Fighter of the early 1990's, but it's a neat idea.

Comment gig indeed (Score 1) 432

Clever wordplay? When I saw "Uber" I thought the word "gig" referred to a small, horse-drawn carriage. (After looking it up, I see that gig can also be "a light, fast, narrow boat adapted for rowing or sailing".) Then I thought maybe she meant it's harmful, so maybe she meant the pronged-thing-on-a-handle, also known as a frog-sticker. Finally reading the comments, I realized "gig" meant an un-contracted, one-off performance.

Comment Re:Not trying hard enough... (Score 1) 441

I'm pretty sure the "4" comes from mapping the letter grades A, B, C, D, F. "A" has the most points (4) and "F" the least (0). Most of the time -- but not always -- the letter grades have already been mapped from a numerical scale or percentage, e.g., A=[90-100], B=[80-89], C=[70-79], D=[varies?], F=[can't fudge a D].

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