Deep Impact: “science” as propaganda

News reports of the Deep Impact space probe’s explosive Independence Day rendezvous with a comet could not have made clearer that the whole affair was barely-disguised patriotic propaganda, very convenient at a time when the Iraq war is turning into a deepening quagmire. Reads a July 5 AP account:

NASA’s Deep Impact Web site registered nearly 1 billion hits when the space probe collided with comet Tempel 1 early Monday — about twice as many hits as the twin Mars rovers got when they parachuted to the Red Planet last year.

The cosmic fireworks from the collision were not red, white and blue and were visible only through telescopes. But the sharp flash of light gave scientists “something to be proud of on America’s birthday,” said Rick Grammier, the mission’s project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

One of the “scientific” justifications for this propaganda spectacle has ominous implications of its own. Writes AP: “The mission will also help scientists understand how they might one day stop a comet if one threatens Earth, but changing a comet’s course would take a far larger strike.”

Given that Earth hasn’t been hit by a comet in 3 billion years of its existence (it was a giant meteor that did in the dinosaurs, and that was 65 million years ago), we wish these geeks would leave well enough alone. The comets presumably orbit the Sun in a gravitational equilibrium, which hubristic experiments like Deep Impact could uspet. In short, the space geeks could actually create a scenario in which Earth is threatened. The satire website Broken Newz headline reads “NASA Probe Puts Comet on Collision Course With Earth.” We aren’t laughing, thank you.

See also WW4 REPORT #46