back to article Quickening satellite quickens pulses at ESA

Baffled Boffins at the European Space Agency (ESA) are hoping that today's Earth fly-by of the Rosetta satellite will shed light on a problem of significant gravity. At 07:45GMT this morning, the ESA's Rosetta started its third fly-past of the Earth, looking for a gravitational sling-shot. This particular event is being …


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  1. Valerion


    Sticky accelerator cable.

  2. DI_Wyman


    Thats been happening to me for years. It takes me 1/2 and hour to travel to work but usually only 20 minutes to get home via the same route.

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Eddies in the space time continuum

    Watch out for white robots with cricket bats!

  4. Fred 1

    Well duuuhhh!

    It's obviously due to the effecet of a micro black hole in erratic orbit around the planet. This will be generated in 3011 by the Really Really Big Hardon Collider, and slip back in time to the current day when they reverse polarity on the cornfield, causing the crop circles to spin backwards.

    Pah! These so called scientists know nothing.

  5. Adam Salisbury


    So who's this Eddie fellow then? :P

    I seem to remember someone exposing a potential flaw in the theory of General Relativity a few years back, presumably no-one listened as I assume it would've required all the physicists starting again from stractch!

  6. Anonymous Coward


    The took in on board their flying egg cup to have a quick shufty, and when they pur it back they pushed it out the door a bit too hard.

  7. Bassey

    Have they checked

    Did they make sure that everyone was using the same units of measurement when they made the calculations? You know what that space lot are like. One lot using yards, the other using metres.

  8. Annihilator


    "These include potential distortions to Earth's space-time fabric, the influence of dark matter and even the prospect of changes being required to the General theory of relativity"

    Or they forgot to carry a 1 somewhere?

    More probably, dealing with 3+body orbits (sun, earth and satelite) in 4 dimensions is actually rather difficult and still not perfect, plus to some degree, the moon and all the other planets play a part.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Boffins are in denial

    This is a typical example of boffin stupidity. The boffins at NASA have spent decades looking at every possible solution, from an error in their tracking systems leaking chemicals acting as mini thrusters, but they refuse to even consider that their mathematical model is wrong.

    We've known for decades that the laws of physics as recorded have serious errors in them, but the boffins refuse to accept this and still go on using incorrect mathematical models. For example, Einsteinian relativity completely falls apart when you factor gravity in. They had to invent the concepts of Super String and dark matter in order to explain away the errors (Super String says that there must be at least 6 dimensions in the universe, the extra ones of which have never in any form been detected by any known science, and dark matter is some ethereal substance that the boffins claim makes up most of the universe, but which is conveniently totally undetectable).

    The boffins should stop trying to re write the universe to match the text books and should start rewriting the text books to match the universe. We can't continue to use mathematical models with errors in, some of which are based on work done over 100 years ago, and which haven't been updated/corrected since.

  10. Henry Gomersall

    not random

    Its not random at all. From the New Scientist article:

    "If it gains an extra 1.1 millimetres per second relative to Earth, it would vindicate a formula that reproduces the anomalies seen so far.

    The formula, published in 2008 by ex-NASA scientist John Anderson and his team, hints that Earth's rotation may be distorting space-time more than expected and thus influencing nearby spacecraft, though no one can explain how."

    Full article here:

    The formula is given on Wikipedia.

  11. Anonymous John


    That would mount up to over 500 km after two years.

  12. Graham Marsden

    "The most exciting phrase to hear in science...

    "... the one that heralds new discoveries, is not 'Eureka!', but 'That's funny...'" - Isaac Asimov

  13. Anonymous Coward

    Re: not random

    I bet when we figure this out, we will know how gravity interacts with spinning magnetism, unifying the last of the four fundamental forces.

  14. twelvebore
    Paris Hilton

    @AC 17:01

    You don't really understand how science works, do you?

    This effect may well end up re-writing the laws of physics, but before we get to that point we have to be damned sure it's not due to some phenomenon that's well currently well understood by the laws of physics, but not factored in to the models used to predict the positions, movements and accelerations of spacecraft.

    To paraphrase Sherlock Holmes “When you have eliminated the possible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” What teh boffins are going through currently if the first bit, eliminating the possible. There are many possibilities, these effects are exquisitely subtle. This is definitely a two-pipe problem.

    Believe what you will though.

    Paris, because she's defied the laws of physics live on video.

  15. The Prevaricator

    @ AC, 17:01 GMT

    Please go back to school.

    Einsteinian relativity, if that is it's real name, is a theory primarily regarding gravity. It is about objects travelling relative to each other and those in different gravitational fields. Perhaps you are confusing it with our little friend "quantum mechanics", which does indeed struggle with anything gravity-related.

    Both of these theories are extremely accurate within their own domains, however. Accuracy of predicted effects for both of these theories is well into nine significant figures for many cases. They are, therefore, the best and most widely used boffinry tools of the trade, despite being nearly one hundred years old in parts.

    A considerable boffinry effort has, in the last three decades or so, looked into all sorts of ways of combining the two, which you quite rightly call "string theory". Unfortunately, it requires many additional dimensions to be present (11 in total if you include time). These, if the nearly unproveable theories are correct, must be rolled or looped up so minutely to be undetectable to even our mightiest atomsmashers (LHC bread-roll-incident permitting).

    It is unfortunately the aim of scientists to study things we do not fully understand. If we understood everything perfectly, we might as well all go home and waste our time on pointless pursuits like commenting on websites and cursing our least favourite operating systems, but why would anybody in their right mind want to do that?

  16. Tim 7


    The spacecraft did not speed up but the earth slowed down . Didn't they just alter the clocks to compensate ?

  17. Quirkafleeg


    “This effect may well end up re-writing the laws of physics…”

    If it does, then that's one intelligent effect…

  18. James 55

    @AC 17:01 - "The Boffins are in denial"

    Aaaaaahahahaha, you are a typical example of a non-scientist thinking that a scientist is doing his job wrong and having a MASSIVE misunderstanding of how science works.

    An element of doubt in science is not a reason to discredit all the other related science, it's a reason to find out what piece of information you are missing.

    You say they "refuse to even consider that their mathematical model is wrong."

    I seriously doubt that and scientists aren't this mysterious "THEY" working to distort how we think. It's more likely, don't you think, that "they" use this model or theory as it's the best fit out of the current lot? You don't think that "they" have it written in stone do you? And that "they" aren't constantly challenging it and putting forward more ideas?

    >"We've known for decades that the laws of physics as recorded have serious errors in them, but >the boffins refuse to accept this and still go on using incorrect mathematical models. For >example, Einsteinian relativity completely falls apart when you factor gravity in."

    What planet do you live on? Who was your teacher? Einsteinian Relativity as you call it is ALL about gravity, the whole theory is based around gravity and how it bends around mass. It's not like he forgot to put it in.

    You also say

    >"They had to invent the concepts of Super String and dark matter in order to explain away the >errors (Super String says that there must be at least 6 dimensions in the universe, the extra >ones of which have never in any form been detected by any known science, and dark matter is >some ethereal substance that the boffins claim makes up most of the universe, but which is >conveniently totally undetectable)."

    The first bit is very true, these theories help to fix problems with space time theory. Yet you said earlier that "they" continue using incorrect models, you now state that "they" don't.

    Finally, we live in a 3d world. Of course it's going to be hard to see the other dimensions, that doesn't mean it can't be done:

    And, dark matter is certainly not magical and is probably detectable

    I guess what I am trying to say is that average Joe once believed that the sun revolved around the earth, but one day someone not too special suggested it didn't, people said it was heresy. You see, there was an element of doubt to what he proposed, there was no way at the time of being certain. More evidence was discovered that supported the theory, now we teach it in pre-schools. It is heartening to think that the SCIENCE prevailed and that the OPINIONS of people who don't matter (I'm thinking of you, AC 17:01, and me) fade away with history.

  19. Disco-Legend-Zeke


    some parts of the earth are denser than others...

  20. Mike Banahan

    @Fred 1

    The Really Big Hard On Collider? I want to know where that's located please. Sounds much better than the puny efforts of Paris and her mates

  21. Avalanche
    IT Angle

    FP calc?

    Or maybe they used floating point calculations ;)

  22. Michael Friesen

    Real Density


    AC @ 17:01 says scientists are dullards; James 55 @ 14:18 debunks this quite nicely, and Disco-Legend-Zeke @ 20:28 suggests that the problem lies in the density of mountains.

    I propose we combine the three: it IS about density, but not of mountains. Where exactly did the anomalous acceleration occur? Near the whereabouts of AC @ 17:01? Whilst flying above a ranch in Texas? Above Quebec?

    Look in the light of what you're searching for.

  23. John Smith 19 Gold badge

    As one scientist put it

    "We are at the moment in such a deep state of confusion that we are bound to learn something from it. "

    The Anderson formua referred to seems to be an empirical one derived by a data reduction process. This gives you a formula shape and values for constants to plug in, but not *why* they have those values.

    No one has mentioned if this has happened on other slingshots around other planets (JPL have IIRC used Venus, Mars and Jupiter in the past) , or was the data data too inaccurate to tell in those cases?

    Mine will have "Instruments & Experiences" by RV Jones in the large side pocket.

  24. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
    Paris Hilton


    I blame Paris, al those right hands moving at the same time has created a wobble in the earths rotation that the Boffins haven't compensated for

    Paris, QED, not the latin meaning, the other one

  25. TRT Silver badge

    Pardon the sun - it farted.

    Nothing to do with solar wind, flares and eruptions then?

  26. Anonymous Coward

    Thanks, guys...

    Life's obviously too short to take **everything** the Universe throws at us too seriously...

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