Is Life Possible Around Binary Stars? | Space

Addressing recent controversies + A new idea for the Trusted Sellers list.

Hello everyone. I just took a brief hiatus from moderating, as I’ve been in the process of a major post-graduation move. I just caught up with some of the recent controversy regarding Will, and we did a thorough investigation on the matter. Unfortunately, we found evidence of bad faith on the side of the primary individual attacking Will, including usage of alternate accounts to fake grassroots momentum in the "petition” to remove (which he deleted, after being found out), as well as strong suspicions of vote manipulation. Luckily, nothing worthy of an exposé post, like the last time this happened. We have no reason to believe that his motives were more nefarious than simply getting the attention and gratification of being a Cancel Culture Star. But suffice it to say, we are disinclined to bow to his attempt to “cancel” Will.
That said, Will is far from innocent. Most of the comments on the individuals posts were not fake and/or motivated for the same reasons as the user behind the main posts. We identified many issues via customer anecdotes and examples of Will’s (un)professional manner, which will not continue to fly as a trusted seller on this board. Will is going to be on thin ice for the time being, and despite being an OG seller on Repsneakers, we are not opposed to removing or even blacklisting him from the TS list if issues persist.
Onto the next topic: It is unfortunate that we have had to remove several trusted sellers recently, and I have come to the realization that the current system is not optimal in the way list removals are handled. For example, until a few months ago, UABat was one of the most popular sellers on this subreddit. But he was recently removed from the TS list. Despite this removal, he still appears to be dedicated to making amends with the community, and climbing out of the hole he dug himself into. Not good enough to be on the TS list. Not bad enough to be on the blacklist...
So what do we do about these situations where we have sellers have solid history of good service, but go through rough patches which cause loss of confidence by the community? Simply being removed from the list and forgotten/shunned doesn’t seem to be the best answer.
The solution may be a third section for the purpose of further distinguishing the many sellers on this board. The idea is to categorize sellers in a less polarizing way than the simply binary (tri-nary?) "on the list", "off the list", or "blacklisted". We would call this section “New/Probationary Sellers”, which is yet another idea adopted from our grandfather community, RWI Forum.
In this section, we would post profiles for new or new-to-Repsneakers sellers which have established a positive/neutral reputation on Repsneakers, but not yet to the extent that they belong on the TS list. We would also migrate profiles for sellers which were previously on the TS list, but fell out of favor with the community for reasons which did not justify blacklisting. Sellers on this "NP list” will have the opportunity to move up to the TS list if they prove their commitment to the community.
The primary purpose of the pinned post is to provide easily-accessible information on the full breadth of sellers on this board, including those which should be avoided (the blacklist). Merely removing sellers from the TS list does the community a disservice, because users will be left with questions about why ‘x’ seller is not on the list, but also isn’t blacklisted. I believe creating a fuller picture of the marketplace options will have a positive effect. It may also result in probationary sellers finding more motivation to earn their place back on the TS list, and remain there.
This may apply to all or most of the recent removals from the TS List, such as Vicky and UABat, as well as new sellers like Firecloud and Wedosneakers.
Let me know what you guys think of the idea. I hope all my fellow Americans had a good Independence Day! 🇺🇸
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A Brief introduction to African Socialism

At the end of the Second World War, Europe realized that their hold on their colonial holdings was slipping fast. Most of them began to draw up plans to gradually grant independence. The people within these countries however had different priorities. They saw their chance to break from the colonial masters and took it. In 1950, only Egypt, Liberia, Ethiopia, and South Africa could be considered independent, by 1965 the vast majority of nations were on their own. Some flourished, some languished, but almost all improved with their newfound freedom.
At this time, the world was locked in a struggle between Western Democracy and Communist Dictatorship. With little warning, a new theater opened in the Cold War. Africans were given the decision of who to side with. As an enemy of their former masters, the Soviet Union made a natural ally, and Socialism's anti-imperial (theoretic) stance appealed to people in post imperial regions of the world. Since independence, seventeen African nations have had a government which self-identified as socialist, six of those as Marxist-Leninist. Like Africa itself, socialist movements in the continent were varied and diverse. Ranging from self described socialist Nelson Mandella becoming celebrated world wide for his devotion to peace and equality to Ethiopian dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam, whose violence and economic mismanagement killed thousands.
The purpose of this post is to describe the ideological origins and tenets of African socialism, with a look at what makes it distinct from mainstream Communist movements. On this map red shows those states which identified as Marxist, yellow shows those which identified as with a variety of other forms of socialism, and green shows those which more closely fall under the Arab Socialist movement and will not be discussed here.

Ideological Origins

Broadly speaking, African Socialism drew inspiration from two main sources, the traditional body of socialist literature and that of the Pan-African movement.
Socialism
Both the ideological tenets of socialism and the practical concerns socialist nations played a role in African nations adopting socialism. Most of the nations of Africa were in a struggle for freedom from capitalist European countries and found a natural ally in the Soviet Union. Following WWII, it was in many ways a binary choice to side with the US or USSR. Those who led rebellions or coups against US backed leaders had few options other than the USSR.
Political concerns aside, there were many reasons why socialism was ideologically attractive to educated Africans. Socialism is at its base revolutionary. "Let the ruling classes tremble at a Communistic revolution. The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win. Workingmen of all countries unite!” With even a cursory glance at Marx, it doesn't take much imagination to see why people oppressed for decades would turn to him.
The anti-Imperial rhetoric of socialism (regardless of the actual aggression of the USSR and PRC) was another motivating factor. In this case, I point to Vladimir Lenin's Imperialism: the Highest Stage of Capitalism. In this work, Lenin points towards imperialism as a symptom of the capitalist system. However, one of the reasons this work remained applicable after the collapse of most overseas empires is due to his characterization of imperialism. One example he gives in the book speaks of US domination of the Argentine beef industry. According to Lenin, though the US never carved out a concession area or installed a governor general, they used economic power to dominate the industry and exert control over the country. This characterization rang true for many people who looked at the efforts taken by former colonial powers looking to retain their economic stakes in their old colonies.
One of the problems socialists face in implementing their policy is that Orthodox Marxism is heavily based on the conditions of 19th century Western Europe, and when applied outside of those conditions, thinkers need to reconcile the inconsistencies with the conditions on the ground. While we will look at how various African leaders adapted the ideology, one sub-ideology which played a major role in African Socialism was Maoism. Orthodox Marxism focuses heavily on a revolution based around industrial workers. Early 20th century China, much like post-colonial Africa had little in the way of industry. Mao re conceptualized the idea of the proletariat to include peasant farmers and made the revolution as agrarian as it was industrial. For example, the first president of Socialist Madagascar released an ideology book heavily inspired by Mao's Red Book. China also served as an alternative source of support in the event of a conflict with Russia; Somalia received aid from the PRC when they were at war with Soviet aligned Ethiopia.
Pan- African Movement
The Pan-African movement did not solely influence the African Socialist movement. In fact, almost all post-colonial governments took inspiration from many of the tenets of movement. Nor were all the central figures socialists, indeed Emperor Halie Salassi of Ethiopia was about as far from socialist as could be. However there was a degree of mutual influence in a number of places. The start of it can be traced to Jamaican thinker Marcus Garvey. The Pan-African colors and the icon of the Black Star both came from him. Kwame Nkrumah mentioned him directly as an influence. This remained on the nationalist and pan-nationalist side of African socialism. This and racial empowerment remained a constant theme in African socialism, with many African thinkers rejecting class reductionism. African's tended to be acutely aware of the role of race in world politics and used it in conjunction with class and capitalist interest to explain the world.
Another major thinker was American W. E. B. du Bois. One of the founding members of the NAACP and author of one of the first sociological works about African Americans, Du Bois is one of the most important figures of the American Civil Rights Movement. Du Bois was in reality a Social Democrat, who often saw world communist governments as a means to an end for black people. In Socialism and the American Negro, he referred to the New Deal as a America's foray into Socialism. Though a stalwart supporter of democracy he visited Mao Zedong and Joseph Stalin personally. He was a strong opponent of colonization and spoke to young leaders in the 1945 Pan-African congress. There he met future President of Ghana Kwame Nkrumah. He would become a mentor to Nkrumah and move to Accra in his final days.

Non-Marxist-Leninist Socialism

Many of the most interesting and successful movements in Africa were non-Marxist-Leninist. They took local beliefs and attitudes and molded socialism to fit them. These were incredibly diverse, ranging from forms of social democracy to far more authoritarian structures. The leaders ranged from educated elites to guerrilla leaders. The first socialist governments sprang up at independence and continued through the Cold War. These are some of the more notable ones.
Consciencism
Few other thinkers have had near the lasting influence on African politics and philosophy as Kwame Nkrumah. Born to a poor family in the British Gold Coast, Nkrumah was sent to school by his family where he excelled. Interested in Politics and Philosophy, he saved money to pay to visit the United States. He worked menial jobs to put himself through school at Lincoln University and University of Pennsylvania. In the US he became close to expat and American leftists as well as enjoying African American culture. After graduating he went to the London School of Economics. This is where he began political organizing. He returned to the Gold Coast where he founded the Convention People's Party. When the British began increasing local rule, his party swept. When the British did not meet the demands of the Ghanian people, he became a champion of the people with his down to earth nature and organization of general strikes. When Ghana was given full independence, he was the overwhelming choice.
A strict empiricist, Nkrumah sought to make an organic political philosophy that was designed to change as the material needs of the country changed. He determined that the welfare of the individual was the most important concern of the government and society. It was from this lens that he criticized capitalism, contending that it reduced man to a means to achieving the goal of profit. He pointed to traditional African values, Islam, and European influences as the three ideological tides that shaped Africa. The latter two he condemned, though admitted their merits where he saw them (such as the French education system), and gave qualified approval to the first. African society was to be, in spirit but not practice the driver of society. This meant that pan-Africanism and historical study were to be focused on, but the actual institutions such as tribalism, traditional monarchy, and class hierarchies were to be abandoned.
This is where socialism came into Nkrumah's Consciencism. It was not out of devotion to Marxist thinking, but out of a belief that socialist economic structures would be the most effective way of leading the country to prosperity. In a 1967 address he gave in Egypt he stated "Socialism is not spontaneous. It does not arise of itself. It has abiding principles according to which the major means of production and distribution ought to be socialized if exploitation of the many by the few is to be prevented; if, that is to say, egalitarianism in the economy is to be protected. Socialist countries in Africa may differ in this or that detail of their policies, but such differences themselves ought not to be arbitrary or subject to vagaries of taste. They must be scientifically explained, as necessities arising from differences in the particular circumstances of the countries themselves." To Nkrumah, Socialism was not prescriptive, but rather a process where one used communal ownership as needed to create a better society. He was a believer in the idea of scientific socialism in believing that socialism came from the natural needs of the people, rather than an ideological devotion.
Ujamaa
If Nkrumah was a product of the study of Philosophy, Julius Nyerere was a product of the study of anthropology and history. Unlike Nkrumah, Nyerere was the product of elite lineage. His father was a chief who earned the favor of both the German, and later British Administrations in Tanganyika. He was chosen by the British to receive education to be a local leader and studied at Makerere College before finishing his post graduate work at University of Edinburgh. Upon returning, he founded the Tanganyika African National Union, which pushed for independence from the UK through non-violent protest.
His philosophy of Ujamaa, meaning familyhood in Swahili, became the guiding ideology of the party and independent Tanganyika (and Tanzania after their unification with Zanzibar). In this ideology, Nyerere posits that socialism is the natural state of African people. Before the introduction of Western influences, African people lived in an equal and communitarian society. While he admits the existence of elites he countered that the relative equality of means meant that there was no comparison to modern economic structures. For Africans to be prosperous, they had to return to the social structures as well as the spirit of pre-colonial Africa, while accepting modernizations that would benefit the common man.
He posited that African society had a natural social value attached to work, and this work was done, not to the benefit of a capitalist elite, but to the benefit of society, thus with the fruits of labor belonging to society, they could be considered socialist. Through a return to these structures, they could have a socialist society that was structured on the needs of Africans, rather than those of 19th century Europeans. He regarded Marxists as rigid and dogmatic, stating that, "The works of Marx and Lenin are regarded as holy writ… We find them condemning others actions because they do not accord with what the 'priests of scientific socialism' have decided is the true meaning." His ontology marked the community as the basic unit. He believed in socialism through consent of the people, but not necessarily through democracy.

Marxist-Leninism

Marxist-Leninist nations in Africa tend to fill a different niche that those of non-Marxist states. Non-Marxist states tended to grow from movements within the countries with a locally based variant of socialism guiding the development of government structures. Marxist states on the other hand tended to come from the geopolitical needs of the nation. They tended to lean heavily into the support of the Soviet Union or People's Republic of China. These governments tended to be criticized by Orthodox Marxists both within the countries and abroad for simply slapping a Marxist aesthetic on a run of the mill authoritarian state. This is not universal, and depended on the leader and movement. Thomas Sankara (referred to as the African Che Guevara) is celebrated by leftists for his attempts to organize Burkina Faso, whereas his successor Blaise Compaoré simply co-opted Marxist symbolism until the end of the Cold War when it was dropped entirely. The two states I will profile show a best and worst case for African Marxists.
Benin
Nothing I write would be complete without me mentioning Benin somewhere. The Republic of Dahomey gained its freedom from France August 1st, 1960. At that time Hubert Maga, a school teacher turned politician from the North was named first president. Benin is divided into three broad super-cultural groups (though there are a total of 64 ethnic groups). The Fon in the South, the Yoruba in the East, and the Bariba and other Muslims in the North. The Maga government was soon overthrown and the country rapidly switched between a number of governments, each dedicated to giving as much as possible to their constituent area before being removed from office.
This changed in 1972 when a young army officer named Mathieu Kerekou led a successful coup. Kerekou was different in the sense that he had no real ties to any of the political families that had been competing for power. He also ended the system of clientism that had defined Dahomeyan politics to that point (though some contend he showed bias against the Fon. Strongly nationalistic, Kerekou made his hatred for the French clear early on, pointing to them as the cause of many of the country's problems and the patron of the old regime.
In 1974, Kerekou changed the country's name from the Republic of Dahomey to the People's Republic of Benin and formally adopted Marxism-Leninism as the guiding ideology of the nation. Oil reserves and refineries as well as the banking system were rapidly nationalized and Kerekou made overtures to international communist nations for aid. Austerity programs were also quickly ended. The North Koreans were particularly close allies. Curiously, Kerekou worked to retain warm relations with the United States. Peace Corps remained in operation through his entire presidency and working in the American embassy was considered a strong stepping stone.
The practical effects for the average Beninese person varied from urban to village. Local leaders were required to be members of the People's Revolutionary Party, and extreme corruption and inefficiency meant that few resources radiated outside of population centers. Instilled with a strong labor union tradition during French occupation, the national labor movement was consolidated into a single approved union that was basically mandated to follow government orders. Unionized workers as well as students were the chief opponents of the regime and faced significant surveillance and harassment.
This started to change in the mid 80s as it became clear that the regime's economic reforms weren't working. Benin was lagging behind its neighbors Ghana, Togo, and Nigeria. On top of this, student groups and workers in unofficial unions were demanding change. Simultaneously, the election of Francois Mitterrand in France opened a new era in Franco-Beninese relations, shifting the nation back to Western alignment away from the moribund USSR. Under mounting pressure, Kerekou agreed to a constitutional referendum and free elections. Upon his loss, he gracefully stepped down in 1991, but was reelected in 1996. Having dropped Marxism, he led his second term as a moderate liberal, doing little to harm the economic and political reforms of the early 90s.
Ethiopia
Ethiopia, on the other hand, faced the fullest horror of Communism and likely suffered to a similar extent to Ukraine and China. In 1970, the Solomonic Dynasty leading the Empire of Ethiopia was one of the oldest royal houses in the world dating back to 1270 and drawing its lineage back to the Biblical King Solomon. Their last Emperor was Halie Selassie, celebrated among Pan-Africanists as one of the only African leaders to resist colonization. Though celebrated by the diaspora, Selassie's rule was authoritarian and secretive. In 1973, a famine hit Ethiopia. Rather than petition for aid Selassie covered it up, and only accepted aid on the contingency that it was given in secret. The inaction of the Emperor prompted a revolutionary council known as the Derg to take over.
This council quickly moved to numerous industries. Eritrean, Tigre, and Somali nationalists took advantage of the situation to launch offensives against the government. When the Carter Administration warned the Derg to cease the human rights violations they were committing in the crackdown, they cut ties with Washington and invited East-German and Soviet military advisors. In the Tigre region, the Ethiopian military embarked on a scorched earth offensive to quell the rebellion. Using such tactics in a nation with food security concerns was probably ill-advised. The offensive in the North consumed around two thirds of the national budget.
The problems the Derg had created were compounded in 1983. In 1982, the rains failed and there was risk of another great famine. Having become an international pariah due to the extreme violence of Derg forces, the international community was reluctant to give aid and the Reagan administration lobbied heavily against it as part of his campaign to halt Communism in the Horn of Africa. When the famine hit in earnest, the Derg mobilized to create collective farms. These farms were incredibly inefficient, consuming 82% of imported fertilizer while contributing only 15% of grain production. To staff these farms, people from offending areas, particularly Tigre were forcibly removed from their homes and shipped to location. Africa Watch estimates that around 50,000 people died on these farms alone, comparing conditions to the Ukrainian farms in the days of Stalin. In total, as many as 1.2 million people were killed, 2.5 million displaced, with Human Rights Watch estimating that around half could be attributed to government actions.

Conclusion

Socialism is a phenomenon that struck the African continent in many ways across the Cold War era and beyond. Its incarnations were as diverse as the groups it affected. This is by no means an exhaustive look at African socialism, but simply a chance for the reader to find a starting place for further study and give context to an under studied part of the world. Indeed, there were many important people and thinkers left out, such as Cheikh Anta Diop, Walter Rodney, and Siad Barre. Please let me know in the comments what if anything you would like to learn more about. If you found the philosophical analysis or historical fact more interesting, I would be happy to write more about it.
Sources African Socialism Revisited- Kwame Nkrumah
Ujamma – The Basis of African Socialism- Julius K. Nyerere
Drought, War, and the Politics of Famine in Ethiopia and Eritrea- Edmond J. Keller
Applying the weapon of theory: comparing the philosophy of Julius Kambarage Nyerere and Kwame Nkrumah- Tomáš František Žák
Three African social theorists on class struggle, political liberation, and indigenous culture : Cheikh Anta Diop, Amilcar Cabral, Kwame Nkrumah - Charles Simon-Aaron
Socialism and the American Negro- W. E. B. Du Bois
Benin- Chris Allen
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Gravity's Rainbow Group Read | Sections 13-16 | Week 5

Well folks, this was a doozy of a week, wasn’t it? Some of these sections are quite challenging, for a variety of reasons. But we also see some pretty critical plot developments, and some genuine hilarity at poor Slothrop’s expense, too. Gotta love that cubeb.
This is also where the book really takes off in terms of it’s story arc (especially Slothrop’s origin story), as well as its embrace of sexual deviancy in all its forms, so I’m very curious to see the reactions from the first-timers. It’s a lot to take in.
Anyhoo, I’ll start this with a broader summary of themes, then break the summary and analysis down by section, and include some discussion prompts at the end. There’s a lot to work with this week - this section was twice as long as previous weeks. This analysis is going to be lengthy, but I’ll try to keep as focused as I can.
Several broad themes start to crystallize by this point in the narrative, especially opposition, which takes a multitude of forms: 1-0, white-black, death-life, social control-anarchy, Capitalism-black market, division-unification, colonizer-colonized, domination-submission, Elect-Preterite.
My ordering of items in those pairings is intentional. This book (and Pynchon) sees white, Euro-American colonial culture as intimately tied to a need for control, domination, and a belief in salvation (everyone likes to think they’re part of the Elect, nicht wahr?), which results in a culture of death and division. The War is the embodiment of this. Pynchon repeatedly takes the side of the Preterite - the anarchist, the minority, the colonized. Pigs, which Pynch clearly loves, seem to be emblematic of this noble-yet-humble Preterite.
Related to that is the idea of resisting baser desires and human nature vs accepting them vs sublimating them into full-blown pathologies (e.g. colonialism, Crutchfield the Westwardman). Many of the worst symptoms of society stem from our artificial divisions and denial of the natural order.
So, if we have deadly, pervasive, controlling systems, what are us poor folks stuck inside them to do? How do we free ourselves from the System? From Them?
Pynchon brings up at least three options in this week’s reading:
1.Escape (Katje leaving, vs Gottfried’s passive waiting for salvation) 2.Enjoy the good and ignore the negative (Jessica trying to live in her bubble with Roger, vs. Roger’s unhappy focus on the negatives without being able to change them) 3.Blow it all up (Katje’s option for Schußstelle 3, which she decides against, vs what? Death, perhaps?)
Finally, I’d like to discuss an underlying theme based on a separate work that has strongly influenced Pynchon, and Gravity’s Rainbow: T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. I never realized this before, but I’ve read the poem probably 75 times since I last read GR, so I’m pretty familiar with it by this point.
I highly recommend reading it, but it’s primarily about the decline of Europe after WWI into a wasteland and the death-and-rebirth cycle. A central theme relates to the ancient belief that the harvest god (or later, the king, such as in Arthurian legend) was fundamentally tied to the land. If the king was young and vibrant, the land would be fertile. As the king became old or fell ill, the land would become barren. Thus the king (or harvest god - see the Hanged Man of the tarot) would be sacrificed, either literally or symbolically, so he could be reborn and the land could be restored. “Death is a debt to nature due…” as ol’ Constant Slothrop’s epitaph read. We see this concept explicitly addressed in section 16 (p. 131):
If he’s not in fact the War then he’s its child-surrogate, living high for a certain term but come the ceremonial day, look out. The true king only dies a mock death. Remember. Any number of young men may be selected to die in his place while the real king, foxy old bastard, goes on.
The king is dead. Long live the king.
So how does this connect to our broader themes? Remember earlier when we discussed the invisible hand of the market, and how the economy and even social order are now hidden, directionless systems with no ruler?
If the king is the land and the land is the king, what do we think would happen to the land, to society, if we replaced the king with an invisible, incomprehensible force that operated under its own rules, outside human control? The chaos of WWII? The mass death without clear cause? The markets taking on a life of their own?
I think that’s what Pynchon’s getting at here. Would love your take.
On to our section summaries…
Section 13
YouTube Recording by u/ShisusBolton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69MV1vafocs
Here we delve further into formal psychology and it’s specific application not just on dogs, but humans.
We are finally shown the origin of Slothrop’s unique ability - psychological conditioning by Professor Jampf on poor “Infant Tyrone,” in an experiment that echoes the very real “Little Albert” experiment. We also learn why the connection is sexual - a simple matter of binary practicality to make it easier for lab assistants to measure the response to stimulus x. But what IS this mysterious stimulus? More importantly, was Infant Tyrone properly de-conditioned? It would appear not. Here we get a direct quote from Pavlov, the source for this part’s title. The concept of a “silent extinction beyond the zero,” the failure of which is the source of Slothrop’s rather intimate connection to the V2.
Slothrop is part of the psychological Preterite - a poor sap doomed from the beginning to be abnormal, no chance for salvation here. Controlled entirely by outside forces he’s not even aware of.
Apparently Slothrop’s “talent” is pretty damn precise, since his stars line up perfectly with the rocket strikes. We see some competing explanations for how this could be - from psychokinesis to some echo back through time of the rocket’s blast. We see characters all desperate to figure out why so they can predict where next? Maybe find out if they’re part of the Elect or not. The one possibility none of them consider, cannot consider: what if it’s all random? That’s too terrifying to contemplate for people who believe in predestination. Of course, only Jessica has the empathy to wonder if the women have all died or not.
As a slight aside, on p. 85 we get a linguistic exploration of the concept of “beyond the zero” by Mexico that I really loved:
Odd, odd, odd - think of the word: such white finality in its closing clap of the tongue. It implies moving past the tongue-stop - beyond the zero - and into the other realm. Of course, you don’t move past. But you do realize, intellectually, that’s how you ought to be moving.
The play on “ought” as the extension of “odd” beyond the zero is delightful. Here we also see “white” (remember our many examples of opposition?) being tied to finality. No death-rebirth cycle here.
We are then witness to a discussion between Pointsman and Mexico where the opposition of their personalities comes into sharp relief. Pointsman seeks binary cause/effect, Mexico seeks alternative between the 1 and the 0 - he proposes to “strike off at some other angle.” That scares Pointsman - it undermines not just his science but his fundamental worldview. His is one of predestination.
This also ties into the broader idea of how everyone’s actions and beliefs are consistently shaped by their (often unconscious) fundamental view of the nature of reality and how the world works. Thus, every character’s actions reflect not just their personalities, but distinct assumptions about the nature of causality, of human behavior, of society, of life and death.
Misc. notes:
The abbey near the White Visitation is described as a ruin on a cliff (p. 86) - it brings to mind the Tower from the Tarot and the related imagery of the Castle Perilous (both referenced in The Waste Land).
On p. 90-91 - I’m not positive, but this jumped out to me as an allusion to the play Waiting for Godot. The phrasing and pace of the segment starting “Why do you need me” and ending on the next page with “Help me” sounds very similar to an early scene in Godot, and the works share the themes of purposelessness, meaningless, invisible control, and the question of salvation.
Section 14
YouTube Recording by u/BodinethePig: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6RFKZPX8rQ
Back to the mansion of the opening scene’s banana breakfast. An anonymous cameraman (is it us, the reader?) lends an element of voyeurism, as Katje models for the camera - but why? Meanwhile, Osbie Feel is busy making psychedelic cigarettes from mushrooms grown on the roof.
Pynchon notes Katje’s dress, and I suspect the focus on the name used for that particular cocoa shade is a subtle example of England’s casual racism and colonial past. A derogatory term repurposed for a product.
A view of Osbie’s oven triggers a flashback for Katje, to her time as a double-agent reporting to Pirate on the rocket battery Schußstelle 3, under the command of the sadistic Captain Blicero. We first heard of him back during the seance. His true name is Weissmann (literally white man), and his code name, Blicero, is the Teutonic name for death.
I mentioned the theme of opposition at the beginning of this increasingly-lengthy post, and Blicero is emblematic of one pole - literally white, male, colonizing death. But his teeth reveal hidden decay behind the white exterior. If Blicero is the personification of white Euro-American colonial culture, Pynchon’s saying there’s rot there, and it ain’t pretty.
Here’s where S&M comes into the narrative, in a darkly graphic way. Pynchon is fully willing to make the reader uncomfortable by confronting the parts of life that we normally avoid talking about or acknowledging, including those on the fringe. On top of that, we get the image of Der Kinderofen, echoing both Grimm’s fairy tale of Hansel and Gretel as well as the ovens of the concentration camps.
The house that Blicero, Katje, and Gottfried inhabit is a microcosm of colonialism and/or modern society. It’s literally referred to as “their Little State.” If that’s the case, Katje and Gottfried represent two responses to such a scenario: Katje decides that quitting the game is only way out, whereas Gottfried waits for salvation. Gottfried is confident he’s part of the Elect, but Katje isn’t so sure, and takes matters into her own hands. Meanwhile, the oven looms in the background - both the base of the State, and its ultimate destruction (p. 99). Is Pynchon implying that the modern state is fundamentally self-destructive? It would seem so.
We also get our first look at the other end of the arc: the rockets being fired. Interestingly, we realize they’re not as all-powerful and precise as they first appear. Deadly, sure, but many are exploding right after launch, even on the launchpad, killing the operators.
The flashback to Blicero’s history in colonial Africa introduces us to the Herero people, including Blicero’s lover, Enzian. Enzian represents an entirely different worldview from Blicero - a non-European, non-binary, non-Christian perspective. One of his gods, Ndjambi Karunga, represents the merging of the opposing forces that are so disconnected in the European’s worldview.
Back to the house, and we get more insight into Gottfried’s character. He’s clearly a passive participant, submissive, willing to do as he’s told. “If you cannot sing Siegfried at least you can carry a spear.” (p. 103). He accepts the suffering he endures as part of the system, a normal stage in life before moving on to some career of his own, some form of autonomy. But he doesn’t see any action required on his part to make this happen. After all, “He knows, like everyone, that captive children are always freed in the moment of maximum danger.” (p. 103). That’s the faith of one convinced he’s part of the Elect.
Here we see one of the most well-known quotes from the book - “Don’t forget the real business of the War is buying and selling…. The true war is a celebration of markets.” (p. 105). In the interest of brevity, I’ll leave it to y’all to delve more into this critical section, but at least on the surface, it gives one of Pynchon’s more direct statements on the nature of war, its function, and its objectification of human life.
We also get a fascinating aside on Katje’s ancestor committing avian genocide against the dodoes, that most unfortunate of birds. Yet again, we’re examining the conflict of Preterite vs Elect, and how the fantasy of salvation is is a way to pacify those who are doomed in their current lives. If not that, then all is chance and the dodoes are “only our prey. God could not be that cruel.” (p. 111). But couldn’t he? The evidence doesn’t appear in god’s favor, does it?
Last but not least, we see Katje’s film being put to use to condition good ol’ octopus Grigori. But again, to what end?
Section 15
YouTube Recording (by yours truly): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dPgiptRr-W0
Mrs. Quoad! One of the funniest scenes in the book, and one of my favorites. It showcases both Pynchon’s visceral descriptive abilities as well as the insanity of prewar British candy.
Before the Disgusting English Candy Drill, we see Slothrop’s exit from a controlled, laboratory setting and instead being released “into the wild” for observation. He is moving toward Pointsman’s Rorschach-esque experiment, the nature of which is as-yet unknown, but which occupies much of Book 2.
This also marks the beginning of Slothrop’s (fully justified) paranoia. In the words of my father, “it’s not paranoia if they’re actually watching you.” Slothrop senses he’s being followed, observed, and starts to get a bit jumpy. Wouldn’t you?
My analysis is already far too long, so I’m grateful for this mercifully short and simple section. I think we all needed some levity after Blicero, no? Something tells me Pynchon was thinking the same thing in granting the reader this reprieve.
Section 16
YouTube Recording by u/DanteNathanael: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NapZnTK3TRU
In this section, we see more of Roger and Jessica’s history together, and the contrast between his more fearful, negative recognition of the System in which they live, and Jessica’s more carefree willingness to focus on the moments of joy she can find. But even nihilistic Roger finds some beauty on this Christmas eve walk.
An aside: the line, “who are all these people…. Freaks! Freeeeaks!” absolutely cracks me up.
The rest of this section alludes heavily to another poem by our friend T.S. Eliot, Journey of the Magi. It’s fairly short and accessible, and a truly beautiful work. It’s told from the point of view of one of the magi, looking back on his journey:
All this was a long time ago, I remember, / And I would do it again, but set down / This set down / This: were we led all that way for / Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly / We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death, / But had thought they were different; this Birth was / Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We get glimpses into how the War has worn down the population, drained them, recycled even the most mundane objects (e.g. toothpaste tubes) into material for the war. But we also see a reversal of this, with Spam tins recycled into toys for children. An echo of the death/rebirth cycle we previously saw with the king and the land, and in the poem above. A glimmer of hope?
Pynchon discusses how the War relies on the illusion of unity but in fact is founded on disunity, on division. Society and the System depend on broad perception of rational, ordered, mechanistic system. Surrealism, the removal of this illusion of borders, en masse is societal suicide. But also an inextricable part of it. As with the microcosm of Blicero’s oven, the end is baked into the origin. The ordered reality of the System is a facade - even time’s sped up thanks to the War. In fact, Roger’s first moment of optimism, of faith, comes after the choir’s act of “minor surrealism” - the removal of artificial boundaries between race, culture, language (p. 129).
The War destroys the death/rebirth cycle: its death is a finality, with just a gold start as a consolation prize for the dead who lay buried under the snow in a bomb crater, and humans subdivided to the point of being individually numbered. But for a second, for just a second on Christmas eve, people can forget that - even Roger, who enters the ultraparadoxical phase when sound of the choir overcomes his knee-jerk nihilism and actually brings him back around to hope, if just for that night.
Questions
  1. What are your thoughts on Professor Jampf’s experiment on poor Infant Tyrone? What might be variable “x”? Does that even matter?
  2. Is Slothrop “sensing” the rockets before they are launched? Are the rockets somehow drawn to the locations of his sexual forays? Is he reading the minds of the rocket operators? Or worse, and most terrifyingly, is it all somehow coincidence?
  3. What was your initial reaction to the section with Blicero, Katje, and Gottfried? Did your perspective change after you finished the entire section?
  4. Why didn’t Katja give up location of Schußstelle 3?
  5. How does “the Change” that Blicero is fixated on play into our larger themes? There’s an allusion here to both Ovid’s Metamorphoses and several Romantic poets. How would you define Blicero’s desires?
  6. The Mrs. Quoad scene seems to largely be a light aside to break up some pretty heavy material. But is there anything more to it? Any other insights to be pulled from the candy jar?
Well, if you made it all the way to the end of this, thank you. I think I put more energy into this than several college essays I turned in, but it was a lot of fun, and I’m blown away by how much I gained from this exercise. I’m excited to see what insights you have!
Addendum: great discussion so far! Thanks for the excellent insights and observations!
submitted by KieselguhrKid13 to ThomasPynchon [link] [comments]

MAME 0.221

MAME 0.221

Our fourth release of the year, MAME 0.221, is now ready. There are lots of interesting changes this time. We’ll start with some of the additions. There’s another load of TV games from JAKKS Pacific, Senario, Tech2Go and others. We’ve added another Panorama Screen Game & Watch title: this one features the lovable comic strip canine Snoopy. On the arcade side, we’ve got Great Bishi Bashi Champ and Anime Champ (both from Konami), Goori Goori (Unico), the prototype Galun.Pa! (Capcom CPS), a censored German version of Gun.Smoke, a Japanese location test version of DoDonPachi Dai-Ou-Jou, and more bootlegs of Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, Final Fight, Galaxian, Pang! 3 and Warriors of Fate.
In computer emulation, we’re proud to present another working UNIX workstation: the MIPS R3000 version of Sony’s NEWS family. NEWS was never widespread outside Japan, so it’s very exciting to see this running. F.Ulivi has added support for the Swedish/Finnish and German versions of the HP 86B, and added two service ROMs to the software list. ICEknight contributed a cassette software list for the Timex NTSC variants of the Sinclair home computers. There are some nice emulation improvements for the Luxor ABC family of computers, with the ABC 802 now considered working.
Other additions include discrete audio emulation for Midway’s Gun Fight, voice output for Filetto, support for configurable Toshiba Pasopia PAC2 slot devices, more vgmplay features, and lots more Capcom CPS mappers implemented according to equations from dumped PALs. This release also cleans up and simplifies ROM loading. For the most part things should work as well as or better than they did before, but MAME will no longer find loose CHD files in top-level media directories. This is intentional – it’s unwieldy with the number of supported systems.
As usual, you can get the source and 64-bit Windows binary packages from the download page. This will be the last month where we use this format for the release notes – with the increase in monthly development activity, it’s becoming impractical to keep up.

MAME Testers Bugs Fixed

New working machines

New working clones

Machines promoted to working

Clones promoted to working

New machines marked as NOT_WORKING

New clones marked as NOT_WORKING

New working software list additions

Software list items promoted to working

New NOT_WORKING software list additions

Source Changes

submitted by cuavas to emulation [link] [comments]

Quality Contributions Report for June 2/2, 2020

Quality Contributions Report for June 2/2, 2020

This is the Quality Contributions Roundup. It showcases interesting and well-written comments and posts from the period covered – in this case the last two weeks. If you want to get an idea of what this community is about or how we want you to participate, look no further (except the rules maybe. Those might be important too).
As a reminder, you can nominate Quality Contributions by hitting the report button and selecting the "Actually A Quality Contribution!" option from the "It breaks TheMotte's rules, or is of interest to the mods" menu. Additionally, links to all of the roundups can be found in the wiki of /theThread which can be found here. For a list of other great community content, see here.
Here we go:

Contributions for the Week of June 15, 2020

Standard_Order on:
Rabitology on:
darwin2500 on:
HlynkaCG on:
EfficientSyllabus on:
solowng on:
naraburns on:
iprayiam on:
Ilforte on:
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gattsuru on:
titus_1_15 on:
Rabitology on:
Doglatine on:
PmMeClassicMemes on:
LooksatAnimals on:
Lykurg480 on:
marinuso on:
TracingWoodgrains on:
Omegaile on:
is_not_strained on:

Contributions for the Week of June 22, 2020

Shakesneer on:
LawOfTheGrokodus on:
egoitis on:
ThirteenValleys on:
Mantergeistmann on:
Faceh on:
questionnmark on:
EfficientSyllabus on:
ymeskhout on:
KlutzyTraining on:
DeanTheDull on:
CriticalDuty on:
SlightlyLessHairyApe on:
StillerThanTheStorm on:
VelveteenAmbush on:

Quality Contributions in the Main Subreddit

DuplexFields on:
attitudegratitude on:
Lykurg480 on:
TracingWoodgrains on:
ChevalMalFet on:
TracingWoodgrains on:
naraburns on:
Cananopie on:
HumanDrinkingTea on:
georgioz on:
submitted by Lykurg480 to TheMotte [link] [comments]

They Are Not One

Just two cycles ago the ship had appeared seemingly out of nowhere. To a first approximation, that’s also where it was encountered — in the vast void of space beyond Fomalhaut’s debris disc. I can still relive it perfectly without Flashback.
Actually, I’m not retelling this right. My neural rhythms are still off balance from the shock. Let me start over.
Two cycles ago something suddenly caused the survey data for the Fomalhaut system to go all wrong. In general I have no idea what the Provians are trying to complain to me about. I’m just as much of a Unified Fleet supporter as the next captain, but it can be hard working with the Provians. Anyway, I’m sure every single Proxian who’s ever left Protia could’ve immediately figured out what was wrong — Fomalhaut had suddenly disappeared from view.
The Provian surveyors told me this happens all the time, just not like this. A nearby comet can obscure the view or a massive debris field in the inner system can partially obscure the star. But it’s not sudden — comets are easy to track and we’re far off axis with Fomalhaut’s debris field. No, Fomalhaut seemed to just disappear, although of course it hadn’t as we could still see its light reflected off the almost innumerable inner system objects.
Honestly, on a survey mission being captain is overwhelmingly people management. There’s always tension between the current survey team and the next one eager to get started. Maintenance team is constantly trying to temporarily decommission systems so they can be overhauled. Okay, yes I’m making excuses for myself. I know Unified Fleet command wouldn’t officially agree, but those who’ve actually been captains know that on a survey mission you just let the Prime Surveyor run operations. No debate I’m responsible, but I didn’t activate that laser beam array.
Oh, I’m getting ahead of myself again. Autodoc says my neural rhythms are now trending towards stable. Trending. Still far too unstable to reenter cryohibernation, but I’ve got to survive this to get the message back to Protia. If Protia is still there.
No, I didn’t mean it like that. Don’t be offended. I want to survive, certainly, but the reason I’m telling you is in case I don’t. I’ve always been so fond of you Projians with your incredibly stable neural rhythms. You’re following, right? I know you’re a botanist, of course you are — what else would a Projian be doing on this ship, but this all makes sense? Good, good.
Prime Surveyor swept the main laser beam array over the void where Fomalhaut should’ve been. A few of the beams bounced back to us. A few others were observed exciting small pockets of outer system gas near our ship. Most unremarkably disappeared into the void undetected. Prime Surveyor swept the auxiliary laser beam arrays while focusing the main array on the reflective spot. It took no imagination to realize the object was a perfectly reflective ovoid.
No, actually we only learned that later. They told us it was perfectly reflective.
Obviously artificial. The survey mission was over; first contact procedures initiated. In the void of space around an uninhabited system with no Gateway? This was a first. I wasn’t the best at command apprenticeship, but I know every detail of every first contact. What Proxian wouldn’t, we don’t forget anything unlike you Projians. I sincerely hope you remember everything I’m telling you. I’ll survive this, I will. But if I don’t, remember.
Four first contacts, seven secondary introductions. Eleven homeworlds, thirty two sapient species. Contact had always been near a homeworld or a Gateway. Except with the sapients of Tradgiu, who had intentionally placed themselves in orbit around our neighboring planet Morea which of course we could see easily observe from Protia. A very cautious sapient group. You already know all of this? Oh, you just don’t care. Fair enough. It’s helping me stabilize, or at least I’d like that to be true.
We transmitted in wide band to start. Followed protocol exactly: binary pulses, prime sequence, pulsar map, fractional sequence. Then our current location, Fomalhaut, relative to the pulsar map. Then wait. Form a numeric basis, then a location one, derive a common terminology for the universal constants and build from there. In apprenticeship learning about the process sounded boring, now I realize how mistaken that was. Regardless of how mundane the actions, it was thrilling to be part of such a moment.
Our wide band transmission was reflecting off of the ovoid. We were hopeful some amount was being absorbed. What would they reply with? I suppose it would’ve been reasonable to consider they wouldn’t reply, but I didn’t — that had never happened before.
Bvoort first contact, our first, went unexpectedly well when they followed up with basic arithmetic functions. You’ve met a Bvoort sapient I’m sure? No? Well they certainly don’t look anything like us, but they think similarly enough.
The Galant, that was beyond challenging as I understand. The Orcon’s first reply was the position of their homeworld relative to our pulsars. While our most recent contact, with the Tradgiu was by far the most cautious and conservative, they merely broadcast the prime sequence and continued it further than we had to demonstrate they understood.
The ovoid ship, it started to glow. Not in a way that any Protia sapient could perceive, but the sensors could. Uniform heat radiation apparently, perfectly uniform. Prime Surveyor theorized the ship had actually been in some sort of inert state and was now becoming active. It was a good theory and it might be correct; we’ll probably never know.
We received a wide band transmission that matched the exact frequency range we used. They did not transmit a prime sequence, arithmetic operations, nor stellar coordinates. No. What they sent destabilized every Provian on the ship. Us Proxians struggled through, most of us anyway. Yeah I know you’re fine, but well Projians are different. It wasn’t what they said, it was how they did.
The transmission was Protian Modern Script in Unified Fleet standard encoding.
Right I’m getting ahead of myself. What I actually saw was Prime Surveyor go motionless. Standard protocol in first contact is all transmissions are broadcast to the whole ship. Well intentioned I’m sure, but ultimately fatal in this case. Prime Surveyor recovered, temporarily, and set the incoming transmissions to auto relay within the ship.
Provians are brilliant. Standard evolutionary pressure between sapient groups. I’m sure you learned all about it. You always get differentiation; high intelligence comes with instability. Seems to be a universal constant. Just read up on the Tradgia, I’ve never learned of a more paranoid species. Yes, yes of course now is a terrible time to do that.
The message was short, fully comprehensible, but awkwardly structured. It was staggeringly impressive for a first contact reply.
“Salutations Protian vessel. Honor is ours to intersect you at Fomalhaut.”
Prime Surveyor was most qualified to reply, but had slumped to the ground. Every Provian in the operations cylinder was in some sort of incapacitated state. The profoundness of what this implied was just too overwhelming for them. Had they deduced our language and communication systems in a moment? Had they already visited Protia and then somehow arrived here before we would’ve received speed of light transmission from our homeworld informing us? I’m sure the Provian mind came up with so many other perplexing and disconcerting questions.
Us Proxians were a bit rattled, but were able to struggle on. You were reorganizing the garden and unaware this was happening? No offense, but that’s the most Projian thing I can imagine. I hope that detail makes it into a history document, assuming one ever gets written. No, no, sorry I’m sure it’ll work out okay.
Since every first contact has always been near a homeworld or Gateway, by the time numerical and stellar coordinate communication is established an expert team (entirely Provian of course) has been brought in to establish full linguistic communication. They don’t go over that part during command apprenticeship. No other Proxian in the operations cylinder knew either.
So I tried my best. I don’t think I succeeded; I don’t think success was ever an option.
They call themselves Terrans. Their sapient group is composed of humans and mechs, an artificial construct the humans had created. Also some combinations of the two; what they described sounded circular — we didn’t understand. I still don’t. Maybe the Provians would’ve, but they were so overwhelmed by this point.
We asked about the other sapients in their group, the natural ones. All gone, eliminated by the humans long before they had written language. Most of Provians in the operations cylinder died of neural hemorrhages. A few lived who were too overwhelmed by then to comprehend what had been learned.
Their homeworld was called Earth. Was. An accident. They destroyed it in a way I still don’t understand. Spatial folding, the same way ships move quickly between the stars. I’m not an expert in how Gateways work, but I was certain they can’t destroy planets. The other Proxians lost their minds. I don’t blame them. We’re a strong species, but one can only envision so much destruction before succumbing. Command apprenticeship toughens the mind. I struggled terribly. You were still in the garden? When did you even realize what was going on? Never mind.
I tried to understand, but they’ve never heard of Gateways. Apparently the way their ships move can’t be adequately described in Protian Modern Script.
We were told to leave the Fomalhaut system. They were expecting other Terran ships, but not their ships. It was hard to comprehend, you still don’t do you? Understandable, Protian barely has the words to describe this. You must understand though, it’s important.
The Terrans are a sapient group, but they are not one. No, not like the Projians, Proxians, and Provians make up of the Protian sapient group. These groups are of their choice. For example you and I chose to join the Unified Fleet. That makes us a group, a grouping of sapients who chose to be on ships. Yes, it’s like that somehow. It’s hard to understand. Yes, they’re still all Terrans and both groups have humans and mechs and also the confusing combination of them. Actually I’m assuming it’s just two groups, could it be more than two? This is all too much.
These two groups are disagreeing with each other. Extremely disagreeable. They said our language lacks the vocabulary to properly explain. It is a type of disagreement that can't be resolved and therefore results in destruction. The other ships will be coming to destroy them although they will try to destroy them first. I know it sounds wrong to say “destroy” — that’s what asteroids and volcanos do, not sapients to one another. Clearly Protian Modern doesn't have the words for what they’re expecting to happen.
I’m sure I was beyond insane at that point. I don’t know if anyone else was still alive in the operations cylinder, but certainly no one else was functional. My astronavigation skills are limited, but I was fully committed to do the unprecedented and flee a first contact, at the alien race's request no less.
I’m not normally curious, no Proxian is, but I suppose insane ones are. I asked the Terrans how they knew our language. They found a ship of ours recently, crashed on a planet in the Pollux system. I’d learned of that ship, it was the first non-Gateway exploratory ship every dispatched from Protia. It was a profound discovery for them, proof of other sapients. They are jubilant to have encountered our ship so soon after, they said they’ll come to Protia when they are done disagreeing. They did not ask where our homeworld is, they did not ask to visit.
They examined our crashed ship to see if the ship’s technology could help them in their disagreement with the other Terran group. They said it could not, it was extremely well built yet rudimentary. I suppose I should’ve been insulted, Unified Fleet ships are the most advanced in known space, yet I was too far gone to say anything.
They told us once more to leave. Then the space around their ship moved in an impossible way, bending the light of the distant stars behind them. Their ship disappeared only slightly less suddenly than it had appeared.
I charted a course back to Protia at full thrust. I still don’t know if we have enough fuel for such a route, I’ll figure it out later. I got myself into the full autodoc before I lost consciousness. That was two cycles ago. I didn’t expect to revive. I suppose I’m grateful I did yet I’m still not sane, I don’t know that I can ever be. We Proxians never forget.
They are like sapient volcanos. It’s only a matter of time until they flow through our home system, indifferently destroying all in their path. None of this makes sense? Yes, I know I’m insane, but that changes nothing. Please remember.
submitted by NothingIsArtificial to HFY [link] [comments]

Monster Chapter 30

Previous Next
Mox was laying in her bunk, her body hadn't caught up to the change in time between the 2 ships but she was awake because there was no way she was missing the daily broadcast of Pirate Radio 1420 MHz no longer on planet Darkturd. Hannah knew that 1420 MHz was something about hydrogen so didn't take Mox long to figure it out. What amused Hannah and Mox both about it was what Hannah had known, it was a clear channel left open to listen for aliens on. After Hannah told her how much of a cultural thing conspiracies about aliens were to them it was sad the Stolm were who they met.
Hannah singing was a nice backdrop for the internal dialogue she was having, are we real when we are in FTL? There is always that debate around new technology that it's not possible, FTL was only the exception because even now on paper it still wasn't possible. It was like gravity in this sense, you could describe and predict it but no one could tell you what it was. You rode a bubble of reality but you weren't just moving really fast you could no longer be detected in realspace. Maybe inside the bubble you were still real but if the bubble wasn't in reality was it real anymore. She gave herself the old spacer warning that trying to figure it out while you are doing it will drive you mad but then told her self well I guess it's a good thing I already went mad. It was one of those things that her mind wouldn't let go of precisely because she didn't understand it.
She had been really happy to find out that the crew, for the most part, liked Hannah even though some of her practical jokes were a bit mean. Mox was pleased that they took it in stride that she was just some bored xeno kid but wondered what their opinions would be when they had access to the network. They would find out soon enough, Krelin's plan required Mox getting physical contact with a terminal with a direct link. Mox had mixed feelings about it, last time she turned the spyder loose to deliver it's information some of the people who received that information ended up dead. They had considered just finding hyperspace relay and hacking into it but didn't want to play that card and have the Navy increase the security on them. A Vexen colony or station made sense because it was the closest place where no one asked questions about covering your face hiding your identity from surveillance, the breathers weren't optional. Mox just didn't like back tracking 10 days to do it. She wished Hannah could get off the ship for awhile but someone in a biosuit would definitely cause unwanted attention from the authorities. Mox knew Hannah would accept it but it just couldn't be good for her to live this way for years now, she didn't know the effects of long term void travel on humans, mentally or physically.
She had finally managed to hack the system that would let her change the identity of the Captain's Mistress. It had scared the comms officer quite a bit when she started taking apart the stations on the bridge while they were in FTL, she tried not to flush every time it scared her while she was doing it. Just had to be done though because if the spyder's origin was tracked it wouldn't be hard to figure out what ship they came from.
***
The U.S.A.S. Exploratorem fired her cold gas thrusters to drop her into the edge of the gravity well of the nearby planetoid. It was time for her to make her cold exit from the Stolm system. She was basically a giant optical telescope and engine disguised as a space rock. Her captain's biggest worry was the observatory orbiting the smaller star of the binary so they waited until they came into close proximity with a small comet and used a cannon shot to change it's orbit as they fired the jets changing theirs. Just space junk bumping into each other nothing to see here. After a half orbit of the planetoid they would be on a path that put them out of sight of the observatory behind the large ice giant in the outer edge of the system. This was the 8th time they had entered and left the system but were worried about being detected now the xeno Navy had built up a large presence in the system.
This was the end of their rotation and they were headed all the way back to friendly space. The crew was amusing themselves trying to pick out which rock was their relief the Seeker, it was scheduled to arrive 2 days before but they had no way to know if it had. Everyone wished they were heading planet side but would gladly settle for just getting out of this tin can on the Buffalo.
They would be back in 6 months if the mission wasn't cancelled, they had made a real mess of of this system and the debris was starting to reach it's oort cloud travelling at speeds a decent percentage of light speed. The captain had nightmares about running into bodies in the debris. They had been on station during the attack and it just wasn't something you slept ok after seeing. They had to shake it off and keep going, being up close and personal with the ugly was what you signed up for when you joined a Force Recon unit. The captain thought to himself about the old saying this is why we make the big bucks. He turned his mind to the game of spy vs spy he would be playing on the Buffalo dating an enlisted trooper.
At least he wasn't one of the poor bastards captaining one of the xeno boats in system with the debris beating the hell out of the shields day and night.
14 hours and they could spool up and get out of here and then 39 days until he could get lucky.
submitted by Fornicious_Fogbottom to HFY [link] [comments]

RESULTS of the State of the Game Survey: April 2020

Weekly/Important Megathreads:
Weekly Discussion Megathread
Edelgard Legendary Hero Battle Megathread
Legendary Hero Banner Megathread
Green Grapple Voting Gauntlet Megathread

 
Hi all,

It’s time for the results!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to respond - we had over 1600 responses, which is great! These insights wouldn’t be possible without your time and support.

As always, neither myself nor this survey are associated with Intelligent Systems or Nintendo in any way. Please direct feedback about the game itself to the official channels.

Now let’s get into it!
 
Previous Survey Results: February_2020_State_of_the_Game_Survey

~ Demographics ~

54.3% began playing FE:H in February 2017, with 22.6% more joining during the first year of the game. 13.0% of respondents joined during the second year, 7.8% joined during the third, and 1.5% joined during the fourth year (the last 3 months).

The age range breakdown of respondents is as follows:
  • (2.9%) 12 – 15 years old
  • (15.0%) 16 – 18 years old
  • (23.5%) 19 – 21 years old
  • (20.7%) 22 – 24 years old
  • (27.0%) 25 – 30 years old
  • (8.5%) 31 – 40 years old
  • (0.9%) 40+ years old

77.5% of respondents identified as Male, 17.7% as Female, and 2.6% as Non-binary.

18.5% of respondents have never missed a daily login (though note that this option was added many hours after the survey’s release). A further 44.2% have missed less than a month’s worth of logins, 12.8% missed 1-2 months, 9.6% missed 3-6 months, 4.7% missed 7-12 months, and 3,8% missed over a year’s worth.

34.8% report being F2P, while 29.8% have spent less than $100, 16.2% spent between $100 - $499, 6.3% spent between $500 - $999, and 10.4% have spent over $1000.

34.8% last spent money on FE:H during the fourth year of the game (the last 3 months), while 12.0% last spent money during the third year of the game, 9.4% last spent during the second year of the game, and 6.6% last spent money during the first year of the game.

~ Summoning ~

“Which of the following banners have you used orbs on at least once?”
  • (63.0%) Harmony Amid Chaos
  • (57.0%) The Start of It All
  • (56.4%) Mythic Hero: Bramimond
  • (51.8%) Journey Begins
  • (47.3%) Legendary Heroes: Chrom
  • (43.2%) Familial Festivities
  • (37.2%) Double Special Heroes

“Which of the following banners did you use the most orbs on?”
  • (23.4%) Harmony Amid Chaos
  • (16.9%) Journey Begins
  • (16.3%) Mythic Hero: Bramimond
  • (14.4%) The Start of It All
  • (8.5%) Familial Festivities
  • (8.4%) Legendary Heroes: Chrom
  • (6.6%) Double Special Heroes

“What was your favorite banner?”
  • (23.8%) Harmony Amid Chaos
  • (18.3%) The Start of It All
  • (14.9%) Journey Begins
  • (13.5%) Mythic Hero: Bramimond
  • (8.5%) Double Special Heroes
  • (7.8%) Legendary Heroes: Chrom
  • (4.9%) Familial Festivities

“Did you spend money specifically to summon on any of the banners below?”
  • (7.9%) Harmony Amid Chaos
  • (7.8%) The Start of It All
  • (7.1%) Journey Begins
  • (6.7%) Mythic Hero: Bramimond
  • (4.3%) Familial Festivities
  • (4.2%) Legendary Heroes: Chrom
  • (4.0%) Double Special Heroes

“If you could only pick one method of making old Seasonal heroes available, which would you choose?”
  • (46.4%) Seasonal heroes are only available once a year on a re-run of their original banner
  • (25.7%) Seasonal heroes are only available through Double Special Heroes banners, and no seasonal banners are re-run.
  • (6.5%) Seasonal heroes are only available through Legendary and Mythical banners, and no seasonal banners are re-run.

43.8% would like Double Special Heroes banners to continue excluding year-one seasonals, compared to 31.9% who want them to include year-one seasonals.

4.19/5.00 is the average rating of how satisfied respondents were with the new feature allowing for your choice of free 5*-focus after 40 summons on New Heroes banners. 80.9% rated their satisfaction at a 4/5 or above.

36.1% reached the 40 summons needed for the feature allowing their choice of free 5*-focus on Journey Begins. 63.9% did not reach 40 summons on Journey Begins.
Of those who reached 40 summons, 51.2% say that they spent more orbs on the banner than they would have if the feature did not exist, while 19.8% say that they spent less orbs that they would have. 28.9% reported no change in orb spending behavior as a result of the feature.

~ Hall of Forms ~

“In this Hall of Forms, which Forma was your best unit?”
  • (56.7%) Olwen (WoT)
  • (10.6%) Leif
  • (10.1%) Finn
  • (9.9%) Reinhardt (WoT)

“In this Hall of Forms, which Forma was your worst unit?”
  • (34.0%) Leif
  • (26.3%) Reinhardt (WoT)
  • (22.3%) Finn
  • (3.5%) Olwen (WoT)

2.70/5.00 is the average rating of the addition of Forma Souls. 36.5% rated their feelings on Forma Souls at a 2/5 or below, while 16.2% rated 4/5 or above.

11.6% purchased a Forma Soul, compared to 88.1% who did not.

Of those who purchased a Forma Soul, 30.6% used it on Olwen (WoT), 29.7% used it on Leif, 26.1% used it on Finn, and 13.5% used it on Reinhardt (WoT)

Of those who have not purchased a Forma Soul, 71.1% say that they would never purchase a Forma Soul regardless of who is featured, while 28.8% say that they would if a certain hero was featured.

Of those who would pay a non-zero amount for a Forma Soul, $9.31 is the average of the amounts respondents would be willing to pay for a Forma Soul with no additional orbs.

~ Limited Hero Battles ~

47.5% completed all of the available Limited Hero Battle maps on their hardest difficulties, compared to 51.5% who did not.

19.5% needed to reference guides, videos, or other players’ clears in order to complete Limited Hero Battle maps, compared to 75.6% who did not.

3.19/5.00 is the average rating of preparedness for the Limited Hero Battles. 29.4% rated their preparedness at a 2/5 or below, while 44.4% rated their preparedness at a 4/5 or above.

64.6% had enough heroes to form a fully-built team of four for all of the battles, compared to 28.4% who did not.

3.38/5.00 is the average rating of how challenging respondents found the Limited Hero Battle restrictions. 15.2% rated the difficulty at a 2/5 or below, while 48.2% rated the difficulty at a 4/5 or above.

3.44/5.00 is the average rating for enjoyment of the Limited Hero Battles. 20.4% rated their enjoyment at a 2/5 or below, while 51.7% rather their enjoyment at a 4/5 or above.

~ Divine Codes ~

52.4% feel positively about the use for Divine Codes, compared to 7.3% who feel negatively. 38.5% are neutral.

“Which of the following Divine Code paths is most appealing to you?”
  • (27.2%) Holy War (Leif, Deirdre, Sigurd, Lewyn, Ishtar (Performing))
  • (22.0%) Awakening/Fates (Cordelia (Summer), Robin (M, Fallen), Owain, Xander (Performing), Corrin (M, Adrift))
  • (14.2%) Blades/Sacred Stones (Lilina (Valentines), Amelia, Nino (Fangs), Ephraim (Winter), Hector (Valentines))
  • (9.1%) Radiance (Leanne, Elincia (Performing), Lethe, Tanith (Valentines), Greil (Valentines))
  • (7.7%) Mystery/Shadows (Caeda (Bridal), Celica, Genny (Picnic), Palla (Spring), Kliff)
  • (5.1%) Heroes (Alfonse (Spring), Ylgr, Bruno (Spring), Fjorm (New Years), Laevatein (Summer))

“Which of the following Divine Code paths do you believe is the best value / best overall path to spend Divine Codes on?”
  • (25.5%) Awakening/Fates (Cordelia (Summer), Robin (M, Fallen), Owain, Xander (Performing), Corrin (M, Adrift))
  • (22.0%) Holy War (Leif, Deirdre, Sigurd, Lewyn, Ishtar (Performing))
  • (16.6%) Blades/Sacred Stones (Lilina (Valentines), Amelia, Nino (Fangs), Ephraim (Winter), Hector (Valentines))
  • (7.5%) Radiance (Leanne, Elincia (Performing), Lethe, Tanith (Valentines), Greil (Valentines))
  • (3.0%) Mystery/Shadows (Caeda (Bridal), Celica, Genny (Picnic), Palla (Spring), Kliff)
  • (3.0%) Heroes (Alfonse (Spring), Ylgr, Bruno (Spring), Fjorm (New Years), Laevatein (Summer))

51.4% got both 5* heroes from the Limited Time Compile path 3, while 25.6% only got Kagero (Spring), and 5.1% only got Camilla (Spring), while 15.8% got neither.

3.04/5.00 is the average satisfaction rating with the options of Limited Manuals offered so far. 27.3% rated their satisfaction at a 2/5 or below, while 32.8% rated their satisfaction 4/5 or above.

~ Feh Pass and Resplendent Heroes ~

57.0% feel negatively about the addition of the Feh Pass, compared to 10.1% who feel positively. 31.8% are neutral. Compared to last survey, this is a 13.6% reduction in negative feelings, with a 4.2% increase in positive feelings and the rest going to neutral.

30.7% have purchased the Feh Pass, compared to 69.3% who have not. This is a 6.7% increase compared to the last survey.

Of those who have subscribed to Feh Pass, 4.5% have purchased Resplendent Heroes separately, compared to 95.5% who have not.

“Which Resplendent Hero is your favorite?”
  • (19.5%) Eliwood
  • (17.9%) Cordelia
  • (13.3%) Sophia
  • (12.5%) Ike
  • (11.7%) Lyn
  • (10.4%) Azura

“Which Resplendent outfit theme is your favorite?”
  • (24.1%) Nifl
  • (18.8%) Muspell
  • (14.2%) Askr
  • (13.7%) Embla

“If you could only choose 1 of the Feh Pass features to make free, which would you choose?”
  • (41.7%) Auto-Start/Repeat
  • (27.8%) Resplendent Heroes
  • (14.6%) Expanded Summoner Support
  • (7.5%) Re-Act Button
  • (6.8%) Exclusive/Extra Quests

~ Miscellaneous ~

“Which game do you want a New Heroes banner from the most?”
  • (27.9%) Three Houses
  • (10.6%) Awakening
  • (9.2%) Radiant Dawn
  • (7.7%) Genealogy of the Holy War
  • (7.5%) Sacred Stones
  • (7.0%) Path of Radiance
  • (4.1%) Blazing Blade
  • (4.0%) Fates
  • (4.0%) TMS #FE
  • (3.4%) Thracia 776
  • (3.3%) Gaiden / Shadows of Valentia
  • (1.9%) Mystery of the Emblem / New Mystery of the Emblem
  • (1.8%) Binding Blade
  • (1.8%) Shadow Dragon and the Blade of Light / Shadow Dragon

20.4% feel positively about the introduction of Duo Heroes, compared to 30.4% who feel negatively. 48.6% are neutral.

“Which color would you choose / have chosen for the Free 5* Hero: Fire Emblem Leads, assuming you got all colors?”
  • (60.1%) Green
  • (19.4%) Red
  • (17.8%) Blue
  • (0.9%) Colorless

46.9% were satisfied with their summon from the Free 5* Hero: Fire Emblem Leads event, compared to 48.4% who were not.

67.0% participated in the Voting Jubilee event, compared to 31.7% who did not.

36.4% want to see more Trio Heroes in the future, compared to 33.5% who do not.

“Which FE continent / world’s Mythic Heroes are you most excited for?”
  • (20.5%) Fodlan
  • (15.7%) Tellius
  • (10.0%) Jugdral
  • (9.8%) Elibe
  • (7.5%) Valentia
  • (6.4%) Magvel
  • (5.2%) Fates Continent
  • (4.5%) Archanea
  • (1.2%) Zenith

“How many of the Rokkr Remnant accessories have you acquired?”
  • (35.2%) 0
  • (6.9%) 1
  • (5.7%) 2
  • (4.3%) 3
  • (3.2%) 4
  • (3.4%) 5
  • (4.3%) 6
  • (3.6%) 7
  • (15.7%) 8

Heroic Grails is the most desired premium item currency respondents want more of, at 47.8%. Next is Dragonflowers (25.4%), followed by Refining Stones / Divine Dew (15.3%), then Sacred Coins (8.5%).

“How much do you care about your rank in the following modes?”
  • (2.76/5.00 average) Arena
  • (2.70/5.00 average) Aether Raids
  • (2.43/5.00 average) PvE game modes with player ranking boards
  • (1.82/5.00 average) Arena Assault

32.8% have not played any other gacha games besides FE:H, while 19.8% have played 1 other gacha game, 18.6% have played 2, 10.5% have played 3, and 18.3% have played 4 or more.

~ Intelligent Systems Approval Ratings ~

The approval ratings are calculated by the proportion of Approve responses compared to the number of both Approve and Disapprove responses.

Percent who approve of the way Intelligent Systems is handling:
  • 62.7% - The addition of new heroes / characters to the game (-7.6)
  • 63.9% - The gacha mechanics and summoning banners (+22.6)
  • 49.8% - The story/plot (+0.7)
  • 86.4% - Unranked PvE game modes (Hero Battles, Forging Bonds, Tactics Drills, Lost Lore, Hall of Forms) (-2.6)
  • 53.3% - Ranked PvE game modes (Voting Gauntlets, Tempest Trials, Grand Conquest, Allegiance Battles, Rokkr Sieges, Mjolnir's Strike) (-6.1)
  • 40.8% - Arena
  • 41.3% - Arena Assault
  • 33.1% - Aether Raids

30.4% believe Intelligent Systems cares about its Free to Play userbase (up 8.7% from the last survey), while 47.4% do not. Since the last survey’s result was the lowest polling for this question in the game’s history, the 8.7% increase brings us to 27.6% lower than we were before the drop).

28.1% approve of the way Intelligent Systems is handling Fire Emblem: Heroes as a whole (up 5.2% from the last survey), while 26.5% disapprove. Since the last survey’s result was the lowest polling for this question in the game’s history, the 5.2% increase brings us to 22.5% lower than we were before the drop).

A NOTE ABOUT METHODOLOGY: The overall approval ratings question above has traditionally been the exact percent of Approve responses, as a proportion with both Neutral and Disapprove responses. Note that this is different than the way approval is calculated for individual modes (the proportion of Approve responses compared to the number of both Approve and Disapprove responses), where Neutral responses are excluded. The difference in calculation has continued this way in order to maintain comparability with previous survey results.
For comparisons sake, the overall approval rating trend going by raw Approval percentage over the last 3 surveys is: 50.6% (Dec) -> 22.9% (Feb) -> 28.1% (Apr)
Whereas the overall approval rating trend going by proportion of Approve/Disapprove with the Neutrals excluded over the last 3 surveys is: 82.2% (Dec) -> 41.0% (Feb) -> 51.3% (Apr).
I’d be interested to know which you prefer / find more valuable, so if you have opinions on it, please let me know in the comments!

~ Bonus Questions ~

24.4% prefer Feh’s old voice (Kimberly Tierney), while 45.9% prefer Feh’s new voice (Cassandra Lee Morris), with 29.7% unable to decide.

“Who is your Favorite Hero added since the last survey?”
  • Lysithea is the winner, followed by Bramimond, then Y!Minerva.
  • Full results here: [Graph]

“Who is your Most Wanted Hero added since the last survey?”
  • Bramimond is the winner, followed by Lysithea, then Palla (Young, Trio)
  • Full results here: [Graph].

“Which character would you most want to get a Resplendent version?”
  • Robin and Corrin are tied for the win, though both also get vote-sharing between M/F versions because way too many people didn’t specify.
  • Lucina is the runner-up, followed by Lloyd.
  • Top 10 here: [Graph].

“What would be the best Trio and why?”: [Selected Responses]

~ Feedback ~

As always, I received lots of great feedback, both in your survey responses and in the thread itself. A heartfelt thank you to all participants for your encouragements and criticisms - these surveys wouldn’t be where they are without your feedback. But it’s not all serious; feedback messages also included:

This fantastic song parody by u/juuldude

  • #DeleteL!AzuraFromFEH2020 #JusticeForSeliph #Floofmomgang #ResplendentHinokaWhen #ResplendentAlfonse #JusticeForJill #JusticeForTelliusUnits #NoMoreElibe #JusticeforCanas #sephiranwhen #StayInsideAndWashYourHands
  • "*dabs to try and get a Legendary Seliph to exist*"
  • “according to all known laws of aviation everything still dies to reinhardt”
  • “Bernadetta was social distancing before it was cool”
  • “Emblian Empire is grateful for your hard work like always, but slightly annoyed the +10 5-stars question was left out just when I finally completed an old project!”
  • “Greetings from the massive salt palace of Grado, where Formotiis awaits to either be summoned in the upcoming Fallen banner or to destroy Askr for their impudence! (seriously though its been like three years come on intsys Lyon is RIGHT THERE)”
  • “hi I was tempted to give a meme answer for the amount I'd be willing to spend on a forma hero but I think you take averages for that stuff so i wrote 0 instead of 69420 you're welcome” – thank you for your restraint :P
  • “i’m saving orbs to +10 azura this june please wish me luck 🤞🤞🤞” – Beaming luck to your location!
  • “Imagine this, you were playing P5R a new FEH channel comes out so start to watch it. Morgana's voice is still echoing in your head. Are you going crazy? Has the quarantine got you you?”
  • “You need orders, please? CHOP the curve. Submit to Dr. Grima and stay home. Iiiit's time to play it safe. Let's not fly and let's not swim publicly unless we have to. I can't stop this thing. A safe distance away is right where I want you. You...like Ike to stay home where he won't spread anything. COVID is powercreep at Alm-alt levels, something nobody wants.”
  • “In Nino We Trust”
  • “so like FEH is letting us put actual children to war now like est is a whole fetus and kiran whacky ass put her and her sisters out on a battlefield to fight literal murder clowns and actual satan. like is that me or is that just a little messed up they should be home enjoying Welch fruit snacks while watching paw patrol”
  • “JILL. WHEN.” – I think I’ve been getting these comments for over 2 years now and they keep getting more desperate ☹
  • “Remember to stay safe! We're all in a Fog of War map on Classic right now.” – Strangely accurate
  • And greetings from Chile, Colombia, Finland, Germany, Hong Kong, SEA, South Korea, Vietnam, Kuala Lumpur, Alaska, Florida, New Jersey, North Carolina, The Bahamas, Fodlan, Ravnica, Renais, Tellius, the Alliance, and Bernadetta’s room
And some more personal inquiries:
  • “Greetings, ShiningSolarSword! Nothing to report.”
  • “Hey didn't you just do one of these on the Magia Record subreddit?” – Yep :D
  • “How are you holding up in regards to the coronavirus? Thanks again for still doing these in times like... this.” - I’m doing well all things considered, hope you are as well!
  • “Hello, this is Azura. I am very angry to be replaced, u/ShiningSolarSword. What even is a Norne and how could she possibly be better than the queen of Valla? I do hope you consider appreciating me in the future, it would be a shame if a certain survey-giver were to turn up dead in the future, not like that’s a threat or anything.” – Y-y-yes, definitely. *quietly foddering Alm to Norne*
  • “Norne's reign of terror has ended. Reddit user ShiningSolarSword has secretly accepted the way of the Reinhardt by brandishing the tiny-handed grinning Azura.” - *quietly foddering Duo Ephraim to Norne*
  • “Resplendent Norne + refine when?” – this person knows what’s up
  • “Can we have another gag survey? Quarantine is boring.” – not a bad idea 👀

~ Closing Remarks ~

If you missed out on responding to this survey when it was available, consider subscribing to FEHSurveys. This subreddit serves as a place to organize FE:H-related surveys, make new releases more visible, and make it easier for users to see when surveys are active.

Thanks again to everyone who participated! I hope you find the results interesting, and if there’s anything else you think can be discovered from the data, let me know and I’ll do my best to oblige!
submitted by ShiningSolarSword to FireEmblemHeroes [link] [comments]

[Table] Asteroid Day AMA – We’re engineers and scientists working on a mission that could, one day, help save humankind from asteroid extinction. Ask us anything!

Source
There are several people answering: Paolo Martino is PM, Marco Micheli is MM, Heli Greus is HG, Detlef Koschny is DVK, and Aidan Cowley is AC.
Questions Answers
Can we really detect any asteroids in space with accuracy and do we have any real means of destroying it? Yes, we can detect new asteroids when they are still in space. Every night dozens of new asteroids are found, including a few that can come close to the Earth.
Regarding the second part of the question, the goal would be to deflect them more than destroy them, and it is technologically possible. The Hera/DART mission currently being developed by ESA and NASA will demonstrate exactly this capability.
MM
I always wanted to ask: what is worse for life on Earth - to be hit by a single coalesced asteroid chunk, or to be hit by a multiple smaller pieces of exploded asteroid, aka disrupted rubble pile scenario? DVK: This is difficult to answer. If the rubble is small (centimetres to meters) it is better to have lots of small ones – they’d create nice bright meteors. If the rubble pieces are tens of meters it doesn’t help.
Let’s say that hypothetically, an asteroid the size of Rhode Island is coming at us, it will be a direct hit - you’ve had the resources and funding you need, your plan is fully in place, everything you’ve wanted you got. The asteroid will hit in 10 years, what do you do? DVK: I had to look up how big Rhode Island is – a bit larger than the German Bundesland ‘Saarland’. Ok – this would correspond to an object about 60 km in diameter, right? That’s quite big – we would need a lot of rocket launches, this would be extremely difficult. I would pray. The good news is that we are quite convinced that we know all objects larger than just a few kilometers which come close to our planet. None of them is on a collision course, so we are safe.
the below is a reply to the above
Why are you quite convinced that you know all object of that size? And what is your approach in finding new celestial bodies? DVK: There was a scientific study done over a few years (published in Icarus 2018, search for Granvik) where they modelled how many objects there are out there. They compared this to the observations we have with the telescopic surveys. This gives us the expected numbers shown here on our infographic: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
There are additional studies to estimate the ‘completeness’ – and we think that we know everything above roughly a few km in size.
To find new objects, we use survey telescopes that scan the night sky every night. The two major ones are Catalina and Pan-STARRS, funded by NASA. ESA is developing the so-called Flyeye telescope to add to this effort https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2017/02/Flyeye_telescope.
the below is a reply to the above
Thanks for the answer, that's really interesting! It's also funny that the fist Flyeye deployed is in Sicily, at less than 100km from me, I really had no idea DVK: Indeed, that's cool. Maybe you can go and visit it one day.
the below is a reply to the original answer
What about Interstellar objects however, like Oumuamua? DVK: The two that we have seen - 'Oumuamua and comet Borisov - were much smaller than the Saarland (or Rhode Island ;-) - not sure about Borisov, but 'Oumuamua was a few hundred meters in size. So while they could indeed come as a complete surprise, they are so rare that I wouldn't worry.
Would the public be informed if an impending asteroid event were to happen? And, how would the extinction play out? Bunch of people crushed to death, knocked off our orbit, dust clouds forever? DVK: We do not keep things secret – all our info is at the web page http://neo.ssa.esa.int. The ‘risky’ objects are in the ‘risk page’. We also put info on really close approaches there. It would also be very difficult to keep things ‘under cover’ – there are many high-quality amateur astronomers out there that would notice.
In 2029 asteroid Apophis will fly really close to Earth, even closer than geostationary satellites. Can we use some of those satellites to observe the asteroid? Is it possible to launch very cheap cube sats to flyby Apophis in 2029? DVK: Yes an Apophis mission during the flyby in 2029 would be really nice. We even had a special session on that topic at the last Planetary Defense Conference in 2019, and indeed CubeSats were mentioned. This would be a nice university project – get me a close-up of the asteroid with the Earth in the background!
the below is a reply to the above
So you’re saying it was discussed and shelved? In the conference we just presented ideas. To make them happen needs funding - in the case of ESA the support of our member countries. But having something presented at a conference is the first step. One of the results of the conference was a statement to space agencies to consider embarking on such a mission. See here: https://www.cosmos.esa.int/documents/336356/336472/PDC_2019_Summary_Report_FINAL_FINAL.pdf/341b9451-0ce8-f338-5d68-714a0aada29b?t=1569333739470
Go to the section 'resolutions'. This is now a statement that scientists can use to present to their funding agencies, demonstrating that it's not just their own idea.
Thanks for doing this AMA! Did we know the Chelyabinsk meteor in 2013 (the one which had some great videos on social media) was coming? Ig not, how comes? Also, as a little side one, have there been any fatalities from impact events in the past 20 years? Unfortunately, the Chelyabinsk object was not seen in advance, because it came from the direction of the Sun where ground-based telescopes cannot look.
No known fatalities from impacts have happened in the past 20 years, although the Chelyabinsk event did cause many injuries, fortunately mostly minor.
MM
the below is a reply to the above
How often do impacts from that direction happen, compared to impacts from visible trajectories? In terms of fraction of the sky, the area that cannot be easily scanned from the ground is roughly a circle with a radius of 40°-50° around the current position of the Sun, corresponding to ~15% of the total sky. However, there is a slight enhancement of objects coming from that direction, therefore the fraction of objects that may be missed when heading towards us is a bit higher.
However, this applies only when detecting an asteroid in its "final plunge" towards the Earth. Larger asteroids can be spotted many orbits earlier, when they are farther away and visible in the night side of the sky. Their orbits can then be determined and their possible impacts predicted even years or decades in advance.
MM
There must be a trade-off when targeting asteroids as they get closer to Earth, is there a rule of thumb at what the best time is to reach them, in terms of launch time versus time to reach the asteroid and then distance from Earth? DVK: Take e.g. a ‘kinetic impactor’ mission, like what DART and Hera are testing. Since we only change the velocity of the asteroid slightly, we need to hit the object early enough so that the object has time to move away from it’s collision course. Finding out when it is possible to launch requires simulations done by our mission analysis team. They take the strength of the launcher into account, also the available fuel for course corrections, and other things. Normally each asteroid has its own best scenario.
Do you also look at protecting the moon from asteroids? Would an impact of a large enough scale potentially have major impacts on the earth? DVK: There are programmes that monitor the Moon and look for flashes from impacting small asteroids (or meteoroids) - https://neliota.astro.noa.g or the Spanish MIDAS project. We use the data to improve our knowledge about these objects. These programmes just look at what is happening now.
For now we would not do anything if we predicted a lunar impact. I guess this will change once we have a lunar base in place.
Why aren't there an international organisation comprised of countries focused on the asteroid defence? Imagine like the organisation with multi-billion $ budget and program of action on funding new telescopes, asteroid exploration mission, plans for detection of potentially dangerous NEA, protocols on action after the detection - all international, with heads of states discussing these problems? DVK: There are international entities in place, mandated by the UN: The International Asteroid Warning Network (http://www.iawn.net) and the Space Mission Planning Advisory Group (http://www.smpag.net). These groups advise the United Nations. That is exactly where we come up with plans and protocols on action. But: They don’t have budget – that needs to come from elsewhere. I am expecting that if we have a real threat, we would get the budget. Right now, we don’t have a multi-billion budget.
the below is a reply to someone else's answer
There is no actual risk of any sizable asteroids hitting earth in the foreseeable future. Any preparation for it would just be a waste of money. DVK: Indeed, as mentioned earlier, we do not expect a large object to hit is in the near future. We are mainly worried about those in the size range of 20 m to 40 m, which happen on average every few tens of years to hundreds of years. And where we only know a percent of them or even less.
President Obama wanted to send a crewed spacecraft to an asteroid - in your opinion is this something that should still be done in the future, would there be any usefulness in having a human being walk/float on an asteroid's surface? DVK: It would definitely be cool. I would maybe even volunteer to go. Our current missions to asteroids are all robotic, the main reason is that it is much cheaper (but still expensive) to get the same science. But humans will expand further into space, I am sure. If we want to test human exploration activities, doing this at an asteroid would be easier than landing on a planet.
this is another reply Yes, but I am slightly biased by the fact that I work at the European astronaut centre ;) There exist many similarities to what we currently do for EVA (extra vehicular activities) operations on the International Space Station versus how we would 'float' around an asteroid. Slightly biased again, but using such a mission to test exploration technologies would definitely still have value. Thanks Obama! - AC
I've heard that some asteroids contains large amounts of iron. Is there a possibility that we might have "space mines" in the far away future, if our own supply if iron runs out? Yes, this is a topic in the field known as space mining, part of what we call Space Resources. In fact, learning how we can process material we might find on asteroids or other planetary bodies is increasingly important, as it opens up the opportunities for sustainable exploration and commercialization. Its a technology we need to master, and asteroids can be a great target for testing how we can create space mines :) - AC
By how much is DART expected to deflect Didymos? Do we have any indication of the largest size of an asteroid we could potentially deflect? PM: Didymos is a binary asteroid, consisting of a main asteroid Didymos A (~700m) and a smaller asteroid Didymos B (~150m) orbiting around A with a ~12 hours period. DART is expected to impact Didymos B and change its orbital period w.r.t. Didymos A of ~1%. (8 mins)
The size of Didymos B is the most representative of a potential threat to Earth (the highest combination of probability and consequence of impacts), meaning smaller asteroids hit the Earth more often but have less severe consequences, larger asteroids can have catastrophic consequences but their probability of hitting the earth is very very low.
the below is a reply to the above
Why is there less probability of larger asteroids hitting earth? DVK: There are less large objects out there. The smaller they are, the more there are.
the below is a reply to the original answer
Is there any chance that your experiment will backfire and send the asteroid towards earth? PM: Not at all, or we would not do that :) Actually Dimorphos (the Didymos "moon") will not even leave its orbit around Didymos. It will just slightly change its speed.
I'm sure you've been asked this many times but how realistic is the plot of Armageddon? How likely is it that our fate as a species will rely on (either) Bruce Willis / deep sea oil drillers? Taking into consideration that Bruce Willis is now 65 and by the time HERA is launched he will be 69, I do not think that we can rely on him this time (although I liked the movie).
HERA will investigate what method we could use to deflect asteroid and maybe the results will show that we indeed need to call the deep sea oil drillers.
HG
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So then would it be easier to train oil drillers to become astronauts, or to train astronauts to be oil drillers? I do not know which one would be easier since I have no training/experience of deep see oil drilling nor becoming an astronaut, but as long as the ones that would go to asteroid have the sufficient skills and training (even Bruce Willis), I would be happy.
HG
If budget was no object, which asteroid would you most like to send a mission to? Nice question! For me, I'd be looking at an asteroid we know something about, since I would be interested in using it for testing how we could extract resources from it. So for me, I would choose Itokawa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/25143_Itokawa), which was visited by Hayabusa spacecraft. So we already have some solid prospecting carried out for this 'roid! - AC
this is another reply Not sure if it counts as an asteroid, but Detlef and myself would probably choose ʻOumuamua, the first discovered interstellar object.
MM
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Do we even have the capability to catch up to something like that screaming through our solar system? That thing has to have a heck of a velocity to just barrel almost straight through like that. DVK: Correct, that would be a real challenge. We are preparing for a mission called 'Comet Interceptor' that is meant to fly to an interstellar object or at least a fresh comet - but it will not catch up with it, it will only perform a short flyby.
https://www.esa.int/Science_Exploration/Space_Science/ESA_s_new_mission_to_intercept_a_comet
After proving to be able to land on one, could an asteroid serve as a viable means to transport goods and or humans throughout the solar system when the orbit of said asteroid proves beneficial. While it is probably quite problematic to land the payload, it could save fuel or am I mistaken? Neat idea! Wonder if anyone has done the maths on the amount of fuel you would need/save vs certain targets. - AC
PM: To further complement, the saving is quite marginal indeed because in order to land (softly) on the asteroid you actually need to get into the very same orbit of that asteroid . At that point your orbit remains the same whether you are on the asteroid or not..
can the current anti-ballistic missiles systems intercept a terminal phase earth strike asteroid? or it is better to know beforehand and launch an impacting vehicle into space? DVK: While I do see presentations on nuclear explosions to deflect asteroids at our professional meetings, I have not seen anybody yet studying how we could use existing missile systems. So it's hard to judge whether existing missiles would do the job. But in general, it is better to know as early as possible about a possible impact and deflect it as early as possible. This will minimize the needed effort.
How much are we prepared against asteroid impacts at this moment? DVK: 42… :-) Seriously – I am not sure how to quantify ‘preparedness’. We have international working groups in place, mentioned earlier (search for IAWN, SMPAG). We have a Planetary Defence Office at ESA, a Planetary Defense Office at NASA (who spots the difference?), search the sky for asteroids, build space missions… Still we could be doing more. More telescopes to find the object, a space-based telescope to discover those that come from the direction of the Sun. Different test missions would be useful, … So there is always more we could do.
Have you got any data on the NEO coverage? Is there estimations on the percentage of NEOs we have detected and are tracking? How can we improve the coverage? How many times have asteroids been able to enter earths atmosphere without being detected beforehand? Here’s our recently updated infographics with the fraction of undiscovered NEOs for each size range: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
As expected, we are now nearly complete for the large ones, while many of the smaller ones are still unknown.
In order to improve coverage, we need both to continue the current approach, centered on ground-based telescopes, and probably also launch dedicated telescopes to space, to look at the fraction of the sky that cannot be easily observed from the ground (e.g., towards the Sun).
Regarding the last part of your question, small asteroids enter the Earth atmosphere very often (the infographics above gives you some numbers), while larger ones are much rarer.
In the recent past, the largest one to enter our atmosphere was about 20 meters in diameter, and it caused the Chelyabinsk event in 2013. It could not be detected in advance because it came from the direction of the Sun.
We have however detected a few small ones before impact. The first happened in 2008, when a ~4-meter asteroid was found to be on a collision course less than a day before impact, it was predicted to fall in Northern Sudan, and then actually observed falling precisely where (and when) expected.
MM
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DVK: And to add what MM said - Check out http://neo.ssa.esa.int. There is a ‘discovery statistics’ section which provides some of the info you asked about. NASA is providing similar information here https://cneos.jpl.nasa.gov/stats/. To see the sky which is currently covered by the survey telescopes, you need to service of the Minor Planet Center which we all work together with: http://www.minorplanetcenter.org, ‘observers’, ‘sky coverage’. That is a tool we use to plan where we look with our telescopes, so it is a more technical page.
Are there any automatic systems for checking large numbers of asteroids orbits, to see if the asteroid's orbit is coming dangerously close to Earth, or is it done by people individually for every asteroid? I ask it because LSST Rubin is coming online soon and you know it will discover a lot of new asteroids. Yes, such systems exist, and monitor all known and newly discovered asteroids in order to predict possible future impacts.
The end result of the process is what we call "risk list": http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page
It is automatically updated every day once new observational data is processed.
MM
What are your favourite sci-fi series? DVK: My favorites are ‘The Expanse’, I also liked watching ‘Salvation’. For the first one I even got my family to give me a new subscription to a known internet streaming service so that I can see the latest episodes. I also loved ‘The Jetsons’ and ‘The Flintstones’ as a kid. Not sure the last one counts as sci-fi though. My long-time favorite was ‘Dark Star’.
this is another reply Big fan of The Expanse at the moment. Nice, hard sci-fi that has a good impression of being grounded in reality - AC
this is another reply When I was a kid I liked The Jetsons, when growing up Star Trek, Star wars and I also used to watch with my sister the 'V'.
HG
When determining the potential threat of a NEA, is the mass of an object a bigger factor or size? I'm asking because I'm curious if a small but massive object (say, with the density of Psyche) could survive atmospheric entry better than a comparatively larger but less massive object. The mass is indeed what really matters, since it’s directly related with the impact energy.
And as you said composition also matters, a metal object would survive atmospheric entry better, not just because it’s heavier, but also because of its internal strength.
MM
What are your thoughts on asteroid mining as portrayed in sci-fi movies? Is it feasible? If so would governments or private space programs be the first to do so?What type of minerals can be found on asteroids that would merit the costs of extraction? Certainly there is valuable stuff you can find on asteroids. For example, the likely easiest material you can harvest from an asteroid would be volatiles such as H2O. Then you have industrial metals, things like Iron, Nickel, and Platinum group metals. Going further, you can break apart many of the oxide minerals you would find to get oxygen (getting you closer to producing rocket fuel in-situ!). Its feasible, but still needs alot of testing both here on Earth and eventually needs to be tested on a target. It may be that governments, via agencies like ESA or NASA, may do it first, to prove the principles somewhat, but I know many commercial entities are also aggresively working towards space mining. To show you that its definitely possible, I'd like to plug the work of colleagues who have processed lunar regolith (which is similar to what you may find on asteroids) to extract both oxygen and metals. Check it out here: http://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2019/10/Oxygen_and_metal_from_lunar_regolith
AC
Will 2020's climax be a really big rock? DVK: Let's hope not...
Considering NASA, ESA, IAU etc. is working hard to track Earth-grazing asteroids, how come the Chelyabinsk object that airburst over Russia in 2013 came as a total surprise? The Chelyabinsk object came from the direction of the Sun, where unfortunately ground-based telescopes cannot look at. Therefore, it would not have been possible to discover it in advance with current telescopes. Dedicated space telescopes are needed to detect objects coming from this direction in advance.
MM
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Is this to say that it was within specific solid angles for the entire time that we could have observed it given its size and speed? Yes, precisely that. We got unlucky in this case.
MM
Have any of you read Lucifer's Hammer by Larry Niven? In your opinion, how realistic is his depiction of an asteroid strike on Earth? DVK: I have – but really long ago, so I don’t remember the details. But I do remember that I really liked the book, and I remember I always wanted to have a Hot Fudge Sundae when reading it.
I was thinking about the asteroid threat as a teen and came up with this ideas (Hint: they are not equally serious, the level of craziness goes up real quick). Could you please comment on their feasibility? 1. Attaching a rocket engine to an asteroid to make it gradually change trajectory, do that long in advance and it will miss Earth by thousands of km 2. Transporting acid onto asteroid (which are mainly metal), attaching a dome-shaped reaction chamber to it, using heat and pressure to then carry out the chemical reaction to disintegrate asteroids 3. This one is even more terrible than a previous one and totally Dan Brown inspired — transporting antimatter on asteroid, impacting and causing annihilation. Thank you for this AMA and your time! DVK: Well the first one is not so crazy, I have seen it presented... the difficulty is that all asteroids are rotating in one way or another. So if you continuously fire the engine it would not really help. You'd need to switch the engine on and off. Very complex. And landing on an asteroid is challenging too. Just using the 'kinetic impactor' which we will test with DART/Hera (described elsewhere in this chat) is simpler. Another seriously proposed concept is to put a spacecraft next to an asteroid and use an ion engine (like we have on our Mercury mission BepiColombo) to 'push' the asteroid away.
As for 2 and 3 I think I will not live to see that happening ;-)
What is the process to determine the orbit of a newly discovered asteroid? The process is mathematically quite complex, but here's a short summary.
Everything starts with observations, in particular with measurements of the position of an asteroid in the sky, what we call "astrometry". Discovery telescopes extract this information from their discovery images, and make it available to everybody.
These datapoints are then used to calculate possible trajectories ("orbits") that pass through them. At first, with very few points, many orbits will be possible.
Using these orbits we can extrapolate where the asteroid will be located during the following nights, use a telescope to observe that part of the sky, and locate the object again.
From these new observations we can extract new "astrometry", add it to the orbit determination, and see that now only some of the possible orbits will be compatible with the new data. As a result, we now know the trajectory better than before, because a few of the possible orbits are not confirmed by the new data.
The cycle can then continue, with new predictions, new observations, and a more accurate determination of the object's orbit, until it can be determined with an extremely high level of accuracy.
MM
What are some asteroids that are on your "watchlist"? We have exactly that list on our web portal: http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page
It's called "risk list", and it includes all known asteroids for which we cannot exclude a possible impact over the next century. It is updated every day to include newly discovered asteroids, and remove those that have been excluded as possible impactors thanks to new observations.
MM
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That's quite a list!! Do you guys ever feel stressed or afraid when you have to add another dangerous candidate (and by dangerous I mean those above 200m) is added to this Risk List? Yes, when new dangerous ones are added it's important that we immediately do our best to gather more data on them, observing them with telescopes in order to get the information we need to improve our knowledge of their orbit.
And then the satisfaction of getting the data needed to remove one from the list is even greater!
MM
What inspired you to go into this field of study? I was fascinated by astronomy in general since I was a kid, but the actual "trigger" that sparked my interest in NEOs was a wonderful summer course on asteroids organized by a local amateur astronomers association. I immediately decided that I would do my best to turn this passion into my job, and I'm so happy to have been able to make that dream come true.
MM
this is another reply DVK: I started observing meteors when I was 14, just by going outside and looking at the night sky. Since then, small bodies in the solar system were always my passion.
As a layperson, I still think using nuclear weapons against asteroids is the coolest method despite better methods generally being available. Do you still consider the nuclear option the cool option, or has your expertise in the field combined with the real-life impracticalities made it into a laughable/silly/cliche option? DVK: We indeed still study the nuclear option. There are legal aspects though, the ‘outer space treaty’ forbids nuclear explosions in space. But for a large object or one we discover very late it could be useful. That’s why we have to focus on discovering all the objects out there as early as possible – then we have time enough to use more conventional deflection methods, like the kinetic impactor (the DART/Hera scenario).
It seems like doing this well would require international cooperation, particularly with Russia. Have you ever reached out to Russia in your work? Do you have a counterpart organization there that has a similar mission? DVK: Indeed international cooperation is important - asteroids don't know about our borders! We work with a Russian team to perform follow-up observations of recently discovered NEOs. Russia is also involved in the UN-endorsed working groups that we have, IAWN and SMPAG (explained in another answer).
how much can experts tell from a video of a fireball or meteor? Can you work out what it's made of and where it came from? https://www.reddit.com/space/comments/hdf3xe/footage_of_a_meteor_at_barrow_island_australia/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x If multiple videos or pictures, taken from different locations, are available, then it's possible to reconstruct the trajectory, and extrapolate where the object came from.
Regarding the composition, it's a bit more difficult if nothing survives to the ground, but some information can be obtained indirectly from the fireball's color, or its fragmentation behavior. If a spectral analysis of the light can be made, it's then possible to infer the chemical composition in much greater detail.
MM
I've always wanted to know what the best meteorite buying site is and what their average price is?? DVK: Serious dealers will be registered with the 'International Meteorite Collectors Association (IMCA)' - https://www.imca.cc/. They should provide a 'certificate of authenticity' where it says that they are member there. If you are in doubt, you can contact the association and check. Normally there are rough prices for different meteorite types per gram. Rare meteorites will of course be much more expensive than more common ones. Check the IMCA web page to find a dealer close to you.
Just read through Aidans link to the basaltic rock being used as a printing material for lunar habitation. There is a company called Roxul that does stone woven insulation that may be able to shed some light on the research they have done to minimize their similarity to asbestos as potentially carcinogenic materials deemed safe for use in commercial and residential applications. As the interior surfaces will essentially be 3D printed lunar regolith what are the current plans to coat or dampen the affinity for the structure to essentially be death traps for respiratory illness? At least initially, many of these 3d printed regolith structures would not be facing into pressurised sections, but would rather be elements placed outside and around our pressure vessels. Such structures would be things like radiation shields, landing pads or roadways, etc. In the future, if we move towards forming hermetically sealed structures, then your point is a good one. Looking into terrestrial solutions to this problem would be a great start! - AC
What kind of career path does it take to work in the asteroid hunting field? It's probably different for each of us, but here's a short summary of my own path.
I became interested in asteroids, and near-Earth objects in particular, thanks to a wonderful summer course organized by a local amateur astronomers association. Amateur astronomers play a great role in introducing people, and young kids in particular, to these topics.
Then I took physics as my undergrad degree (in Italy), followed by a Ph.D. in astronomy in the US (Hawaii in particular, a great place for astronomers thanks to the exceptional telescopes hosted there).
After finishing the Ph.D. I started my current job at ESA's NEO Coordination Centre, which allowed me to realize my dream of working in this field.
MM
this is another reply DVK: Almost all of us have a Master's degree either in aerospace engineering, mathematics, physics/astronomy/planetary science, or computer science. Some of us - as MM - have a Ph.D. too. But that's not really a requirement. This is true for our team at ESA, but also for other teams in other countries.
What is the likelihood of an asteroid hitting the Earth In the next 200 years? It depends on the size, large ones are rare, while small ones are much more common. You can check this infographics to get the numbers for each size class: https://www.esa.int/ESA_Multimedia/Images/2018/06/Asteroid_danger_explained
MM
Have you played the Earth Defence Force games and if you have, which one is your favourite? No I have not played the Earth Defence Force games, but I just looked it up and I think I would liked it. Which one would you recommend?
HG
How close is too close to earth? Space is a SUPER vast void so is 1,000,000 miles close, 10,000,000? And if an asteroid is big enough can it throw earth off its orbit? DVK: Too close for my taste is when we compute an impact probability > 0 for the object. That means the flyby distance is zero :-) Those are the objects on our risk page http://neo.ssa.esa.int/risk-page.
If an object can alter the orbit of another one, we would call it planet. So unless we have a rogue planet coming from another solar system (verrry unlikely) we are safe from that.
How can I join you when I'm older? DVK: Somebody was asking about our career paths... Study aerospace engineering or math or physics or computer science, get a Masters. Possibly a Ph.D. Then apply for my position when I retire. Check here for how to apply at ESA: https://www.esa.int/About_Us/Careers_at_ESA/Frequently_asked_questions2#HR1
How much is too much? DVK: 42 again
Are you aware of any asteroids that are theoretically within our reach, or will be within our reach at some point, that are carrying a large quantity of shungite? If you're not aware, shungite is like a 2 billion year old like, rock stone that protects against frequencies and unwanted frequencies that may be traveling in the air. I bought a whole bunch of the stuff. Put them around the la casa. Little pyramids, stuff like that. DVK: If I remember my geology properly, Shungite forms in water sedimental deposits. This requires liquid water, i.e. a larger planet. So I don't think there is a high chance to see that on asteroids.
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