Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Shakin’ Station

Last month, the International Space Station made a rocket burn to nudge itself into a better position to receive incoming spacecraft. This is supposed to be a routine procedure that gently moves the station into another spot, but something went wrong. Due to a rocket malfunction, the station began shaking violently, up to five times more than what it’s supposed to handle. No one knows what caused the problem, but it looks like the thrusts modulated themselves to the station’s resonant frequency, which is why the shaking became so violent. For those who may not know, resonant frequency is the frequency at which an object oscillates at maximum amplitude. Just a small, periodic force at an object’s resonant frequency can amplify into quite a rattling. According to legend, madman inventor NiKola Tesla created a resonant frequency device that could topple a building. But the Mythbusters tested that, and it’s probably bunk. Anyway, I guess the point of all this is that you’ll probably have to reschedule your trip to the ISS until they figure out this problem. Sorry, vacationers. More details here.

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