reply to post by Aliensun
Maybe. We sit there for eons dropping comet after comet into the void and giving them little nudges this way and that in hopeful attempts to set up
the right amount of speed, distance, and angle to beat the gravity well at the other end. But everything goes wrong and nothing goes right. We see
our comets committing three types of behaviors. Some curve down into the sun anyway because they were not endowed with enough independent actions to
remain free. Some curve around the sides somewhat before they impact at an angle into the surface, but they still die.
Some are lucky enough to miss the sun on the first pass, but they lack the precise interrelationship of the three critical factors to achieve the
orbital motion we want for them to return to us. These comets round the sun in varying degrees, but fly off into all manners of haphazard and
every-changing motions, destined for the most part to crash before too many more passes.
A few comets are so enthusiastically launched that they attain escape velocity. The faster ones only slightly curve around the sun before shooting
away toward a new direction never to return. But never among our many, many launches would we have a nice, docile comet which would go down to the
sun, turn a tidy 180-degree 'hairpin" curve and return back our way for reuse. Never would it happen.
Slowly, it dawns on us that the random spewing of comets is not every efficient for gaining our desires. In pondering the situation, we conclude that
our goal is far more difficult to obtain than the hardest of the early ballistic missile satellites launches into space. We have no manner of
in-flight correction capabilities. Our little comets are similar to a rifle bullet's flight. Our projectile must be perfectly aligned toward the
sun and every minute, course-diverting obstacle considered and factored in at the instant of release or all is for naught, a clear miss.
We call upon our friends in Science for aid. They use mighty instruments to measure the mass and diameter of the 81-mile distant sun in order to know
exactly what our flight parameters must be. After the computers quit spewing out their seemingly endless amounts of decimal places for any given
combination of the critical factors, we come to learn that the exact figures are useless and the situation is hopeless.
We have in hand the exact required components of our equations, x distance, y speed, and z angle, but we won't have the ability to produce them as
required when required. Even if we were to draw upon the best computers and rocket technologies of today, a ballistic shot as we require simply
cannot be achieved. There is no way an inert, little body can be sent down that long corridor of 81 miles with the accuracy to hit the precisely
required "window" so that it will round the sun and then break away to return exactly to us.
People working in that field wouldn't even consider trying such foolishness. They argue that a little onboard computer and some navigational
thrusters would solve the problem nicely. We refuse such help. We stubbornly hold to the idea of wanting to bring the orbit about naturally.
"Dammit, comets do it in the real world, why can't we do it here?" They shrug and ignore the question. They counter-argue that in addition to the
precise amount of initial control needed for a successful return of our little natural comets, the intervening variables which would act on the
situation after a correct release of a come had been achieved would always subtract further from any possible chance of the mission being successful.
These other factors include changes in the mass of the comet as it lost material to the sun, rotational spins by the nucleus which can retard or
advance the orbit, pockets of jet actions of erupting gases which can change the body’s rotation rates, perturbations from the major planets
(especially Jupiter), fracturing of the nucleus, collisions and near misses with other bodies, resisting medium in space, passing stars, solar wind,
In sum, our attempt to produce a returning little comet would be a very noble concept,, true to the science of physics, and clearly theoretically
possible on paper it the above several altering factors are ignore. But alas, the probability for error would always be hugely greater than the
probability for success such as to make the feat impossible in the real area. We would be shooting for a theoretical point unobtainable in reality
via our natural methods. This situation is akin to the theoretical stationary point at the exact center of a rotating circle. Theoretically, it can
be proven to exist, but try the physical approach of trying to stick a pin into it.
If all we had to draw upon for experience was this little solar system and our bright idea about what we thought we could do with our comet bodies, it
would never occur to us that nature is apparently, consistently, and unwittingly performing the same feat time after time. Long-period comets have
the remarkable record of precisely hitting the impossible-to-hit window for return 100 per cent of the time. How does nature do it? Perhaps a better
question: Does nature do it?
The foregoing example of a miniature but relatively accurate solar system was fashioned after the original elements of Kohoutek's orbit were
published. They supposed an orbital length of 3,600 AU. This is an extremely short orbit for a long-period comet. A subsequent official revision of
its orbital motion revealed that figure was many factors of ten too low. And that it, like most long-period comets, has a supposed turn-around point
out beyond 90,000 or more astronomical units from the Sun.
For further amusement, you may want to fashion a solar system yourself based on these larger measurements (which would make the diminutive sun 25
times further away than on our scale model used here) and consider how much harder it would be to correctly launch a ballistic comet around it at such
a distance and have it complete the equally arduous task of returning back from where it had originated.
By now it should be clearly evident that the real world of comets is hard to reconcile with the paper world of theoretical physics and conic geometry.
The only safe assumption which comes to mind is that something is wrong with comets, not physics.
So we must wonder aside from what we are told, if theoretically possible but realistically impossible events are commonplace with the motions of
comets, then there must be a clear-cut, ever-present, and all-encompassing reason. The reason, of course, is simple. Comets are not naturally
produced balls of frozen space fluff adrift in a sea of gravity. Instead, they are controlled bodies, nothing less. And basic physics is honest and
true. That is the only way these two at-odds aspect of our Universe can be reconciled.
(Detractors will want to mention the many SOHO, SOLWIND, etc. records of comet-like minor bodies noted to have fallen into the sun. They are not to
be confused with a typical long-period comet of considerable more substance and presence.)
For further stimulation of thought pro and con, see these other threads:
Trouble with Comet Halley
Motions of Comets