RE: institutionalized confusion, ephemeris server, sample size

Ted Molczan (
Tue, 31 Dec 1996 13:40:07 -0500

Walter Nissen wrote:

>It also seems=20
>that an ephemeris server to run it, together with a team of computors =
>updaters of orbits, would make a great deal of sense.  It is my =
>that much of the remaining "activation energy barrier" from Molczan's =
>lies in the difficulty of elset maintenance. =20

I am not against further automating the process of elset updating and=20
ephemeris generation; however, I strongly doubt that they are the=20
significant activation barrier holding back potential observers.=20

Observation, data reduction and analysis are far more difficult and =
consuming than maintaining elsets and making ephemerides. Of course =
are ways to partially automate the data reduction and analysis, but that =

only goes so far. Orbit determination/updating, requires human judgment,
which can only come from having understood the underlying math/physics =
lots of experience.

And observation requires coping with excessive cold or heat/humidity and =

sleep deprivation, while remaining alert and coordinated. Then there are =

the frequent disappointments due to sudden cloudy weather, and having to
pass up other, easier forms of leisure activity.

So I doubt very much that those who are stymied by maintaining elements
and running predictions are going to fare much better when it comes to

In the end, some folks have the necessary ability and drive, while =
do not. There are many worthwhile activities, so it is no tragedy if one
does not pursue satellites in favour of something else.

>The team might consist of=20
>Ted Molczan, Mike McCants, TS Kelso, Bj"orn Gimle, Alan Pickup, Pierre=20
>Nierinck, Rainer Kracht, Ron Dantowitz, (myself? in this crowd, despite =

>my extensive experience with Mir and shuttles, I'm definitely a junior=20
>member) and other trusted computors (my apologies to anyone I've=20

The best way to make me lose interest in this hobby is to make it into a
job. I already have one of those, and one is enough! (Hmmm, perhaps I=20
have stumbled upon Molczan's 2nd law.) We have all of the organization=20
we need right now. Through SeeSat-L, phone and fax, we have created an=20
informal team of hobbyists, who work together on an ad hoc basis to =
whatever pleases them.=20

Go back an read the archives regarding the TSS, NOSS 2-3/Tips, =
96038A/SDS, Superbird, and the present KeyHole, just to name a few, and =
you will see=20
how well we work together. There was no formal organization: in some =
someone had to take the first step, then others joined in; in other =
the activity was more or less spontaneous. Let's keep it that way!

Well-intentioned folks might think we could benefit from more =
but I doubt it. My experience has been that organizations tend to become
bunged up by administration issues, often to the point where content =
secondary. Voltaire's Bastards, and The Unconscious Civilization, both =
John Ralston Saul, offer lots of examples and insights into this =

Happy New Year!