Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - February 12, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
S-THE LETHBRIDQE MERALD-TotWtay, February 12, W4 NASA's eyes.. turn earthward Ultimate vantage points just miles up Spacecraft being prepared By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD New York Times Service NEW YORK Now that men have reached the moon and their robot spacecraft have reconnoitered the nearest planets, now that space flight is an accepted and almost routine part of modern life, the emphasis of much of the American space program has shifted earthward. A concerted effort is being made by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to determine how space can be used to improve life on Earth and on how it can yield practical and profitable results The early results can be considered encouraging. The billion Skylab project, whose third and final flight ended in a safe splashdown Friday, was only the most recent example of applications of space technology to Earth's needs. The first were the communications and weather satellites A decade later, daily satellite weather pictures and live television transmissions from Asia and Europe are taken for granted. Yet the potential of these satellites has only barely begun to be exploited. Communications satellites are placed in an "geo- synchronous" orbit miles above the equator. At that altitude, the satellite travels at precisely the same speed the Earth is turning: Thus it appears to be standing still over the same spot at all times. One satellite in geosynchronous orbit can receive and relay telephone, television and data signals over a third of the globe. Three satellites so placed around the equator, passing messages back and forth, can maintain constant radio and television communications between any two points on earth. "It is becoming says Dr. James C. Fletcher, NASA's administrator, "that geosynchronous orbit is the most important place we have discovered yet in our advance into space The five advanced satellites in orbit now are linked to ground stations in 83 countries. They handle more international telephone traffic than underseas cables, and at lower cost. In the next two years, American corporations expect to provide satellites for communications between the east and west coasts. By the middle of this year, NASA plans to launch ATS, an experimental communica- tions satellite that would relay educational television programs direct to remote communities. ATS would also conduct experiments for air and seai control by satellites into geosynchronous orbit. At present, weather satellites are in lower orbits, and only monitor an area twice a day, which is often enough to track fast developing storms. The synchronous meteorological satellite would be in position to maintain 24 hour coverage of North America. It would be able to collect environmental data from more than remote stations and transmit information' on temperatures, wind velo- cities, humidity, and so on, to a central processing computer for analysis of weather trends. Success of this system would mean an important step toward more reliable long range weather forecasting, and bring A, jT 1" z Returns to: A- J '-J -7; i NOW thru February 23rd 9 a.m. 9 p.m. Daily (IAC) FINANCING NO DOWN PAYMENT NouyMNtt fllAwfllSlh 328-0174 328-3912 328-8726 i incalculable economic benefits. Weather monitoring, of course, is only one new way of viewing the Earth from space. Ever since Gaspard Felix Tournachon, who called himself Nadar, took'the first aerial photograph while ballooning over Paris in 1856, men have been trying to gain a better vantage point for observing the earth and space must be the ultimate vantage point. But in the rush to get to the moon, little use was made of space's potential, except for military purposes. The first, and still the most sophisticated, space reconnaissance was conducted by secret satellites of both the United States and Soviet Union Such reconnaissance continues, an essential deterrent, it is said, to nuclear war by miscalculation. (Lyndon Johnson once said that the information from such satelites was worth the price of the entire space program It was not until 1972, after years of budgetary constraints and bureaucratic in-fighting, that NASA launched its first earth resources technology satellite Its purpose was to demonstrate that the Earth could be surveyed inexpensively and effectively from space. In 19 months of operations, it has been one of NASA's most striking successes, and a second ERTS is being readied for launching late this year or early in 1975. From an orbit of 570 miles, the ERTS makes 14 complete orbits a day, crossing the polar regions. It covers the same ground once every 18 days. The satellite is equipped with cameras and remote sensing instruments for mineral prospecting, mapping, crop inventories and pollution monitoring. Results so far suggest' that, as NASA reported, "many of the major crops and species can be identified weir enough for inventory from space, that forest fire and flood damage, even in the remotest areas, can be economically and quickly assessed; The snow Surveys can be made with sufficient precision to aid in the control of hydraulic power from dams; that the data can be automatically transformed into' useable map products, including land use maps, and that new geological features can be found even in well mapped areas." In geology, scientists have discovered new cracks in the San Andreas fault in California from ERTS photographs. They have found ''lineaments" where minerals are more apt to be discovered, "flags" pointing to where the prospector could find new wealth. Infrared images from ERTS have been used to chart the nation's underground water supply They have also been used to detect the distinctive heat signatures of different crops such as wheat, corn and cotton and to sense the difference in the beat emitted by healthy and blighted crops. The technique is still in the experimental stages, but great hope is placed in the ability of spacecraft to provide an accurate census of agricultural crops and to give early warning of infestation. New pattern of terror forecast LONDON (Renter) The Daily Express newspaper re- ports from Beirut that guerrilla squads drawn from both the Japanese Red Army and the Popular Front For the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) are planning a new CflffllfMMffD Oi kldmpptllK jfflfl murder in Asia and Europe The report says the oper- ations will follow the pattern of the action last week in Sing- apore, where oil tanks were attacked and hostages held. Chesworth says he has been briefed MI the planned ptigfl byPatestiiitans opposed to it The Palestinians are qvoted as saying that last week's attack was "just a re- Quoting a PFLP spokesman as saying that aircraft hijack- ings are "old Chesworth says the guerrillas plan to kid- nap and kffl in a bid to halt what he describes as a growing support among Palestinians for representation at peace talks with Israel. The report says the planned campaign is being master- minded by Dr. Wall Haddad, 47, the PFLP's chief of foreign operations, from a headquarters m Baghdad.