Tuesday, December 21, 2010


The fastest path between Point A and Point B is a straight line. Not so fast, says a team of scientists and engineers who recently disproved this commonly accepted notion using a NASA satellite that had not moved more than 15 degrees during its 12-year mission studying the Sun.

In what may seem counterintuitive even to engineers, a team from the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS) in Monterey, Calif., Draper Laboratory in Houston, Texas, and the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., proved that the spacecraft actually rotated faster to reach a particular target in the sky when it carried out a set of mathematically calculated movements. These maneuvers looked more like the steps dancers would perform doing the tango, the foxtrot, or another ballroom dance.
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