Sentinel Down

And yet again, after leaving behind a cutting edge stealth helicopter during the bin Laden raid, the U.S. conducts another, involuntary, state-of-the-art military technology transfer to the enemy.

Iran’s capture of US drone shines light on spy mission, but may reveal little

The Iranian capture of a high-tech, stealth U.S. drone shines a light on the American spying mission there, but probably doesn’t tell Tehran much that it didn’t already know, a senior U.S. official said.

The RQ-170 Sentinel was providing surveillance over Iran and didn’t just accidentally wander away from the Afghanistan border region, as first suggested. The official said Wednesday that the Iranians will no doubt be able to tell where the aircraft flew. A bigger U.S. concern, the official said, was that the Iranians are likely to share or sell whatever they have recovered of the aircraft to the Chinese, Russians or others. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the mission.

Experts and officials acknowledge that there is no self-destruct mechanism on the Sentinels — which are used both by the military and the CIA for classified surveillance and intelligence gathering missions.

. . .

U.S. officials said that while they have enough information to confirm that Iran does have the wreckage, they said they are not sure what the Iranians will be able to glean technologically from what they found. It is unlikely that Iran would be able to recover any surveillance data from the aircraft.

See also:
US admits downed drone spied on Iran
Iran says US spy drone was flying deep inside its airspace when it was downed
Malfunction likely put U.S. drone in Iranian hands
Iran Probably Did Capture a Secret U.S. Drone
U.S. Military Sources: Iran Has Missing U.S. Drone
Drone that crashed in Iran may give away U.S. secrets
China, Russia want to inspect downed U.S. drone
Sentinel unmanned drone lost in Iran among US most valuable warfare assets
Drone belonged to CIA, officials say
Downed drone was on CIA mission
Officials: Drone downed in Iran on CIA mission
Drone Lost in Iran Was Joint CIA-Military Reconnaissance Plane
Iran’s downing of U.S. drone rattles Washington
US ‘concerned’ over drone lost near Iran border
Experts: Iran capture of stealth drone no worry
US considered missions to destroy RQ-170 Sentinel drone lost in Iran
Spy drone may provide little help to Iran
U.S. debated sending commandos into Iran to recover drone
U.S. Made Covert Plan to Retrieve Iran Drone
Iran: The Stealth War Continues
Drone Drama Proves Iran Is Ready to Rumble
Stealth drone highlights tougher U.S. strategy on Iran
U.S. drones have been spying on Iran for years

The good news is that we seem to be paying close attention to what Iran is up to, have been for years, and can penetrate Iranian airspace with near impunity. These past and, hopefully, ongoing intelligence gathering and surveillance activities should help provide a detailed blueprint for when push comes to shove and Iran has to be dealt with militarily, which is sure to eventually become a necessity.

/that said, it’s a total unforced strategic error to just let Iran have this advanced technology drone, to share with or sell to other potential enemies of the United States, would it have killed us, if we didn’t want to risk lives to recover the Sentinel, to at least launch an airstrike package to obliterate the wreckage?

Tuesdays With Microsoft

Tuesdays are the day when we patch the holey Microsoft products.

Patch Tuesday leaves Duqu 0-day for another day

November marked a light Patch Tuesday with just four bulletins, only one of which tackles a critical flaw.

All four advisories relate to problems in Windows. None is related to the zero-day vulnerability related to Duqu, the highly sophisticated worm reckoned to be related to the infamous Stuxnet pathogen.

See also:
Microsoft Security Bulletin Summary for November 2011
Microsoft Patch Tuesday Fixes Critical Windows 7 Bug, Leaves Out Duqu Zero-Day
Microsoft Fixes Four Bugs for November Patch Tuesday
Microsoft offers simple patch Tuesday for election day
Microsoft fails to patch Duqu, but fixes critical hole in Windows TCP/IP stack
One critical bulletin, no Duqu patch, in November 2011 Patch Tuesday updates
A mild November Patch Tuesday from Microsoft
Light Patch Tuesday May Lead To Out-of-Band Patch
Microsoft fixes gaping hole in Windows TCP/IP stack
Microsoft patches critical Windows bug, but not Duqu flaw
Microsoft patches critical Windows 7 bug, downplays exploit threat
Microsoft Leaves Duqu Worm Exploit Unpatched
Windows Update

I find it more than interesting that Microsoft is unable or unwilling to patch for the Duqu Virus. Is it intentional?

/anyway, you know the drill, get on with it

Warp Speed?

Was Einstein wrong, can neutrinos blow through the speed of light stop sign?

Speedy Particles Put Einstein to the Test

An experiment purporting to show that subatomic particles can travel faster than light has scientists’ heads spinning. If confirmed, it would undermine key pillars of modern physics.

At a presentation in Switzerland, scientists said Friday they had recorded ghostlike particles, known as neutrinos, a tiny bit faster than light—an apparent breach of the cosmic speed limit set down by Albert Einstein more than a century ago.

. . .

Neutrinos are particles with almost no mass and no charge, and they can pass through ordinary matter unaffected. At any given moment, billions harmlessly stream through a person’s body.

In the experiment known as the Oscillation Project with Emulsion-Tracking Apparatus, neutrinos were measured as traveling slightly faster than light on a 450-mile trip from CERN near Geneva to the Gran Sasso underground lab in central Italy. The particles moved at a velocity just above the speed of light. That result was based on more than 15,000 neutrino events measured at the Italian lab, CERN said.

See also:
Measurement of the neutrino velocity with the OPERA detector in the CNGS beam
Neutrinos may have traveled faster than the speed of light
UPDATE 1-Particles found to break speed of light
Particles recorded moving faster than light – CERN
Scientists Question Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos
Light speed: Flying into fantasy
Those faster-than-light neutrinos. Four things to think about
Particles faster than light: Revolution or mistake?
CERN neutrinos don’t “disprove” Einstein
Details emerge about European scientists’ discovery
Physicists explain how neutrino beat Einstein
Challenging Einstein Is Usually A Losing Venture
Physicists wary of junking light speed limit yet
Faster Than Light Neutrinos? Don’t Bet On It
CERN – the European Organization for Nuclear Research
CERN
Welcome to LNGS – Gran Sasso National Laboratory
Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso
Oscillation Project with Emulsion-tRacking Apparatus (OPERA)
OPERA experiment

Are these results science fact or science fiction? Beats me. If it is true, it’s going to turn physics as we know it on its head.

/stay tuned, this is sure to be a hot topic of scientific debate for quite some time

Goldilocks And The Five Planets

Book your travel plans early, the closest one is millions of years of travel time away.

NASA finds dozens of planets that might support life

A catalog of possible planets discovered far out in space includes more than 50 candidates that could possibly support life, NASA scientists said Wednesday. If, as expected, most of the planets are confirmed as real, the Kepler mission — now finishing its second year — would nearly triple the number of planets discovered over the last decade and a half.

With 1,235 planetary candidates surrounding a collective 997 stars in an area 500 to 3,000 light-years away, the tally to date provides a wealth of data for scientists to sift through in search of Earth-like planets.

“This is the first step in understanding the possible distribution of life in our galaxy,” said William Borucki, principal investigator for the Kepler mission at NASA Ames Research Center in the Bay Area’s Moffett Field.

He noted that of the candidate planets, 54 reside in the so-called Goldilocks range — in a “just right” distance from its star to be neither too hot nor too cold to permit liquid water and therefore the presence of life as we know it. Five of those 54 are close to Earth’s size.

The space-based Kepler telescope, which circles the sun trailing Earth’s orbit, observes more than 155,000 stars and every half-hour measures the amount of light they give off. If a planet is orbiting a star, it is detectable because it temporarily blocks a bit of light each time it crosses in front of its star.

See also:
5 Earth-sized planets spied in ‘habitable zone’
NASA spots 54 potentially life-friendly planets
NASA spots 54 potentially life-friendly planets
1,235 alien planets out there?
Kepler space telescope is finding a cornucopia of possible planets
NASA reveals more than 1,200 potential planets
Hunt for planets yields surprises
Kepler space telescope spots five Earth-sized planets in our galaxy
NASA Detects Potential ‘Habitable Zone’ Planets
Kepler: Home Page
Kepler (spacecraft)

Well, this is a great scientific achievement, but I’m not sure what practical value there is in it. Okay, so there’s all these possibly habitable planets, so what?

/we’ll never get there to find out for sure.