Human tooth in space
 

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Human tooth in space

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Human tooth in space

 

Human tooth in space

A human tooth has been recovered floating in space. Astronauts on NASA’s flagship satellite, the International Space Station, have gathered in the tooth, which was found among ‘space junk’, while the astronauts – as well as the tooth – were travelling at a speed of 17,000 miles an hour.

The daring space walk and subsequent ‘space catch’ had to be approved by the US senate, having been labelled a matter of national security. Space Station’s sophisticated imaging equipment returned a collection of spectacular, high-resolution colour pictures.

The tooth has been stored in a sophisticated radiation container – the ‘Faraday’ box, made specially for NASA by Tupperware – developed to protect against killer levels of radiation.

After radiation levels have subsided – which is expected to be by 1 April – astronauts will begin a detailed forensic analysis of the human tooth, using X-ray, CT and MRI scans, to try and determine its origins and work out how it came to be orbiting in space.

US officials are concerned that the tooth once came from a human residing on a covert space station, which may have been launched surreptitiously by another country. Talk has resurfaced of Goldeneye, the electromagnetic pulse (EMP) first-strike satellite weapon system, which was featured in the James Bond film of that name, and was thought, until recently to be pure fiction.

However, during the cold war, the American and Soviet militaries did develop such equipment. Detonating a nuclear device in the upper atmosphere creates a pulse/radiation surge, which destroys anything that has an electronic circuit. This was to be used to knock out the enemy’s communications before they could retaliate. In the early 90s, Russia created Goldeneye-type satellites for use as EMP weapons.

Dentistry magazine spoke to Avril Poisson, head of Lower Atmosphere Debris, at the NASA Orbital Debris Program Office. She said: ‘I can confirm that a tooth has been found in low earth orbit, approximately 800 miles above the planet’s surface.’ She explained how debris is a big concern for space travel, saying: ‘Even a fleck of paint travelling at such high speeds can seriously damage spacecraft, which is why a whole organisation has been setup to analyse debris.’

Indeed, data from the ‘Haystack’ radar in the US is used to characterise the debris population by size, altitude, and inclination. From these measurements, scientists have concluded that there are over 100,000 debris fragments in orbit. The Goddard Space Flight Centre’s lists over 2,000 satellites currently in orbit.

The plot thickens, as neither the Americans nor the Russians have filed reports of astronauts losing teeth in space.



 Posted on : Fri 31st - Mar - 2006

 

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