Science: Midas Satellite

Once safe in space, a missile or satellite is hard to find (see above). But when it is first launched, its booster looses an enormous amount of heat that shines far out into space as a blaze of infrared radiation. At Cape Canaveral last week the U.S. attempted to launch its first reconnaissance satellite designed to take advantage of this fact. Called Midas (from Missile Defense Alarm System), the satellite carried infrared detectors, which will pick up a missile's hot exhaust trail as it rises above the hazy, moisture-laden lower atmosphere. From a satellite on a high orbit, the heat can...

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