Science: Golf Ball in the Sky

Perched in the nose of a Delta rocket, one of the simplest satellites ever built by the U.S. roared off the launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base last week to begin an 8 million-year journey in space. The 2-ft. sphere, placed into a 3,600-mile-high circular orbit, contains no moving parts or electronic equipment and resembles an oversized golf ball. Yet it should provide earthbound geophysicists with a benchmark in the sky that will enable them to measure precisely the rotation rate of the earth and the wobble of its axis, continental drift, and the movement along geologic faults. It may...

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