My Satellite will either save or destroy the Earth. I work as a Daytime Astronomer on the STEREO mission, a pair of identical satellites sent into an Earth-sized solar orbit to stare at the Sun.

Apparently, we also kill satellites. Our PI-- Principal Investigator-- took the role of private investigator and forwarded a Russian newspaper article on the recent satellite collision. Unjustly, they took an artist's conception of our satellite and added in some debris and wreckage to implicate us in the collision!

STEREO photoshopped

Yes, that's one of our 2 STEREO satellites in the picture. However, I have it on good faith that STEREO was nowhere near the scene of the crime at the time. In fact, I have a map proving its innocence, courtesy of the "Where is STEREO" tool:

stereo orbit

So for the record, we were nowhere near IRIDIUM at that time. Case closed. Our next order of business-- saving the Earth from killer asteroids! And this time, it's for real.

A temporary project with STEREO is being considered-- near-Earth asteroid spotting. A New Scientist article discusses us briefly repurposing our STEREO satellites to hunt for potential Earth-killers. STEREO is passing through the L4/L5 Lagrangian points, where the Earth and Sun gravitational pull cancel each other. There may be a few stuck asteroids there that, if dislodged by random planetary gravity nudges, could threaten the Earth.

Since STEREO is passing through anyway, we're looking at rolling the instruments to better spot potential Earth-killers. And least I be charged with over-hyping this, I cite this entertaining quote by a Princeton researcher, Richard Gott. "If we see a big asteroid there, it might be worth taking it out pre-emptively," says Gott, "and by that I mean blowing it to pieces."

You gotta love big science-- fun to do, and good for ya!