In case you haven't noticed lately, the news about space has been... well, strange, and there has been also an unusual pattern to it (well, at least in my opinion). There have been the usual articles about budget matters, goals, mission protocols, new technologies... all the usual and bland stuff. Yet, there have been articles that, notwithstanding the attempt to dress them up in the clothes of ordinary "calm discourse," seem rather odd, and which cast an odd shadow or strange presence in the whole proceeding. It's like finding one of Wagner's Valkyrie in full costume in the middle of a Mozart opera. And so, this article, submitted by Ms. P.H. - who also noticed the incongruity posed by the context - raises certain questions within the context of our previous week's blogs about that strange article from Russia Today (RT), and its very strange phrasing about finding spy satellites disguised as space junk that were "state affiliated."
It was a curious turn of phrase, in my opinion, and though some people who read that blog thought that I was parsing things too closley and reading too much into it, I still maintain my position. The Russians could have said that the satellites-cum-space-junk "belonged to an unnamed nation" or "a nation we choose not to disclose at present." Instead, they used a highly suggestive turn of phrase: the satellites-cum-space-junk were only "state affiliated," leaving one to guess "what state" and "what's the nature of the affiliation: corporate? religious? or even, perhaps, 'allied with'?"
Now Ms. P.H. has shared this article with us, again, from the English language journal Sputnik:
Search for Extraterrestial Life Included in Russian Space Program
On its face, there's absolutely nothing unusual about the Russians (or anyone else with a space program) budgeting money to search for extra-terrestrial life. But in the context of "state affiliated" spy satellites-cum-space junk, the article raises certain questions. As Ms. P.H. put it in her email to me, "is ET code for state affiliation?" In other words, might the Russians be looking, not for ET, but for whoever they suspect is behind the "space junk spy satellites"? Or, (logically just a plausible), could "state affiliation" be code for "ET", perhaps "affiliated" with or "allied with" a particular terrestrial nation? Either way one reads it, we now have to address a peculiarity in the Sputnik article itself. It begins by establishing the context: a search for extraterrestrial life:
"MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Projects for searching for extraterrestial life forms, studying climate changes on Earth, and defining the level of threat from dangerous comets and asteroids have been included in Russia’s space program for 2016-2025, according to a copy of the Federal Space Program’s document."
Notably, this search for extraterrestrial life forms occurs almost in the same breath as "climate change" and "dangerous comets and asteroids," (can you say Dr. Carol Rosin?), and this raises, behind the normal way of reading such a list, the possibility that the three issues are connected in the Russians' mind. Of course, that's high octane speculation, so forget, for the moment, that I said it.
But then, notice the very next paragraph, which follows the first:
Projects will include sending satellites and interplanetary laboratories into orbit around Mars and Earth’s moon.
Now, again, if this statement had occurred on its own, there would be nothing unusual about it. What is unusual about it is that the Russians have stated that their search for extraterrestrial life, study of climate change, and snooping for dangerous asteroids and comets, is to be partly accompllished by sending satellites and "interplanetary laboratories into orbit around Mars and the Moon." Ponder that statement carefuly in the context of a "search for extraterrestrial life". And how would parking satellites and "laboratories" in orbit around the Moon and - even more to the point, Mars - to study climate change be beneficial. Of course, one can invent all sorts of easy "plausible" sounding "scientific" explanations (oh, we want to discover Mars' past climate change to learn what we might expect on Earth, &c &c). In the final analysis, it seems a long way to go just to get a weather forecast.
Now, I can hear the objection here: Farrell, you're parsing things too closely, and reading too much into it. Perhaps I am. But that's what we do here, we parse things closely, for the essence of reading texts is precisely to follow all possibilities, including subtle or strange ones, suggested by the context, and here, the context is, to my mind, quite
strange. Clever word smiths use context in such fashion to send messages all the time, which can only be discerned by close reading and the willingness to parse things subtly. And here, the context is strange: searches for ET, and dangerous comets, and climate change, immediately followed by a statement that this will be accomplishe by orbiting satellites around the Moon and Mars. Add this, to last week's article about 'state affiliated" spy satellites as space junk, and Russia is sending very strange messages indeed.(To see the difference of contexts and text, compare Sputnik
's reporting, with the much blander version of The Moscow Times
: Russia's Space Agency Has Ambitious Plans to Find Aliens
. But even here, all the ambitions occur under the headline and in the context of a "search for aliens," again suggesting the possibility that climate change, asteroids, and aliens might be linked in the Russians' mind.) Now, Russia may not be sending messages at all; but then again, they might; and it is that last possibility, with all its implications, that means we need to keep a close eye on space news, and parse it, not only for its ordinary meanings, but for any suggestion that subtler intentions might be present.
See you on the flip side...