Obscure Box

Thoughts from inside the obscure box

June 4, 2008

Lisa Wilkinson and the not-so-far-away astronauts

Posted by : Michael Lund
Filed under : Media, Television
Lisa Wilkinson, Today

Lisa Wilkinson, Today

The Nine Network's Lisa Wilkinson needs a quick science (and geography) lesson when it comes to speaking of all things space.

On today's Today show she uttered the following:

"Right this moment, millions of miles away, two astronauts have donned their suits and are spacewalking outside the International Space Station."

Hear the utterance for yourself courtesy of the Nine Network's video archive, Astronauts space walk. (Although it does tend to bring your web browser to a "Not Responding" halt.)

No astronaut has ever been "millions of miles away" from Earth.

The Moon is only 382,500 kilometres away from Earth, that's about a quarter of a million miles.

So how far away from this planet were the astronauts?

Nasa has a wealth of information available on its website including a list of frequently asked questions on the space station. Worth a read when researching any story on the station.

Not so far away as you think

Not so far away as you think

What is the orbit of the space station?

The International Space Station orbits at an average altitude of 354 kilometres (220 miles) at an inclination of 51.6 degrees to the equator.

So if the space station is ever in orbit over Wilkinson's head, just remember it's about the same distance away from her in the Sydney studio as the Parkes radio telescope.

By a stroke of scientific irony, that was the telescope that helped receive the first live television pictures of the Apollo 11 moon landing back in 1969, as featured in the classic Australian comedy The Dish.

Even this dish is no stranger to bending scientific truths. "The Dish": Fact versus Fiction - a quick comparison makes interesting reading.

Great movie though.

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All thoughts and comments here are the honestly held personal opinion of Michael Lund and are based on the information available at the time of publication.