ALICE SPRINGS, Australia — Scientists at NASA successfully completed their mission to verify the gravitational pull of an expensive item when dropped from high in the air.
The $10 million Nuclear Compton Telescope (NCT) — a precision instrument able to examine and record gamma rays in space — was hoisted onto a 100 foot crane, so it could then be dropped to the ground and the data collected.
NCT exploded on impact into a smoldering heap of complicated electronic components, broken glass and smashed aluminum, confirming the hypothesis of the NASA scientists.
Dr. Hiram Lawson, the lead physicist on the project, congratulated his team on executing a flawless mission. “Of course, it’s too early for the official results,” he said, “but I can tell you, categorically, that gravity played some part in it, just as we suspected.”
Lawson believes the gravity that brought the multi-million dollar piece of scientific equipment hurling toward its destruction was “very similar” to the gravity experienced by Sir Isaac Newton, over 300 years ago.
“We’ve known for some time the effect of gravity on objects that cost less than $5 million and those that cost more than a $100 million,” noted Lawson, “but this test proves that objects in the $10 million range are just as vulnerable to gravitational forces as their more and less expensive counterparts.”
Engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena had been working on the project for over four years, designing something “really heavy, fragile and expensive.”
“It could have been anything,” noted Lawson, “as long as it cost ten-million dollars.”
Lawson said the team decided on a state-of-the-art space telescope, because “we know how to build them, and the sound they make when they come crashing down is loud enough for our instruments to analyze.”
“We could have just as easily have built an oversized Toyota Camry,” he quipped, “but we were concerned that someone could have gotten hurt.”
What’s up next for the renowned space agency? “We’re building something that costs $500 million,” said Lawson. “I can’t tell you what it is yet, but we’ll be ready to drop it sometime in 2013.”