View Full Version : Did anybody mention Enemy of the State?

2003-Sep-15, 10:34 PM
Did anybody mention Enemy of the State on this message board? I'm new here, so I wouldn't exactly know. But in any event, I'd like to mention what I perceive to be a considerable scientific inaccuarcy in the film. And of course I'm talking about spy satellites in low Earth orbit that can "hover" over the same spot over the Earth. I don't claim to be an expert in this area, but as far as I know, the only way a satellite in low Earth orbit could hover over one spot is if it had some kind of super-powered nuclear fusion engines or some such thing. And as far as I know, super-powered nuclear fusion engines haven't been invented yet. Plus, wouldn't any attempt to hover a low Earth orbitting satellite using conventional thrusters cause the satellite fall out of the sky since it will be traveling slower than orbital velocity? I admit that I think it would be kind of cool if spy satellites could do all that wild and crazy stuff they did in Enemy of the State. But of course that's a technology that probably won't be achievable for a number of decades. Oh well, ti' estas viv'!:)

2003-Sep-16, 01:09 PM
I believe you are correct. In order to stay stationary relative to a target a satelite would have to be geostationary. I believe that puts it at an altitude of around 35,000 km. I may be wrong about that figure, but it is still a very high orbit. I know we have satelites with very high levels of resolution. You can go on line to see real-time 1m resolution footage, so I would have to believe that the best classified spy satelites are better by at least a couple of orders of magnitude.

It would have been easy enough for the film makers to have a change of angle in the shot to indicate that they were switching to a different feed. In fact it would have made the point of the "vast government conspiricy" that they had several satelites dedicated to watching this guy.

2003-Sep-16, 02:28 PM
I believe there is one point in the movie where the bad guys are rushing against time because they don't want to lose the satelite feed. Although it is convenient that the satelite is always overhead when they need it...

2003-Sep-16, 02:38 PM
Don't forget that when they're using satellite imagery, the satellite's viewpoint is always directly over the target area. Throughout the entire time when they say "we'll only have imagery for the next X minute", the vewpoint never changes.

One might expect the viewpoint to be closer and closer to horizontal as time passes. But then again, they managed to take a security camera and rotate the image in 3 directions...

2003-Sep-17, 02:02 AM
Chalk that one up to artistic liscense.

First off: I like Enemy of the State.

Now, "Yes" they *could* have done all the stationary satellite stuff:

If the sat. they were using WAS in geosynchonous orbit, they would have been able to have the sat adjust its actual view point to where they needed it- as in, the sat. is just one of many used to sover a certain section of North America, and the NSA was just tapping into the feed.
When they are talking about loosing the feed, I think that was a refernce to the sat. being diverted from another task (like the NSA nerds were hacking into it for a time or something).

Also, I think you can give the script writers a little credit- I love the line where Jack Black turns to the ex-marine and tells him that the sat. can only look DOWN, and marine says, "Kinda limited" :)

2003-Sep-17, 11:18 AM
OK. But if it is geostationary it is 35,000 miles away. I know we have good spy satelites, but those shots were cm resolution. I do not think we can do that from geostationary.

You have a good point about "loosing the feed" meaning that their time was up. There are a lot of assets that you have to ask for time on, and you take what you get, and loose it when your time is up. That is assuming that someone with more clout does not shut you down for his pet project.

It is funny. They have gutted our intel aparatus over the years and grown more and more dependant on satelites. Then people can't understand how we misinterperate the "mood on the street" or "intentions", as if you could get that psychological and social stuff from satelite immagery. Bottom line, satelities are "Kinda' limited".

2003-Sep-17, 12:50 PM
I think the switching between satellites would have been more ominous. They could imply the vast government conspiracy much easier. "Bring up New York 5... Bring up New York 37... 512... 1,228." I mean, that would freak me out.

2003-Sep-17, 01:39 PM
I used to work in a mental hospital, and we had a patient who said that the government had a satelite dedicated to watching him. Aside form that he seemed sane most of the time. When I left that job to accept my officers commision in the Marine Corps, he somehow found out about it and became convinced that I had been part of the conspiricy. He also became very suspicious of my replacement.

This shows just how efficient and ruthless the big conspiricy is. I was a part of it and I didn't even know it!