A Russian astrologer is suing NASA for $300m in damages for "moral trauma" after the agency's Deep Impact mission successfully slammed a probe into comet Tempel 1.
Marina Bay has filed suit in a Moscow court claiming that "any variation in the orbit or the composition of the Tempel comet will certainly affect her own fate". She also reckons that NASA has recklessly endangered the future of civilisation. Her lawyer, Alexander Molokhov, told the BBC: "Nobody has yet proven that this experiment was safe. This impact could have altered the orbit of the comet, so now there is a chance that the Tempel may well destroy the Earth some day!"
Molokhov further asked that anyone who believe they had been affected by the mission contact his legal team asap, saying: "The impact changed the magnetic properties of the comet, and this could have affected mobile telephony here on Earth. If your phone went down this morning, ask yourself why? and then get in touch with us."*
Someone who will not be getting in touch with Molokhov is NASA mission engineer Shadan Ardalan. He told the Beeb: "The analogy is a mosquito hitting the front of an airliner in flight. The effect is negligible."
Well he would say that, wouldn't he? There is always the possibility that Tempel 1 will career towards Earth in an Armageddon stylee, but if that were the case, then $300m would not be a lot of use to Ms Bay, except perhaps to secure the services of Bruce Willis before it's too late.
But hold on a minute: surely Bay - as an amateur star-diviner - is better placed than most to predict the likely outcome of the NASA outrage? For that matter, a quick shufti at the astrological charts will doubtless inform the litigious Russian how much exactly judge Litvinenko of the Moscow Presnya court will award in damages.
Unless, of course, Bay is right in her claim that the post-impact Tempel 1 has inexorably affected her own fate, in which case we suspect that Litvinenko will kick her ass onto the street after a stern lecture involving the words "taking the piss". ®
*Not by phone, obviously. Try telepathy.