NASA’s Messenger spacecraft should be lithobraking just about this very minute, as I write this. In the annals of euphemisms, I think this word ought to have a special place. Maybe they just got tired of writing “crashing into Mercury.” Sounded too negative.
The definition seems to be “coming to a stop by using rocks to slow down.”
Right. By scraping along those Mercurian rocks at 8000 miles per hour.
Technically, that crazy airline pilot in Europe a few weeks ago didn’t CRASH the plane. He used the external lithobrakes. In fact, this word could be a boon to the whole airline industry. “A crash was averted as the pilot employed the lithobrakes at the last minute.”
April 30, 2015