Thursday, June 22, 2006
More of What I do
8:23 pm est
, I posted when GOES N launched. While that's an important milestone for any satellite, a more important milestone takes
place when that satellite starts to gather useful information. At NOAA, that event is marked by the satellite's "first image."
Basically, it's the first publicly-broadcast image which shows the full disk of Earth from the satellite's point of view.
There's varying interest levels among management for attending the event itself (we command it from the Suitland Satellite
Operations Control Center (SOCC), and after a few links in a pretty long chain, the image is projected back at SOCC), but
any delays or problems in producing this image would have gotten a lot of internal attention.
This image was taken when the sun was almost directly behind the spacecraft. The information on the bottom relates to the
image date and time (in days of the year instead of human-based month/day), as well as the satellite (GOES N was renamed GOES
13 on June 4th, and the details of that would be worth onother post on its own), then the instrument used and some of its
The official NOAA release for the picture can be found here
, where it's their image of the day.
For anyone in the Western Hemisphere, you can say "I'm in that picture!" Of course, in a less-frequently-photographed sense,
you can also say that you're in this picture
, (Earthrise on Mars) but I don't work with the vehicle that brought you that image.
Lost in Translation?
7:57 pm est
I know, the movie was about Japan, not China. That's especially funny considering this
has an article about a speech Steven Hawking gave at a Chinese university. While the article title deals with his interest
in Chinese women, the speech shared at least one point with an earlier one he gave in Hong Kong. He discussed global warming.
I somehow doubt that this is a serious concern of his, however:
He said he was afraid that Earth "might end up
like Venus, at 250 degrees centigrade and raining sulfuric acid."
These conditions would be the result of a runaway
greenhouse effect, which I've not heard even the most vocal activists mention as a potential outcome of Earth's warming.
I found this line telling:
Hawking has near-superstar status in China, and the Chinese government preaches that
scientific prowess is crucial to the country's future power.
If this is truly where they're putting their focus,
China may be more of a concern than I've given them credit for. Dong-ma?
Sunday, June 18, 2006
8:09 pm est
On a lark, based on my earlier Spaceweather posting, I checked Heavens-Above
to see if I had any cool upcoming ISS viewings. Turns out that there's a great one (magnitude -1, I know, there are better
ones, but hey, this is a fluke!) coming up in about 35 minutes. The site is very user friendly, and will also tell you if
there are any Iridium Flares
near you, past or present.
Not Quite as Big...
2:56 pm est
Looks like the Norwegian meteorite
wasn't as big as originally reported. According to Spaceweather
(no permalink, view archive from 16 June) the estimate is now 300 tons of TNT vice 12,000, and this type of impact happens
once a month. D'ooh. I guess a factor of 40 could be considered a significant error.
When Going "Zero-G" Take the Drugs!
5:40 am est
's a pretty good summary of a Zero-G flight. Or at least it seems to be a pretty good one, as I haven't taken one yet. An
officemate of mine surprised her husband with a flight which turned out to be the first to return-to-base with no parabolas.
Anyway, in the prep work, I heard all about the motion sickness pills, and would recommend that anyone going to fly without
wings take the prescribed dosage.
File one under "Kinda Interesting" the other under "Duh"
5:19 am est
There are a couple of articles out there that made me scratch my head:
- What would your voice sound like (and how far
would it travel if you were outside on Mars (and you could breathe carbon dioxide and the low pressure on the surface didn't
kill you?) The Slow Sound of a Scream on Mars
- If you're getting ready to fly on the shuttle, what would one of your biggest fears? Mabe the fact that it's been sitting
idle for so long? Astronauts Acknowledge Hidden Danger
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
New Version of Einstein's Letter?
5:53 pm est
In 1939, Albert Einstein wrote a letter
to the President of the US, advocating research into nuclear weaponry before Germany could do the same thing. While many
debate the wisdom of our research into such weapons (Einstein himself described the letter as his greatest error), no one
can argue the significance of the chain of events that letter started. Szilard chose Einstein to be the signatory for the
letter due to his celebrity status.
This week, Stephen Hawking, the closest thing we have to a modern-day Einstein, has declared space as the key to human survival
. The article quotes some detractors who say Dr. Hawking is speaking outside of his area of expertise, but I agree with his
Friday, June 9, 2006
Multi-Kiloton Blast in Norway
8:20 pm est
Someday, one of these
is going to hit something we really care about. Then there'll be all sorts of calls for why we didn't "connect the dots",
and I can't wait to hear what conspiracy types will say.
Asteroid impacts are something we need to take seriously. This piece of space rock was smaller than any we're even looking
for, yet could have caused serious damage if it struck a city.
Saturday Update: The Bad Astronomer
is his usual skeptical self, though he says that the seismic report is a good sign that this is legit. This article
(an english version wasn't immediately recognizable) claims to have a picture, though there's no sense of scale. The picture
could be of a fragment's impact zone.
Monday, June 5, 2006
Some Thoughts on Overhyping
7:21 pm est
Jeff Foust has some worthy comparisons of the promises of Segway and of space travel in The Space Review
. Of course, Segway will always have a leg up on space because it was featured in a Frasier episode
Is the Rice Equally Divided?
7:15 pm est
NASA announced the division
of work for Project Constellation today. Looks like every center got something to do, although I'm sure that each believes
they could do more. As long as everyone's equally unhappy, I guess all is well...
...until Congress gets its say.
Sunday, June 4, 2006
Late TiVO (or VCR) Notice
2:29 pm est
Saturday, June 3, 2006
Another (Potential) Impact Find and Another Depot Article
1:23 pm est
Posting's been lite due to work and around-the-house tempo. Unfortunately for the blog, neither is scheduled to change anytime
Today, I participated in the National Race for the Cure
for breast cancer. My mom (a 20+ year survivor) walked it with me and my kids.
Though the results are still being argued (and likely will be for a while) a new crater discovery
in Antarctica may answer a lot of questions about another mass extinction. If verified, it's bigger than the KT impactor.
An email tip from Bert Kaal led me to this article
about fuel depots. The article relates to a project office at Marshall, and mentions many problems that I believe are easily
solved. Hopefully, NASA will announce the prize soon. Of course, then I'd have to put up (get an entry together that solves
all the problems) or shut up.