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Here's the latest on space, and my opinions on it...
This is the legacy site, with blog entries from November, 2004 through June, 2011.
Updates after June 9, 2011 can be found at

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Sunday, December 28, 2008

Morse Code!
In the odd, easily-distracted world I live in, my latest distraction is learning Morse Code as part of my growing interest in amateur radio. In case you're curious about how useful something that old could be, check out this YouTube video of a Jay Leno demonstration of Morse Code vs text messaging. Anyway, it'll take a little bit of time, but in small 15-minute segments it's not overly taxing. As far as I can tell, the best thing to do is to break the letters up into groups, like at the bottom of this page(02 Jan 09 Update:looks like I picked an awkward time to learn morse, because the guy who ran this site is retiring. Someone else volunteered to take it on, but the transition is not complete), then practice with this internet code generator. They take donations, so if you find it useful, hit their tip jar. I'm up to the n,d,b group at 3 words per minute.

2 Jan Update: I've discovered another method for learning Morse. The above method is based primarily on the Farnsworth Method. The other method, called the Koch Method takes another approach, basically starting with only two letters, but exposing the trainee to full-speed text. Once you achieve 90% success, you add another letter. Free download software will help you. My problem is that the first letters on the Koch method are letters I haven't gotten to yet, so I'm not sure whether I should change horses. There's definitely a different pacing between the Koch software and the Farnsworth website, and strong opinions on the best way to learn...
6:30 pm est

Successfully monitored the ISS downlink of an interview with a science center in Michigan yesterday. That's good enough to get a certificate, though I hope to try something else before the end of the 25th anniversary celebration of ARISS. Update: The Ann Arbor Chronicle had an article about the contact. Surprisingly, it didn't mention anyone listening in from another state...
6:15 pm est

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Congrats to SpaceX!
While the dollar amount is less than Orbital's award, SpaceX got more flights:12 vs 8 (funny how economics works that way) in yesterday's award. Discussion here. This will be remembered as a major shift in space long as it works out.
6:46 pm est

NASA TV Celebrates Apollo 8
If you're on cable or satellite TV, you should be able to access NASA's celebration of Apollo 8. The schedule is here.

Also, don't forget to track Santa!
5:51 pm est

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Apollo 8: Forty Years on
Forty years ago, three Americans were on a mission to circle the moon. I've been told that I was sitting on my father's lap as he watched the coverage. If you want to review some of the big quotes of the mission, here is a good source. If you want the meaty, controversial stuff, go here and page down to mission time 86 hrs 6 minutes 40 seconds.
6:44 pm est

Enjoy your Winter Solstice Celebration!
6:42 pm est

Contact Attempted, Mixed Results
Tried to contact the ISS via amateur radio last week. We followed the frequency guidelines found here, and I had the orbital position of the craft plotted so we knew when to listen. We called out for contact, but the ISS crew didn't respond (they only do so when they're not doing anything else, so no contacts are the norm). We did, however, hear some modem-like noises which we think were data transmissions between the ISS and the ground or vice versa. Upon further research, that looks like the way to get a two-way contact, although one way contacts still count towards a certificate, and the easiest way to do that is likely to listen in on a scheduled school contact.
9:21 am est

Saturday, December 13, 2008

When I saw this Picture...
Space shuttle Endeavor has made some news in its multi-stop flight across the US. With the number of flights remaining in the program, it's unclear how many more of these will take place. NASA posted pictures of the craft flying near the Johnson Spaceflight Center, and when I looked at the headliner, my thought wasn't 'what an amazing machine' it was 'I didn't realize the control center was that close to Galveston Bay!' No wonder they have to close down whenver a hurricane threatens the coast.
5:53 am est

Friday, December 12, 2008

The Stars at the Center of the Galaxy
This news blew my mind. A group of astronomers has been monitoring the stars at the very center of the galaxy for 16 years now, long enough to record a full orbit of one of them. Their motions appear chaotic, until you realize that they're orbiting a supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy. Their orbital parameters allow calculations of the mass of the object, and it turns out to be 400 million times the mass of our sun. The videos at the end are worth downloading and watching.
8:26 pm est

Still Busy!
Been a while since I posted. I've not been idle, however:
  • TEMPOł has been busy. Got a lead on some potential funding. More to come on that.
  • (kinda related) I've been diving a bit into amateur radio. Met a ham in my neighborhood, and we're going to try and contact the ISS.
  • Of course, holiday madness is kicking in.
  • The spam related to people signing up for email news seems to have stopped through no action of mine, but I did just get a new person to sign up.
8:23 pm est

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Tom and Discovery
Taken During a Tour of KSC on 6 Oct 2010

TEMPOł Update
Click on the picture to go to the Mars Society TEMPOł Page

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