May 29, 2015
May 22, 2015
Zero To 100 MPH In 1.2 Seconds
The video below shows you what it looked like from the Dragon's POV.
May 1, 2015
Amazon Rocket Test
Well, no, not really Amazon, but Blue Origin which is run by Jeff Bezos. Here the New Shepard is launched to a height of 307,000 feet.
April 24, 2015
No Shit, Sherlock
The Oklahoma Geological Survey, a government agency, has announced that it "considers it very likely that the majority of recent earthquakes, particularly those in central and north-central Oklahoma, are triggered by the injection of produced water in disposal wells." IOW, fracking. But it's not fracking alone that does it, or North Dakota would be experiencing the same huge leap in earthquake activity.
"These earthquakes swarms are occurring over a large area, about 15% of the area of Oklahoma, that has experienced significant increase in wastewater disposal volumes over the last several years."
"Most of the earthquakes in Oklahoma are occurring within crystalline basement, deeper than most oil and gas operations. However, reactivation of deeper basement faults from water injection/disposal at shallower depths is often observed in cases of triggered seismicity."
"The majority of wastewater disposal is targeted for injection in the Arbuckle formations, which closely overlie the crystalline basement."
Compare this map of earthquakes greater than 2.5 over the last 30 days in Oklahoma with this map of known faults in Oklahoma. It looks to my layman's eyes that the quakes are occurring in an area well away from the major faulted areas.
April 11, 2015
GoPro In Space
NASA has released raw GoPro videos from the ISS. They've packaged them into two videos, one about an hour and the other about 40 minutes.
March 26, 2015
Solar Eclipse Two Ways
If you want to see the recording of the professional live-streaming of the recent solar eclipse, click here and then advance to about 1:44:00.
BUT, if you want to see and hear how ordinary, non-TV professionals respond to the solar eclipse, you'll want to watch this video shot by Frank Jernigan in Norway. A GoPro would be about the least appropriate camera for a solar eclipse, IMO, but when he pans around to show you the crowd out there on the ice, don't they look just like penguins wearing puffy coats and toting cameras?! Very fun video despite or because of the technical issues. Don't tell me you wouldn't say stupid things, too, if you were watching totality from Norway.
January 27, 2015
Possibly Visible Vandenberg Launch Thursday Morning
DELTA LAUNCH VISIBILITY by Brian Webb
A Delta II rocket carrying a NASA scientific satellite and three small secondary payloads is scheduled for launch from Vandenberg AFB on Thursday morning, January 29. The Delta is set to lift-off from Space Launch Complex-2 West at 06:20:42 PST, the start of a three-minute launch window.
Following lift-off, the Delta will climb vertically for several seconds, gradually nose over, and head south over the ocean.
The Delta II uses liquid propellant first and second stages. For this launch, three solid rocket motors are strapped to the first stage for added thrust.
The first stage main engine and strap-on motors will ignite on the launch pad. The solid rocket motors will burn out at +1:05* and be jettisoned at +1:39. The first stage liquid propellant main engine will continue to burn until main engine cutoff (MECO) at +4:22.
Stage 1/2 separation occurs at +4:28 followed by second stage ignition at +04:36. Several minutes later, the second stage containing NASA's SMAP satellite and three small payloads will reach orbit.
Weather permitting, the first few minutes of the launch should be visible to the unaided from King City, Fresno, western Ventura County, and coastal Los Angeles County. Under good conditions, the event could be visible over a much wider area.
For the first minute of flight, the rocket will have a bright orange flame due to the solid rocket motors. When the solid motors burn out, the delta will decrease in brightness and resemble a moving white star.
Liftoff occurs 42 minutes before sunrise as seen from Vandenberg AFB. According to independent space analyst Rick Baldridge, the rocket will climb into sunlight during the first stage burn at +2:50 for a 06:20 PST liftoff and +2:40 for a 06:23 PST liftoff. Observers along the coast from King City to Long Beach should see the sunlit first stage exhaust plume suspended against the dawn sky during the last minute of the first stage burn.
Under good conditions, the launch could be visible to the unaided eye until first stage main engine cutoff. Second stage ignition and the second stage burn will probably not be visible without optical assistance.
*All flight events are expressed in minutes and seconds after liftoff.
LAUNCH AND COUNTDOWN STATUS
For launch and countdown status for Thursday's Delta II launch, consult the following sources:
December 31, 2014
On Jan. 7 it will pass about 70 million kilometers (44 million miles) from Earth, and it’s predicted to peak around 4th magnitude; easily visible from dark skies without optical aid.
4th magnitude is somewhere between the Andromeda galaxy and Ganymede at its maximum brightness. What Phil Plait can see with his naked eye may differ from what you or I can see.
November 25, 2014
The Future Has Arrived
This...THIS is the genuine, real, official poster for the current crew on the International Space Station. Your jetpack and flying car will be available for pick-up in the first week of December. The crew includes two Americans, three Russians and one from the European Space Agency who is, to be specific, Italian.
Have I mentioned that the ISS will be landing on the Black Rock Desert next August? Oh yeah, you gotta be there.
November 12, 2014
The ESA Troubles Me
And I'm sure you are all equally troubled as you sit watching the live feed of the landing of Philae on Comet 67P (Success! has just been declared as I write) and stare at this odd rainbow, as seen in the photo below:
The blurry letters say "European Space Operations Centre." The rainbow, however, is just wrong: indigo - pale blue(?) - green - orange - red - yellow. I'm not going to quibble that there are only six colors, like the gay rainbow. It's the sequence that gets to me. It should be indigo - pale blue(?) - green - yellow - orange - red. This is, after all, a science agency - not the paint chip display at Home Depot.
Earthquake Swarm In Nevada
A swarm of earthquakes has been occurring in northwest Nevada. This USGS map shows 225 quakes of all magnitudes over the last seven days. The two biggest quakes were magnitude 4.7. The cyan dot is one of those.
Updated, interactive USGS map here. You can zoom out on that map just one click to see how close the swarm is to the future home of Black Rock City.
November 11, 2014
Comet Landing Tomorrow
The full (very full!) schedule for the landing of Philae, the landing craft from Rosetta, on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The touchdown is scheduled for 8:03 AM Pacific Time tomorrow, November 12. Of course, reality will change the schedule. This is the first attempt at soft landing on a comet.
Live feeds available here. They start at 11 AM today, Pacific Time.
November 6, 2014
GoPro In Water On ISS
October 25, 2014
European Space Agency
The publicity directors at ESA are given greater freedom to run with their imaginations than those directors at NASA (and when you see the credits at the end, you may understand why NASA is a bit more conservative - did all of those people get paid?!):
A close up of Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko shot from a point 9.8 km from the center of the comet.
September 26, 2014
Mammoth: 683 Quakes In 24 Hours
That's what USGS was displaying on their map when I checked it. The biggest was only 3.5, but 683 quakes are 80% of the world's earthquakes in that 24-hour period.
At 11,053 feet, Mammoth Mountain in California's Eastern Sierra is a lava dome complex on the southwest rim of Long Valley Caldera, although eruptions haven't occurred for some 57,000 years. The recent swarm of quakes in and around the mountain is being tied to recent "volcanic unrest" marked by gas emissions, tree die-offs and intrusions of upward-moving sheets of rock, according to the USGS.
In terms of geologic time, 57,000 years is less than the blink of an eye.
Splitting hairs, this USGS page agrees that the most recent magmatic eruptions were 57,000 years ago, but the Times overlooked the fact that there were phreatic eruptions only 700 years ago. Wikipedia cites Krakatoa as an example of a phreatic eruption. So hardly anything to worry about, right?
August 8, 2014
Countdown To July 2015
What you see there is a 12-image sequence showing Charon orbiting Pluto. Charon has 11% as much mass as Pluto (that's big), which is why you can see Pluto is also orbiting Charon (as is always the case with two bodies). The Earth and Moon do the same thing, but the Moon is so much smaller than Earth, the center of that rotation is inside the Earth near the Earth's center, so it's undetectable to ordinary, puny humans walking on the surface of our planet.
The photo was taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft in late July. The craft was launched in January 2006 and is expected to arrive in Pluto space in July 2015 where it will pass by Pluto at a distance of only 10,000 km. Charon orbits the planet[oid] at a distance of about 18,000 km.
New Horizons will cross Neptune's orbit on August 25, 2014. After that, NASA will put the craft back to sleep. It will be re-awakened December 6. More photos should start coming in January 2015. It is planned to keep the craft awake until about December 2016. It will not orbit Pluto, but head on out to the Kuiper Belt.
July 31, 2014
Looking For Hot Water?
This LA.Curbed article about mapping all of Los Angeles County's 3,000 active oil wells caught my attention. It seems that some of our tax dollars have gone to create this very interesting, interactive map of "Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources" in California. When you you start there with a full-California view the large oil fields will be obvious as they are simply black with stars; a star indicates "Notice & Permit"...of an oil or gas well, we must assume.
Sometimes when I go to this page the map refuses to interact until I try some sort of search in the search fields. So, if clicking or dragging on the map gets no reaction for you, just search for something - anything, and that will wake up the map and you can drag and zoom all you want.
Many of the markers do not become visible until you drill down to a certain level of resolution, so keep zooming in and see what appears. I started out, as the LA.Curbed article suggested, looking at the oil & gas resources in Los Angeles County. Go look at the wall of oil wells that separates downtown from Dodger Stadium, or the area north of Wilshire, south of Santa Monica. Those poor people must have crude oil coming up in their bathtubs. In fact, it becomes obvious that the entire premise of The Beverly Hillbillies was backwards. Discovering oil in Kentucky (or wherever it was) and moving to Beverly Hills?! It would have been much more believable to discover oil in Beverly Hills and then move to Kentucky to get away from the big city.
After browsing L.A. for a bit, I began to scroll eastwards to see where the oil drilling finally stopped. I scrolled and scrolled and the map icons became fewer and fewer until suddenly a big wad popped up in the desert. Zooming in another couple of layers revealed this:
Some of the hot water wells in the Desert Hot Springs area. The triangular icons stand for "Geothermal." Naturally at first I was impressed at the size of the secret geothermal industry in our area, but then I realized they don't distinguish between geothermal power generation (scroll down and look at Imperial Valley!) and 120° geothermal mineral water to heal your body. Geologists in Sacramento do not think the same way hoteliers in Desert Hot Springs think.
It will be obvious to the informed local resident that not all the hot water wells are shown, but I have not found information on the site to tell me why that might be. I do see that they don't have the current boundaries for the City of DHS, so maybe all their data is old.
While you have DHS on display, zoom out enough to see the whole Coachella Valley. Somebody in DHS (hoteliers? chamber?) should print that map out, mount it, and get it displayed at the Palm Springs Visitor Center with a legend under it something like "Looking for hot mineral spring water?"
July 27, 2014
James Webb Space Telescope Sunshield Test
This is the test version of the sunshield that will protect the James Webb Space Telescope from the sun when it was tested on July 10 this year. This is the description provided by NASA:
The Sunshield on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope is the largest part of the observatory—five layers of thin membrane that must unfurl reliably in space to precise tolerances. Last week, for the first time, engineers stacked and unfurled a full-sized test unit of the Sunshield and it worked perfectly.
The Sunshield is about the length of a tennis court, and will be folded up like an umbrella around the Webb telescope's mirrors and instruments during launch. Once it reaches its orbit, the Webb telescope will receive a command from Earth to unfold, and separate the Sunshield's five layers into their precisely stacked arrangement with its kite-like shape.
The Sunshield test unit was stacked and expanded at a cleanroom in the Northrop Grumman facility in Redondo Beach, California.
The Sunshield separates the observatory into a warm sun-facing side and a cold side where the sunshine is blocked from interfering with the sensitive infrared instruments. The infrared instruments need to be kept very cold (under 50 K or -370 degrees F) to operate. The Sunshield protects these sensitive instruments with an effective sun protection factor or SPF of 1,000,000 (suntan lotion generally has an SPF of 8-50).
In addition to providing a cold environment, the Sunshield provides a thermally stable environment. This stability is essential to maintaining proper alignment of the primary mirror segments as the telescope changes its orientation to the sun.
The James Webb Space Telescope is the successor to NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. It will be the most powerful space telescope ever built. Webb is an international project led by NASA with its partners, the European Space Agency and the Canadian Space Agency.
July 23, 2014
SCAQMD Monitoring Station
July 14, 2014
The James Webb Space Telescope will go from Redondo Beach to French Guiana to be launched in 2018. Last week the sunshield was tested. Here's an animation showing the entire deployment sequence from a couple of seconds after launch until 29 days later when it begins to take up its permanent residence at the L2 point. And there the most powerful telescope ever built by humans will sit...over your head at night, every night. And people worry about drones. Of course, you can tell people that because of the sunshield the telescope won't be able to point at Earth, but will a nutjob listen?
Three days after launch it will be beyond the moon's orbit. The unfurling of the sunshield begins at 2:48 in the video which is about five days into the mission at a distance of 626,000 km from Earth.