Videos of Note: Perspectives

21 01 2010

Okay, I’m being lazy today … so much I ought to write about, but I’ll just post “‘Me, too!’ like some brain-dead AOL-er.”

Perspective via a sort of palindrome. (Brought to my attention by Paul Weston.)

Homeschoolers versus the Home-Schooled.

The Known Universe: In Persepctive.

Space: Video

5 01 2010

In 2029, the 900-foot asteroid Apophis, will miss Earth by only about 18,000 miles. To put that in contrast, the moon is an average of 238,857 miles away, center-to-center, or about 234,000 miles surface-to-surface. (The moon, of course, has a slightly elliptical orbit, so that’s just an average.) If that doesn’t set up the right mental image, take a look at the animation below, from an article on Wired Science.

Below you’ll see some beautiful video compiled from the STS-129 mission launch. (STS stands for space transportation system, and is the designation for NASA’s own Space Shuttle.

STS-129 Ascent Video Highlights from mike interbartolo on Vimeo.

STS-129 video highlights as compiled by the SE&I imagery team here at JSC from all of the ground, air, ET and SRB assets.


24 12 2008

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims His handiwork.” (Psalm 19:1, ESV)

A sample: colliding Antennae Galaxies (NGC 4038/NGC 4039)

Check out the 2008 Hubble Space Telescope Advent Calendar; a new HST image will be posted each day through tomorrow.

Moondust and Duct Tape

23 04 2008

This story about duct tape use on the moon was simply too good to pass up on cross-posting.

[I]n [the] Taurus-Littrow [valley, in the Sea of Serenity, on the moon] a missing fender was a potential disaster. The reason is moondust. When a rover rolls across the lunar surface, it kicks up a plume of moondust in its wake. (Astronauts called them “rooster tails.”) Without a fender, the rover would be showered by a spray of dark, abrasive grit. White spacesuits blackened by dust could turn into dangerous absorbers of the fierce lunar sun with astronauts overheating inside. Sharp-edged dust wiped off visors would scratch the glass, making helmets difficult to see out of. Moondust also had an uncanny way of working itself into hinges, latches and joints, rendering them useless.

Cernan: “And I hate to say it, but I’m going to have to take some time to try … to get that fender back on. Jack, is the tape under my seat, do you remember?” (He’s referring to a roll of ordinary, gray duct tape.)

A Collection of Coolness

8 11 2005

Star Wars:

Weather Control:

Natural Disasters:

Tall Buildings:

Robotics (especially for Neal Stephenson fans):

Space Slide Shows:

“You See, I Had This Space Suit”

19 08 2005

You see, I had this space suit.

How it happened was like this: “Dad,” I said, “I want to go to the moon.”

“Certainly,” he answered and looked back at his book. It was Jerome K. Jerome’s Three Men in a Boat, which he must know by heart.

I said, “Dad, please! I’m serious.”

This time he closed the book on a finger and said gently, “I said it was all right. Go ahead.”

“Yes … but how?

“Eh?” He looked mildly suprised. “Why, that’s your problem, Clifford.”

(Opening lines from Robert A. Heinlein’s Have Space Suit—Will Travel)

I remember when I in elementary school, and the short Saturday-morning “In the News” program predicted that, if one were 25 years of age or younger, it would be possible to vacation on the moon in one’s lifetime.

Despite our different focus in our government-sponsored space program, new materials science and technology, the availability of massive amounts of private capital, and the undying dream of human space exploration and even tourism, are working to make those predictions a reality.

See my post Have Space Ship—Will Travel, as well as other Wilcox Family BLOG posts regarding NASA and Space.

Here is just one such example of what is developing, with a view for what wonders the next 20 years may bring:

Wired: The “Moon Could Be Next Tourist Trap.”

Space tourism is already a reality for those wealthy enough to afford it. But just like transcontinental voyages and air travel, space will open up for the common man.

Time to start buying Skyway Soap …

NASA Coolness

6 05 2005

There are few things in life cooler than exploring other parts of our Solar System. Along those lines, here are a couple of great links recommended by Brian Cortez:

A Dust Devil on Mars

Apollo 13, We Have a Solution—An accurate and fascinating account of the engineering and preparation that allowed Apollo 13’s crew to return safely to earth. If you have seen the film, you definitely want to read the real story.

Doug “JavaDoug” Ross contributing this link to the MSNBC Tech/Science Slide Show Archive, which contains more wonder.

Artist Lynette Cook is achieving fame via her amazing work on extrasolar planets. Be sure to look at her other work as well.

Huygens Descent Today

14 01 2005

The European Space Agency has an excellent annotated animation of the Huygens probe (launched from the Cassini spacecraft on Christmas Eve) descent to the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan. See also The Cassini Site at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).

Have Space Ship—Will Travel

3 06 2004

The SpaceShipOne rocket plane, shown in this photo from its first supersonic flight test, is due to make its first true spaceflight June 21. (Photo courtesy of Scaled Composites.)

On June 21, the privately-funded SpaceShipOne will launch for a history-making, 100 km (62 mile) altitude flight.

“Our goal is to demonstrate that non-government manned space flight operations are not only feasible, but can be done at very low costs.” (Burt Rutan)

Read the article at here, and check out the Scaled Composites FAQ and related pages.

Thanks to Phil Luchon for this reference.

This ’n That

24 02 2004

Just a few quick bullet items:

  • President Bush had some great lines in his speech last night. Here are my two favorites:
  • “The other party’s nomination battle is still playing out. The candidates are an interesting group with diverse opinions. They’re for tax cuts and against them. They’re for NAFTA and against NAFTA. They’re for the Patriot Act and against the Patriot Act. They’re in favor of liberating Iraq, and opposed to it. And that’s just one senator from Massachusetts.”
  • “They now agree that the world is better off with Saddam out of power. They just didn't support removing Saddam from power. Maybe they were hoping he would lose the next Iraqi election.”
  • Last night I took Isaac and David sledding at Roby Park in Nashua. David has become quite the daredevil, which was surprising, because the last time we went sledding, he pretty much didn’t like the big slopes at all. (In fact, he used to beg to go to a nearby school for sledding that was about as thrilling as watching golf.) The slope at the park was mostly ice, so we got some great speed, and proved without a doubt that the best way to sled is to use David or Isaac’s smaller sled in front of mine, allowing me to hold onto the back of theirs and providing excellent steering.
  • Earth to the Palestinians: Want to get anything you want? Stop blowing up innocent people. One isn’t exactly going to garner sympathy by creating busload after busload of noncombatants killed by suicide bombers.
  • My team leader, Brian Cortez, gave us a milk crate full of model rockets and accessories. We will be repairing some of his old models (an X-16 looks particularly cool), and hope to have him present for its re-launch after so many years.
  • At work, I’ve been learning and working with the Jakarta Struts framework, which has been both challenging and fun. The only gripe is the number of “silent failures” that occur (a code-500 server-side error with absolutely nothing in a log file is not exactly easy to diagnose and debug).
  • The new commute is awesome. It takes me only about 45 minutes to take the kids to school and then get to the office in the morning, and I can get home in as little as 20 minutes. Even with slightly longer work hours due to the new project, family time has improved dramatically.
  • The new house, with the entire first-floor in an open layout, is also very good for family interaction and activities. I also have to thank Nichelle for her graciousness in allowing the Lego collection to stay out for days at a time.
  • Speaking of Lego, the new family room has enough room to spread out and build, and we are developing the habit of spending Saturday mornings building with Lego. It’s been great, although I’m still missing one box of miscellaneous Lego that got shuffled in the move.
  • Speaking of Lego, I have to commend them on their customer service. I e-mailed them a suggestion on improving the Lunar Lander set, by using gold visors for the astronauts (instead of the clear ones provided), and they sent me six of the gold visors for free.
  • Moving out of state costs money! (God has provided all that we need, but we have spent quite a bit on car registrations, new licenses, new insurance, new cell phone services, etc.) It seems one has to spend money to save money. (Our car insurance will drop about $125 to $150 per month. Our new cell phone plan will save us up to $100 per month. Gasoline savings will amount to about $100 per month. School tuition is cheaper. Now, if I could just get out of donating 5% of my income to the State of Massachusetts … but the law on that isn’t likely to change!
  • The Route 3 widening is a few months behind the schedule that had been listed on their FAQ until a few weeks ago. They are now promising a “substantial completion” by May of 2004, instead of February. Still, that is not very far off.