Saturday, September 6, 2008

New Google Earth add-on

A new add-on to Google Earth features real-time locations of all 13,000 satellites, dead and alive, being tracked by U.S. Strategic Command.

It also contains the information on each satellite, such as the date and time it was launched and by whom, the apogee/perigee, and the mass and orbital information.

It's a really interesting way to look at Google Earth, and it makes pretty obvious the fact that Kessler Syndrome will soon be a very, very big problem for both live satellites we depend on for technology and the men and women who actually fly in space. Apparently we're going to wait until the ISS or Shuttle gets struck and lives are lost before we actually start cleaning up this mess.
At any rate, it's quite fun to play around with.
By the way, if you're looking for a particular piece of junk or a particular satellite, you can just go in the info box on the left-hand side of your screen, and click the + by "Satellite Database." Then just click the + beside whatever you're interested in: active satellites, inactive satellites, debris, etc. Then if you click a + beside CA, US, ESA, JPN, etc., you can narrow it down to the country of origin. When you find what you're looking for (say, "DELTA 1 DEB, Satellite Number 10634") just double-click and your Google Earth will go right to the satellite's location.
You can add this feature to your Google Earth by clicking here.

ISS/Jules Verne photo

Now that Jules Verne (the ATV, not the guy) has undocked from the ISS, both are visible in the night sky.

This photo was taken by Michael Vandeputte of Ronse, Belgium:
(Click to enlarge. The ISS is the brighter object, natch, but Jules Verne is visible if you turn the lights down. It's much fainter and off to the "northeast" of the Station.)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


A fun reprise of the launch failure.
The way the 1812 Overture works with this footage is right up there with the way Dark Side of the Moon works with Wizard of Oz.

(You'll have to pause Moby over there in the Playlist, of course.)

And this particular video's description mentioned it was the "famous Delta 2 failure from 1997."
This is indeed the one that caused the "simple country boy" such confusion.


I remember one particular launch failure a few years back when we were living in Vero Beach.
(It may well have been the one in this video - I have no idea.)
I didn't know about it until I got to work, but apparently it was a doozy, and the radio and TV were giving instructions "not to go outside unless absolutely necessary" and not to go out at all if you suffered from any type of lung ailment. Something about the payload.
But I didn't know about this because I was busy with yardwork, walking the dogs, ya know - being outside. Everyone at work laughed and laughed at my mock horror at my certain impending doom. Anyway.

The next day in the paper, a fellow who happened to be tuned in listening to Launch Control wrote a hilarious tongue-in-cheek letter to the editor about the Cape using the term "anomaly" instead of something more plain-language like "launch failure" or "explosion."
He wrote something to the effect of, "When I first heard that we had an anomaly, I panicked. I'm a simple country boy. What the hell is an anomaly, and how did we get one? If I get it on my shoe, will it come off? I had to run and get my dictionary!"

Anyway, this video combines raining fireballs, melted glass, and the knowledge that no one was injured. It doesn't get much cooler than that, y'all.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Garrett did a Q&A session with young children at the Natural History Museum in NYC the other day.

Here was one exchange:

Kid: Do you believe in aliens?
Garrett: Ah, I didn’t see any, but that’s because they live under your bed.

I died.

Read the whole article.

The smartest man in the world just jumped out of the plane with my backpack on.

Orion parachute test.
Mister Orion, I'm very disappointed in you.
This will go on your permanent record, young man.

I'm just burnin' doin' the neutron dance.

This is SO cool:

Thanks to data from ESA's Integral gamma-ray observatory, scientists have been able to locate where particles in the vicinity of the rotating neutron-star in the Crab Nebula are accelerated to immense energies.

The discovery put in place another piece of the puzzle in understanding how neutron stars work.

Rotating neutron-stars, or 'pulsars', are known to accelerate particles to enormous energies, typically one hundred times more than the most powerful accelerators on Earth, but scientists are still uncertain exactly how these systems work and where the particles are accelerated. A step forward in this understanding is now accomplished thanks to a team of researchers from the UK and Italy, led by Professor Tony Dean of the University of Southampton, who studied high-energy polarised light emitted by the Crab Nebula - one of the most dramatic sights in deep space.

That's because Garrett isn't Capcom.

Chamitoff on verge of winning second chess game vs. MCC.

Rated S. Heh.

JPL "Space Sounds" video:

Monday, September 1, 2008

Freaking awesome.

A rap about the LHC.
Hell to the yeah - nerd rap, y'all!

Sunday, August 31, 2008

On a dreadfully serious note.

For the second time in three years, the city of New Orleans and her people are facing a catastrophic hurricane.

Many, many people in this region are poor. Many haven't completely repaired their homes from three years ago. Many had just a few possessions left after Katrina, and now they are going to lose those, too.

Most importantly, many people have already been killed by this storm (Americans aren't the only people whose lives matter, FYI. Cuba and Haiti are burying their dead already), and more are sure to die.

This is not a joking matter. This is a tragedy in progress.

Keep them in your thoughts and prayers.