Hide From the Wind, Avoid the Water

Update, September 18, 2018: It’s over–the storm, I mean. Now comes the part that doesn’t make headlines, but is so very hard to deal with. If you’re in this situation post Florence, or end up in one like it in the future, take that last sentence to heart: you will make it through this.

Original post:

I lived in West Central Alabama for several years around the turn of the century. As a person from New England/upstate New York, I was clueless about hurricanes and asked neighbors what to do when one came by. They told me to hide from the wind and avoid the water.

It’s good advice, and I wanted to share it as Florence approaches the East Coast. No native or long-standing Carolinian needs such advice, of course, but there are many new people in the places that this hurricane is going to affect who aren’t familiar with such storms.

Your local emergency management experts will give you the best advice, and there is a lot of information coming from the media and reliable online websites like the National Hurricane Center, FEMA, and Ready.gov, but keep that axiom in mind for every situation.

Here are just a few things that I remember from my own experiences and think might be worth sharing.

Hide from the wind

Do you work or live in a high rise? Continue reading

Guest Videos: OSIRIS-REx Mission to Bennu

We’ve gone into a space a lot this week–let’s keep going and celebrate the launch of OSIRIS-REx on September 8, 2016.


Mission page

Here’s an update. (Note: Look at the graphic on the wall behind her when they tell you what DSN is – that’s actually showing the Deep Space Network in real-time operation, and the moving lines are transmissions to and from various spacecraft.)

And here’s the basic mission . . .

WAIT! WHAT ABOUT ME????!!!–Asteroid Bennu

Oh, all right, Bennu:

Now then, here’s the basic OSIRIS-REx mission video.

Featured image: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center

Meanwhile, at Kilauea . . .

Both the USGS and Paradise Copters got some nice images yesterday, which are worth sharing here in addition to posting them on the Kilauea page as usual (see link at menu up above). The HVO updates are here–today’s hasn’t been posted as of the time of this post.

First, there’s a little cone (volcanologists call these hornitos) from lava spattering inside Fissure 8:


Next, Paradise Copters took advantage of break in the weather yesterday to check out the LERZ, then P’u O’o (still an awesome hole in the ground!), and finally, the collapsed caldera at Kilauea’s summit:

Guest Videos: Juno and Jupiter

Meanwhile, at Jupiter . . .

Another bumped post. This is turning into a Blog Carnival of Space, but it’s worth it in sheer awesomeness. It’s too bad ongoing space exploration just doesn’t get a lot of coverage in the news. (PS: Work on the domestic cat ebook is going slowly but progressing steadily.)

September 5, 2018: Juno has found that Jupiter’s magnetic field is unique (also the Lego figures and, more importantly, the spacecraft’s electronics are holding, thus far, during the dives close to the giant planet.

Update, July 10, 2018: This week, NASA released a summary of the Juno Mission’s accomplishments over the last two years.

Original post:

We have three Lego figures orbiting the planet Jupiter now.


Why are the instruments in a titanium vault?

Well, for one thing, Jupiter “roars” at you, even before you get there: Continue reading

Guest Reblog: “Opportunity Under Threat,” by The Road To Endeavour

September 22, 2018:

sols 5203 to 5209, Sept. 12, 2018 – Sept. 18, 2018: No Signal Has Been Heard From Opportunity for Nearly 100 Days

The Opportunity team is increasing the frequency of commands it beams to the rover via the dishes of NASA’s Deep Space Network from three times a week to multiple times per day.

No signal from Opportunity has been heard since Sol 5111 (June 10, 2018). That’s nearly 100 sols (days) without communication. It is expected that Opportunity has experienced a low-power fault, perhaps, a mission clock fault and an up-loss timer fault. The dust storm on Mars continues its decay with atmospheric opacity (tau) over the rover site below 1.5. The project has been listening for the rover over a broad range of times using the Deep Space Network Radio Science Receiver and commanding “sweep and beeps” to address a possible complexity with certain conditions within the mission clock fault.

Total odometry is 28.06 miles (45.16 kilometers.

NASA/MER program

September 11, 2018:

Updated at 2:45 p.m. PDT on Sept. 11, 2018

Scientists reviewing data from the Mars Color Imager (MARCI) aboard NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) have determined that the tau estimate (a measure of the amount of haze in the Martian atmosphere) in the skies above the rover Opportunity has been below 1.5 for two consecutive measurements. With more sunlight reaching the rover’s solar array, the Opportunity team at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, are increasing the frequency of commands it beams to the 14-plus-year-old rover via the dishes of NASA’s Deep Space Network from three times a week to multiple times per day. Passive listening for Opportunity will also continue to be performed by JPL’s Radio Science Group, which records radio signals emanating from Mars with a very sensitive broadband receiver…”


Update, September 10, 2018: Still waiting . . .

Original post:

I shared this on Twitter after reading it yesterday but gave it some thought before reblogging it here. After all, Oppy has served long past its “expiration date”; as well, NASA is under pressure–for example, reportedly, Russia won’t be carrying our astronauts up into space any more, starting next year.

But NASA is composed of human beings, who are not perfect. And people everywhere, in every line of work, make questionable decisions; they set overly ambitious goals for themselves (although, give NASA its due–that’s their business, and they usually come through, eventually). People compete. They rise up the ladder and lose touch with some basics.

It’s a part of being human.

I don’t have the knowledge to say whether the 45-day cut-off is a good thing or not; however, I do recognize that we need to reward the ability to design rovers (Spirit was a laster, too) that are even better than expected and to continue their missions as long as possible.

Hopefully, Opportunity will respond soon. But if it doesn’t, let’s give it more time. The people behind it, past and present, deserve that.

Humanity is going into space eventually. Lets bring as much of that 60s spirit of wonder and exploration with us as possible, and only what little “business as usual” mindset is absolutely necessary to keep basic operations functioning.

In the long term, that will work out best for everybody.

For background, here’s the news release that inspired the reblogged post below.

When I started writing this blog – almost ten years ago now – I thought that Opportunity had two, maybe three more years of roving ahead of her. Five at the most. She had already travelled so far, seen so much, made so many discoveries, that to expect many more years than that seemed not […]

via Opportunity Under Threat — The Road To Endeavour

Popocatépetl update

August 30, 2018, update: This uptick in restlessness is too slight for CENAPRED to raise the volcano alert level, but it’s interesting and worth keeping an eye on. I’ve therefore given Don Goyo its own page, which you can access here or via the menu at the top of this page.

And here’s the Webcams de Mexico YouTube livestream–oops; YouTube took it down for some reason.

Featured image: Popocatépetl from Cholula, by Graham C99, CC BY 2.0.

James Hutton – Founder of Modern Geology

Decided to update this 2014 post with a nice video I just found. Hope you enjoy it, too!

"If there is something you know, communicate it. If there is something you don't know, search for it."  This wasn't James Hutton's motto, but it might well have been.  Source

“If there is something you know, communicate it. If there is something you don’t know, search for it.” This wasn’t James Hutton’s motto, but it might as well have been. Source

Scotland’s James Hutton is called the founder of modern geology. How can that be? He was a chemist, after all.

Well, for starters, a lot of geology involves chemistry (as I found out to my sorrow as an undergraduate back in the 1980s).

More importantly, in Hutton’s day there just wasn’t the specialization in science that we see today.

There was science, of course, and lots of it, since it was the Age of Reason. The Scottish Enlightenment, with its emphasis on reason, was in full swing.

People just hadn’t yet sorted out Nature all that much.

Science and the Bible

If you want to know what “geology” in the West was like before James Hutton, go into a garden or a field and look around.
Continue reading