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Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘moon

[NEWS] Some Wednesday links

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  • Al Jazeera shares Sarah Kendzior’s argument that the disappearance of shopping malls will not mean the automatic return of downtowns in many cities, and notes the migration of many young Americans–including Vietnamese-Americans–to a booming Vietnam.
  • Business Week observes that in higher education, China wants more people with vocational degrees and fewer academics, while comments that the use of Minnan dialect by China’s spokesperson to Taiwan isn’t doing much to encourage reunification.
  • The CBC shares the request of American retailer target to its customers to please leave their guns home, and notes a finding in Québec that penalized Wal-Mart for closing down a store there after its workforce became unionized.
  • National Geographic notes evidence from an Archaeopreryx fossil that feathers evolved before flight, and comments on the cultural and other issues that make fighting the Ebola epidemic in West Africa so difficult.
  • Universe Today notes there are no lunar seas on the far side of the Moon because of the heat of the Earth in the Moon’s early days reached only the near side, and comments on the evidence of asteroid impacts on the surface of Vesta.

[BLOG] Some Thursday links

  • The Dragon’s Gaze examines the very complicated history of the formation of the trinary system of Fomalhaut.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a report on the study claiming to find chemical evidence of the impact that created the Moon out of moon rocks.
  • Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money notes that no plausible American intervention could have prevented the fall of Mosul to ISIS.
  • Marginal Revolution’s Tyler Cowen notes the predictions of economists that Brazil will win the World Cup.
  • Out of Ambit’s Diane Duane shares a photo of people scavenging from a hundred thousand books dumped out of a bankrupt bookstore in Ireland.
  • Livejournaler pollotenchegg maps fertility rates in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.
  • The Transit Toronto blog notes the arrest of a half-dozen TTC workers on charges of embezzling from their organization.
  • Towleroad notes opposite-sex married but bisexual Anna Paquin’s Twitter posting for pride.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy’s David Bernstein takes issue with the idea that Jewish Republicans are rare. (Representation is, as a consequence of their distribution.)
  • Window on Eurasia links to an analyst’s concern that the Donbas area of eastern Ukraine, currently seeing fighting, might end up becoming alienated from the rest of Ukraine on the model of Northern Ireland.

[NEWS] Some Monday links

  • Al Jazeera notes anti-black racism in Morocco, attacks on Christians in border areas of Kenya, and the ways in which the crackdown on Somali crime in Nairobi is hitting Somali businesses.
  • Bloomberg notes that Ethiopian migrants trying to enter Saudi Arabia are being persecuted on their trip by Yemeni criminal gangs, in much the same way that Eritreans trying to get into Israel are persecuted by Sinai gangs.
  • BusinessWeek argues that tacky gifts at the 911 gift shop sell because people want them, notes that South Koreans like shopping online internationally to get bargains, notes the growing presence of the Taliban in Karachi, and observes the rise of Chinese fashions.
  • MacLean’s comments on the growing tendency of Italian young adults to stay at home, comments on the return of Sarah McLachlan, looks at the phenomenon of doctoral students who don’t go into academia, and notes that Pakistan’s independent Geo TV is nearing shutdown by state harassment and assassination attempts.
  • Wired observes innovative ways to deal with online harassment and notes a new method for interplanetary communication–at least to the moon–that is as fast as a good home Internet connection.

[LINK] “This Is How You Stream Netflix to the Moon”

Wired‘s Klint Finley describes the advent of a new high-speed communications system that would let people on Earth connect to computers on the Moon at a very high speed.

Traditionally, NASA has used radio frequencies to communicate with spaceships, satellites, and rovers, but that’s rather slow. Plus, the further a contraption gets from earth, the more power–and the bigger the dish–it needs to send a signal. That’s why NASA’s most distant probe, Voyager 1, requires a 70-meter antenna to be heard. Optical connections are much faster, but they’ve been limited by things like varying lighting conditions, cloudy skies, and atmospheric interference.

So, in order to quickly send signals across the approximately 250,000 miles between earth and NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) observatory, Stevens and his team built a completely new optical communication system, with new transmitters as well as receivers, drawing on techniques used in past projects. “People in the space business have long known that laser communications has a lot of potential benefits including higher data rates and smaller space terminals,” Stevens says. “NASA has been pursuing parts of the technology for several decades.”

On the transmission side, the team used four telescopes to beam information coded as pulses of infrared light into space. Each of the four signals travels separately, and though each will encounter interference, this four-pronged approach improves the odds that at least one signal will make it to the receiver.

When a signal arrives, it’s focused into an optical fiber similar to what’s used in high-speed internet connections such as Google Fiber. Then it’s amplified and is converted into electrical pulses that carry the data transmission. Less than one billionth of a watt will be received of the original 40-watt signal, but that’s still about 10 times the signal strength required for error-free communication.

The satellite had its own transmitter, which was able to send the data signal back to earth at an even faster speed: 622 megabits per second. That’s faster than most home internet connections, though not quite as speedy as the one-gigabit speeds you get with something like Google Fiber.

Written by Randy McDonald

June 2, 2014 at 7:58 pm

[BLOG] Some Wednesday links

  • blogTO notes the TTC proposal to remove some streetcar stops.
  • Discover‘s D-Brief suggests that one reason humans are physically weaker than other primates is because we sacrificed physical strength to support our brain instead.
  • The Dragon’s Tales links to a paper suggesting Earth has much more carbon and water sequestered inside than expected.
  • Geocurrents notes that estimates on the size of various economies, including Nigeria and Saudi Arabia, often vary quite widely even between years.
  • The Inkfish blog notes that the Humboldt squid can apparently radically slow down its metabolism when it hangs out in oxygen-poor waters.
  • Joe. My. God. notes that continuing improvements in HIV/AIDS mortality have led a Vancouver hospital to shut down its dedicated ward for patients.
  • Language Log shares a photo explaining how an Arabic word on a sign in Iraqi Kurdistan as badly mistranslated.</li
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money discusses misogyny and gun control after the Rodger shooting.
  • The Planetary Society Blog announces that the parent organization supports the NASA proposal to capture an asteroid into lunar orbit, with qualifications (how much will it cost?).
  • Towleroad notes that in Ghana’s capital of Accra, a mob in a Muslim neighbourhood lynched a gay man and began looking for his partner.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the growing list of travel restrictions on Russian citizens imposed by the Russian government and argues anti-Semitism is a bigger threat in Russia than in Ukraine.

[LINK] Two Wired links about old achievements in space

  • The first article, published last month, is Doug Bierend’s “The Hackers Who Recovered NASA’s Lost Lunar Photos”.
  • Sitting incongruously among the hangars and laboratories of NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley is the squat facade of an old McDonald’s. You won’t get a burger there, though–its cash registers and soft-serve machines have given way to old tape drives and modern computers run by a rogue team of hacker engineers who’ve rechristened the place McMoon’s. These self-described techno-archaeologists have been on a mission to recover and digitize forgotten photos taken in the ‘60s by a quintet of scuttled lunar satellites.

    The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project has since 2007 brought some 2,000 pictures back from 1,500 analog data tapes. They contain the first high-resolution photographs ever taken from behind the lunar horizon, including the first photo of an earthrise (first slide above). Thanks to the technical savvy and DIY engineering of the team at LOIRP, it’s being seen at a higher resolution than was ever previously possible.

    “We’re reaching back to a capability that existed but couldn’t be touched back when it was created,” says Keith Cowing, co-lead and founding member at LOIRP. “It’s like having a DVD in 1966, you can’t play it. We had resolution of the earth of about a kilometer [per pixel]. This is an image taken a quarter of a fucking million miles away in 1966. The Beatles were warming up to play Shea Stadium at the moment it was being taken.”

    Between 1966 and ’67, five Lunar Orbiters snapped pictures onto 70mm film from about 30 miles above the moon. The satellites were sent mainly to scout potential landing sites for manned moon missions. Each satellite would point its dual lens Kodak camera at a target, snap a picture, then develop the photograph. High- and low-resolution photos were then scanned into strips called framelets using something akin to an old fax machine reader.

    [. . .]

    The photos were stored with remarkably high fidelity on the tapes, but at the time had to be copied from projection screens onto paper, sometimes at sizes so large that warehouses and even old churches were rented out to hang them up. The results were pretty grainy, but clear enough to identify landing sites and potential hazards. After the low-fi printing, the tapes were shoved into boxes and forgotten.

    They changed hands several times over the years, almost getting tossed out before landing in storage in Moorpark, California. Several abortive attempts were made to recover data from the tapes, which were well kept, but it wasn’t until 2005 that NASA engineer Keith Cowing and space entrepreneur Dennis Wingo were able to bring the materials and the technical know how together.

    When they learned through a Usenet group that former NASA employee Nancy Evans might have both the tapes and the super-rare Ampex FR-900 drives needed to read them, they jumped into action. They drove to Los Angeles, where the refrigerator-sized drives were being stored in a backyard shed surrounded by chickens. At the same time, they retrieved the tapes from a storage unit in nearby Moorpark, and things gradually began to take shape. Funding the project out of pocket at first, they were consumed with figuring out how to release the images trapped in the tapes.

  • The second, first part of a promised series, is David S. F. Portree’s “North American Aviation’s 1965 Mars/Venus Piloted Flyby Study”.
  • n mid-1964, just three years after President John F. Kennedy put the U.S. on course for the moon, a team of engineers at Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC) in Huntsville, Alabama, became the first NASA group to study piloted Mars/Venus flyby missions based on Apollo Program hardware. They conducted their study because they wanted to see humans voyage to other planets and because President Lyndon B. Johnson had made it clear that, to reduce spaceflight costs, the U.S. civilian space program after Apollo should be based on spacecraft and rockets developed for the moon landing.

    In its public statements about its future, NASA emphasized that President Johnson supported Earth-orbiting space stations. Modified Apollo Command and Service Module (CSM) spacecraft would ferry scientist-astronauts, supplies, and new experiment apparatus to the low-cost stations, which, it was hoped, would provide concrete benefits to American taxpayers through research into biomedicine, new manufacturing processes, Earth and Sun observations, and advanced technology development. Johnson also supported continued lunar exploration.

    LBJ’s vision of NASA’s future made no mention of piloted Mars/Venus flybys based on Apollo’s technological legacy. On the other hand, neither did it specifically forbid them.

    Even before the MSFC engineers completed their study in February 1965, other NASA centers sensed that they might be left behind and began their own studies of Apollo-based piloted Mars/Venus flybys. On 1 October 1964, North American Aviation (NAA), the Apollo CSM prime contractor, began such a study for the Manned Spacecraft Center (MSC) in Houston, Texas. NAA presented results of its nine-month study at MSC on 18 June 1965.

    The company proposed to exploit three main Apollo Program hardware elements for its piloted flyby missions: the CSM; Saturn V rockets; and the Spacecraft-LEM Adapter (SLA), which in Apollo lunar landing missions linked the bottom of the CSM with the top of the Saturn V S-IVB third stage and housed the Lunar Excursion Module (LEM) moon lander. NAA was the SLA prime contractor.

    More is promised.

    Written by Randy McDonald

    May 8, 2014 at 12:20 am

    [BLOG] Some Wednesday links

    • Centauri Dreams reports that an astronomy project is set to begin to look for planets around Proxima Centauri, the third red dwarf component of the Alpha Centauri system, via eclipses of the star.
    • The Dragon’s Gaze reports on a bright superjovian in a distant orbit around young red dwarf GU Pisces.
    • The Dragon’s Tale links to a paper suggesting that Earth-like worlds can remain broadly habitable without stabilizing moons like ours.
    • Geocurrents’ Martin Lewis engages with Wikipedia maps of the world by religion.
    • Language Log’s Julie Sedivy engages with an interesting new app for speed reading.
    • Marginal Revolution notes that apparently Cornwall and Wales are poorer than some new European Union member-states. Proof of European convergence as much as of British disparities?
    • At the Planetary Society Blog, Marc Rayman explains how the Dawn probe will slowly decelerate into orbit about Ceres next year.
    • Towleroad quotes from Monica Lewinsky’s new Vanity Fair feature, explaining her empathy with victims of bullying like Tyler Clementi.
    • The Volokh Conspiracy links to an apparent Russian government report claiming, contra public statements, that there was only 30% turnout in the referendum on attaching Crimea to Russia and only 15% supporting the notion.
    • Window on Eurasia links to an author arguing that the Ukrainian crisis has destabilized Putin’s schedule for Eurasian integration.

    [NEWS] Some Friday links

    • io9 shares wonderful illustrations of Titan’s methane showlines.
    • The Atlantic Cities notes that the coastline of Louisiana is receding so quickly mapmakers are hard-pressed to keep up.
    • BusinessWeek wonders how great cities, like New York City or Rome, reconcile change and tradition.
    • Christianity Today features a Philip Jenkins article noting that the origins and alliances of the Crimean crisis can be traced back at least as far as the Crimean War.
    • Ha’aretz notes that Israelis are moving to Tel Aviv, abandoning peripheral areas (with large Arab population) like Galilee and the Negev.
    • MacLean’s notes that condo construction is set to boom in Toronto.
    • Tablet Magazine notes that Crimea, immediately after the Second World War, was positioned as a potential homeland for Soviet Jews.
    • According to Time, changes in Canadian immigration law may be discouraging rich Chinese immigrants.
    • Universe Today notes that China’s Yutu moon rover can’t properly move its solar panels.

    [LINK] “China’s Yutu Moon Rover Alive and Awake for 3rd Lunar Day of Exploration despite Malfunction”

    Universe Today’s Ken Kremer shared the good news. (What, I wonder, is the current state of affairs?)

    Yutu Lives!

    The little ‘rabbit’ beloved worldwide has now phoned home and actually survived the perils of the long lunar night and is alive and awake to start a 3rd day of scientific exploration despite suffering a serious malfunction as it entered the latest hibernation period two weeks ago.

    “Yutu has come back to life!” said Pei Zhaoyu, the spokesperson for China’s lunar probe program, according to a breaking news report by the state owned Xinhua news agency.

    [. . .]

    Yutu’s new lease on life also comes after Monday’s (Feb. 11) premature report of the robots demise by the state owned China News Service, reported here.

    However, “Yutu failed to power-up Monday [Feb 11] and data about its current condition and repair progress is still being collected and analyzed,” Xinhua and CCTV (China state run television) reported.

    This indicates that Yutu was in fact feared lost for some time by the mission team, until further efforts finally resulted in the detection of a signal from the spacecraft – and a welcome reversal of yesterdays news!

    The robot “has now been restored to its normal signal reception function,” says Pei.

    [. . ]

    But much technical work remains ahead for the engineering and science teams to ascertain why it malfunctioned and whether the six wheeled rover can be restored to partial or full functionality.

    Written by Randy McDonald

    February 13, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    Posted in Science

    Tagged with , , , ,

    [BLOG] Some Friday links

    • The Broadside Blog’s Caitlin Kelly points writers to evidence that editing can be a harsh and thorough process: a photograph of one of her own drafts.
    • Centauri Dreams notes that a recent study of the distribution of different sorts of asteroids in the asteroid belt suggests that the planets in the early solar system were exceptionally mobile, with Jupiter’s inward migrations perhaps tossing enough icy bodies our way to give Earth oceans.
    • Discover‘s The Crux points out alleged photographic evidence of an alien base on the Moon is no such thing.
    • The Dragon’s Tales links to Stephen Hawking’s paper on black holes, which apparently argues they don’t destroy information so much as garble it.
    • The Dragon’s Gaze links to a recent study suggesting that the Alpha Centauri system is quite full of dust.
    • The Financial Times‘ World blog notes that the dustup over Oxfam and Scarlett Johansson’s involvement as spokesperson for an Israeli company making use of West Bank resources highlights Israel’s growing issues.
    • Joe. My. God. notes a recent Washington Post-ABC poll suggesting that Hillary Clinton is far and away the Democratic Party’s favourite for the 2016 presidential election.
    • Dave Brockington of Lawyers, Guns and Money takes issue with Niall Ferguson’s argument that Britain should have stayed out of the First World War.
    • Marginal Revolution notes a recent paper suggesting how Catalonia might progress to independence from Spain, in the context of shared debt.
    • Thought Catalog’s Shawn Binder writes about how homophobia can intrude even within same-sex relationships.
    • Torontoist notes a major billion-dollar development at Spadina and Front that would literally create a new neighbourhood.
    • Towleroad observes that billionaire Cecil Chao has withdrawn the dowry he offered to potential suitors of his lesbian and coupled daughter Gigi, without acknowledging her actual relationship.
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