Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘nasa’ Category

A Solar Eclipse of the Heart

leave a comment »

Did you hear?

There’s a major total solar eclipse going on today.

Not sure how you could have missed it. This is going to be the most overwatched, overphotographed celestial events in the history of mankind.

I’m way far south of the Zone of Totality, so I wasn’t able to experience the total eclipse firsthand. But I was able to catch it on ABC with David Muir and his crew.

At the peak eclipse here in Austin at 1:10 PM CST, you could definitely sense a darkening of the light out (but nothing like what folks in the Total Zone [my shorthand] saw.

If you’re still watching out in the eastern US, check it out on NASA TV.

Uh, and don’t look straight into the sun without some of those fancy solar eclipse glasses. It’s not good for you.

As opposed to any other time you might be tempted to look straight into the sun.

Written by turbotodd

August 21, 2017 at 1:21 pm

Posted in nasa, space

Tagged with , ,

Out Of Curiosity?

leave a comment »

I had a glorious weekend, thank you.

I got to watch some of the Olympics Saturday night, and I must say, it was refreshing to me to watch some plain old vanilla track and field events.

From Oscar Pistorius to Usain Bolt to Allyson Felix, I found myself enjoying the simplicity of seeing people running around the track.

Not that I haven’t enjoyed the beach volleyball and the swimming and everything else…I certainly do…but watching those runners break out of those gates and sprint for ten seconds or two minutes…well, I just found it very refreshing.

I did some of my own sporting over the weekend, playing golf at a couple of courses in north Texas where the temperatures in the afternoon were hovering around 102 or 103. Yes, it required lots of Gatorade.

Then, I went to bed late Sunday night, too tired to stay up for the Mars Curiosity landing but praying for its safe landing.

Terrified of what might become the further paring of the space program if Curiosity took a nose dive into the red planet.

This is one of the first images taken by NASA’s Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars the evening of Aug. 5 PDT (morning of Aug. 6 EDT). Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Thankfully, that didn’t happen.  “Mars Science Laboratory” endured the now infamous “seven minutes of terror” (Google it) and landed just fine.  Here’s what JPL Tweeted on MSL’s behalf:

I’m safely on the surface of Mars. GALE CRATER I AM IN YOU!!! #MSL

Ah HA, a NASA with a Tweeter who’s the voice of MSL who has a sense of humor! (Follow MSL on Facebook here, a wonderful page about the program so far).

I’m an unabashed and unapologetic supporter of NASA and the American space program. One of my earliest memories was sitting on my dad’s knee when I was barely three years old, watching Neil Armstrong landing on the moon, so NASA made an impression on me very early on.

But also, just think about the amazing technology transfer the U.S. space program has brought back down to earth all these years: GPS, remote sensing for water and minerals and crop exploration, weather satellites, light-weight materials, geographic information systems…the list goes on and on.

And at a time when so many politicians and leaders seem to be thinking so small, I think it is through programs like Curiosity that we can dare to think and dream big.

Also let there be no question, IBM technology has played an instrumental role at times throughout the history of U.S. space exploration.

Just last year, while celebrating our Centennial, we saw videos like the following, which highlighted IBM’s role in Project Mercury, which led to Alan Shephard’s becoming the first American in space.

Shephard later became the fifth person to walk on the Moon, and the only astronaut of the Mercury Seven to make that walk. During his mission to the moon he hit two golf balls on the lunar surface — the longest drives ever!

NASA used IBM 7090 computing systems, and, later, 7094s to control the Mercury and Gemini space flights, and the IBM 7094 was used during the Apollo missions including Apollo 11, the moon landing.

Goddard Space Flight center also operated 3 7094s. During the early Apollo Program, a 7094 was kept operational to run flight planning software that had not yet been ported to mission control’s newer System/360.

So while curiosity may have killed the cat…it’s also what’s driving our latest mission to Mars…literally, and figuratively.

And no matter how little or vast our new knowledge becomes of the red planet, we will have proved once again that looking up and into the heavens helps us expand not only our knowledge base about Mars, but also our sense of ourselves and humankind.

Written by turbotodd

August 6, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Planets Aligned

with 2 comments

Is it a coincidence that Apple releases Mac OS X Lion and the new MacBook Air models on the anniversary of the Eagle landing on the moon 42 years ago?

Perhaps…but if the timing were really well thought through, STS-135 Atlantis might have landed back on earth today as opposed to its scheduled landing tomorrow.

Pretty soon, we space nuts will have to look beyond the Space Shuttle for our orbital kicks.

In fact, I’m already looking beyond the Shuttle and into the Heavens, and to the increased focus on commercial space ventures.

Orbital Sciences Corporation announced today that the Dawn spacecraft, which the company built for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, successfully achieved orbit around the solar system’s move massive asteroid, Vesta, which resides in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and which is 1.7 billion-miles away.

It took Dawn four years to make it out to Vesta, and successfully entered its orbit last Friday. As its mission progresses over the next year, Dawn will descend to additional science orbits at 425 miles and then 125 miles above the asteroid’s surface, which is said to be the size of Arizona.

Godspeed to the Asteroid Mapper…it’s going to have to be the next best thing to a man (or woman) being there.

Back here on Earth, IBM shared some good news earlier today, awarding nearly $1 million in Smarter Planet grants to 11 organizations around the world.

Known as the IBM Centennial Grants, these are both monetary and in-kind awards up to U.S. $100,000 each which fund innovative projects in areas such as healthcare, energy, and food safety.

These grants fall under the auspices of IBM’s continued “Celebration of Service” as the company enters its second century of social engagement and of IBMers helping their communities work better.

By way of example, one award recipient, the Drishtee Foundation, i funding a Smart Rural Aggregation Platform which will help evolve Drishtee’s model villages into sustainable Smarter Villages in rural India.

The solution will help to aggregate critical services and products related with livelihood, agriculture and information services and making services accessible to farmers and village communities.

You can read more about IBM’s Celebration of Service here.

Written by turbotodd

July 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm

Man On The Moon

leave a comment »

TGIF.

My Google Wave beta invite finally appeared in my in-box last evening.

Just in time for President Obama to receive the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize, and also just in time for NASA to complete its successful bombing mission of the moon around 6:30 E.S.T. this A.M.

In honor of the occasion (the moon bombing, not the Nobel), I wore the NASA T-shirt I bought at the NASA store in the Orlando airport and watched the “delivery” of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) as it slammed into the bottom of a crater at 5,600 MPH.

According to The New York Times, the LCROSS excavated about 350 metric tons of the moon and left a hole 65 feet wide and 13 feet deep.

I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty good Texas-size swimming pool to me.

Wait a minute, that’s it, that’s what this is all about!

NASA’s building a swimming pool for the astronauts, who will eventually be heading out from Moon Base 1 and who need a place to relax before they head further north to look for the little green men on Mars!

Now, if we could just find some water up there so we can fill up the swimmin’ hole.

I watched this whole thing unfold, of course, on television, just as I watched Armstrong step down the lunar ladder a couple days before my birthday in 1969.

And I have to say, after all the buildup, it was about as exciting as watching the Google Wave beta freeze up when I first tried to log on last night.

Fortunately, Google Wave unfroze itself…as for the moon, well, I’m not so sure that  Texas-size swimming pool now in Cabeus crater is going away anytime soon.

I don’t know about you, but I was expecting long plumes of smoke and an explosion of hydrogen and ice and…well, major stuff…shooting into outer space.

But no.  That little satellite sucker just disppeared into the Cabeus crater like the moon done gone and had wolfed down itself a midnight snack, never to be heard from again.

According to the Times’ account, though, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter had already confirmed the presence of hydrogen deep within permanently shadowed craters near the Moon’s poles.

“There is hydrogen down in that crater, and we’re going to go dig some of it up,” Anthony Colaprete, the mission’s principal investigator, said.

Well, heck, why didn’t we just piggyback ourselves a Caterpillar backhoe on the LCROSS so we could not only get started looking for the H20 but also get a head start on digging out a foundation for MarsMoon Base 1.

If we’re gonna get to finding those little green men, we need to get a move on…I ain’t gettin’ any younger, and I was a very wee lad when Armstrong stepped on the Moon, and I hope to be around when we unearth (uh, “unMars”)  Marvin the Martian!

Of course, we have to prepare ourselves for the art of the possible.

What happens if, Heaven forbid, we don’t find any water on the moon?

Perhaps we can leverage some of that massive momentum behind Google Wave?

As the moon passes by, at just the precise orbital moment calculated with a new and very precise Google algorithm, we can swing the earth out of her orbit and send some of Google’s water crashing from the earth to the moon and into Cebeus crater, thereby filling up the lunar swimming pool and giving us enough water to get a boost on to Mars.

I can see it all.

The little green people impatiently wondering when the hell we’re going to figure out a way to come visit; the Coke machine outside the lunar base (sorry, Pepsi, Coke won the bidding war and is “it” on the moon); the Richard Branson, Virgin-sponsored Moon Buggy race track (packages available in limited packages for 2 for only $2M U.S.), the Google Moon Base Jamba Juice and Sushi Bar; Obama’s Nobel medal ensconced in glass outside White House Moon Base 1.

I saw it all in my “Flash Forward.”

Mission accomplished.

Written by turbotodd

October 9, 2009 at 2:21 pm

%d bloggers like this: