6 February 2015

Geek out with these space and science events in Canberra

There are plenty of events coming up for Canberra space and science fans, with an inevitable clash unfortunately:

  • European Space Agency mission experts on the Rosetta Mission
  • Nobel Laureate Professor Brian Schmidt on the future of science
  • Peter Garrett on ecology and climate science
  • Anna Frebel (MIT) on the search for our galaxy's oldest stars
  • Badri Younes (NASA) on the interplanetary communications and navigation network.

All of these events are free. Descriptions and details below are as published by the various event organisers.

12 November 2014

ESA's Rosetta about to launch Comet 67P lander - watch live

Philae Lander as it will look as it departs Rosetta for the landing. Picture: European Space Agency
The European Space Agency's Rosetta mission to the Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is about to launch its lander known as Philae on its long slow approach to 'land' on the surface of the comet.

You can watch the separation coverage from the ESA mission control room here:

If you would like to follow the technical details more closely, there is a very good forum on NASA Spaceflight.

Rosetta was launched in March 2004, and journeyed for 10 years to rendezvous with Comet 67P in August this year. It then proceeded to photograph and map the comet in the search for a good landing site.

There's much more your can read about the mission on ESA's Rosetta website.

As I am about to post this, the Philae lander should have separated from Rosetta. We have to wait about 28 minutes before we will receive the corresponding transmission.

4 November 2014

"I'm not a scientist" said the politician…


If one is going to be making decisions on matters scientific—particularly decisions that may change the course of a nation or indeed the world—perhaps one should make a point of listening in on experts in those fields?

Break out of the 'echo chamber effect' that poisons so many people's social networks and make sure you surround yourself with genuine experts in the fields you'll be steering.

Via +CosmoQuest

(Oh my, has it really been that long since I've done a blog entry? Ingress—aka Niantic/Google, you have a lot to answer for.)

24 December 2013

Transit of the Sun by the International Space Station caught on camera

That might not look like much, but I've wanted to try to catch the International Space Station in flight for a looong time.

This was my very first attempt, with the added complexity of it being a transit across the face of the Sun.

The alert said the viewing opportunity was centred 130 kms away from my location. I recorded for several minutes but thought I'd missed it. Until I looked at the recording the next day!

12 November 2013

A kangaroo with a knot in its tail!

I was camping out at the Orroral Valley for a night of stargazing and photography. The next morning I ran into this young lady near the old historical homestead. It didn't seem to be holding her back too much. She could hop reasonably and perch - in a rather different manner from everyone else though!

31 October 2013

Can't afford a boat trip to the Antarctic? Try this instead!

This is the view today from the bow webcam on the Aurora Australis, the resupply vessel that services Australia's Antarctic bases.

Not your average cruise ship view! Not your average webcam view either…

The ship left Australia on 15 October, and was slated to return on 16 November. The latest sitrep has them here (and it is so worth your time to zoom in and look around the shoreline on this map!):

16 October 2013

Space Shuttle Endeavour's final journey—a wonderful timelapse

Long-time manned spacelaunch photographer Scott Andrews has assembled this wonderful timelapse of that famous final trip made by the Space Shuttle Endeavour through the streets of Lops Angeles, after its last flight atop NASA's 747 Shuttle transporter from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

As Time magazine explains, Andrews and a team took over 350,000 shots over 500 hours of the loading, transfer and road trip. The final video uses 9500 of those frames. My only regret is that it doesn't cover the aerial transfer itself. The flight looping over Los Angeles was pretty remarkable in its own right.

The video runs for six minutes 21 seconds and is well worth your download:

13 October 2013

It's coming right at you!

Elon Musk has just posted this hexacopter video of a Grasshopper test to 744m, hover, divert and return to the pad. The highest flight yet for Grasshopper.

It's an incredibly stable hexacopter, with a panning camera, and at one stage it really looked like it was going to be toast!

30 September 2013

Sometimes the daily cycle commute becomes a near-death experience.

I hate on-road cycle lanes, and this is part of the reason why.

The ACT Government has been fixated on them for years—obviously because they're cheaper to build. But they aren't worth this sort of risk:

25 September 2013

Pakistan earthquake: 80+ dead and a whole new giant island

Yesterday I tweeted:
This'll be bad MT @NewEarthquake: 7.4 earthquake, 69km NNE of Awaran, Pakistan. Sep 24 16:29 at epicenter 19m ago http://j.mp/16WAcc9
And it was. The severity of the earthquake was quickly upgraded to 7.8 (remembering that the Richter Scale is logarithmic, so small increases in the number equate to very big increases in severity).

Reports from Pakistan today are that at least 80 people were killed and another 80 people injured. Dozens of mud-based houses collapsed. [UPDATE: later reports have 515 people killed.]

On the flip side is an awesome testament to the power of this earthquake. A quite large island erupted from the sea about 600 metres off the Gwadar coast:

Earthquake creates a new island. Photo: https://twitter.com/NewsweekPak

NBC reports that seismologists suspect it to be a mud volcano island, but no-one's been out to inspect it as yet.

If you are interested in following earthquakes that happen around the world, you can follow on Twitter @NewEarthquake

UPDATE 30/09/2013: Here's a good article looking specifically at the new island, with before and after photos: