Posted by Ted on Aug 4, 2011 in Burning Man
This week’s Photo Friday is dedicated to a man you’ve likely never heard of. I certainly hadn’t until I was researching the Apollo 17 program recently. Everyone knows Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong. However, Eugene Cernan, a Czecho-Slovakian fighter pilot from Chicago, was the last man to walk on the moon. Almost 40 years ago. His final words as he stepped up into the Lunar Module were;
“As I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come — but we believe not too long into the future — I’d like to just [say] what I believe history will record — that America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.”
This photo was taken at Burning Man during my second year on playa. It is of the art piece “Moonwalk“, by Jonathan Buchart. This year’s Burning Man has caused a lot of hype due to it selling out for the first time. Tickets that were at most $285 or so are now going for $600-800 dollars on eBay. Thankfully, we have ours and look forward to returning to Black Rock City in just a few weeks.
While we have yet to return to the moon in 4 decades, we do have an orbiting space station, and we have just discovered that there may be liquid flowing water on Mars. How cool is that?
(Related pictures of Burning Man 2004 can be found here.)
(More on the finding of water on Mars can be found on SFGate and Huffpost)
Posted by Ted on Jul 28, 2011 in Events
The longest total solar eclipse of the 21st century has already happened, just two years ago on July 22, 2009. Totality could be seen from eastern India, through China, and across the Pacific – a swath of darkness 1000s of miles long and only 160 miles wide. We chose to watch this cosmic event at the feet of Guan Yin, on the island of Putuoshan, in the South China Sea, near Shanghai. The island is named for the mountain at its heart, one of the four sacred mountains of Buddhism, and which is the earthly home of Guan Yin, the bodhimanda of Avalokiteśvara.
This longest eclipse of the century had much anticipation for many eclipse chasers. This was our first, and we had no expectations, but we did hope to actually see the eclipse. As our luck would have it, the day was thick with cloud cover. Very few in our corner of China were able to actually see the event itself.
That said, it was no less magical or spiritual. For over six minutes, what had been daylight a few minutes ago was now darkness. The Goddess was suddenly glowing gold against a night sky.
(Related pictures can be found here.)
(Read more about the Total Solar Eclipse in 2009.)
Posted by Ted on May 26, 2008 in Space
The Phoenix Mars Lander has landed on Mars and is already sending back awesome pictures.
Even cooler is that MY NAME is ON MARS!
Liquid water once on Mars
Posted by Ted on Mar 2, 2004 in Space
NASA scientists say the Mars rovers have found what they were looking for — hard evidence that the red planet was once “soaking wet.”
“We have concluded the rocks here were once soaked in liquid water,” said Steve Squyres of Cornell University. He’s the principal investigator for the science instruments on Opportunity and its twin rover, Spirit.
“Three and a half years ago, in July 2000, we were on stage here to talk about sending two rovers to get evidence of past water. NASA and its international partners have turned those dreams to reality,” said Ed Weiler, NASA associate administrator for space science.
Scientists used instruments on board the golf cart-sized rovers to study the composition of the rocks and soil on the planet. The rocks’ physical appearance, plus the detection of sulfates, make the case for a watery history, and more important, an environment that could have been hospitable to life.
Spirit and Opportunity were sent to opposite sides of the planet with the possibility of investigating different types of terrain. Spirit, the first rover to arrive on January 3, landed near the Gusev Crater, which may once have held a lake.
But geologists and other researchers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, were thrilled when they saw the possibilities surrounding Opportunity, which landed three weeks later. It landed inside a small crater in the Meridiani Planum, one of the flattest places on the planet. And its landing site was within driving distance for the spacecraft to reach an exposed slice of bedrock.
Since its landing January 25, Opportunity has used the same tools as a human field geologist would to determine the chemical contents of the rocks. Using an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, a device that can identify chemical elements, scientists have identified a high concentration of sulfur in the bedrock.
Another instrument on board, a Moessbauer spectrometer, has detected an iron sulfate mineral known as jarosite. From their knowledge of rocks on earth, scientists say rocks with as much salt as this Mars rock either formed in water, or had a long exposure to water after they were formed. The scientists say these rocks could have formed in an acidic lake or even a hot springs.