27 March 2008, jd2020 @ 12:06 am

sts-123 Endeavour landing @ KSC

What a cool night landing! STS-123 was forced to land after the sun went down when officials called off the first deorbit burn. 16 days in space and almost 150 earth orbits. Endeavour rolled in throwing flames down the runway. Out of the shuttle’s 68 landings at Kennedy, STS-123 was the 16th to take place at night.

Image above: This image reveals the Shuttle Landing Facility as seen from the cockpit of space shuttle Endeavour as the orbiter approached for landing. Image credit: NASA

Endeavour STS-123 deorbit 249 KSC Space shuttle Endeavour returned to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 8:39 p.m. EDT, concluding the STS-123 mission with a flawless landing on Runway 15. The 16-day assembly mission was the longest flight to the International Space Station to date.

STS-123 Endeavour night landing 032608 CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — Space shuttle Endeavour’s drag chute unfurls in a kaleidoscope of color as the orbiter lands in darkness on Runway 15 at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Shuttle Landing Facility to end the STS-123 mission, a 16-day flight to the International Space Station. This was the 16th night landing at Kennedy. The main landing gear touched down at 8:39:08 p.m. EDT, March 26,2008. The nose landing gear touched down at 8:39:17 p.m. and wheel stop was at 8:40:41 p.m. The mission completed nearly 6.6 million miles. The landing was on the second opportunity after the first was waved off due to unstable weather in the Kennedy Space Center area. The STS-123 mission delivered the first segment of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory and the Canadian Space Agency’s two-armed robotic system, known as Dextre. Photo courtesy of Gary Rothstein

This is a most awesome video of the landing!

Bonus: Cool Mars Interactive…

26 March 2008, jd2020 @ 1:31 am

What is Plasma? (see demonstration below)

Plasma is a phase of matter distinct from solids, liquids, and gases. It is the most abundant phase of matter in the universe — both stars and interstellar dust consist of plasma. Although it is its own phase of matter, plasma is often referred to as an ionized gas.

The central element in a fluorescent light is a plasma, a gas made up of free-flowing ions (electrically charged atoms) and electrons (negatively charged particles). Under normal conditions, a gas is mainly made up of uncharged particles. That is, the individual gas atoms include equal numbers of protons (positively charged particles in the atom’s nucleus) and electrons. The negatively charged electrons perfectly balance the positively charged protons, so the atom has a net charge of zero.

If you introduce many free electrons into the gas by establishing an electrical voltage across it, the situation changes very quickly. The free electrons collide with the atoms, knocking loose other electrons. With a missing electron, an atom loses its balance. It has a net positive charge, making it an ion.

In a plasma with an electrical current running through it, negatively charged particles are rushing toward the positively charged area of the plasma, and positively charged particles are rushing toward the negatively charged area. Check out this Plasma Ball


24 March 2008, jd2020 @ 8:18 pm

ISS robotics station

Image above: STS-123 Mission Specialist Léopold Eyharts, pictured in the foreground, and Pilot Gregory H. Johnson work at the robotics station in the International Space Station’s U.S. laboratory, Destiny. Credit: NASA (Man, that looks like quite an involved “customer support” call.)

Space shuttle Endeavour undocked from the International Space Station at 8:25 p.m. EDT, ending its 12-day stay at the orbital outpost. After the STS-123 and Expedition 16 crews bid one another farewell, the hatches between the two spacecraft closed at 5:49 p.m.

STS-123 arrived at the station March 12, delivering the Japanese Logistics Module – Pressurized Section, the first pressurized component of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s Kibo laboratory, to the station. The crew of Endeavour also delivered the final element of the station’s Mobile Servicing System, the Canadian-built Dextre, also known as the Special Purpose Dexterous Manipulator.

Endeavour is scheduled to land at Kennedy Space Center, Fla., Wednesday.

22 March 2008, jd2020 @ 1:14 am

Airplane Smoke Surrender DorothyCheck out what was involved in the making of this scene in The Wizard of Oz movie without the convenience of digital enhancement.

Jack McMaster was the man who created and performed this scene in the late 1930’s. From Aljean Harmetz’s book, The Making of The Wizard of Oz, Mcmaster explains how he did it…

“I had a glass tank six foot square” … “The bottom of the tank was glass. The sides were wood. The tank was only three inches deep; and the bottom was covered with an inch and a half of water mixed with calla oil. That was supposed to be the sky. The camera was beneath the tank, shooting up. The water and oil mixture was opaque, so it hid me. The miniature Witch who did the skywriting was three eighths of an inch high, and the broom she was riding was a hypodermic needle. I filled the hypodermic needle with a combination of canned milk and nigrosine dye. I wrote SURRENDER DOROTHY OR DIE upside down and backward in the fluid in the tank, using the needle in place of a pen. I practiced for two months before I did it. My hand wasn’t in the tank, but the Witch and the broom needle were. The skywriting seemed to come out of the tail of the Witch’s broom. To give the writing the appearance of smoke that was drifting, I had a fifty-gallon drum of water feeding into the tank. I had tinted the water the same milky color as the liquid in the glass tank. The water current was a stream–like an air stream–blowing the letters apart.”

Originally the image above was going to read: “Surrender Dorothy or die WWW”. It was later edited to the two words “Surrender Dorothy”.

Wow! When I saw this movie as a kid (numerous times) the airplane sure looked like it was billowing smoke from its tail and that witch was scary!! check out the book

This is funny…

The driver in the image below tries to restrain the horse from licking itself. The filmmakers used a white horse and sponged it down with different colors of Jello. They had a hard time keeping the horse of a different color from trying to lick it off…
wizard of oz horse whitewizard of oz horse purple
The Wizard of Oz Trivia Test @ Wendy’s Wonderful Wizard of Oz

19 March 2008, jd2020 @ 1:01 pm

When the GeoEye-1 surveillance satellite comes online this spring, its advanced optics will produce more-detailed images than any commercial satellite, capturing objects as small as home plate on a baseball diamond and filling in the fuzzy spots on Google Earth. Equipped with the most advanced technology ever used in a commercial remote sensing system, GeoEye-1 will collect images with the ability to pinpoint an object’s position on the ground within nine feet.

Pop-Sci Photo by Kevin Hand (illustration)

Scheduled for launch by a Delta II rocket on 22 August 2008 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, the 4,400-pound GeoEye-1 will blast 425 miles into space traveling in a sun-synchronous orbit and able to adjust its orbital altitude by 60 miles, which it will need to do to maintain a consistent view of Earth: Atmospheric drag and pressure from solar winds will gradually push the satellite down. The satellite’s expected life is seven years.

Check out this very nice flash design

14 March 2008, jd2020 @ 4:36 pm


Scientists in charge of making U.S. dough are using technology in an attempt to create an “unfakeable” (for now) $100 bill…

Every single American bank note is printed at The Department of The Treasury Bureau of Engraving and Printing facilities, with ink and on paper each made separately, in only one factory in the world. And yet at any given time, there is at least $70 million worth of fake U.S. currency floating around, 75 percent of which is in $100 bills. In large part because of the advent of inexpensive scanners and printers, more and more fake bills are entering circulation: From 1997 to 2007, the amount of passed counterfeit bills nearly doubled, to $64.9 million. Professional fakers are making bills that are more convincing than ever. Take a look at the security flaws in the current $100 bills vs. the technology that will make the next $100 inimitable.

The New $5 Bill

new $5 bill
The new $5 bills, which entered circulation on March 13, 2008, are safer, smarter and more secure: safer because they’re harder to fake and easier to check; smarter to stay ahead of savvy counterfeiters; and more secure to protect the integrity of U.S. currency.

In order to stay ahead of counterfeiting, the United States government continues to redesign our paper money. The $5 bill will be followed by a new $100 bill. Redesigned $10, $20 and $50 bills are already in circulation.

Check out this very cool flash version of the new bills and their secrets here

11 March 2008, jd2020 @ 4:04 pm

water make upThe Vitamin D post brought this food facts table to mind! Good chart to print! Scroll to the bottom of the table to get some truth about water. Good info indeed!

11 March 2008, jd2020 @ 12:02 am

atmospheric chemistryCheck out the benefits of our Big Bad Light in the sky (coming from some 93 million miles away…

Vitamin D was added to milk more than 50 years ago to successfully combat the common childhood bone disease rickets. But recent research indicates D is important to almost all body tissues. We are forever finding reasons to not get outside, but the primary source of D is The Sun. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to increased risk of breast and prostate cancer, colon polyps, multiple sclerosis, Type 1 diabetes, muscle weakness — even depression and schizophrenia (insert my picture here).

The New England Journal of Medicine says adults and children need 800 to 1,000 IU (international unit) of vitamin D supplement daily if they’re not getting enough sun exposure. After the age of 70 the skin does not convert vitamin D effectively, so the needed supplemental amount would increase.

Vitamin D is produced when exposed skin has a photochemical reaction to ultraviolet light rays from the sun. Nearly all the vitamin D circulating in our bodies is made this way, with a typical white-skinned person in a bathing suit under a noonday summer sun in Canada producing about 10,000 IU in 15 to 20 minutes. Non-whites need about five times longer to make the same amount, because the melanin in their skin acts as a sunscreen against UVB rays. During the fall and winter, sunlight at Canadian latitudes is too weak to cause any vitamin D production.

Vitamin D synthesis in skin occurs only when the UV index is three or higher, roughly the period around noon from March to October in southern parts of the country. A rule of thumb is that if your shadow is longer than you are, the sunlight is not intense enough.

There are three sources of vitamin D: natural sunlight, fortification of dietary foods, particularly dairy products and some cereals and oily fish. I looked, but didn’t find any D benefits from beer

Some of the very few foods that contain vitamin D are: cod liver oil (1,300 IU per tablespoon); wild salmon (1,000 IU per serving); farmed salmon (250 IU); sardines (600 IU); fortified milk or orange juice (100 IU); egg yolk (25 IU); fresh shiitake mushrooms and some organ meats (traces in both). Most multivitamins contain 400 IU. Over-the-counter pills and drops contain up to 1,000 IU.

Good reference stuff:
National Institute of Health
Vitamin D Council
Vitamin D and Bones

9 March 2008, jd2020 @ 12:05 am

view large image 1920x1200Over the past seven years, NASA Sun-Earth Connection Education Forum has sponsored and coordinated education and public outreach events to highlight NASA Sun-Earth Connection research and discoveries. This year’s main event will be on March 20, 2008. Sun-Earth Day is comprised of a series of programs and events that occur throughout the year culminating with a celebration on or near the Spring Equinox. Various events will prepare the audiences to watch a total solar eclipse on August 1, 2008 via a live webcast from China.

Each year the Sun-Earth Day program wraps a fresh new thematic approach around NASAs Sun-Earth Connection science, missions and cutting edge research. This year’s(2008) theme is Space Weather Around the World

* #61: What causes and Auroral Storm?
* #60: Where does the Sun’s magnetic field come from?
* #59: Where did all the Neutrinos go?
* #58: Why is the Sun’s Corona Hot?

1. Solar flares can sometimes heat the solar surface to temperatures of 80 million F – far hotter that the sun’s core!
2. The fastest coronal mass ejection was recorded on August 4, 1972 and traveled from the sun to earth in 14.6 hours – a speed of nearly 10 million kilometers per hour!
more facts here

8 March 2008, jd2020 @ 12:36 am

(Tucson, Arizona) — After more than a decade of preparation, the world’s most powerful telescope is now looking skyward with both of its massive eyes wide open. The Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) partners in the U.S.A., Italy and Germany are pleased to announce that the LBT has successfully achieved first binocular light. With this latest milestone, the LBT will provide new and more powerful views of deep space, including potentially answering fundamental questions about the origins of the universe and mysterious worlds in other planetary systems.

Located on Mount Graham in southeastern Arizona, the $120 million LBT is the first of a new generation of extraordinarily large optical telescopes and it is breaking boundaries in astronomy and related fields. It uses two massive 8.4-meter (27.6 foot) diameter primary mirrors mounted side-by-side to produce the light gathering power equivalent to an 11.8-meter (39 foot) circular aperture. The mirrors which are lighter in weight than conventional solid-glass mirrors, due to their unique “honeycomb” structure, are now working in tandem and will be capable of operating as a single instrument. Ultimately, the interferometric combination of the light paths of the two primary mirrors will provide a resolution of a 22.8-meter (75 foot) telescope. With its capability, the LBT is the largest single telescope in the world.

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