Beware that rip

Since it’s still summer where I live and I just got back from a beach where this phenomenon is an ever present danger (depending on Oceanos’s mood of the day) a quick line on rips seemed appropriate. They can sweep you out to sea unawares, and if one panics and tries to swim against it rather than parallel to the beach to get out of it, one could end up in serious, even fatal trouble. These narrow currents flow out from the surf zone of sandy beaches, scouring the sea bed to make deeper calm looking hollows where they occur.

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Happy St. Patricks Day to all our fans!

From this image it is easy to see how we got the name “The Emerald Isle”- with most of the country covered in green vegetation, primarily grassland. If you are familiar with the Irish climate, you may be in awe at this image captured by NASA’s Terra Satellite. Yes, there is apparently nothing NASA cannot do; including getting a photo of Ireland without any cloud cover!! Given Ireland’s temperate climate and the influence of the Atlantic Ocean, Ireland rarely is cloud free. In fact, the sky is entirely cloudy more than 50% of the time, according to the Irish meteorological office- 99% of the time according to most Irish people.

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India sets new world record, launching 104 satellites at once.

Creating a new world record in the process, India successfully kicked off their 217 launch calendar February 14 by launching a Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle with 104 satellites. The rocket launched at 10:58pm EST from the Satish Dhawan Space Center.

Lofted into a sun-synchronous orbit by the rocket’s fourth stage, 101 cubesats accompanied three larger satellites on the mission. CartoSat-2D is the fourth in a series of high-resolution Earth-imaging satellites domestically designed by India. Less than ten seconds after CartoSat-2D was deployed, the INA-1A and 1B satellites were released. These two satellites are technology demonstrators for a new, smaller satellite bus that India hopes can attract universities and small businesses for space-based payloads.

Of the 101 cubesats deployed, 88 belonged to the Planet company, which - when combined with 100 identical satellites already in polar orbit- will photograph the entire surface of the Earth every day. Eight other cubesats belonged to Spire Global, and will measure atmospheric conditions and global shipping traffic. The remaining five are scientific and communication technology demonstrators

ISRO - the Indian Space Research organization - released a stunning video of the PSLV launch, the first time footage from onboard rocket cameras have been released. Key events in the rocket’s ascent can be seen, including the jettisoning of its six strap-on solid rocket motors, separation of its second and third stages, and jettisoning of the payload fairing. 



EchoStar 23 launches to orbit.

Following a flawless early morning countdown at Kennedy Space Center’s LC-39A, SpaceX launched the EchoStar 23 communications satellite into Geostationary Transfer Orbit. Liftoff occurred at 2am EDT.

Stage separation occurred at two minutes and 55 seconds into the flight, with payload fairing jettison 50 seconds later. Visible in launch footage for the first time, the fairing’s Reaction Control Trusters could be seen firing. Each half of the fairing have a spring-loaded push mechanism to separate the stages and RCS thrusters to clear the top from the rocket.

In order to successfully deliver the satellite to GTO, Falcon 9 had to use all of its first stage propellant, not leaving enough to complete the three burns necessary for a safe recovery. This will be Falcon 9′s final mission in ‘expendable’ configuration.

The 12,100 pound satellite was deployed from the rocket’s second stage at T+34 minutes completing today’s launch.

EchoStar 23 will be positioned over Brazil to provide Ku-band communications services to all South America.

P/C: SpaceX.

Equinox from space

March 20th was the Equinox, the day when the sun is directly above the equator and where the North and South Pole both receive equal amounts of sunlight. For the next 6 months the South Pole will be in shadow and the North Pole will receive sunlight.

The Japanese Himawari-8 weather satellite captured this gif/video view of the Earth moving into night over the Pacific Ocean yesterday; this is just about as closely balanced as the planet can get, with both poles receiving just about the same amount of light.


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Where is the cosmic microwave background?

“So the CMB isn’t the end of the Universe, but rather the limit of what we can see, both distance-wise (as far as we can go) and time-wise (as far back as we can go). Until we can directly detect the signatures of what was released earlier – the cosmic neutrino background, gravitational waves from inflation, etc. – the CMB will be our window into the earliest time we can observe: 380,000 years after the Big Bang.”

The farther away in space we look, the farther back in time we’re seeing. Light arriving from a star ten light years away is ten years old; light that took a billion-year journey from a distant galaxy is a billion years old. If we look out today at the most distant light we can see, we discover that it originates from the Big Bang itself: the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB. But this doesn’t mean the light has never interacted with anything since the birth of the observable Universe. In fact, many arose from matter/antimatter annihilations, all of them have scattered off of charged particles, and the CMB photons we detect today were all released when the Universe was a few hundred thousand years old. Because of the way the Big Bang works, the particles are literally everywhere, all at once, including right here.

Come get the full story on where the CMB actually is, and what it means when we state its age and distance!