Friday, August 30, 2013

Concorde nosecone

Will be on vacation for the next few days, few to no new posts during that time.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Special delivery - ICBM launched from an airplane in flight

Chernobyl's Elephant's Foot

See the previous post about this formation and corium in general.

Visit to the World's Fair of 2014 - By ISAAC ASIMOV

"The New York World's Fair of 1964 is dedicated to "Peace Through Understanding." Its glimpses of the world of tomorrow rule out thermonuclear warfare. And why not? If a thermonuclear war takes place, the future will not be worth discussing. So let the missiles slumber eternally on their pads and let us observe what may come in the nonatomized world of the future..."

Posted largely without comment, except to say that most predictions like this tend to be wrong.  They can be valuable both as a way to understand the hopes and dreams of scientists and engineers of the time, as well as a way to reflect on our progress or lack of progress in certain areas.  Manned space exploration being the most depressing shortfall in this case, and electronics and computers in particular perhaps our best success.  Asimov lived long enough, until 1992, to get a feel for how the World would be in 2014.  He saw the neglect and rejection of nuclear power and the birth of personal computers and cell phones.  He also saw the nation turn away from manned space exploration in the early 1970's.

Read more here.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

250kg fireworks shell at Kumano City’s floating firework finale

Raptor and F-15 and two flares

Underground Nuclear Testing - Hybla Fair shot - Operation Bedrock

A windsurfing rover on Venus?

A windsailing rover could use the high speeds and hot temperatures of Venus to a robotic explorer’s advantage, according to an idea funded by NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts program.

The rover would not only be able to move around Venus, but would also have electronics inside able to withstand the temperatures of 450 degrees Celsius (840 degrees Fahrenheit).

The rover, which is nicknamed Zephyr, would spend most of its time on Venus doing analysis on the ground. Whenever the science team wants to move some distance, however, it would deploy a sail that could bring it across the surface. One vision sees it sailing for about 15 minutes a day for about a month.

More at Universe Today.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Project West Ford

"Project West Ford (also known as Westford Needles and Project Needles) was a test carried out by Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Lincoln Laboratory on behalf of the United States Military in 1961 and 1963 to create an artificial ionosphere above the Earth. This was done to solve a major weakness that had been identified in US military communications.

At the height of the Cold War, all international communications were either sent through undersea cables or bounced off the natural ionosphere. The United States Military was concerned that the Soviets might cut those cables, forcing the unpredictable ionosphere to be the only means of communication with overseas forces. So, a ring of 480,000,000 copper dipole antennas (1.78cm long needles, 25.4μm [1961] / 17.8μm [1963] in diameter was placed in orbit to facilitate global radio communication. The length was chosen because it was half the wavelength of the 8 GHz signal used in the study. The dipoles collectively provided passive support to Project West Ford's parabolic dish (located in the town of Westford) to communicate with distant sites.

After a failed first attempt launched on October 21, 1961 (the needles failed to disperse), the project was eventually successful with the May 9, 1963 launch, with radio transmissions carried by the man-made ring. However, the technology was ultimately shelved, partially due to the development of the modern communications satellite and partially due to protests from other scientists. The needles were placed in medium Earth orbit between 3,500 and 3,800 kilometres (2,200 and 2,400 mi) high at 96 and 87 degree inclinations and contributed to Earth's orbital debris.

British radio astronomers, together with optical astronomers and the Royal Astronomical Society, protested this action. The Soviet newspaper Pravda also joined the protests under the headline "U.S.A. Dirties Space". The issue was raised in the United Nations where then US Ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson defended the project. Stevenson studied the published journal articles on Project West Ford. Using what he learned on the subject and citing the articles he had read, he successfully allayed the fears exhibited by the vast majority of UN ambassadors from other countries. He and the articles explained that sunlight pressure would cause the dipoles to only remain in orbit for a short period of approximately three years. The international protest ultimately resulted in a consultation provision included in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty." - Wiki

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

High-speed tests demonstrate space penetrator concept

These videos show payloads launched to nearly the speed of sound and then collided with sand or ice, to test an impact method on planets and moons. There is no way to survive a direct impact at terminal velocity on a moon like Europa, without any atmosphere. Instead, rocket deceleration is the likely first choice, followed by a modest impact like this to achieve modest penetration. Why the goofy looking bullet shape? Well firstly, this is a very preliminary test. Secondly, that blunted bullet shape is typical of large armor penetrating rounds; rounds that expect to contain significant payload, explosives or in this case, science equipment.  However, there are some major problems with this test, mostly the fact that the impact device pitched nose up in both tests by about 45 degrees.  That would tend to reduce the penetration depth significantly.  In any event, just an early test that could go in promising directions.

19 August 2013 07:55

Tests are being carried out under a technology development programme for planetary penetrators to assess the feasibility of delivering instrument packages to the subsurface of a planet or icy satellite at high speed.

Traditionally, rovers or landers are delivered to the surface of a planet or moon, where a slow, careful descent is required, and where drilling or digging into the subsurface requires additional payload. But engineers are looking at an alternative way to access the subsurface.

Planetary penetrators delivered directly into the top 3 metres of the surface of a planet or moon offers such an alternative. At around 20 kilograms each, a suite of penetrators with identical payloads could be deployed across a wide surface area to yield key information about the body's interior.

To test the feasibility of such a mission payload, a penetrator study is being carried out as part of ESA's Core Technology Programme for Cosmic Vision, under the supervision of the Future Missions Preparation Office. Two high-speed impact tests were carried out at the rocket sled test facility at the Military of Defence Pendine site in Wales, United Kingdom in July, to test the integrity of the penetrator shell. Astrium UK is leading the high-speed impact study, with additional support from the Mullard Space Science Laboratory (MSSL), Qinetiq and Rapid Space Technologies.

Read more here.

Nuclear thermal engine test

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What does this sign mean?

Post a comment if you can explain what this sign means. 
(This doubles as a way to see if anyone actually reads this blog anymore, or that is to say, any humans.)

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Nuclear cask endurance tests

Five men at ground zero

These men are standing directly under (but several miles under) a relatively small air burst from a Genie air to air missile.  Even at this range, the 2 kt device causes an impressive flash and moments later, a powerful blast.  I have uploaded a large number of nuclear test videos recently, and will be posting this kind of content for the next few days.
More images:

Friday, August 16, 2013

A decade of Australian amateur rocketry - 1986 - 1996

Skip to 2:00 for the actual amateur rocketry, the first 2 min. are a history of professional rocketry.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Falcon 9 Test Rig Completed Divert Test

On August 13th, the Falcon 9 test rig (code name Grasshopper) completed a divert test, flying to a 250m altitude with a 100m lateral maneuver before returning to the center of the pad. The test demonstrated the vehicle's ability to perform more aggressive steering maneuvers than have been attempted in previous flights.

Grasshopper is taller than a ten story building, which makes the control problem particularly challenging. Diverts like this are an important part of the trajectory in order to land the rocket precisely back at the launch site after reentering from space at hypersonic velocity.

There is something extremely unsettling about watching a giant rocket lift off, hover, float around a while, and then slowly go back down. It is actually a bit terrifying, perhaps because one associates it with so many other large rockets that universally exploded after such a move?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New radio pulsar explores feeding habits of the Milky Way’s massive black hole

A team of astronomers, including Heino Falcke (Radboud University Nijmegen/ ASTRON) and Adam Deller (ASTRON), has discovered radio pulses from a neutron star practically next door to the supermassive black hole which resides at the centre of the Milky Way. Radio ‘pulsars’ are rapidly spinning neutron stars, ubiquitous in the rest of the Milky Way but until now perplexingly unseen in the Galactic Centre region. By studying the pulsar emission, the team was able to show that the matter being gobbled by the supermassive black hole is pervaded by a magnetic field strong enough to regulate the black hole’s feeding habits and to explain its radio and X-ray glow. The results will be published in Nature on 14 August (R.P. Eatough et al.). The discovery of a pulsar closely orbiting the candidate supermassive black hole at the centre of the Milky Way (called Sagittarius A*, or Sgr A* in short) has been one of the main aims of pulsar astronomers for the last 20 years. Pulsars act as extremely precise cosmic clocks, and a pulsar near Sgr A* could be used to measure the properties of space and time in strong gravitational fields, and to see if Einstein’s theory of General Relativity could hold up to the strictest tests.

The young ultramagnetic pulsar PSR J1745-2900 was discovered when the Swift satellite observed a strong X-ray flash originating very close to the centre of the Milky Way - likely less than 1 light year from Sgr A* - and the subsequent observations showing a rotation period of 3.76 seconds by NASA’s NuSTAR telescope. With the 100m-telescope in Effelsberg near Bonn, Germany, the team discovered radio pulses from the same region with the same period. Additional observations were made in parallel and thereafter with the Jodrell Bank, Nancay and Very Large Array radio telescopes worldwide, while other groups studied PSR J1745-2900 using the ATCA, Parkes and Green Bank telescopes; the ATCA results appear in this week’s journal of MNRAS (Shannon & Johnston). Sgr A* is slowly swallowing the hot, ionized gas which surrounds it – a process called accretion. The accreted gas is also threaded by magnetic fields, which are dragged along with the gas and interact with the accretion process in a complicated fashion, regulating the amount of material accreted and potentially launching powerful plasma jets. Until now, the strength of these fields was very uncertain, hampering efforts to understand the accretion process.

The radio pulses from PSR J1745-2900 are strongly polarized; much of the emitted radiation oscillates in a preferred plane. However, as the radiation traverses the magnetized material surrounding Sgr A*, the ‘Faraday effect’ changes the plane of polarization in a manner dependent on the wavelength of the radiation and the strength of the magnetic field. By observing PSR J1745-2900, the team were able to characterize the strength of the magnetic field in the immediate vicinity of Sgr A*. ‘It is amazing how much information we can extract from this single object’, said Deller. Astronomers predict that there should be thousands of pulsars around the centre of the Milky Way. Despite that, PSR J1745-2900 is the first pulsar discovered there. ‘Astronomers have searched for decades for a pulsar around the central black hole in our galaxy, without success. This discovery is an enormous breakthrough, but it remains a mystery why it has taken so long to find a pulsar there’, says Falcke.

This pulsar is too magnetically active and just a little too far away from the black hole to measure the subtle effects of Einstein’s General Relativity theory with great accuracy. However, with old pulsars, that are closer to the black hole and have a less variable rotation period, the theory can be tested. ‘If there is a young pulsar, there should also be many older ones; we just have to find them’, agrees M. Kramer, director at the Max Planck Institute in Bonn which operates the Effelsberg telescope. Additional high angular resolution follow-up observations of PSR J1745-2900 are now being undertaken to map its orbit around the super massive black hole. From this, scientists can determine the origin of the pulsar and, potentially, refine the estimate of the mass of the black hole.

 For more information, please contact: Prof. dr. Heino Falcke E-mail: Phone: +31 (0)24 365 2020 Mob: +49 151 2304 0365 Secr: +31 (0)24 36 52804 Dr. Adam Deller E-mail: Phone: +31 (0)521 595 785

Article: A strong magnetic field around the supermassive black hole at the center of the Galaxy, R.P. Eatough, H. Falcke, R. Karuppusamy, K. J. Lee, D. J. Champion, E. F. Keane, G. Desvignes, D. H. F. M. Schnitzeler, L. G. Spitler, M. Kramer, B. Klein, C. Bassa, G. C. Bower, A. Brunthaler, I. Cognard, A. T. Deller, P. B. Demorest, P. C. C. Freire, A. Kraus, A. G. Lyne, A. Noutsos, B. Stappers & N.Wex, Nature, 14 augustus 2013.

Tiny ant works hard for a meal

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Rocket Canoe

How is it possible to still find crazy rocket projects like this on the Internet after all these years? Apparently this was my first time ever Googling "rocket canoe."