Jan 14, 2011

Voyage of Hayabusa Part 1

M-V rocket
You might have heard about hayabusa in the States. It was a Japanese mission which objective was to land on an asteroid called "Itokawa"and return a sample of the asteroid back to Earth.
This mission was launched on 2003 by a tiny rocket called M-V and returned last year.
I didn't know about mission till last year, when the media started to release news that hayabusa was close to returning.
There have been a lot of rainy days during the mission, which is so many that I won't be able to talk about all of them here. To list some of them,

  • a solar flare(an explosion in the sun's atmosphere) damaged the solar panels
  • a probe called MINERVA failed to deattach
  • failed to do the sample collecting as according to plan
  • the fuel leaked
  • ion engine
  • 3 out of 4 engines failed
  • couldn't communicate for a while
Hayabusa was having a newly developed energy-efficient ion engine on board, which was then sort of still in its testing period. Though its output isn't so big, it could be used continuously, so as a result can get to faster speeds than the usual boosters when doing a long-term mission.
The return of Hayabusa was really endangered because of these problems, but the engineers tackled them one by one, and it got on the trajectory to get back to Earth. Still, it was a big question if the vital component, the dust sample from Itokawa was in the spacecraft.
I'll leave it here for now, and I'll write more about it tomorrow or later.

Have you ever used a five-finger gesture an iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad?

I guess for most of you the answer is no, no, and no. Forget about the iPod nano, you'll have your fingers all tangled up 'cause it's way too small.
Well, I asked this question because that might be what you'll be doing soon with your iOS device. The yet-to-be-released-to-consumers-but-already-released-to-developers iOS4.3 contains multi-touch gestures like the ones shown in the video here. It looks pretty cool, but sort of loses the "simplicity" of the UI, because just pressing the home button to get back is easier than doing a gesture that requires all your fingers on your hand. Plus, you obviously can't do this when your other hand isn't free. So don't expect the next iOS models to not have a home button.
I think iOS4.2 was a bit buggy, so I hope this version of iOS will reduce a lot of them.

P.S. I tried the five-hand gesture on my itouch, but it feels unnatural and clumsy. I'll probably stick to using the home button when I upgrade to 4.3. 

Jan 12, 2011

Sputnik 1

The Sputnik 1, as most of you know, was the world's first man-made satellite, launched by Russia.(it was the USSR then) This created the so-called "Sputnik Shock", and began the space race between the US and the Soviets.
Wow, it's hard to imagine a time before Sputnik. No pics of the Earth itself, no knowledge about Earth's atmosphere, no space debris...
So, some basic facts about this milestone in space exploration. It launched in October 4th, 1957. It was launched by a 98 feet rocket called the "Sputnik rocket". It had a mission duration of 3 months, and it made 1440 orbits of the Earth until it burned up in the Earth's atmosphere on January 4th of 1958. It was 184.3 lbs heavy.
What else did this satellite do, apart from beginning the start of the space race? Well, it:

  • helped identify Earth's upper atmosphere's density.
  • provided data on radio-signal distribution in the ionosphere(a part of the atmosphere-here's the link to the Wiki page)
meteorite detection by measuring the temperature in the satellite when one of them punctured the pressurized nitrogen-filled body of the craft.
So, it turns out, it did pretty cool things apart from being the world's first satellite.

Jan 9, 2011

That's the Second Time, Apple! (first time: iPhone 4)

Apple has leaked its product again. Well, strictly speaking, this is a mock-up of the next iPad, but still something Apple doesn't want to be leaked nonetheless. iLounge says they found it at the Consumer Electronics Show, but Apple isn't in the show(they always skip it). Still, the thing seems real enough.
So this is the next-gen iPad!
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Spoiler Alert! Scroll down at your own risk!























VOILA!

Looks a lot like the new iPod touch, with its slim design. But isn't this too thin?
Someone could put it in a bag, accidentally sit on it on the train, and" Crack!"
"Hey, dude, what was that?"
"Um... I think it's my iPad..."
Anyway, I'm sure Apple has thought of "anti-cracking" measures, and I think this is gonna be a big hit.