Mar 19, 2011

Mercury and Messenger

I was planning to write Mercury a week before, but there was the earthquake and so I'm writing this now. Turns out, it's the perfect timing! Go figure.
Messenger spacecraft orbiting MercuryWhy the timing's perfect is that this spacecraft called "Messenger" just went into a oval orbit around the planet a few days ago.

Oh, and the interesting fact is that "Messenger" stands for "MErcury Surface, Space ENviroment, GEochemistry and Ranging". Folks at NASA, you don't have to spend days just to come up with a good acronym!!

The graph below's from Wiki, and I don't really comprehend the jumble of trajectories so let's just focus on the image below that.
Turns out, Messenger didn't just go to Mercury, it also did a flyby of Venus! Looks like it did 1 flyby of our planet, 2 flybys of Venus and 3 of Mercury and then finally got into a orbit around Mercury. Why did they do this?
It's probably because, 
to go to Mars or some planet with a thick atmosphere, we can use a technique called "aerobraking" to slow down. It uses the friction of the atmosphere to brake, and it's useful because once you use this, you don't need the fuel to slow down.
But Mercury doesn't have a thick atmosphere! So, the guys at NASA used "gravity assist". This is a bit trickier than aerobraking, so let's leave it at "gravity assist uses gravity to change the path and speed of a spacecraft". 

And so, that's why they did flybys so many times, to gradually brake down.

The departure of Earth is beautiful. Just take a look!

And, I realized that this blog post's been invaded by Messenger, no mention of the planet. So I'll write about Mercury on the next article, which will probably be tomorrow.

Mar 18, 2011

The Orbiter Vehicle of the Space Shuttle

There are 6 orbiters in all;
Atlantis,. Challenger, Columbia, Discovery, Endeavour and Enterprise.

Not many people don't know about Enterprise, and that's probably because it was made as a test vehicle to test flights and landings, and so it didn't have onboard engines.

The pressurized cabin(where there's air to breathe) on the space shuttle is made of 3 parts.

Flight deck
The shuttle's commander and co-pilot sits here, along with two mission specialists in the back.
The airlock on the ISS
It's located below the flight deck, and there are 3 more seats here, for other crew members. Also, the galley, toilet, sleep locations, storage lockers, the door to get in and out of the shuttle, and the airlock. The airlock is used in spacewalks, because, with the airlock, they won't have to depressurize the whole cabin.
Utility area

Quiz! Where do space shuttle names come from?
When you enter the from and click(or tap) submit, your email app should pop up so just send it.
I'll list who got the answers right soon. Valid till Mar. 20th!
And a hint: Recall this movie;

Where are you from?

North America

South America






somewhere else in the Solar System

somewhere else in the Milky Way

none of the above

Your nickname:

Mar 17, 2011

The Space Shuttle

When people think about the space shuttle, I think they'll get a mental image of this photo below;

But, actually this is only one out of 3 major parts of the shuttle. This is the space shuttle;
The big orange tanks are called ET (which doesn't stand for extra-terrestrial, it stands for "external tank"), the 2 white boosters at either side are called SRBs (solid rocket boosters), and, finally, the orbiter vehicle.
space shuttle external tank fallingThe ET feeds fuel to the space shuttle main engines, which are the 3 boosters on the orbiter. It's jettisoned after the main engine cutoff, and here you can see how it looks like. Looks like a blimp or something.. Except that it's falling down at a great speed. It's not reusable.
The SRBs are, on the other hand, reusable. They fall down into the ocean and... well, watch this vid to get an idea. It's beautiful, the fall to Earth. You should watch it from around 2:00.
And, last, there is the orbiter. But, I hate to say this but I ran out of time to use my PC, so I should probably leave it there for now.
I'll write about the orbiter on the next article.

HTML- now my favorite pasttime

I think I'm hooked to HTML.
HTML, which stands for HyperText Markup Language, is the predominant markup language for web pages. HTML is the basic building-blocks of webpages.(from Wikipedia)

It's the basic language for websites. There is another language, Flash(you know, the one that Apple hates), which is used in some of the major company's websites. I found a site where they show some good Flash sites here(and btw you can't see them from iPhones, Apple doesn't like people watching Flash for some reason).

I actually wrote the HTML code for the survey form you should see on the right, and the label buttons at the top. I think it's pretty good, what do you think?(oh and you won't be able to see them on mobile devices like iPhone)

Mar 16, 2011

A Summary of Photos I Took of the Earthquake in Japan

All of them are the ones I took. 

Space Shuttle Worker Falls off, Dies

space shuttle Endeavour on launch pad where worker died
My first post about space after the quake. But, this is...
Another tragedy. A worker working on the next-to-launch space shuttle  Endeavour fell off the Launch Pad 39A. His name was James Vanover.
There have been 2 accidents like this resulting in a death of a worker, once before the first launch of the Space Shuttle Columbia.

If this will delay the launch of Endeavour, I don't know.

Endeavour is one of the only 2 remaining shuttles in operation.
Endeavour sts-134 mission patch
Patch for this mission

space shuttle endeavour in orbit beautiful

Mar 15, 2011

Oh No! Radiation in Tokyo!!??

Breaking News!!
Again, this is about the nuclear power plant in Fukushima.
This might get serious.

It's been reported that there are 20 times the level of radiation than normal in Tokyo, at about 10 am.
On the map, Fukushima is the big prefecture to the east of Niigata.
um... it should have no effects to health, but still everyone's worried.

Mar 14, 2011

Twitter rules learnt from the earthquake in Japan

Many Japanese people used Twitter to let people know that they were all right after the earthquake.

The unofficial (parody) account of Sazae-san retweeted tweets of missing people and tips to survive without electricity and stuff. My friends did, too. And some other people tried to gain attention by tweeting fake info about blackouts, gas, water, etc.
But, even though these things might be inevitable, we should follow a few rules(more like manners) when we tweet. This disaster in Japan let us learn a lot about those things.

  • The most important thing is to not trust tweets that aren't from official accounts(these have checkmarks on their profile). You wouldn't trust it if some stranger told you that - say- Facebook was gonna end tomorrow, right?(and the Facebook thing's just an example, it's not true)
  • If you can trust the person, and you want everyone to know about, then you can retweet. 
  • Wait! Are you using the unofficial retweet system?
    Unofficial ones are the ones that say "RT @(account name) (the tweet)". Some people use it. But Don'tuse the unofficial retweet. Why? There are many reasons.
    One being, when a tweet had a wrong piece of info in it, the tweeter would erase it, right? Problem solved. But, if someone uses the unofficial retweet, the tweet won't be gone! So the wrong info starts to go around the web. And what's worse is that the unofficial retweeter is to blame. You might feel the guilt
    So don't. 
To summarize,

don't trust tweeters that are strangers. Use the official retweet.

Today's earthquake photos
cars in line for a gas station- we might not get resupplied for a while, so they're frantic

More cars in line for gas

There were 14 cars in all when I took this photo.

Bad News- no power

Tokyo Electricity announced that they'll do planned blackouts because we don't have enough electricity.
The nuclear power plant in Fukushima broke(it's actually more serious than that, see here) and we don't have enough energy. So we're saving it by, well, the usual turn-off-the-lights activity, like this.
But that wasn't enough, so we're having blackouts that are already planned ahead.
So, getting ready for it.

Mar 13, 2011

Earthquake Coverage- what's going on in the city

Japan earthquake people buying batteries
people buying batteries and stuff
ヤマダ電機 テレビが付いていない tvs turned off
The latest trend- tvs with blank screens!
crack on the street by the earthquake in Japan
Small crack on the street
It's been a few days after the earthquake that hit the northern part of Japan, and most of the damage in Tokyo was fixed. (or so I thought.)
Well, it's my birthday today!!! I wonder If how much I should celebrate, with all the victims of the quake and tsunami. I might do it belated.

Today I went out to Shinjuku(southern part of Tokyo) with my family. We first went to Yamada Electronics( sort of like Best Buy) and the first thing I realized was, "isn't it a bit too quiet here?" There were many people there, so I didn't know why I felt so. Then, when I went to the tv section it hit. All the tv screens were turned off! It's because the nuclear power plant that broke down and we don't have enough electricity. There might be a blackout sometime soon. Some birthday. Anyway, that's why they were turned off, to save electricity. The weird thing about this save-energy-thing is that it's not for the environment, it's for ourselves. Maybe that's why everyone's so fussed up about it.
We then went to Uni Qlo, the clothes store. Their warehouse is near the place where the earthquake hit, so the guy in the store was saying that they might run out of clothes soon. They were saving energy too, by closing the store early at 6 pm. 

Bonus pic- ammonite embedded in a department store's banister.
I'm thinking to do "special editions"about the earthquake in Japan for a few more days. Diane Sawyer from ABC arrived at Japan a few hours ago, and I'm sure she's gonna report from Japan on the next world news.