Pretty with pink

It’s a bit early for Spring but these pretty flowers are starting to bloom.

Definitely a wintry day here in Israel

Today was very much a wintry day here in Israel. It was freezing cold, and rained for most of the day. Thankfully I work from home!

I still prefer this weather to the Israeli Summer!

Thunderstorms and why I’m so glad I work from home

Rain drops on a window

There are many reasons why I’m glad I can work from home. Rainy, Winter days are definitely one of those reasons. Today is pretty cold (for Israel at any rate), and we have rain forecast for the whole day. We’ve had a small downpour already this morning:

A hailstorm arrived as our kids were about to walk to school. We waited a few minutes, and I took them out when the rain seemed to ease, somewhat. I returned home with pretty soaked jeans, so thank goodness for tumble dryers!

unsplash-logoFeatured image by Joy Stamp

Grainy Moon photos were a ruse!

First View of Earth from Moon

Those grainy Moon photos the public saw back in the early days of NASA’s Moon missions were a ruse!

No, not that ruse. Humans really went to the Moon. The ruse is that NASA actually captured much higher resolution images, but didn’t disclose them publicly because they didn’t want the Soviets to know how good their imaging technology was at the time.

According to World of Indie

Fifty years ago, 5 unmanned lunar orbiters circled the moon, taking extremely high resolution photos of the surface. They were trying to find the perfect landing site for the Apollo missions. They would be good enough to blow up to 40 x 54ft images that the astronauts would walk across looking for the great spot. After their use, the images were locked away from the public until after the bulk of the moon landings, as at the time they would have revealed the superior technology of the USA’s spy satellite cameras, which the orbiters cameras were designed from. The main worry was the USSR gaining valuable information about landing sites that the US wanted to use. In 1971 many of the images were released, but nowhere near to their potential quality, and mainly to an academic audience as public interest in the moon had waned. Up until 2008 most of the reported images from the project were the 1966 versions that were grainy and lower quality.

McMoon: How the Earliest Images of the Moon Were so Much Better than we Realised

Instead, they were able to capture pretty high resolution images, like this one:

An Earthrise over the moon’s horizon, taken by Lunar Orbiter 1 on August 24th 1966. Credit NASA/LOIRP (via World of Indie)

The story of how this was done, and the later effort to recover these images from storage, is fascinating:

It involves setting up shop in an abandoned McDonalds, and using a variety of old, and new tools to digitise this incredible archive.

You can find the catalogue here: Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project online data volumes (here’s a direct link to the .png collection). The images are pretty big!

Of course we also have some pretty impressive, high resolution imagery from more recent Lunar missions such as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, too:

Via Kottke.org

Voyager 2 enters interstellar space and all I can think about are Klingons

Voyager 1 space craft

Last week we learned that Voyager 2 had followed in its sibling’s metaphorical footsteps, and entered interstellar space. According to Ars Technica:

On Monday, NASA announced that one of its longest-running experiments has started a new phase. Five years after Voyager 1 reached interstellar space, its sibling, Voyager 2, has joined it there. While the Oort Cloud of icy bodies extends well beyond the probes’ current locations, they’ve gone past the point where the charged particles of the solar wind dominate space. Instead, their current environment is dominated by cosmic rays ejected by other stars.

Ars Technica

When I read this news, I immediately thought about a scene in Star Trek V: The Final Frontier*, in which a Klingon Bird of Prey de-cloaks, and destroys one of the Voyager probes:

*Thanks to Ken Gagne for reminding me which movie this was!

If you’re not familiar with the Voyager probes, definitely take a look at NASA’s mini-site with information, and multimedia about these two historic probes, and trailblazers.

These infographics, alone, are awesome!

My Saturday afternoon hike up Givat HaTitora in photos

My blood glucose has been really high lately, so I’ve made an effort to get as much exercise as I can. That’s mostly been going for longer walks, and getting my heart rate up.

I decided to go for a hike up Givat HaTitoria this afternoon as an alternative to parking off in front of the TV for the afternoon.

The hill is an archaelogical site, and recently renovated tourist area that’s also pretty popular with Modiin’s residents. There’s a path around the top of the hill, with spectacular views of the city, and the area around it.

I walked past one of the city’s new water features, that was pretty spectacular in the late afternoon light. I had some fun messing around with shutter speed, and perspectives.

It was a nice way to spend a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

The sound of wind on Mars

NASA InSight on Mars

NASA’s InSight probe has heard the sound of wind on Mars. Just think about that for a moment: the sound of wind on Mars!

Listen to Martian wind blow across NASA’s InSight lander. The spacecraft’s seismometer and air pressure sensor picked up vibrations from 10-15 mph (16-24 kph) winds as they blew across Mars’ Elysium Planitia on Dec. 1, 2018.

I played this for our kids this morning. Our son seemed to be impressed, although our daughter’s response was something along the lines of: “Meh, it sounds like wind … 🙄”. Kids!

If you’re curious about the InSight mission, the Oatmeal has a terrific explainer of the InSight mission that may work well for kids too:

The Oatmeal explainer of the NASA InSight mission

You can also find loads of images, and other information about the mission on NASA’s InSight homepage. NASA makes so much content available about their missions, they’re one of the reasons the Internet is so amazing!

Another great resource is the mission’s Twitter profile:

How Humans first walked on the Moon in Apollo 11

Aldrin Looks Back at Tranquility Base during the Apollo 11 mission

Vox has a terrific video that explains how the Apollo 11 mission worked, and how the astronauts that took part in the mission made their way to the Moon and back.

If you’re into old footage of historical events like this, also be sure to check out the CBS coverage of the lunar landing (also courtesy of NASA):