Archive for February, 2009

LCROSS Article includes my Fuel Dump Image.

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

Back in January I mentioned that one of my images was going to be published online. The image originally appeared (not counting this blog) on SpaceWeather and will now be appearing in an Selenology Today article about the upcoming LCROSS mission to the moon. The image is on page 72 of Issue # 13. The reference is to opportunities to image the vehicle during its journey. Apparently there will be a fuel dump early in the mission, which is what my picture is of.
The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) will be launched with the upcoming Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) mission. The LRO will be sent to the moon with an Atlas V rocket and a Centaur booster upper stage called the Earth Departure Upper Stage (EDUS). The launch is currently scheduled for late April (2009). LCROSS itself is a small satellite which will remain attached to the EDUS and guide it to lunar impact. Just before impact, EDUS will separate, decelerate and image the impact of the spent booster. The objective is to image the ejecta from the collision and determine how much frozen water may be present in the polar craters.

If you’d like to know more, I recommend at least reading the introduction. As published in the magazine, the article is over 100 pages long and I haven’t taken the time to read the whole thing myself. The sections about the LCROSS mission itself (section 5, page 52) and the conclusion (section 9, page 102) are certainly worth your time even if you have only a casual interest in astronomy/space missions. Check out the animation links at the end of the article also.

Admittedly, this is a fairly obscure online journal, but it’s still neat to have captured an image worth using as a reference in an article like this. The lesson is: keep those eyes (and cameras) looking up, you never know what you might see.

Another hole in the wall.

Friday, February 27th, 2009

In the continuing saga of “What were they thinking when they did that?” we’ve discovered another interesting construction artifact in our house. Let’s back up a little.

A few days back K announced that she was fed up with the paint in the master bath and that it had to go. “I’m painting the bathroom!” she said with that just-dare-to-defy-me-this-fundamental-right tone.
“Ok” I said.[1]

So yesterday after work she informed me that my responsibilities in this effort were to:

  1. Remove the toilet tank so she could paint behind it, and
  2. Remove the mirror so she could paint the edges behind it.

No sweat. So this morning (as I decided to take a day off to spend with the fam), I quickly remove the toilet tank. [2]
Now time for the mirror…. well, I better remove the light fixture too, I think, otherwise what’s the point. It’s a box style with four individual protruding sconces. There are two screws on top which hold the front panel (and the lights) to the cheezy[3] sheet metal box mounted to the wall. K flips the breaker and I detach it… and the metal box for ultimate painting convenience.

Now for the mirror… it’s simply a rectangular piece of silvered glass with two metal supports on the bottom and two plastic supports on top. Turn the two plastic supports, tip the glass away from the wall and I’m golden. K helps spot me through the door as it’s surprisingly disorienting to be looking into a mirror as you maneuver through a confined space.

We walk back in the room and… there is another random hole in the wall behind the mirror. Wha?!


  1. It hasn’t been almost 12 years of marriage for nothing. []
  2. It is handily mounted with wing-nuts, brass and rubber washers as I refit hardware a year or so ago. []
  3. yes with a Z []

Photo contest winners…

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

In case you were curious, the zoo has the photo contest winners posted now. They’re sort-of ridiculously small, but at least you can get the idea of what the competition was.

I’m pretty happy with my pictures in comparison to the others. I feel like my work is in the same league as the other competitors. Some shots I like more than mine and find compelling, others… not so much.

Interesting ideas about Oil.

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

I’ve been reading back blog entries from Tesla Motors which are rife with pro-electric anti-internal combustion engine rhetoric. I find it rather reassuring that an honest to goodness real business enterprise is working on this. With any luck, they will continue to revolutionize the US auto industry.

Anyways, I just read an old post where their CEO, Martin Eberhard, commented on President Bush’s 2007 State of the Union address. He made two comments with regards to energy planning and cars which made me sit back and think for a while. You can read his post first if you wish, or just trust my interpretation. It’s ok, this post will still be here when you get back.

Caught up? Ok… here are the two “Hare-Brained Ideas”[1] that seem pretty reasonable to me.

  1. Allow CAFE standard credits to be traded on a market between car makers.
  2. Avoid exploiting US domestic oil resources specifically so we will still have them when the ‘foreign oil’ starts running out.


  1. His words, not mine. []

Please rise, Honorable Penguin Presiding!

Friday, February 20th, 2009

Well the verdict is in. My photo Penguin Flyby (below) won an Honorable Mention in the “Action Shot” category in the zoo’s photo contest. I received a nice printed certificate and two adult zoo admission coupons. We have a membership, so our first guests who want to go to the zoo with us are covered. According to the spokesperson, there were about 400 images submitted and 20 or so got some kind of recognition.


For your musical enjoyment

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Chris has started playing his trombone again. Nate finds it fascinating, and decided he needed to play “bombone” too.

Strong Museum of Play

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Actually that’s Strong National Museum of Play, but that just feels too wordy for a title. Anyhow, on the way back from Mike & Becki’s wedding, we stopped in Rochester to see what all the fuss was about.

Much fun was had by all and K got fair opportunity to be behind the camera for this one since I was too busy playing with all the toys.

Enjoy the photos in the gallery. Here are a few teasers.

IMG_9461 Apparently Nate is afraid of muppets.
Although to be fair, this was a green screen so I guess he’s afraid of empty space.
IMG_9470 Nate makes the stars light up.
IMG_9493 Nate and I visit 123 Sesame Street.

Wedding pics online.

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

Sorry for the delay, finally got the pics from Mike & Becki’s wedding online. Some good ones a few great ones. Take a look, they’re in the gallery.

IMG_9248 IMG_9275 IMG_9280
IMG_9299 IMG_9322 IMG_9311
IMG_9355 IMG_9362 IMG_9368

Science stimulus remains largely intact…

Sunday, February 8th, 2009

According to the mailing I get, the bill being presented to the Senate on Monday largely preserves the additional funding for science programs:

Agency Original Senate bill budget amt
Proposed cut this morning % prop cut Cut in final compromise % final cut Final compromise bill budget amt Science funding you preserved
NASA $1,502,000,000 $750,000,000 50 $200,000,000 13.31 $1,302,000,000 $550,000,000
NSF $1,402,000,000 $1,402,000,000 100 $200,000,000 14.26 $1,202,000,000 $1,202,000,000
NOAA $1,222,000,000 $427,000,000 34.94 $200,000,000 16.37 $1,022,000,000 $227,000,000
NIST $575,000,000 $218,000,000 37.91 $100,000,000 17.39 $475,000,000 $118,000,000
DOE enrgy effy & renewbl energy $2,648,000,000 $1,000,000,000 38 0 0 $2,648,000,000 $1,000,000,000
DOE offc of science $100,000,000 $100,000,000 100 $100,000,000 100 0 0
Totals $7,449,000,000 $3,897,000,000 52.32 $800,000,000 10.74 $6,649,000,000 $3,097,000,000

Thanks to Shawn Otto at ScienceDabate2008 for the update.

An open letter to the Senate…

Friday, February 6th, 2009

To the Honorable Charles E. Schumer, Honorable Kirsten E. Gillibrand and the rest of the U.S. Senate:

Certain science and technology funding cuts are being proposed by the effort led by Senators Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Susan Collins (R-ME).
As an engineer working in the communications and technology sector, I am a witness to the increasing difficulty to find skilled scientists and engineers. Our nation is slipping from its position as the pinnacle of innovation and technological achievement because of our failure to support fundamental scientific research. Institutions such as the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and others are critical to this investment. These organizations are in a position to immediately provide grants and other support to researchers who are ready to put that money to work in our economy.
The Department of Energy’s funding for energy efficiency, renewable energy and basic science research are also on the chopping block. These are exactly the technology areas which can provide economic and security benefits for years to come.

Please, assure that this stimulus package will remain an investment in America which will pay dividends into the future. Our children are counting on it and so are we.

The text of this message was submitted to Senator Schumer’s website. In addition, Senator Schumer’s Syracuse office was contacted by phone. Senator Gillibrand has not yet been reached. Her old offices have been turned over to the Clerk of the House of Representatives and her new office voice mail is full! Apparently, she hasn’t even gotten keys to her office yet!

Edit: For what it’s worth I wrote this before I saw the Bad Astronomer’s post, but check out his thoughts also.