COLLECTIVE MADNESS


“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Lift-off for Nasa space telescope - captured by Deuce

Click the photo to enlarge.

A Nasa space telescope has launched successfully on a mission to explore the Universe with "gamma-ray glasses".

I was muttering to myself about not having any food service on US Air in first class. I mean why call it first class? I was not interested in their snack tray so I ordered a drink and started to play with my new Nikon lens.

The pilot announced that NASA launched a missile off the starboard side of the plane. I was already focused on some clouds and guess what, I caught it! I have monitored many missile launches in real time on radar but have never seen one in real time other than on a radar screen, and never an American launch. Damn, that felt good.  Nice trip, even without the lousy food.

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BBC

The Glast mission will shed light on some of the most violent events in the Universe, that release massive amounts of energy in the form of gamma-rays.
It will scan the sky for massive cosmic explosions, giant black holes that hurl matter across space, and dense neutron stars with powerful magnetic fields.
Glast blasted off from Florida on Wednesday atop a Delta II rocket.
The Delta II began its climb to orbit at 1605 GMT from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

"Glast soon will be telling scientists about many new objects to study, and this information will be available on the internet for the world to see," said Dr Steven Ritz, the chief scientist on the mission, who is from Nasa Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland.

Glast stands for the Gamma-ray Large Area Space Telescope, but Nasa is calling on the public to come up with a new name for the mission.

The $690m (£350m) space observatory will take high-resolution pictures of the gamma-ray sky.

These rays are the highest-energy form of light, which makes them ideal for exploring some of the most extreme environments in the cosmos.

These are places where nature harnesses energies far beyond anything possible on Earth.
They include supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies. These black holes produce powerful jets of matter, moving at close to the speed of light, which can travel vast distances across space.

THE GLAST MISSION

But despite the staggering scale and speed of these jets, astronomers haven't been able to answer the most basic questions about them, such as how matter is accelerated to such fabulous speeds.

Glast will also seek to investigate the mysterious cosmic explosions known as gamma-ray bursts (or GRBs).

These events release about the same amount of energy in one second as a star like the Sun will release in its 5-10 billion-year lifetime.

"We've only scratched the surface of the how and why of these gamma-ray phenomena," said Dave Thompson, a deputy project scientist who is also from Nasa Goddard.

"We have a lot to learn about how they work, and, more importantly, how these objects and phenomena affect the Universe. This is where Glast comes in."
The mission will also go in search of new physics, aiming to shed light on the nature of the dark matter which makes up some 22% of the Universe.

Glast represents a major step up in capability on previous gamma-ray telescopes and will cover an incredible range of light at the high energy limits of the electromagnetic spectrum.

The super-cosmos

"If Glast were a piano, it would have about 23 octaves," commented Dr Ritz.
"With such a great leap in capabilities, the most important things for us are the surprises."
The main instrument aboard the spacecraft is the the Large Area Telescope, or Lat.
Gamma-rays carry far to much energy to capture in the conventional way, so this is a telescope without lenses or mirrors.

Instead, the Lat uses silicon detectors and layers of metal foil to track the energetic radiation from outer space.

Once Glast reaches orbit, about 14 days will be spent checking out the spacecraft. In the third week after launch, the spacecraft's instruments will be turned on for tuning and calibration.
The mission is a collaboration between Nasa and the US Department of Energy, with important contributions from partners elsewhere in the US, in France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Sweden.


15 comments:

  1. Whit and I occasionally cross paths...How weird is that, that we both post a photo from a plane?

    ReplyDelete
  2. bob, those gamma ray bursters must be serious buiness, NASA's launching a telescope to monitor them.

    ReplyDelete
  3. A ten second GRB will deplete half of the Earth's ozone, which would, you know, suck. So it's important to study them to find out how they work so we can think of some feature of the capitalist free market system that must be curtailed to prevent them. All of NASA's experiments are very important. NASA launches space shuttle missions to study the sex lives of beetles in weightlessness too.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The most important thing a vehicle owner can do to enhance safety and fuel economy is to regularly check and maintain correct tire inflation pressure. Low tire pressure wastes fuel, causes tire overheating - leading to failure, and reduces wet weather traction.

    Tires should be checked when cold and one can find the recommended pressure on a sticker on the driver's side door or door pillar. Don't use the maximum pressure found on the tire as this won't be appropriate for your particular vehicle.

    Also, buy your own gauge rather than trusting the beat up one found at the filling station.


    Take Care of your Tires

    ReplyDelete
  5. The Federal Reserve said Wednesday that economic growth in the United States was "generally weak" in April and May as consumer spending slowed, while manufacturers in several regions passed on higher costs to their customers - indicating that rising energy and commodity prices were causing inflation pressures.

    ...

    The European Commission said Wednesday it had placed Britain under close budget scrutiny because its deficit was likely to breach EU rules. The commission forecasts that the budget shortfall will reach 3.3 percent of gross domestic product this year.

    ...

    The announcement came as Britain reported that unemployment rose in May, as weakening economic growth prompted companies to cut payrolls.


    Fed Report

    ReplyDelete
  6. Neat picture, deuce.

    A ten second GRB will deplete half of the Earth's ozone, which would, you know, suck.

    By the way, if I don't speak(write) with you again, it was a privilege knowing you all.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Bobal: By the way, if I don't speak(write) with you again, it was a privilege knowing you all.

    All mainstream scientists agree the Weaponization of Space promoted by the Outlaw Imperialist Bush Regime and objected to by our comrades-in-arms in the People's Republic of China and the New Union of Soviet Socialist Republics is very likely to cause in a nearby Gamma Ray Burst. We must sign the Hainan Accord which bans military spy satellites and anti-satellite missiles. The fate of the biosphere hangs in the balance.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Obama strategist David Axelrod repeated that argument in an interview Wednesday morning.

    “We honestly didn’t ask him for his mortgage statements of his financials and I don’t think anyone would expect us to,” he told MSNBC. “We can’t vet all the vetters.”

    McCain’s campaign went after Obama on Tuesday for being “in a state of denial” about Johnson’s role in the campaign and his past taking “sweetheart deals” from Countrywide.


    General Election Casualty

    ReplyDelete
  9. Obama strategist David Axelrod repeated that argument in an interview Wednesday morning.

    “We honestly didn’t ask him for his mortgage statements of his financials and I don’t think anyone would expect us to,” he told MSNBC. “We can’t vet all the vetters.”

    McCain’s campaign went after Obama on Tuesday for being “in a state of denial” about Johnson’s role in the campaign and his past taking “sweetheart deals” from Countrywide.


    General Election Casualty

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sam, I think the tires on my F-600 Truck are the original tires, circa 1960. The odometer says 42,800, and I think it's right, looking at the wear on the tires. They got the old style rims, that can blow your head off, if you're not careful, taking them on and off.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Those old "split rims" bob?

    While they are a tad dangerous, you can change a tire with a sledgehammer and a crowbar.

    A handy thing, in the middle of no where.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Yeah, the split rims. Never changed one, though I saw a vidio about how you got to be careful when inflating the tires. Seems if you don't get it right, it can be dangerous.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Obama strategist David Axelrod repeated that argument in an interview Wednesday morning.

    “We honestly didn’t ask him for his mortgage statements of his financials and I don’t think anyone would expect us to,” he told MSNBC. “We can’t vet all the vetters.”

    McCain’s campaign went after Obama on Tuesday for being “in a state of denial” about Johnson’s role in the campaign and his past taking “sweetheart deals” from Countrywide.


    General Election Casualty

    ReplyDelete
  14. Obama strategist David Axelrod repeated that argument in an interview Wednesday morning.

    “We honestly didn’t ask him for his mortgage statements of his financials and I don’t think anyone would expect us to,” he told MSNBC. “We can’t vet all the vetters.”

    McCain’s campaign went after Obama on Tuesday for being “in a state of denial” about Johnson’s role in the campaign and his past taking “sweetheart deals” from Countrywide.


    General Election Casualty

    ReplyDelete