Space and flight

For the first time, we may have just detected the a large object that has entered our solar system from interplanetary space: C/2017 U1 PanSTARRS. It’s a shame we don’t have a spacecraft ready to go get a closer look, or maybe even get a sample.

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There’s an engaging talk on YouTube from former SR-71 pilot Brian Shul, telling the story of his career as a military pilot and showing some of his photos of and from the world’s fastest plane. Next time I go to Washington D.C., Myshka and I will go check out the SR-71 on display at the […]

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After a 20-year mission, and to avoid any risk of contaminating Saturnian moons with microorganisms from Earth, the Cassini space probe was deliberately crashed into Saturn’s atmosphere today. The science it has returned has been stimulating and the imagery spectacular. The watery moon Enceladus now joins Europa among the solar system’s most intriguing life-compatible bodies.

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A surprising oversight in Timothy Mitchell’s generally-insightful Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil is how he gives relatively little consideration to static versus mobile forms of fossil fuel consumption. He strongly emphasizes the production and transportation logistics of coal versus oil, but gives little consideration to special needs for fuels with high […]

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An interesting genre! And you can own a gorgeous-looking replica for $100.

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NASA’s Juno Spacecraft, designed to study Jupiter’s magnetic field to help us better understand the planet and solar system, will be burning its main engine to circularize its orbit around the gas giant later today: At about 12:15 pm PDT today (3:15 p.m. EDT), mission controllers will transmit command product “ji4040” into deep space, to […]

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From a number of perspectives, I find YouTube videos which include demonstrations of Trident D5 missile launches from American Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines highly interesting: I find the first of the three clips (USS Nebraska) especially intriguing because of the highly stylized, almost theatrical language of the exchange between the bridge officers authenticating the emergency […]

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I find that my Prism Quantum two-line kite is too frustrating to fly in winds of less than 16 knots (kn). The ideal range is 16-25 kn, with the wind consistent in power and coming from a consistent direction. That’s a rare situation indeed in Toronto, where winds are almost never so strong and tend […]

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Since January 2010 I have avoided flying because of the excessive amount of carbon pollution it creates. This has meant avoiding conferences located beyond plausible Greyhound bus range. It’s heartening to see that some conference organizers are taking into account the climate impact of conferences based on in-person attendance and deploying alternatives: This is an […]

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The question of climate change and flying has arisen for me again, based on some questions asked by other people. While it has been extensively discussed on this site, the relevant posts are scattered and not easy for someone new to find. To remedy that – and to create a central thread for any future […]

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