Space and flight

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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


Every photo taken by the Apollo astronauts is now online. Mother Jones has picked out some favourites.


The Global Positioning System (GPS) is a constellation of twenty-one primary satellites, and three spares, in near-circular orbits 11,000 miles above the earth at an inclination of 55 degrees to its equator. While the satellites are best known for their role in allowing the precise location of individuals and objects, by 1995 they had been […]

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During the readout of Vela 6911, AFTEC personnel watched as a stylus drew a figure representing the variations in light intensity, as monitored by the two satellite bhangmeters. There was no data from a third optical sensor, whose mission was to provide the geographic origin of any noticeable flash of light, because it was out […]

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Thanks to the intervention of my friend Amanda, I spent the weekend at my friend Sabrina’s cottage on Paugh Lake, near Barry’s Bay, Ontario. I had high hopes for a clear view of the fading Perseid meteor shower on Friday and Saturday night. Friday night was overcast and raining, though it was still remarkable to […]


Compared with the basic two-line kite I was using before, the Prism Quantum certainly has substantially more power and fine control: I think it also provides enough traction to help with my chronic shoulder pain.

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