It’s a magic time of the year. No, not the silly holiday stuff. We’re talking about when the orbit of Mars brings it practically within spittin’ distance of Earth. So if you’re going to Mars, November was the month to do it. It just so happens that two missions were planned – Phobos-Grunt and Mars Science Laboratory (MSL).
But as Top Men have mentioned before, getting to Mars is tough. Russia’s (and China’s) Phobos-Grunt mission has (so far) not made it out of low earth orbit, and within a couple months the 13 metric ton craft (including 7.5 metric tons of hydrazine fuel) will fall not-so-gracefully back to earth. (Top Women have suggested that a conspiracy version of this story would make a thrilling novel.)
NASA’s MSL mission has had better luck so far. MSL (and the Curiosity Rover) successfully left Earth orbit and is on the way to an August arrival on Mars. Curiosity is a huge, plutonium powered rover – much larger than any of the previous rovers. And it’s packing HD video as well as some brand-spanking new laboratory devices to continue the search for life on Mars. Oh, and the landing promises to be pretty amazing, too.
Top Men will keep you updated. Go back to your drivel.
Here is an 11 minute HD animation of the MSL mission.
Here is an 11 minute animation of the Phobos-Grunt mission.
Topmen are easily fascinated. (Perhaps that’s why Wohba isn’t updated these days.)
Take, for example, the boundary between Earth’s gaseous and liquid components – the line between air and water. It’s an amazingly distinct border between worlds that humans actually love to recreate around – surfing, swimming, boating, snorkeling, wake boarding, cliff diving, deadliest catching, etc. But the gaseous layer and liquid layer have dramatic effects on each other that result in spectacular phenomena on our side of the fence – clouds being perhaps the most taken for granted.
But there are more exotic border breaches as well, and one particular case is especially interesting – brinicles. Brinicles occur when the temperature in the air is amazingly cold, and the currents in the water are amazingly calm. Extremely cold, dense brine sinks downward from the surface, freezing the relatively fresh seawater around it – resulting in an underwater icicle that (like most slow forming phenomena) looks even better when speeded up.
Some crazy BBC divers/cameramen have done just that…
Okay, so Wohba at least has a heartbeat… barely. We sure hope to pick things up again in the near future. As a sign of life Top Men will celebrate this years Tribute To Corn. (Can’t believe we missed a year – we’ll have to get to last years at some point in the future.)
Top Men (and Top Women) are not fans of plastic – well, except for its remarkable ability to make everyday life easier, less costly, and more convenient. It’s just those icky (technical term) side-effects (proven, and not yet proven) that give us reason to pause.
Corn to the rescue.
Corn plastic seems like a good compromise — non-breakable, cheap, moldable, non-toxic (so far), and just add butter and salt for a tasty treat. Alas, it seems like one of those “Popular” inventions that show up on the cover of “Popular” magazines and never make it to the teeming masses; like flying cars, jet packs, steaks-in-a-pill, trips to the moon for everyone, robot cooks, personal laser weapons, etc. (We’re still crossing our top fingers for a least a few of those.)
Nothing like a star party to enlighten us on a galactic level. Top Men were amazed by this time lapse of the night sky which reveals our own Milky Way galaxy. Top Men also like the fact that the teaming masses can do stuff like this.
Top Men like space. And Top Men like Mars. And Top Men think it’s good for the Teeming Masses to like space and Mars, too. So we’re giving you plenty of time to mark your calendars for the landing of the Mars Phoenix Lander on the evening of May 25th (only 10 days from now.) Mars landings are not simple – Mars is littered with slight miscalculations.
In honor of this rather amazing achievement we’ve provided two videos for your enjoyment.
The first is a NASA production demonstrating how the landing will take place. No airbags on this landing – it’s a good old-fashioned, rocket-blasting, nail-biting, potential-crater-making touch-down. Fun!
The second is a foward looking video – anticipating Mars in the spring of 2020. Very fun!
Top Men promise this is the last Huygens descent post. It’s been over three years since the thing landed on Titan, but we just stumbled across a large version of a movie we posted almost two years ago. This is an all the bells-and-whistles visualization (and auralization) of just about all the data fit to print. Geeks rejoice!
Here is the movie. Here is a detailed explanation.