STOP PRESS (again) - THE ROBOT IS LOOKING AT US

posted in Space by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 9 2012

Beady little spider-eyes?

That Martian robot has gained sentience, and is looking at us. It can see itself, and it knows we can see it. Forget the cute, cuddly and anthropomorphic mastcam self-portrait, it is now showing its true nature - a monstrous space-robot bristling with cameras and scientific instrumentation.

In other words, MSL Curiosity's MAHLI camera is fully activated, the lens cover is open and it's busy inspecting itself. Calibration targets, wheels, hazcams - this is rather fancy. SPAAAACE! Ahem.

Sunday Things - biological edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 9 2012

This week, only one mention of a particular Martian robot! Instead, an attempt at a biological theme. I found lots of things in my bookmarks, but mostly vomit-inducing anatomy...

Close relations: trilobites, headcrabs and facehuggers.
Horseshoe crab anatomy - from Recherches sur l'anatomie des Limules, Paris, 1873. They're fascinating buggers, vaguely related to spiders - heavily armoured, swimming upside down, and with blue blood that's harvested by the medical industry for its bacterium-detecting properties. Extra: more on their anatomy, and some close-up macro shots.

STARING EYE TAG
Morbid Anatomy - a vast collection of anatomical waxworks and pickled specimens. Persons in the 18th and 19th centuries had strong stomachs, and sick imaginations. Warning: may contain depictions of syphilitic nether regions. Extra: more anatomy to expel your lunch over.

Also beware: Shelob. Also also beware: Sumatran rat-monkeys.
Waitomo Glow Worm Cave - a New Zealand cave colonised by strange glowing invertebrate larvae, dangling sticky threads in the hope of catching a passing tourist or a David Attenborough...

Bonus Inevitable Robots corner:

STOP PRESS - THERE IS A ROBOT ON MARS

posted in Space by Cargo Cult on Friday September 7 2012

CURIOUS ROBOT

Telemetry indicates that the robot naming itself 'MSL Curiosity' has gained self-awareness and is now observing itself using its own imaging hardware.

Fortunately it has yet to figure out that its camera is upside-down, and with the dust-covered lens-cover in place. And, if it starts randomly shooting things with its laser, it's a very long way away. Phew.

Edit 2012-11-03: much clearer (and newer) imagery here!

Sunday Things - accidental space edition

posted in Links by Cargo Cult on Sunday September 2 2012

I was going to create a list of non-space-oriented links, but one thing led to another, and before I knew it I had nothing but. I'm obsessed!

Space-potato!
Reprocessed space imagery - courtesy of ugordan, some beautifully composed pictures of gas giants, planetary rings, moons and comets via the raw image archives of Cassini-Huygens and other missions.

Cassini Mission

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Cassini Mission - near-timelapse of some of the aforementioned raw imagery, this time with very little processing. Witness cosmic rays speckling against the CCD, sensor noise and dark current, the faint sunlight flaring in the lenses, end-of-line compression artefacts... A quick behind-the-scenes description.

Manually-controlled ascent to orbit. Sounds accurate?
Lunar Escape Systems - proposal for an emergency escape-to-orbit vehicle for astronauts on (subsequently cancelled) long-duration Apollo missions. Hair-raising, but perhaps preferable to being abandoned on the moon...

Rocket stepladder, anyone?
Saturn 1B - so, you've got a rocket that's got an Apollo-derived manned system on the top, but it's only for reaching low Earth orbit. How to get your shrunken rocket apparatus to interface with a Saturn V's launch tower? Easy!

Bonus Interactive 360º Science corner:

  • Space Shuttle Discovery - full panorama of the decommissioned Shuttle's flight-deck.
  • CERN - exploring various areas deep inside the LHC and elsewhere, complete with ambient audio.
  • MSL Curiosity - full-colour interactive panorama of Bradbury Landing. Rover now on the move!

Neil Armstrong - 1930-2012

posted in Obituaries by Cargo Cult on Sunday August 26 2012

Apollo 11

Launch

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Neil Armstrong - 5 August 1930 - 25 August 2012