Now: DRONES ON MARS!

If there’s one thing that everyone on Earth can clearly agree on, it’s that there can never be such a thing as too many drones.

And it seems that NASA are now planning to start the drone craze on Mars as well with a new helicopter device:

The US space agency said Friday it plans to launch the first-ever helicopter to Mars in 2020, a miniature, unmanned drone-like chopper that could boost our understanding of the Red Planet.

I’m not sure how they plan to get a GPS lock, given that there are no S’s around Mars, but this is NASA, and if they faked the moon landings, well, then they can do most anything. And that likely includes coming up with a superb name for this craft, just like they did with ApolloChallengerDiscovery and Titan.

And that name is… [drum roll]…

The Mars Helicopter

[sad trombone] Oh.

And they’re starting small:

Its first flight calls for a brief vertical climb of 10 feet (three meters), followed by hovering for a half minute.

Wow. 10 feet. 30 seconds. Hold the front pages.
Don’t push yourselves, NASA.

I clearly need to get my Mavic out there, stat. I’d be buzzing Olympus Mons, shooting high quality 4K video and doing dronies on Curiosity while NASA’s rookies were still putting the paperwork and requisition forms together, wondering if they could maybe risk trying a gentle turn to the right.

If you’re reading this, NASA, I am available for this kind of thing (in between my lab antics with TB). I’ve flown over the Northern Cape: I know what desolation looks like.

But I don’t think I need to be in Texas or Florida or California or wherever you’re running your circus from at the moment. If you can control a drone on a planet 55 million kilometres away, I really don’t think it matters if I’m across a bit of sea from your place.

And I’m certainly not going to Mars.

Have drone, won’t travel.

Shrinkage

Cape Town is making the international news again. It’s not good news this time though. Even if, like me, you have a very dry sense of humour.

This gif is from some American fly-by-night organisation called NASA. I don’t know if they know what they’re talking about when it comes to science and stuff, but their informative webpage on the subject seems to suggest that we are royally screwed.

They quote from expert

Piotr Wolski, a hydrologist at the Climate Systems Analysis Group at the University of Cape Town

who:

has analyzed rainfall records dating back to 1923 to get a sense of the severity of the current drought compared to historical norms. His conclusion is that back-to-back years of such weak rainfall (like 2016-17) typically happens about once just every 1,000 years.

That’s some pretty spectacular extrapolation there. You’d think that you’d have to analyze at least 1,000 years before you could draw this sort of conclusion. But I’m sure he knows what he’s doing. He’s an expert, after all. Sadly though, much like Dr David Olivier, Piotr’s expertise will be ignored by those Facebook warriors determined to lay the blame for the water crisis at the doorstep of the City and Provincial governing structures.
They’ll point instead to a massively inaccurate newspaper article from 1990, and shared by a man who helped tell us that the chocolate and coffee farmers downstream of Theewaterskloof are stealing all “our” water.

Yeah. Not much thought went into that.

Elsewhere, The New York Times shares news from this shithole country with their shithole country:

 

The Daily Telegraph photographer should have turned off this tap:

And there’s a typically understated response from the Daily Express:

And you know things are getting SERIOUS when someone brings out THE CAPS LOCK key twice in a headline.

From on high

Here’s a HUGE satellite image of southern Africa, taken by NASA last week as the cold front swept over us:

It looks ok at this sort of size, but you’d be foolish not to go and have a play on the original version here – merely to see if you can spot your place of residence.

If it’s in Cape Town, though, that seems unlikely. Because cloud.

Enceladus

NASA’s Cassini probe has just done a very close fly-by of Saturn’s 6th largest moon, Enceladus.
The results of that are yet to be released, but The Atlantic has an amazing photo set of some of the stuff Cassini has spotted on its way over to the 504km diameter “snowball” moon.

http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA10485

http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA08409
There are some closer pics too, but they’re almost disappointing in comparison to the distant shots, with Saturn’s rings in the background. Still, go look at them all.

4K ISS TV

This looks good:

NASA TV is launching a dedicated 4K channel

Here’s the skinner:

NASA has announced that it will launch a new 4K television channel dedicated to showing UHD footage on November 1st.

The space agency is working with a company called Harmonic, a video delivery infrastructure company, to launch the channel. NASA is calling it “the first ever non-commercial consumer ultra-high definition channel in North America.” Harmonic is providing NASA Television with the ability to deliver the 4K (2160p at 60 frames per second) video. NASA’s 4K channel will primarily feature the UHD footage that the agency has been filming on the International Space Station over the past few months, as well as 4K time-lapses created from images taken aboard the ISS.

Which sounds like something that would be right up my street. And super educational for the kids as well. Also, can you imaging one of those 4K time-lapses on the big screen at a party or something? Magic. But hang on…

You will be able to access it on the internet on most devices, provided you have access to a connection of 13 Mbps or higher.

And that’s going to instantly rule out 99.9% of South Africa. Even if you’re going to use your 3G HSDPA or LTE mobile connection (which would easily be fast enough), with that sort of download, you’re going to chow your monthly bandwidth allowance in about 1.4 seconds.

Not great.