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Sunday, November 16, 2014

New Cadets. James Porter Reaches Level Two Flight Directing. Gullible in the Magellan? CMSEC Installs an ACME Spectrometer - Beware! News and the Imaginarium.

Hello Troubadours, Cadets, and all Space EdVentures Fans!
     We start the week by welcoming two new cadets into our Farpoint Voyagers Space and Science Club.  Marissa and Jessa were both at the CMSEC yesterday working Magellan missions.  I interviewed them both and think they'll make excellent members of our ever growing group of space and sci-fi enthusiasts.  Be sure to welcome them by introducing yourself when you see them next.  

     Marissa O.

Jessa L. 

James Porter, CMSEC director, caught in a holiday mood. Some are disgusted by this early display of holiday cheer, while others welcome the stocking and lights thinking it adds a sense of jovialness to an otherwise dreary Magellan control room.  What do you think?


     Another picture of the CMSEC Director in his flight directing cockpit photographed doing two things at once!  I'd like to point something out to our novice flight directors and Farpoint cadets thinking of a career in flight directing.  See how James has one hand on the mouse and another on a second computer keyboard?  This wasn't done to impress me, James was actually flight directing a mission DOING TWO THINGS AT ONCE.  That means that James Porter has reached the second level of flight directing - rare for someone his age.
     I, on the other hand, am a level three flight director.  There are only a few of us still alive.  What is the difference you ask?  If this were a level three flight director, you'd see one hand on the mouse, one hand on the other computer and the flight director's nose on the light switch ready to flip the ship to red alert.  A level three FD wouldn't need the assistant of that volunteer whose hand is seen in the photo above.  Three things at once is not a problem for a level three.
     Keep up the good work James.  The Intergalactic Society of Benevolent Aristocratic and Well Mannered Level Three Flight Directors support your further training.  We hope one day, perhaps in ten or twenty years, we will add your name to our membership roll.

       I found this sign taped to the Magellan Control Room's ceiling yesterday during my official visit.        "What's the story behind this?" I asked.
     Andrew glanced up to reference the origin of my question.  "We tell new volunteers to look up.  They see the sign, then we can say they're gullible."
     I think the humor escaped me. "Whose idea was it to put that up?" I asked.
     "I would have expected that," I responded while remembering the many things Marissa B. did in the name of dry humor during my tenure as CMSEC Director.  

      This is Magelan Flight Director Marissa's reaction when a new volunteer looks up and discovers just how gullible he really is.  Marissa is a level one flight director, hence the smaller screen in the FD's cockpit for when she flies (compare to the photo of James Porter's FD screen).

The Discovery Room at the CMSEC Gets New Lighting 

     James Porter demonstrated his skill with hammer and saw by installing new mood lighting in the Discovery Room at the CMSEC.  The LED lighting system can display zillions of colors across the spectrum.  "We have to be careful," James explained to Jon Parker during Jon's training on the proper use of the Spectrometer.  "Keep the system's controls in the visible light spectrum.  Sliding the remote dial into the red," James pointed to the bright red section on the unit's hand held remote control labelled 'Warning' with a skull and crossbones, "releases light in the microwave to xray spectrum.  Good for cooking a hot dog on the counter or anywhere else in the room, but really bad for people - especially the xray setting." 
     "Gosh, you ain't a kidding," Jon exclaimed.

     I asked Jon to pose with the new Spectrometer for a Troubadour photo.  Just after I snapped the picture, James decided to have some fun and turned the setting from red light to xray light.  We saw the entire upper half of Jon's skeleton.  It was remarkable, although I'm feeling sorry for Jon.  I'm told he's having a bit of a problem with hair loss at the moment due to being exposed to high levels of radiation.  James has given him permission to wear a hat to work until the condition reverses and he no longer frightens little children with his hat off.

The Galileo Gets New Steps.  Coolness Factor X 10     

     The Galileo Simulator has a new set of retractable steps.  During the mission they stay hidden under the simulator.

     The new steps move out and lock into position when the ship's door opens.

      The times 10 coolness factor comes into play when you see the steps lit up in the dark. The exterior side mounted handle (for those who need to steady themselves during the hike up and down from the ship) is also illuminated.  Can things get any better at the CMSEC?

Have a Great Week Troops!
Mr. Williamson    

The Little Probe that Could
From Reuters

Rosetta mothership launching the Philae (animation) 

Philae comet lander (animation)

Philae comet lander actual photo from comet's surface 

     The Philae comet lander spacecraft shut down on Saturday after radioing results of its first and probably last batch of scientific experiments from the surface of a comet. Batteries aboard the European Space Agency’s Philae comet lander drained, shutting down the washing machine-sized probe after an adventurous and largely unscripted 57-hour mission. 

Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko's size in relation to the city of Paris

     Carried aboard the orbiting Rosetta mothership, Philae floated to the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko on Thursday, but failed to deploy anchoring harpoons.  Upon contacting the comet’s unexpectedly hard surface, it bounced back up into space twice then came to rest at a still-unknown location about 1 km (0.6 mile) from its original target.  Photos and other data relayed by Philae show it finally landed against a cliff or crater wall where there was little sunlight to recharge its batteries. Racing against the clock, scientists activated a series of automated experiments, the first to be conducted from the surface of a comet.  Before dying, Philae defied the odds and radioed its science results back to Earth for analysis.     
     Its last task was to reposition itself so that as the comet soars toward the sun, Philae’s batteries may recharge enough for a follow-on mission. “Perhaps when we are nearer to the sun we might have enough solar illumination to wake up the lander and re-establish communication,” spacecraft operations manager Stephan Ulamec said in a statement.
     Comets are believed to be pristine remnants from the formation of our solar system some 4.6 billion years ago. They contain rock and ice that have preserved ancient organic molecules like a time capsule and may provide insight into how the planets and life evolved.  Philae's drill descended more than 25 cm (10 inches) on Friday, penetrating the comet’s surface.  Rosetta in August became the first spacecraft to put itself into orbit around a comet. It will accompany the comet as it travels toward the sun for at least another 13 months.
(Reporting by Irene Klotz in Cape Canaveral, Florida; Editing by Dale Hudson)

Space News
By Mark Daymont
Farpoint Educator

Expedition 41 Ends, Lands Safely on Earth

Change of Command ceremony: Expedition 41 (left 3) turns over station to Expedition 42 (right 3). 

After a mission of 6 months, the Expedition team of Maksiim Surayev (RSA), Reid Wiseman(NASA), and Alexander Gerst(ESA) turned over command of the ISS to Expedition 42 on November 9. On the 10th, they boarded the Soyuz TMA-13M spacecraft and undocked from the station. A few hours later, they activated their rockets to de-orbit and re-enter the atmosphere for a safe parachute landing back on Earth.

Station view of the Soyuz spacecraft, in the distant center of picture.

Expedition 41 inside the Soyuz, with Alexander Samokutyayev of Expedition 42 at the station hatch.

The Soyuz capsule touches down in the steppes of Kazakhstan.

Recovery team, flown by helicopter to the landing site, listens to Maksim Surayev talk to reporters. Pretty cold out there, and the team has to recover to get used to Earth's gravity again. The return capsule can be seen just behind the group in the center.

The Imaginarium

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