AGU14 – Day 1

If you jump in muddy puddles, you must wear your boots. Yeah, well, I don’t have boots. What I do have are two pairs of completely soaked socks, a pair of shoes that might dry out by March, and two very cold and tired feet! …I need wellies, or at least galoshes. It drizzled and rained all day long, which made getting from one building of the Moscone Center to another a bit of a miserable experience. Inside the sessions was quite a different matter, though.

There were several good talks about the behaviour of the magnetosphere and observations by the Van Allen Probes, but today the two most interesting talks I attended were about Mars. The first was about ancient lakes and outflows on the eastern portion of Valles Marineris. The presenter showed evidence on how the outflow from Eros Chaos was directed with estimations on the approximate time the area was drained based on the cratering density on the surface. By this time, it’s no surprise that there was abundant liquid water on the surface of Mars in the distant past, but it’s fun to see people starting to evaluate how that surface water flowed across the surface and how long it would have been present.

The other Mars talk I attended had the clickbait-style title, “How to snowboard on Mars”. What the talk was really about was providing an explanation of how numerous small gullies form on the sandy slopes of some ridge lines on Mars. At first glance, these gullies look remarkably like snowboard tracks. So… Aliens? No, dry ice. As the ice sublimates, the freshly formed vapour lifts the slab of ice off the surface slightly and serves as a lubricant allowing the slab to slide down the slope with enough energy to gouge out a furrow in the sandy surface. This phenomenon has been replicated with dry ice in the Mojave Desert. See the article on NASA’s website for more details.

AGU14 – Day 0

So yeah, this old FORTRAN guy is using a zero-index reference like those snooty C guys. The American Geophysical Union 2014 Fall meeting (AGU14) doesn’t officially start until tomorrow, but registration is open today and there are a couple of mission-specific meetings. The one I’m responsible for attending and engaging in meaningful participation is the Voyager SSG. Five hours of exploring the future direction of our greatest and most productive robotic mission ever. BRING IT!

In the meantime, I continue to work on bringing the Advanced Composition Explorer’s (ACE) Electron Proton Alpha Monitor (EPAM) data production fully up to date. The basic Level 2 rate data are ready for consumption, but more refined Level 3 fluxes and energy spectra are still on their way. Thankfully, the hotel wifi doesn’t block VPN connections. At least I got the pretty pictures (aka color spectrogram plots) up for viewing.

ACE/EPAM PHA-derived hourly-integrated species-resolved fluxes for 2014

I’ll update this post throughout the day. …more to come!

Evening Update
What a cool day! Five hours of listening to space science lectures doesn’t get most people excited, but wow, there were some very cool things discussed! How much turbulence is there in the Local Interstellar Medium, or even along the heliopause? Is our heliosphere’s tail bifurcated? There were some neck-level questions being asked about the outer reaches of our solar system, and all this leads into the preparation for the 2015 Senior Review. The Voyagers have plenty of hydrazine to last a long time, provided we can keep it from freezing, but the mission-limiting factor is power and money. The power issue centers on the 18 W needed to power the gyros during a fault protection event. The money issue is up to the Senior Review board, but it looks like the Voyager team has a lot of seriously important work ahead of them exploring a region of space that we’ve never seen before, and likely won’t visit again in our lifetimes.

SooC – Water and Love

I’m WAY behind on this. Right after the Rally in the 100 Acre Wood, my schedule exploded! (vomited more like) I’ve not had much free time since. :( I’m going to try to get caught back up now that the semester is just about at a close and the first two are Week 6 and Week 7’s topics Water and Love.


I had better hopes for this one than how it turned out. Honestly, I was hoping to catch a water crossing on stage at the rally and use that, but that never happened so I’m stuck with this shot of the creek right beside the Steelville, MO city park where Friday’s Parc Expose was. I should have had a polarizer on the lens. That would have helped cut some of the glare and enhance some of the contrast. I wanted some of the lens flare from the Sun, but I think I got too much.



Who says roses are out of style? I got this along with 11 others for Tabatha. This is images in front of my upright grand with a off-camera strobe.

More to come soon!

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SooC52 – Green

This week’s Straight Out Of Camera theme was “Green”. My first thought was, “Have you been outside? Ain’t NUTTIN’ green out there!” So ok, time to think a bit more. I have some green coasters made from old printed circuit boards, which are pretty cool, but no good ideas on how to use them were coming to mind. Finally, I realized that a way that I could incorporate the term “green” in multiple ways setting up a winning roll on our craps table. So I set up the table with typical types of bets, most pass line, a couple of come, a few place bets, and that one jerk that always plays the don’t pass. I set the point to eight, and set the dice to an easy eight. Sucks for the player with the hard eight bet and the jerk playing the don’t pass, but everyone else is a winner and gets some nice cash salad for their efforts!

For the lighting, I used a remote speedlight with a bounce card high and behind the scene and the pop-up flash with one of those little hot-shoe mounted pop-up diffusers.


Here is the exposure data.
Camera Nikon D7000
Exposure 0.003 sec (1/320)
Aperture f/8.0
Focal Length 28 mm
ISO Speed 100

Check out my fellow Project SooC52 photographers.

SooC52 – Night Sky

This didn’t come out exactly like I wanted, but it was close. I’d give it another go later in the week, but I’m not confident that I’ll get another clear night. If the weather cooperates, I may post an update later, but for now, here’s my shot and my thoughts on its creation.

I’ve taken star trail images in the past, but I’ve never tried to put myself in them. What I wanted was an image of me presenting the Universe. Unfortunately, I failed to take into account how bright the northern sky would be. As a result, instead of me in front of the swirling starry night, it turned out to be ghost me.


Device: Nikon D7000
Lens: 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G
Focal Length: 18mm
Focus Mode: Manual
AF-Area Mode: Single
Aperture: f/16
Shutter Speed: 1927.4s
Exposure Mode: Manual
ISO Sensitivity: ISO 400

Check out my fellow Project SooC52 photographers.

Professor of Astronomy and Physics