Archive | YUBlog RSS feed for this section

Sights waiting to be seen by human eyes: Epic short film ‘Wanderers’

2 Dec

Wanderers, a short film by a Swedish man named Erik Wernquist shows a possible future for humanity.

It’s epic, and the best part? It’s inspired by reality.

Many of the images in the film likely appear familiar to space-watchers. The Sunset on Mars, for example, is based on a famous picture taken by the Spirit Rover in May 2005.

But it doesn’t stop there.

According to Wernquist:

– The image of a large spacecraft flying over Earth’s atmosphere is based on a famous image taken from the International Space Station in July 2003 during Expedition 7.

– The textures on Jupiter are based on Voyager 1 data from the 1979 fly-by.

– The geysers from Enceladus were discovered in 2005 by Cassini, and imaged since then – including identifying 101 individual geysers.

– The blimp arriving at an airport on Mars scene is inspired from a photo taken by Opportunity 2006.

– A colony on the Saturnian moon Iapetus features a great ridge only discovered (again by Cassini) in 2004.

– Hikers (or perhaps cross-country skiers?) moving across the surface of Europa was inspired by this image taken in 2001 and this one of Europa.

– The view of people gliding around the sky of Titan is inspired by the landing of the Huygens probe on the surface of the Solar System’s largest moon in January 2005.

– BASE jumping on Miranda, the largest moon of Uranus, is inspired by an image taken by Voyager 2 in January 1986.

And of course using words by the one-and-only Carl Sagan provides a nice touch. His words, part science and part poetry, stir the soul.

Wernquist also says the film doesn’t have any story of his own, rather he prefers that views insert their own meaning to it.

I choose to think of it as an example of what the future might hold, and the sights waiting to be seen by human eyes.

Floating among the clouds of Saturn, looking up at the Ringshine

Floating among the clouds of Saturn, looking up at the Ringshine

The Amazing Canadian Space Race – #CSAtweetup

5 Oct

Recently Jesse and I were invited to tag along with the latest group of #CSAtweetup tweeps, who participated in an event put on by the Canadian Space Agency called the Amazing Canadian Space Race.

It was the first event of it’s kind involving astronauts and ordinary members of the public (as far as I know). It took for the form of the popular TV show The Amazing Race, but pitted two teams against each other, each lead by one of Canada’s astronauts.

Jesse went with Team David, while I was with Team Jeremy.

The event took the teams around Toronto and highlighted the many players in the Canadian space industry – from government, to education/research – including York University – and private business.

It’s actually pretty amazing how much Canadian space industry is based right here in Toronto.

In any case, here is the video and written special report that I filed for Sun News Network:


Video not loading? Watch it here.

Canadian astronauts took to the streets of Toronto this week as part of the Amazing Canadian Space Race.

The event was part of the 65th annual International Astronautical Congress, the world’s premier space conference bringing together private, government, and military partners from around the world.

Astronaut’s Jeremy Hansen and David Saint-Jacques were each joined by members of the public and sent on a day-long adventure around Toronto, visiting education and industry partners, connected to Canada’s space industry.

“We’re one of the few early space-faring nations, and you have to remember is that everything we do in space comes back down to Earth,” said Saint-Jacques.

He also pointed to the record of job creation in the private sector, as a result of Canada’s wise investments in space technology.

The President of the Canadian Space Agency, Walter Natynczyk, opened the race by wishing the teams good luck and pointing to the significance of the event, “We have representatives here of the leadership of Canada’s space program. In this community here in Toronto, we’ve got great companies that have created incredible innovation that has been launched into space over the years.”

Setting the tone, he added, “Today is a day of discovery; it’s a day of hot competition.”

After the remarks, Hansen read the first clue for his team: “Eeny, meeny, miny, moe, catch a dragon by the toe, if it hollers, don’t let it go,”

Once teams deciphered the clue, they had to complete the task. Only once each task was successfully completed would teams receive the next challenge.

A subsequent challenge took the teams to the Department of National Defence’ Department of Research and Development Canada, where the astronauts were put through an obstacle course that is typically used to test new equipment materials.


From there, team Hansen went to York University while team Saint-Jacques was dispatched to Optech.

At those sites, each team was faced with a laser-based challenge connected to the OSIRIS-REx mission, set to launch in September 2016. This task was designed to expose participants to the Canadian technology that will be flying on the mission, designed by Optech to create a 3D map of the surface of an asteroid using lasers.

The last stop on the journey was at the Ontario Science Centre, where the teams went head-to-head to design, build, test, and fly a prototype Mars lander using only house-hold materials that could be found at hand.

“What better than to have real astronauts here trying an experiment that often we have with our visitors,” said Maurice Bitran, CEO of the Ontario Science Centre.

While both teams successfully accomplished the Mars landing challenege, the judges ruled that team Saint-Jacques’ spacecraft made better use of simple machines, propelling them to victory.

Jesse Rogerson, a participant and gracious winner said, “It really doesn’t matter who won. The astronauts were so fun to be around, so as a team, as a group, both teams really did win.”

“Events like this really get the word out and get the public involved,” Rogerson added.

Saint-Jacques explained the involvement of private industry in space will only create more opportunities for Canadians – not only to go to space, but here on Earth.

“You may not realize it, but it’s part of our everyday life,” he said.


30 years since the first Canadian flew in space – #Garneau30

5 Oct

It was October 5, 1984 just a little after 7 a.m. ET when the Space Shuttle Challenger lifted off the pad from south Florida.

On board were Jon A. McBride, pilot; mission specialists Sally K. Ride, Kathryn D. Sullivan, and David C. Leestma; payload specialists Paul D. Scully-Power and Marc Garneau and crew commander Robert L. Crippen.

NASA, not having figured out a sensible numbering system for shuttle flights yet, called the mission 41-G — but this was actually the 13th space shuttle flight.

Up here in the north though, it was simply the first mission that carried a Canadian into the final frontier.

But that wasn’t the only first for STS-41-G.

It was also the first shuttle flight with a crew of seven; it was the first flight with two women on board; it was the first flight where a spacewalk would be conducted by a woman (Sullivan).

STS-41-G was Sally Ride’s second and last spaceflight.

During the course of the eight day mission (they landed October 13), Garneau was responsible for conducting 10 science experiments on board. He also assisted with general house keeping duties, such as preparing meals.

Garneau was on board representing the National Research Council of Canada – which at the time made the Canadian astronaut selections – since the Canadian Space Agency did not yet exist (the CSA was founded March 1, 1989).

Garneau’s backup for the mission was fellow Canadian astronaut Dr. Bob Thirsk, who flew into space on STS-78 (1996) and as part of the Expedition 20/21 (2009) crew to the International Space Station.

Besides STS-41-G, Garneau also flew into space on STS-77 (1996) and STS-97 (2000).

Over the course of STS-41-G, Challenger completed 133 orbits covering some five million kilometers.

The photos below all courtesy NASA/JSC.

Portrait view of STS 41-G crew in civilian clothes. Bottom row (l.-r.) Payload specialists Marc Garneau and Paul Scully-Power, crew commander Robert Crippen. Second row (l-.r-) Pilot Jon McBride, and Mission Specialists David Leestma and Sally Ride. At very top is Mission Specialist Kathryn Sullivan.

Portrait view of STS 41-G crew in civilian clothes. Bottom row (l.-r.) Payload specialists Marc Garneau and Paul Scully-Power, crew commander Robert Crippen. Second row (l-.r-) Pilot Jon McBride, and Mission Specialists David Leestma and Sally Ride. At very top is Mission Specialist Kathryn Sullivan.

View of the early morning launch of STS 41-G Challenger. The dark launch complex is illuminated by spotlights as the orbiter begins its ascent from the pad. The light is reflected off the clouds of smoke from the orbiter's engines.

View of the early morning launch of STS 41-G Challenger. The dark launch complex is illuminated by spotlights as the orbiter begins its ascent from the pad. The light is reflected off the clouds of smoke from the orbiter’s engines.

View of the Canadarm end effector touching the SIR-B antenna during STS 41-G

View of the Canadarm end effector touching the SIR-B antenna during STS 41-G

View of the SIR-B antenna being deployed during STS 41-G

View of the SIR-B antenna being deployed during STS 41-G

False-color image showing Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and was acquired by the Shuttle Imaging Radar-B (SIR-B) during STS 41-G. The St. lawrence River dominates the right portion of the photo. Several bridges cossing the river are visible. Pink and blue areas are generally buildings or pavement. Light green areas regions of natural vegetation; darker green areas are generally cultivated regions. A race track like structure is apparent at top left. The Riviere des Milles Illes and the Riviere des Prairies (left and right, respectively), join to form a U-shaped waterway at the center of the image. The large elliptical green-centered feature west of the St. Lawrence is Mt. Royal.

False-color image showing Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and was acquired by the Shuttle Imaging Radar-B (SIR-B) during STS 41-G. The St. lawrence River dominates the right portion of the photo. Several bridges cossing the river are visible. Pink and blue areas are generally buildings or pavement. Light green areas regions of natural vegetation; darker green areas are generally cultivated regions. A race track like structure is apparent at top left. The Riviere des Milles Illes and the Riviere des Prairies (left and right, respectively), join to form a U-shaped waterway at the center of the image. The large elliptical green-centered feature west of the St. Lawrence is Mt. Royal.

STS 41-G crew photo taken on the flight deck of the Challenger during the flight. Front row (l.-r.) Jon A. McBride, pilot; Sally K. RIde, Kathryn D. SUllivan and David C. Leestma, all mission specialists. Back row (l.-r.) Paul D. Scully-Power, payload specialist; Robert L. Crippen, crew commander; and Marc Garneau, payload specialist. Garneau represents the National Research Council of Canada and Scully-Power is a civilian oceanographer with the U.S. Navy.

STS 41-G crew photo taken on the flight deck of the Challenger during the flight. Front row (l.-r.) Jon A. McBride, pilot; Sally K. RIde, Kathryn D. SUllivan and David C. Leestma, all mission specialists. Back row (l.-r.) Paul D. Scully-Power, payload specialist; Robert L. Crippen, crew commander; and Marc Garneau, payload specialist. Garneau represents the National Research Council of Canada and Scully-Power is a civilian oceanographer with the U.S. Navy.

The Space Shuttle Challenger lands at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at the end of the STS 41-G mission.

The Space Shuttle Challenger lands at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at the end of the STS 41-G mission.

Title: Space Shuttle Challenger landing at Kennedy Space Center at end of STS 41-G

Title:
Space Shuttle Challenger landing at Kennedy Space Center at end of STS 41-G

STS 41-G crew leaves the orbiter after landing at Kennedy Space Center at the end of their mission. Astronaut Robert Crippen shakes hands with George W.S. Abbey, Director of JSC's Flight Crew Operations, while the other crewmembers wait behind him. They are Jon McBride, David Leestma, Sally K. Ride, Kathryn Sullivan, Marc Garneau and Paul Scully-Power.

STS 41-G crew leaves the orbiter after landing at Kennedy Space Center at the end of their mission. Astronaut Robert Crippen shakes hands with George W.S. Abbey, Director of JSC’s Flight Crew Operations, while the other crewmembers wait behind him. They are Jon McBride, David Leestma, Sally K. Ride, Kathryn Sullivan, Marc Garneau and Paul Scully-Power.

Official photo of the 41-G crew. They are (bottom row, left to right) Astronauts Jon A. McBride, pilot; and Sally K. Ride, Kathryn D. Sullivan and David C. Leestma, all mission specialists. Top row from left to right are Paul D. Scully-Power, payload specialist; Robert L. Crippen, crew commander; and Marc Garneau, Canadian payload specialist.

Official photo of the 41-G crew. They are (bottom row, left to right) Astronauts Jon A. McBride, pilot; and Sally K. Ride, Kathryn D. Sullivan and David C. Leestma, all mission specialists. Top row from left to right are Paul D. Scully-Power, payload specialist; Robert L. Crippen, crew commander; and Marc Garneau, Canadian payload specialist.

A picture of the Moon

6 Apr

Ashley and I were walking home from the store yesterday afternoon when I happened to look up, and noticed this:

The Moon, as seen in mid-afternoon from Toronto, Canada on April 5, 2014

The Moon, as seen in mid-afternoon from Toronto, Canada on April 5, 2014

I did of course grab the camera and hit the patio in our backyard. Took a couple hundred frames on the spot. Today I stacked & sharpened the images, and got that as a result.

The photo was taken using my Canon t2i, with a Sigma 2x tele-conveter and a Sigma 70-200mm (@200mm) at f4.0 / ISO 100 / 1/640 exposure.

It’s not the first time I’ve taken photos of the Moon.

A photo of the Moon from Toronto in April 2013

A photo of the Moon from Toronto in April 2013

That one was one of the first good shots I got of our celestial neighbour through my (at the time) new telescope, with the Canon attached to it. That one is a single frame.

Of all the amazing sights in the sky on a nightly basis (and in the Moon’s case, occasionally on a daily basis) the Moon is one of my favourite objects to look at. I’m also not entirely sure why. It’s not the most challenging to photograph. It’s not the most distant by any means.

Though maybe that’s why I enjoy it: it’s accessible. Heck, people have even been there. And so perhaps I have a stronger sense of connectedness to it.

I’m also reminded of one of Tom Hanks lines from Apollo 13:


I look up at the moon and wonder, when will we be going back, and who will that be?

(Hanks is of course speaking as famed astronaut Jim Lovell)

Our neighbour in the Cosmos.

We’ll visit again soon.