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On 23 November 1960 the TIROS-2 satellite was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, aboard a Thor-Delta rocket. Also known as TIROS-B, the satellite’s name indicates that it was the second Television InfraRed Observation Satellite. The TIROS program was NASA’s first step in using satellites to study the earth – meteorology being the most promising application. TIROS-2 had two television cameras for imaging cloud cover, as well as radiometers for measuring infrared radiation from earth and the atmosphere. It was the first satellite to make infrared observations. The craft was a 127 kilogram, 18-sided right prism 107 cm in diameter and 56 cm high constructed from aluminum alloy and stainless steel and tiled with 9260 solar cells which charged its nicad batteries. Magnetic tape recorders stored photographs while the satellite was out of range … Read entire article »

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Stellar Demolition

I love the bathos of this extract from the Red Dwarf novels: Sipping her champagne Kirsty Fantori, the star demolition engineer, started programming the nebulon missile. It had to explode at just the right moment to trigger off the reaction in the star’s core which would push it into supernova stage. A star in supernova would light up the entire galaxy for over a month, giving off more energy than the Earth’s sun could in ten billion years. It would be a hell of a bang. One undetected bug in Fantozi’s programming could ruin everything. Not only did she have to push the star into supernova, she had to time it so the light from the explosion would reach Earth at exactly the right moment. The right moment was the same … Read entire article »

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The First Words on Mars: A List from Science Fiction

There was some discussion on Twitter about the first words that should be spoken on Mars. I’m preserving some examples I found here and will add to it periodically. “Welcome to Mars!” – Roy Rockwood (1910) Through Space to Mars. “Well, shall we go out and claim the planet in the name of Brooklyn?” – The Angry Red Planet (1959) [spoken inside the lander]. “We’re on Mars!” – Frederik Pohl (1976) Man Plus [also spoken from inside the lander]. “Christopher Columbus, you should be here.” – Philip Jose Farmer (1979) Jesus on Mars. “Well, here we are.” – Kim Stanley Robinson (1992) Red Mars. “Ya’aa’tey” (Navajo for “it is good”) – Ben Bova (1992) Mars. “… the first human feet to step on the Red Planet, the world of ancient canals and our new dreams. We are … Read entire article »

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