On the morning of Friday, September 22, 2017, the Earth will experience a close encounter with a spaceborne object. But never fear! We’re perfectly safe. That’s because the space traveler is the NASA probe OSIRIS-REx, and it will pass more than 17,000 km above the Earth’s surface.
The flyby is designed so that the spacecraft will steal a little bit of the Earth’s orbital energy, using it to fling itself up, changing its own orbital plane to match that of its target, the asteroid Bennu. OSIRIS-REx will pass closest over Earth’s south pole, and the Earth’s gravity will naturally bend the probe’s path up, up, and away.
This is the third event in the mission’s life in space, counting launch as the first. It launched a bit over a year ago and was placed into an orbit similar to that of Earth around the Sun. In January 2017 it performed a “deep space maneuver,” firing its engine enough to change its velocity by about 1600 kilometers per hour, putting it on the correct course for the flyby.
If you want the details of this flyby, then (as always) you should check in with my friend Emily Lakdawalla at The Planetary Society, who has the info.
The spacecraft has already been spotted by Earthbound telescopes; the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona saw it on September 2:
I know, it doesn’t look like much, but c’mon: It was 12 million kilometers away and at a magnitude of 25. The faintest star you can see with your naked eye is 40 million times brighter! So this is actually pretty good.
If I’ve done the math right, it’ll be roughly magnitude 11 or so when it passes Earth on Friday. That’s still faint, though within reach of a good telescope. The mission web page has advice and links for trying to see it. Given how far south it’ll be, that means it’s easiest from southern locations; in Australia the Desert Fireball Network will use the flyby to test out their cameras. They’ll observe OSIRIS-REx from different locations and use that to get its 3D trajectory in space. They use the same technique to track material like meteors burning up in Earth’s atmosphere.
I mentioned three events in the mission’s space life so far, but the fourth event is the big one: arrival. Approach starts in August 2018, when OSIRIS-REx is about 2 million km from Bennu. It’ll begin a series of engine burns to slow its approach relative to the asteroid until it goes into orbit. Starting on October it’ll begin surveying Bennu, and will continue to do so for a year.
Bennu is a pretty interesting asteroid (if it weren’t, then duh, we wouldn’t be sending a spacecraft to it). It was discovered only in 1991, and is on an orbit similar to Earth’s, though slightly bigger, more elliptical, and tilted to ours by about 6°. That’s a substantial inclination, taking a lot of energy to match, which is why the spacecraft is using Earth to whip it around. Bennu only approaches Earth about once every six years (its orbital period is about 1.2 years, so it takes a while for it and the Earth to sync up).
Bennu itself is about 500 meters across, a decent-sized chunk of rock (though it will be the smallest object NASA will have ever had a spacecraft orbit, an interesting statistic). It’s what’s called a B-type asteroid, meaning it’s rich in carbon as well as what are called volatiles: materials with low boiling points. Even though it’s small, it may have water inside it, trapped in materials like clays.
It’s shaped roughly like a top or a walnut, slightly wider than it is high. It rotates once every 4 hours or so. Its overall shape was determined from both radar mapping as well as how it changes brightness with time (for example, a very long object can get much brighter when it’s broadside to you, and fainter when it’s end-on). Interestingly, its mass is low; given its size it’s barely denser than water! It’s likely to be a rubble pile, a collection of loosely bound rocks held together by gravity and other forces. That can happen as an asteroid suffers low-speed impacts over billions of years, shattering it in place. Lots of voids form between the rubble, accounting for the low density.
Other than that, it’s thought that Bennu hasn’t undergone much change since it formed 4.5 billion years ago. It’s hoped to be a time capsule dating back to the formation of the solar system itself!
NASA made this spiffy short video explaining more about Bennu, OSIRIS-REx, and the mission itself:
Oh, one more thing for now: OSIRIS-REx is loaded with instruments to examine the asteroid, including cameras, LIDAR, and a spectrometer. But it also has another package: a sample return capsule (SRC). While at Bennu, it will collect a sample of surface material, squirrel it away inside the capsule, then send it back to Earth! This has been done by a mission before (the Stardust mission to a comet), so it’s tested tech.
Scientists want to collect at least 60 grams of material, though they might get more. The mechanism to collect the sample will puff nitrogen gas onto the asteroid surface and then collect the material that floats off. They have enough gas to try this three times, so it seems likely they’ll get what they need.
Then the SRC will be sent on its way back to our planet, arriving as a fireball in the sky and then falling to Earth in July 2020. It’ll be collected and the samples brought to labs where this pristine asteroid material can be studied in much greater detail than is possible with a spacecraft.
But that’s all still far in the future. First things first! Let’s get the flyby done, and then we can start looking ahead to seeing Bennu up close and personal next year.0
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Oria is another original character, btw - part of the Wildhammer clan, she was the first foreign ambassador Anduin appointed to his council and paved the way for including one ambassador from each of the Alliance races to balance out the otherwise overwhelmingly human-centric House of Nobles. Oria has it in her contract with Anduin that she is exempt from all council meetings during the two-week duration of Brewfest. For "traditional cultural festivities" (and the attendant hangovers).
The dwarf caught at Anduin's sleeve, his brows drawn down in a dark frown. "Not so fast, lad," he huffed. "It ain't just th' wee ones that need t' prove they can sit a saddle before they go takin' my rams anywhere."
Something flickered across Anduin's face, there and gone again so fast it was easy to miss, before smoothing into the polite facade that was most often presented to the House of Nobles. "Of course," he agreed.
At Ren's elbow, Oria made a pained noise. "Oh no," she groaned, shoving her tankard aside and making to rise to her feet. "He must not recognize..."
"Leave it," Ren advised, pressing a hand to her shoulder to push her back into her seat. "Anduin will handle it."
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- Get Result Time by Adding/Subtracting;
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- Count Days of Week, Weekdays and Weekends;
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- See Times for All Time Zones in the World;
- Unix/Linux Date Calculator;
- See Results Instantly.
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--The first few days back are usually pretty reasonable. (I could conceivably even be home for supper tomorrow evening!) Thankfully, today I was able to finish and submit the half-volume that's due tomorrow, so that's not hanging over me...but I'll need to go pick up my and scruloose's con passes, and then on Friday, no matter what time we wrap up at the office, I'll be going straight from there to the convention. I even made it as far as looking over the schedule and making notes this evening, although in practice I rarely make it to more than a small percentage of the panels and talks that catch my eyes. So many people. O_O (The "rarely" applies to cons and similar things in general, as this is only my second Hal-Con.)
--When I was poking around in my tags the other day to see if I could figure out when I stopped bouldering, I came across this 2013 post about Claudia from when she and Jinksy were about five months old. Oh, my kitten. *^^* (*finds baby!Claudia!kitten icon*)
--I have this half-formed theory that Casual Job is the appropriate excuse to actually start figuring out lipstick, since I really haven't, despite buying a bunch in Toronto. The defense I have to offer is that I'm usually at home living in pajamas when Casual Job isn't on (I'm very glad I'm not one of the many people who needs to Get Dressed to successfully work at home--although if it'd help my focus, you bet I'd do it), and when I go out it's usually either quick errands (hard to convince myself to bother) or to have dinner out with someone (and I know people eat and drink with lipstick on all the time, but it turns out I find it intimidating to consider needing to immediately touch it up while out if it smears/wears off).
A heist movie about Southern, redneck-type folks who plan and carry out a complicated robbery. Very little violence (one bar fight), little in the way of bad language, no explicit material. Pretty light, fun, and clever. Channing Tatum is the mastermind of the heist; his brother is played by Adam Driver. Daniel Craig cleary had a lot of fun playing a bomb expert with a thick Southern accent. This movie didn't have a lot of substance, but it was fun. My main irritation is that Adam Driver plays a guy with a partial arm amputation from a war wound. How much money did they spend on CGI for this, and also he took away a great opportunity for an actual disabled person to play this part. There are a couple of jokes involving the prostetic that didn't feel mean to me, but might feel mean to someone else.
Silver Linings Playbook
I loved the beginning and middle of this movie. Bradley Cooper is tremendous in it-- he takes a character that could be (and sometime is) creepy and unlikeable, and makes that character sympathetic. I liked that they showed some of the realities of mental illness. I liked the friendship between his character and Jennifer Lawrence's character. I did not like the ending, which seemed to wrap everything up in too neat of a bow-- a happily ever after sort of ending, when you know it isn't going to be so easy for anyone.
What Happened to Monday - Netflix
A dystopian film set in the near future, in an unnamed European city. People live under an oppressive government, the main crux being a strict one-child policy. Seven identical sisters live in secret, sharing one legit identity as Karen Settman. They each get to go out one day a week, the day they are named after. At the end of the day, each catches the others up on what they need to know to keep up at their high-powered job. One evening, Monday doesn't come home, and the others must find out what has happened. Noomi Rapace plays all of the sisters. It's fun to watch them being badass and fighting, but there is quite a lot of violence and mayhem. Content notes for child harm and death; violence; gore. I enjoyed this film quite a lot.
Because yesterday I got to hang out a bit with Alison Moyet, who if you didn’t know is one of my absolute favorite singers, both in Yaz, and with her solo work. We’d become Twitter buddies in the last couple of years and when I mentioned to her Krissy and I would be at her Chicago show she suggested we have a real-life meet. And we did! And it was lovely! And brief, as she had to prepare to entertain a sold-out show (and she did; the concert was excellent), but long enough to confirm that she’s as fabulous in the flesh as she is in her music. Which was not surprising to me, but nice regardless.
(Alison has also blogged about our meet-up as part of her tour journal, which you can find here. Read the entire tour journal, as she’s funny as hell.)
I noted to some friends that I was likely to meet Alison this week and some of them wondered how it would go, on the principle that meeting one’s idols rarely goes as one expects (more bluntly, the saying is “never meet your idols.”) I certainly understand the concept, but I have to say I’ve had pretty good luck meeting people whom I have admired (or whose work I admired). I chalk a lot of that up to the fact that while I was working as a film critic, I met and interviewed literally hundreds of famous people, some of whose work was very important to me. In the experience I got to have the first-hand realization that famous and/or wonderfully creative people are also just people, and have the same range of personalities and quirks as anyone else.
If you remember that when you meet the people whose work or actions you admire, you give them space just to be themselves. And themselves are often lovely. And when they’re not, well, that’s fine too. Alison Moyet, it turns out, is fabulous, and I’m glad we got to meet.
(Which is not to say I didn’t geek out. Oh, my, I did. But I also kept that mostly inside. Krissy found it all amusing.)
Anyway: Great Tuesday. A+++, would Tuesday again.
We actually talked science fiction for the whole evening, helped along by an argument about AI and self driving cars and the ethics of trolley problems and so forth.
Also I complained about the shows I've been watching. ... I should find something to yaay about.
Also also I had not watched what the others said was just on TV. But neither had two out of three of them. Electric dreams? Googling says it's on channel 4 and I can probably get it on the catch up. But it's PKD and I'm not sure that's a promising start.
There's so much to watch and read and listen that we seldom have much overlap. Makes conversation interesting but difficult.
I'm always like a year behind because of waiting for DVDs. I'm getting ever more tempted to subscribe to one of the paid ways to get things quicker. Don't know though, it's not like I watch all my DVDs fast enough to get through the To Watch pile as is, having stuff to watch every week seems unlikely to very work.
But the talking worked good, so, yaays.
On Worldcat in print, braille, and ebook
On her author blog, her essay "God’s Real Name: On Rescues, Ableism, and Unexpected Empathy" explores her reaction to a homeless man who blesses her.
My own ableism, my own class squeamishness, and bigotry, my interpretation of his religiosity as distasteful insanity, had led me to dismiss the man. I had excluded him from our joint rescue plan--indeed, had understood him as something to be rescued from--and ignored his offer to gift me with help and rescue.
A video of a Nazi in Seattle getting punched and knocked out has been making the rounds. Responses range from satisfaction and celebration to the predictable cries of “So much for the tolerant left” and the related “Violence makes us as bad as them and plays right into their hands.”
A few things to consider…
1. According to one witness, the punch happened after the Nazi called a man an “ape” and threw a banana at him. With the disclaimer that I’m not a lawyer, that sounds like assault to me. I’m guessing Assault in the Fourth Degree. In other words, the punching was a response to an assault by the Nazi.
The witness who talks about the banana-throwing also says he was high on THC. I haven’t seen anyone disputing his account, but I haven’t seen corroboration, either.
2.Remember when George Zimmerman murdered Trayvon Martin, and people like Geraldo Rivera said it was because Martin was wearing a hoodie, and that made Martin a potentially dangerous “suspicious character”? Utter bullshit, I know. But if our legal system let Zimmerman plead self-defense, saying he was afraid because Martin was wearing a hoodie, doesn’t that same argument apply against someone wearing a fucking swastika?
We’re talking about a symbol that announces, “I support genocide of those who aren’t white, aren’t straight, aren’t able-bodied…”
3. Buzzfeed presents this as anti-fascists tracking a Neo-Nazi to beat him up. While antifa Twitter appears to have been talking about this guy, there’s no evidence that the punch was thrown by someone who’s part of that movement. And even if he was, the guy didn’t throw a punch until after the Nazi committed assault (see point #1).
Those Tweets quoted on Buzzfeed also suggest the Nazi was armed, which could add to the self-defense argument in point #2.
Is Nazi-punching right? Is it legal? As any role-player will tell you, there’s a difference between whether something is lawful and whether it’s good.
The “victim” has every right to press charges. But for some reason, he didn’t want to talk to police about the incident.
Was punching this guy a good thing? I mean, there’s a difference between comic books and real life. The Nazi was standing in front of some sort of tile wall. He could have struck his head on the corner after being punched, or when he fell to the ground. In other words, there’s a chance–albeit probably a slim one–that this could have killed him.
My country and culture glorify violence. I’d much rather avoid violence when possible. I think most rational people would. But there are times it’s necessary to fight, to choose to defend yourself and others. I think it’s important to understand the potential consequences of that choice.
Multiple accounts agree this man was harassing people on the bus, and later on the street. He was a self-proclaimed Nazi. Police say they received calls that he was instigating fights, and it sounds like he escalated from verbal harassment to physical assault … at which point another man put him down, halting any further escalation.
I don’t know exactly what I would have done in that situation, but I see nothing to make me condemn or second-guess this man’s choice in the face of a dangerous Nazi.
Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.
But as I said, it's really old, and the battery life isn't what it once was, and sometimes it balks at connecting to the internet. So I went to see what might replace it.
While I wasn't paying much attention, Amazon decided the Kindle Fire ought to become the Fire Tablet. At $50, I'm sure it's probably pretty crappy as a tablet, but still fine as an e-reader, I just don't want all the extra crap. I certainly don't want Alexa. And apparently if I want a case with pretty colors, as opposed to black, I have to get their advertising-enabled version.
The e-reader only Kindles have black and white screens, making them useless for comic books. Also, I prefer color for book covers, because when they have good art I want to LOOK at them, damn it.
All of which means I will probably opt to stick with my very old Fire until it finally dies. But I'm going to be bitter about it.
That was bad.
The songs were just plunked in there. Running home to you was cute but sounded weird. Everything else was only there because it was designated musical episode.
If the songs donot show you things the characters couldn't speak, don't bother.
And if the elseworld is supposed to be generated by their brain then the characters alternate selves should tell you something about how the dreamers see them, or what's the point?
So, no point.
... to be fair I watched it mostly on fast forward and am not a fan of sound so you could guess I'm not the target audience here
but I loved the Buffy musical and have the soundtrack
so it's not like I always hate things like this.
I just don't think they bothered using their conceit, let alone for the things it does uniquely well.