brainwagon "There is much pleasure in useless knowledge." — Bertrand Russell

14Jan/060

Stardust – NASA’s Comet Sample Return Mission

Reader Bill Harris reminded me that tonight is the night that Stardust, NASA's comet sample return mission, will return to earth carrying its cargo of aerogel that was exposed to the particles in the wake of Comet P/Wild 2. At 2:12AM PST on Sunday morning, the probe will jettison it's cargo at 105,000 feet over Utah, and helicopters will recover the cargo. Interestingly enough, they anticipate that only 45 hits will be recorded in the square foot or so of aerogel, so they have a project similar to Seti@Home planned to scan the plates, but instead of needing your computer time, they need your eyes. The entire panel must be examined under high magnification, and they want to employ volunteer labor to help find these particle hits.

In any case, check out the link, consider volunteering, and stay tuned for more info as it becomes available.

Stardust - NASA's Comet Sample Return Mission

Addendum: Phil Plait has a nicer writeup and reminds that if the weather is clear, you might be able to observe the reentry of the probe from the Western U.S. It's cloudy and rainy here, so I doubt we'll get any chances here. Too bad.

Addendum2: Surprisingly, it looks like it might be clearing up. I'm thinking of trying to snap some quickie video of the reentry. It will be pretty low on the horizon when it shows up here, and I'm not sure exactly the best way to photograph this thing, but we shall see. 🙂

Addendum3: Nope, while the sky was clear, I suspect that the local horizon to the north was slightly too high, and the object passed behind it. Oh well.

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14Jan/060

Bonus Movie Review: Old Hope vs. New Hope

Greedo, Bounty HunterTonight, I had the pleasure of being able to watch a copy of the original video disc release of Star Wars: A New Hope. You know, the one where Han Solo gets the drop on Greedo by firing first? I recently watched the Special Edition too, and I must admit, there is really nothing that the Special Edition changes added that improved the movie in the slightest. Yes, it looks better, sharper cleaner. But all the added visuals in Mos Eisley, the silly added scene with Jabba, letting Greedo draw (and stupidly miss) Solo: not a single on of these changes do other than distract you by overdoing the original ideas. They come across as just showing off. "We did this because we're ILM and we can."

Sometimes, the original really is the best.

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