I’ve taken a bit of a break from digital media blogging this week. The jetlag from Vegas/CES and the fact the Haiti story is just so much more important than new TVs has led to me blogging about that disaster instead.
One of the interesting things I’ve been reading about is the actual process by which satellites are being pulled into service (retasked) to assist in the rescue effort. The BBC’s Space Reporter has an excellent piece about the efforts underway by the EU and other nations who are pulling in space resources to assist in the disaster.
Many space agencies have signed up to something called the International Charter [on] Space and Major Disasters.
It was initiated back in 2000 by Esa, and the French (Cnes) and Canadian (CSA) space agencies; but then quickly acquired other signatories including important US bodies like Noaa and the US Geological Survey.
The UK, too, is involved. It has a very particular contribution to make through the Guildford-based Disaster Monitoring Constellation company, which manages a six-strong fleet of optical and near-infrared imaging satellites that can – as a team – picture the entire Earth’s surface in one day.
When the Charter is activated, the signatories re-task their satellites to get the data most urgently needed in a devastated region.
The Charter was activated this week – of course it was.
Be sure to take a look at all the pictures that have been not only generated, but also modified to show specific damage in neighborhoods, etc.
Geoeye, which works with Google, has also done some interesting ‘before and after’ type photos, matching up specific coordinates so people can see what things looked like before the earthquake and after. By far the best use of this data is in today’s New York Times, which utilizes Flash to allow the user a house-by-house comparison of the two photos.
MSNBC’s Cosmic blogger is also doing an interesting piece on satellites being retasked. His story remarks about the worldwide collaboration that is going on:
The MSNBC piece also talks about some of the volunteer efforts underway to establish communications systems in Haiti. One such agency is TSF–Telecom San Frontiers who deployed a recovery team to Haiti already.
Looking over the devastation I’m reminded of my own seawall. It’s 100 feet long and surrounded by large boulders. Every year I say I’m going to pull back the boulders closer to the seawall (the curl of the wave pulls them toward the sea) and every year I end up not doing it. It’s just too massive of an effort to accomplish on my own.
And now I look at what is going on in Haiti. This is going to be more massive than we can even comprehend at this point. The fleet that we have sent is nowhere large enough, and the plane bridge will not be able to keep up with the demand. This is going to get much much worse in the next weeks and months before it gets better.]]>
Spaceflight will never tolerate carelessness, incapacity, and neglect. Somewhere, somehow, we screwed up. It could have been in design, build, or test. Whatever it was, we should have caught it. We were too gung ho about the schedule and we locked out all of the problems we saw each day in our work. Every element of the program was in trouble and so were we. The simulators were not working, Mission Control was behind in virtually every area, and the flight and test procedures changed daily. Nothing we did had any shelf life. Not one of us stood up and said, ‘Dammit, stop!’ I don’t know what Thompson’s committee will find as the cause, but I know what I find. We are the cause! We were not ready! We did not do our job. We were rolling the dice, hoping that things would come together by launch day, when in our hearts we knew it would take a miracle. We were pushing the schedule and betting that the Cape would slip before we did.
From this day forward, Flight Control will be known by two words: ‘Tough’ and ‘Competent.’ Tough means we are forever accountable for what we do or what we fail to do. We will never again compromise our responsibilities. Every time we walk into Mission Control we will know what we stand for. Competent means we will never take anything for granted. We will never be found short in our knowledge and in our skills. Mission Control will be perfect. When you leave this meeting today you will go to your office and the first thing you will do there is to write ‘Tough and Competent’ on your blackboards. It will never be erased. Each day when you enter the room these words will remind you of the price paid by Grissom, White, and Chaffee. These words are the price of admission to the ranks of Mission Control.
Yea, a bit of a stretch, but due to an odd convergence of facts there is trouble with the International Space Station due to Russia’s recent foray into Georgia.
The US Space Shuttle is due to be retired in 2010, with manned flights to the space station being handed over to Russian Soyuz rockets. But the only way that can function is an exemption to the Iranian non-proliferation act (normally Russia would be guilty of violating that but the US grants an exemption for space operations). The current exemption expires in 2011 and chances of it being renewed are ‘dead on arrival’ according to senior aides on Capitol Hill. As our only way on board is the Russian ships until the Shuttle’s replacement is online, we’re looking at a period of limited access to the station until this gets sorted out.
So Senator Bill Nelson is starting to ask some questions–what are we going to do next? Nelson was in Afghanistan last week when the fighting broke out and his flight home had to be re-routed after Russia denied diplomatic overflight rights to his aircraft.
It would appear that the US President has been briefed by Phoenix scientists about the discovery of something more “provocative” than the discovery of water existing on the Martian surface…. Whilst NASA scientists are not claiming that life once existed on the Red Planet’s surface, new data appears to indicate the “potential for life” more conclusively than the TEGA water results. Apparently these new results are being kept under wraps until further, more detailed analysis can be carried out, but we are assured that this announcement will be huge…
So what could it be? More chemical elements, or maybe the fossilized remains of a Martian. God hope it isn’t as Transformers said and a giant man-killing robot.
Expect more though August and September as this comes to light. Apparently NASA is holding it close to the vest for awhile.