Thursday, February 28, 2013

Frozen Waterfalls Snowshoe -- Post 2

Today I'll post the second half of the photos from the snowshoe that friends and I took up Carpenter Creek.  The icicles were up to 15 feet tall and were located all around the rock grotto at the end of the gorge.  Later in the winter when the snow is not quite as deep, we are going to go back and walk up the creek to get a view from the lower level.

When we headed back up to the top of the bluff, I spotted this ivy growing on a tree. 
We often see snow droop off tree branches.  I'm not sure I've seen one as long as the one shown below.
Jamey stuck his pole in front of the snow droop for size reference.
We walked back the road.  As we arrived at the top of the hill on Airport Road, I took the photo below to show the snow in the channel, the ice piled on the west break wall, and floating ice on the horizon.

Then we spotted the eagle that was flying over the bay.  I wonder if some of the ice fishermen bribe the eagle to stick around.
Last night I decided to document the near full moon and the icicles hanging from the roof of
my back sun porch.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Frozen Waterfall Snowshoe -- Post 1

Yesterday I went on my weekly snowshoe with friends, Jamey and Lois.  This time we did go without their dogs.  Yes, that is "plural."  The day after their dog, Nora, did not return with us to the car during a snowshoe -- another local snowshoer found her.  Jamey's trick of placing pine boughs down on the snow, and then covering them with his coat -- worked.  She was found laying on the coat.  I'm sure we will still bring the dogs with us on future adventures.  However, yesterday we were not sure how the dogs with do in the very difficult terrain.  Plus, we wonder if Nora will learn from the fact that she wasn't allowed to go with us yesterday.  We will see....

Yesterday we snowshoed up Carpenter Creek, which is located on the east side of town.  Despite the fact that we were only a half mile away from downtown, it was very rugged.  If we didn't know better, we would have thought we were in the middle of nowhere.  This creek is an old glacial river with very steep banks, in some places 40 or 50 feet high.  There is so much snow in the gorge that we decided to snowshoe up on the ridge.

As we arrived at the top of the gorge, the path to the creek didn't look too bad.  We learned, however, that it was a bit more rugged than we expected due to the deep snow covering up a seemingly endless number of downed trees.

Throughout the entire snowshoe, we walked through past areas that deer have bed down.  Jamey explained that this is a good spot because the predominate northwest winds blow the deer's scent away from the creek where predators also go for water.  The deer then bed down facing away from the creek, looking toward the only direction that predators could approach.  
Even though there is not much water in this small creek, there is enough current to keep at least some sections ice free.  The patterns of the ice at the junction points is awesome.
While we were standing on the bluff, I told my friends about a fact I learned on Surviverman TV show about how animal trails often "Y" and that if you follow the bottom tail of the "Y" you often can find water.  Jamey pointed out right next to us a perfect example.  The first photo below shows the "Y", the next photo shows that it points to the creek.
We decided to descend at that point and cross over to the bluff on the other side.  Lois demonstrates a safe way to descend -- sliding on your butt.
Looking up stream....
Many of the beach trees along our trek have the beach bark disease.
Beech bark disease is a disease that causes mortality and defects in beech trees in the eastern United States and Europe In North America, the disease results when the beech scale insect, Cryptococcus fagisuga, attacks the bark, creating a wound. Later, two different fungi (Neonectria faginata (previously Nectria coccinea var. faginata) and Neonectria ditissima (previously Nectria galligena)) common to North America can invade the tree through the wound, causing a canker to form. In subsequent years, new cankers will continue to form, ultimately leading to the death of the tree.
Below is a map of the infested area in the U.S., a photo of the beech scale insect, and a close up of  a gathering of adults.  In the photos above, Jamey shows the woolly, white, waxy covering that the beech scale insect secretes.  This white covering can show on part of the tree, or on almost the entire tree.
A squirrel nest....
The circle of ice shown below was rotating in the current...
Jamey took the photo below looking straight down from the escarpment cliff.
Lots of snow...
Then after 45 minutes of snowshoeing, we saw the waterfalls through the trees.
More frozen waterfalls pictures will be posted tomorrow.
My webmaster has finished setting up all the subdomain pages.  He is now completing the rest of the tasks.  Launch of the online rockhounding adventures will hopefully be in the next few days.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Mars Curiosity Rover Update

This morning I checked up on what is happening with the Mars Curiosity rover. 

The above image of a Martian rock illuminated by white-light LEDs (light emitting diodes) is part of the first set of nighttime images taken by the Mars Hand Lens Imager (MAHLI) camera at the end of the robotic arm of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity. MAHLI took the images on Jan. 23, 2013 (PST), after dark on the 165th Martian day, or sol, of the rover's work on Mars.

This rock target in the "Yellowknife Bay" area of Mars' Gale Crater is called "Sayunei." The image covers an area about 1.3 inches by 1 inch (3.4 by 2.5 centimeters). This allowed surface features to cast shadows and provide textural detail.

The photo above shows a drill hole made by Curiosity.  Scientists in this case were testing the drilling process.  More scientific tests are scheduled.

This set of images from Mars shows the handiwork of different tools on three missions to the surface of Mars. The action of each of the tools has sometimes been referred to as drilling, but the functions of the tools have been different for each mission.

On the left is a rock on which NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used the rock abrasion tool on the rover's robotic arm. Opportunity and its twin, Spirit, were each equipped with one of these tools to grind away the surface layer of rocks and expose interior rock material to examination, in place, by instruments on the rover. The diameter of the abraded circle is 1.8 inches (4.5 centimeters) in diameter. The image was cropped from an image taken in June 2004.

The middle image shows a grid of shallow holes cut into icy soil by NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander using the motorized rasp on the back of the scoop on the lander's robotic arm. Phoenix used the rasp to penetrate frozen soil too hard for just scraping with the front-edge blade of the scoop. Soil shavings generated by the rasp were picked up by the scoop for delivery into the lander's analytical instruments. The grid of rasped holes visible in this image, four holes across, is about 2 inches (5 centimeters) wide. The image was taken in July 2008.

On the right is the hole produced by the drill on NASA's Mars rover Curiosity during the first drilling into a rock on Mars to collect a sample from inside the rock. The diameter of the hole is 0.63 inch (1.6 centimeters). The image was taken Feb. 8, 2013.

Here is what the drilling equipment looks like.

This image from NASA's Curiosity rover shows the first sample of powdered rock extracted by the rover's drill. The image was taken after the sample was transferred from the drill to the rover's scoop. In planned subsequent steps, the sample will be sieved, and portions of it delivered to the Chemistry and Mineralogy instrument and the Sample Analysis at Mars instrument.  It will take days and weeks for the scientific equipment on Curiosity to analyze this first ever sample drilled from the inside of a Martian rock.

The scoop is 1.8 inches (4.5 centimeters) wide.

It took years to develop the drilling system.  Shown above are rock samples showing the practice drilling holes.

Here is a self portrait taken by Curiosity cameras.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Univ. of Arizona/MSSS

Monday, February 25, 2013


This is just a note about the progress of the Online Rockhounding Adventures.

1.  After sending the files for the first three segments last week, my webmaster set up the subdomain pages and sent me the temporary links.  I checked out the segments along with a few close friends.  It was immediately obvious that I had to reduce the bit rate size of the movies.  It took me most of the weekend to reformat all 86 movies.  I finished uploading all of the files to my webmaster yesterday.  The good news is that once each segment is set up, I can update and republish easily and as often as I want.  This in the future will allow me to easily add more photos, make change, correct errors, expand the segments, etc.

2.  I sent my webmaster a list of the tasks yet to be accomplished.  Hopefully, all of these things can be done in the next few days. 

3. When the adventures are ready, I will post a blog update with the announcement.  Also, the project will be announced with an update to  After two years of work, I am excited about seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. 

The pilot program launch is in a 640 x 480 size, which is not full screen for most monitors.  I set this size, and now the bit rate, so that the majority of households will be able to access the adventures and successfully load and play the movies.  There may be some dial-up internet users that have to wait for the movies to load -- we will have to see what happens after launch.  As I have said in previous posts, those with IPads will not be able to participate, however.  This is because Apple Computer decided not to work with Adobe and flash-based videos cannot be played on IPads.  Unfortunately, the format required by IPads is not yet supported by the software I used to produce the adventures.

In the near future I will publish a wide-screen high resolution version of the project.  Only those with upper-end high speed internet will be able to use this version.  According to government statistics, that includes 69 percent of internet users.  I also have to finish developing the Play Time self evaluation exercises for all nine segments.

This week I am going to create a Troubleshooting Guide.  I am going to develop this using the software and include it as its own segment with the project on the webpage.  This will allow me to update the troubleshooting guide as often as I need.  One advantage of using the software to develop the troubleshooting guide is that the software has a screen capture capability so I can actually show people how to adjust their computer display if it is not set up correctly to view the adventures.

Originally I had hoped to get the project done before the international agate show in July.  Then I thought after I closed the museum for the season in September, that I would be done by late fall.  But the project has been harder and more involved than I thought.  But now the launch is in site.  Also, my friends who have seen the project like it, so hopefully everyone else will as well.

About the SOHO Mission

SOHO is the Solar Heliospheric Observatory, is a project of international collaboration between  the European Space Agency and NASA to study the Sun from its deep core to the outer corona and the solar wind.  SOHO was launched on December 2, 1995. The SOHO spacecraft was built in Europe.  Together with ESA’s Cluster mission, SOHO is studying the Sun-Earth interaction from different perspectives. 

The spacecraft is located in interstellar space part way to the sun (four times the distance of the moon from earth).  It stays in a constant position that allows the combined gravity of the Earth and Sun to keep SOHO in an orbit locked to the Earth-Sun line.  The mission was originally supposed to conclude in 1997.  However, the equipment has continued working so the mission has been extended five times.  The spacecraft was still sending images, video, and data, through 2012.


SOHO was designed to answer the following three fundamental scientific questions about the Sun:
--What is the structure and dynamics of the sun?
 --Why does the solar corona exist and how is it heated to the extremely high temperature of about 1,000,000°C?

--Where is the solar wind produced and how is it accelerated?
Clues on the solar interior come from studying seismic waves that are produced in the turbulent outer shell of the Sun and which appear as ripples on its surface.

Research results have revealed the first images ever of a star's convection zone (its turbulent outer shell) and of the structure of sunspots below the surface.

The mission has provided the most detailed and precise measurements of the temperature structure, the interior rotation, and the gas flows in the solar interior.

SOHO has monitored the total solar irradiance as well as variations in the extreme ultra violet flux of the sun which is important to understand how the sun affects the Earth's weather.
Instruments can now measure and track the acceleration and changes in the speed of solar wind.
Using SOHA equipment scientists can study and identify the source regions and acceleration mechanism of the fast solar winds generated at the poles of the sun.
The mission has discovered new dynamic solar phenomena such as coronal waves and solar tornadoes.
Data from SOHO has revolutionized our ability to forecast space weather.  Scientists can now provide up to a three day notice of earth-directed disturbances,which is an early warning system of possibly dangerous space weather.
SOHA has become the most prolific discoverer of comets.  As of January 2011, more than 2,000 comets have been found by this mission.