“Pale Blue Dot” revisited

Click to enlargeNASA/JPL-Caltech

For the 30th anniversary of one of the most iconic views from the Voyager mission, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is publishing a new version of the image known as the “Pale Blue Dot.”

The updated image uses modern image-processing software and techniques while respecting the intent of those who planned the image. Like the original, the new color view shows Planet Earth as a single, bright blue pixel in the vastness of space. Rays of sunlight scattered within the camera optics stretch across the scene, one of which happens to have intersected dramatically with Earth.

The view was obtained on Feb. 14, 1990, just minutes before Voyager 1’s cameras were intentionally powered off to conserve power and because the probe – along with its sibling, Voyager 2 – would not make close flybys of any other objects during their lifetimes. Shutting down instruments and other systems on the two Voyager spacecraft has been a gradual and ongoing process that has helped enable their longevity.

RTFA. Offer your memory an opportunity to deepen your sense of proportion.

Navy’s Robo-Craft has NO crew and one big machine gun

MCSpl3 Rebekah M. Rinckey

One of the most important but generally overlooked missions of the U.S. Navy is port security. While incidents in peacetime are generally rare, the 2000 terrorist attack on the destroyer USS Cole remains a real danger. Now the Navy is experimenting with using one of its newest unmanned boats as a way to protect warships sitting pierside from attack.

Since the attack on the Cole, the Navy has gotten a lot more serious about port security. Now the service is testing the Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle (CUSV) as an unmanned, autonomous sentry capable of protecting much bigger ships from interlopers. The service is testing CUSV at Norfolk Naval Base, where it simulated patrolling near the guided-missile destroyer Arleigh Burke and the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis.

CUSV is a small, unmanned boat developed by Textron Systems. CUSV is also modular and can be adapted to many different roles. For the harbor security role, the Navy added electro-optical cameras, loudspeakers, and a remote-controlled .50-caliber machine gun. While CUSV has the ability to conduct many tasks autonomously, such as patrolling a set geographic area, only a human monitoring the situation remotely can fire the weapon.

Anyone out there who DOESN’T know any geeks/gamers/hackers who’d love to play with this [guaranteed to be] overpriced toy?