Saturday, October 22, 2011

ROSAT Saturday 3PM PDT Update

@ROSAT_Reentry says: "Latest data shows an advance in ROSAT re-entry time - it could be SOON!"

Real Time Tracking Here

Some observers claim that most of the telescope assembly will survive reentry and could weigh close to the whole 1.6 tons!

When to look Here from your location.

Reentry likely between 3PM and 6PM PDT

Yikes! Where's my Hard Hat?

Here We Go Again!

Heads up skywatchers (and pedestrians!) Another pile of space junk will reenter Earth's atmosphere in the next 24 hours.

It's only been a month since the last satellite fell to Earth. I blogged about it for a whole weekend, beginning with "Up UARS!" on September 23rd, with "Tracking Error", "It's Late", and finally "Without a Trace" wrapping up the reentry weekend. I lost a fair amount of sleep waiting for that dead NASA Climate Satellite to come down.

NASA took it's own sweet time confirming reentry and splashdown in the South Pacific, east of Samoa.

Tonight's falling star is ROSAT a German X-Ray Telescope. Though it's much smaller than NASA's UARS, (2.65 tons vs 6.5 tons), larger and heavier pieces are predicted to reach Earth's surface because the telescope's glass and ceramic construction. The largest surviving piece is predicted to weigh almost 900 pounds.

ROSAT Germany's Röntgensatellit, named for William Röntgen who discovered X-Rays, and won the first Nobel Prize for Physics in 1901
I don't know who calculates the odds on these things, but they're worse than the odds of UARS hitting someone on Earth. UARS was 3200 to 1. ROSAT is coming down at 2000 to 1

ROSAT flies near the DaveCave this afternoon, fortunately at the current rate of orbital decay, it looks like ROSAT will come down in the Pacific around midnight PDT tonight.

You can follow along in real time on the internet. @ROSAT_Reentry posts hourly updates on the state of ROSAT's orbit with estimated time to reentry, and they answer questions to help followers understand the data. These are the same people that brought us @UARS_Reentry last month.

You can see ROSAT's position in real time at Real Time Satellite Tracking. To see when it will pass within view of your location, go to Heavens-Above.

Happy Reentry Watching everybody!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Back In the Saddle

If only for a day...

I attended an all day seminar with my crew, the Bosses and Human Resources, and Prinoth's Snowcat Demonstrator at My Mountain Thursday.

The morning session was introductions, team building basics, a brief history of My Moiuntain, and Customer Service guidelines.

I quizzed HR about our "Hired Gun Weatherman"'s prediction for the Winter, and so far, he's equivocating because it's another La Niña Winter.

Lunch was take-out Round Table Pizza.

After lunch, the Prinoth portion of the day began, featuring a slideshow augmented Operator's Manual Tutorial. Many questions were answered about the snowcats' future. Prinoth will continue to produce the original BR350 cab until no more customers want it.

We spent some time demystifying the "Glass Cockpit" on the new cab Bisons. Lots of pages of info you can scroll through. I made my annual plea that the displays be more night vision friendly. As is my usual MO, I snarkily reminded the Prinoth guy that the Prinoth engineers work the day shift in well lighted offices, while their creations work all night the dark.

After a solid two hours with the manuals, we headed outside to do the "Preflight Walk-Around" demonstration. There in the bright Autumn sun sat my Old Faithful BR350, fresh from her Summer Service.

She was resplendent in rebuilt tracks, sporting fresh paint on her implements. New track belts, and shiny new cutter bars back under the tiller. The Boss confirmed that Old Faithful was the most reliable cat in the fleet last season. The only down time she suffered was due to burst hydraulic hoses and front wiper problems. None of the hydraulic maladies were drive-related, these were hoses on the blade and stinger. I'm looking forward to running her up to 10K hours this season!

On this beautiful Fall morning, I remind myself that it could be as soon as five weeks until I become a full-time Groomin' Human again.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Counting My Chickens Before They're Hatched

I'm watching The Fall Classic on the tube. Game One of the World Series. It looks cold in St's the third week of October in the Upper Midwest after all. Though I don't have a dog in the hunt, I always watch the Series, it's the last vestige of Summertime...I'm like a big ol' bear gorging on the last of the summer's berries and salmon before hibernation time...only winter is my busiest time.

After running into town for my mail and some groceries this morning, I looked around the internet for my daily dose of news and information. How did I miss the announcement of the 2012 Tour de France Route yesterday?

I know, I's more than eight months until a pedal is turned in anger in the 99th Tour de France! Hell, the eggs that bear the chickens I'm counting aren't even laid yet!

I'm not discounting Winter and Ski Season at all...I'm craving redemption, closure, even healing in the wake of this year's crash-marred Tour. I got my clock,, sterilized in TdF Fantasy Racing, and I'm looking forward to rising a sub-basement or two towards The Light. The cellar I was dwelling in was so deep I could smell the sulfur, and feel the radiated heat from the Lake of Fire!

There's a different look to next July's route. Two Individual Time Trials totaling almost 100 kilometers, with the longest the day before the finish in Paris. No Team Time Trial this edition. Not so many mountaintop finishes, but more Big Climbs than last year (25, up from 23). The iconic L'Alpe d'Huez is MIA this year, but as is the norm, the Tour will largely be decided in the mountains.

The long time trials favor three time winner, Spaniard Alberto Contador, but I'm liking Luxembourger Andy Schleck's chances again next year.

Two-time runner up, Schleck is teamed with directeur sportif Johann Bruyneel in the wake of the merger of Schleck's Team Leopard-Trek and Bruyneel 's Team Radioshack. Remember that Bruyneel was directeur sportif for all of Lance Armstrong's seven TdF victories. Even given Armstrong's gifts, there's no discounting Bruyneel's direction, preparation, strategy, and assembly of the supporting cast to shepard the team leader to the top of the podium in Paris.

It's many months before the teams name their TdF Squads, but it's going to be very interesting to watch the chess game between Schleck's Johann Bruyneel and Contador's SaxoBank-Sungard manager Bjarne Riis .

Bruyneel said the race is “missing a classic summit finish like the Ventoux or Alpe d’Huez”, but suggested that there will be plenty of chances to attack, sometimes not in the most obvious of places".

“It’s a good course for Alberto,” said SaxoBank-Sungard manager (and 1996 winner) Bjarne Riis. “There might not be many summit finishes, but the climbs are hard. Even if the stage finishes in a valley, the differences will be made on the climbs like always.”

Well, I've got all Winter and Spring to contemplate my TdF navel. Before anything is set in stone, there's baseball's Spring Training, Opening Day, the kickoff of Formula One Racing, IndyCar Racing, even NASCAR racing, not to mention night after night of (hopefully) Hero Snow.

Hens, sit!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Transition Time

Last week at this hour, it was snowing in Truckee. Today was shorts and T-shirt weather all the way.

I traveled to Reno for my annual haircut. I fleshed out the trip with provisioning. I had the A/C running the whole time. It was 75°F out, but the telltale signs of Autumn were everywhere to be seen on my way back up the Truckee River canyon.

In the lowering afternoon sun, all the alder and aspens were lit up like beacons against the mountainsides. Bright yellow puffballs against the evergreens and gray volcanic soils. A pall of smoke from a downwind controlled burn gave the light an extra warm tint. I really wanted to pull over and take a few photos, but the best scenes were right at the end of miles of CalTrans repaving work, and I didn't want to be another traffic hazard for hurried motorists to contend with.

My season starts Thursday. We're going to a Prinoth Operator training session, and Employee Orientation at My Mountain. Much better to get it all in before the season starts...I hated fighting to stay awake during these things after working all night and killing an hour in the morning waiting for the show to begin.

Thursday NOAA's Climate Prediction Center issues their monthly 90 Day Climate Outlook Discussion. I'm looking for confirmation of a "Deep La Niña" to begin the season. I have seen some background noise about an El Niño forming once La Niña scoots's getting close to about time to "call" the upcoming winter weather...I'll make my call by November 1st.

I'm assuming that the World Series will be wrapped up by then