The Website will be down for a short period Sun, Aug 2nd 2020 while the site is upgraded
I shall be taking the site down for a while on Sun, Aug 2nd 2020, while i perform the upgrade. Although I have a local copy of the website, I also do a bit of experimentation on it, so the two are not perfectly synchronised, so I'll have to make a backup of the site and download it first. It'll actually take longer to do that than perform the update. It should all be over in less than tw…
[Martian clock showing time at the prime meridian] The Martian clocks (keeping Martian time) on the Mars Weather page also display the L (pron. ell sub ess) - a way of describing where the planet is in its orbit, and the displacement of the sun in the sky at midday. I noticed the value for this was out by some distance, and after pondering the problem (and the code) for a while, the penny dropped.
Mars July 2020plugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigMars July 2020
It's mid-July now, and temperatures at the InSight lander's location on Mars (south-west corner of Elysium in the northern hemisphere) are teetering on the edge and about to fall. At the end of the month - July 30th - NASA's Perseverance rover (formerly known as the Mars 2020 rover) gets its first launch opportunity. It had previously been scheduled to launch two weeks earlier but, you know, things happened.
This page is currently inactive for 2019 conjunction (until next conjunction in 2021)
Mars is heading for a solar conjunction, which in layman's terms means it's on the opposite side of the sun from the Earth. For a short period, no commands will be sent to the Mars spacecraft (which includes landers and rovers) since the sun's corona could corrupt those commands and result in unintended actions, disablement of the spacecraft or worse.
The Mars Weather page is now 99.99% automatic, with rebuilds regularly throughout the day. The 0.001% that's not automated? Once a week I have to update the image that shows the relative positions of the inner planets. I think I can manage that
[Temperature over time] I've updated the format of the Temperature Over Time chart on the Mars Weather page to make it more readable. The sol numbers were overlapping each other, despite being broken into two rows. The chart is now interactive, in that you can use your mouse (or other pointing device) to select a position on one of the temperature graphs, and the sol number will be displayed at the bottom.
[Orbital Calculator v2.0.6] Four major new functions for acceleration and gravity and a few tweaks under the hood. New functions include: Constant Velocity, Free-Fall, N-Body Centre of Gravity (in 3D space) and Distance/Speed/Time.
These powerful functions allow you to calculate speed as a constant, as constant acceleration or as increasing acceleration, as well as determine the common centre of gravity of any number of astronomical or artificial space-born o…
Pi Zero Planplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigPi Zero Plan
I've been wondering what to do with my Raspberry Pi Zero, and didn't think I'd come up with an idea for a few months. Like most things, it's not necessarily a good idea to go looking for a use for it: wait until a use suggests itself.
Site Softwareplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSite Software
Some people have expressed an interest in what software I use for this site. It's built around DokuWiki with some extensions to make it work like a blog, keep it transparent (all the articles and entries are visible in the treeview menu) and to spruce things up - such as the auto-tooltip which displays the first part of a page when the user mouses over an internal link (this also works in the top-bar menu). Some extensions make administering the site easier, such as moving articl…
Info Postsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigInfo Posts
Posts in this section are informational only, and usually draw attention to an update in another page. Most often, these pages will be removed when similar information is added. For example, an update to Orbital Calculator effectively becomes stale when a newer update occurs, so the old reference is removed.
Site Statisticsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigSite Statistics
For the last year I've been using a plugin for my site that generates a statistics page, through which I can keep an eye on how well the site is doing. A couple of days ago, it stopped working. After a bit of analysis I discovered the data structures it was creating in memory had consumed too much of said memory and my hosting service had auto-assassinated it.
Info Reportplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigInfo Report
N.B. This page gets bumped every now and again when new info is added.
I've been pruning some of the stale articles and blog posts. If anything is broken, please let me know.
The physical Martian clock... I have to come up with a better name for it than that. PiMars! Yup, I like that. The PiMars clock was up and running and displaying data at a crucial time. It was just a couple of hours before the end of the day at the InSight location, and as luck would have it, I had it display time at that place.
* Bugfix to Wind direction chart to correctly show most common wind direction and sample count * Smoothed the max/min data lines in the Temperature over Time chart so anomolies don't distort the location of the lines
This is my blog. It is an eclectic mix of book reviews by new and up-and-coming authors, articles, science news, random topic monologues and stuff about my software. Sometimes I talk about my fiction writing too.
startplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigI'm a novelist and have an interest in space science and physics. I've been a programmer for more than 30 years and I like reviewing new and up-and-coming authors.
If you want me to review your novel, please look at my Rules on Reviewing page.
Please consider registering (see top of page) to help support this site. Your personal data isn't shared with anyone, but it makes me feel good.
ISSplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigInternational Space Station
This page has a portal through which you can view the current location of the International Space Station, updating in real-time. The tracker itself comes from the European Space Agency (ESA).
Part of the tool doesn't seem to be working properly yet, raising an error when the widget first loads. A possible explanation for the error is detailed below. There is also a handy link to get email notifications direct from NASA when the ISS is visible in your night sky.
Mars Weatherplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigMars Weather Reports
These reports are provided by NASA's InSight lander in the south-west corner of Elysium Planitia. Daily readings are usually a couple of days behind reality.
This page is updated hourly. Last update: 16:00 Fri. Sep 18th, 2020
I needed to calculate orbital characteristics for any orbit around any gravitational mass (because I write sci-fi stories), so I wrote this program because I'm a programmer and I'm too lazy to do it by hand all the time. The program has expanded over the last few years, sometimes from suggestions by other writers. I make it freely available and as simple to use as possible. It now has a list of functions as long as your arm (assuming you're not a tentacle user), and the numbe…
Book Reviewsplugin-autotooltip__default plugin-autotooltip_bigBook Reviews
Here you can find all the book reviews, broken down by genre, and further subdivided by author. If you want me to review your novel, please read my Rules on Reviewing.