When we think of a space launch it’s likely our minds might turn to the lush swampland of Florida’s Cape Canaveral, or the jungle of Kourou in Guyana. These are both in the tropical regions on sites as close to the Equator as the governments who built them could find, because the higher rotational speed of the planet at its widest point gives departing rockets a bit of extra kick. Even the Soviet Baikonur cosmodrome in modern-day Kazakhstan which sits at around 45 degrees North, was chosen in part to lie in one of the more southerly Soviet republics.
It’s unexpected then to report on the opening of what may at the time of writing be the world’s newest spaceport, situated on the island of Andøya in northern Norway, at around 69 degrees North. Just what is going on?
The answer for the German company Isar Aerospace is that their launches from the site will be ideally placed not for low-inclination orbits but for polar orbits, something of a valuable commodity and a worthy point of competition when compared to equatorial sites. We have shamefacedly to admit that we’re not completely au fait with Norwegian geography, so it took us a minute to find Andøya towards the top of the country’s westward chain of islands.
The spaceport itself lies in a bay facing westward over the Norwegian Sea, and the launch platform is on a stone jetty protruding into the water. It appears to be a beautiful landscape, a suitable reward for any hardy souls who make the trip to watch a launch. Unexpectedly the spaceport stands alone in Continental Europe, though before too long it’s likely to be joined by other projects including one in northern Scotland. European skies are likely to become busier over the coming years.
Sailboats have been traversing the Atlantic Ocean since before 1592, sailing through sunshine, wind, and rain. The one thing that they’ve all had in common has been a captain to pilot the ship across this vast watery expanse, at least until now. A company called Offshore Sensing has sailed an unmanned vessel all the way from Canada to Ireland.
The ship, called the Sailbuoy, attempted the journey last year as well but only made it about halfway before the mission was abandoned. This year, however, the voyage was finally completed, and this craft is officially the first unmanned ship to cross the Atlantic Ocean. The journey took about 80 days using sails and a small set of solar panels to drive the control electronics.
Using this technology, the company can investigate wave activity in specific areas of the ocean without having to send out a manned vessel to install a permanent buoy. The sailbuoy simply uses its autonomy to stay in a particular patch of ocean. There have been other missions that the sailbuoy has been tasked with as well, such as investigating the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. With a reliable craft like this, it becomes much easier, safer, and less expensive to explore the ocean’s surface.
Thanks to [Andy] for the tip!
The gist of the idea is to suspend an underwater tunnel from floating pontoons. By the time you finished reading that sentence, you probably already had a list of things in your head that seem to make this a terrible idea. After all, it does seem to combine the worst aspects of both underwater tunnels and bridges. But, the idea may actually be a good one, and it’s already being seriously considered in Norway.
Continue reading “It’s Not A Bridge, And Not A Tunnel. Or, Maybe It’s Both?”
[eN0Rm’s] Raspberry Pis are much more than just another brick in the wall. He’s used the popular embedded Linux platform to build several small rear projection screens in a brick wall (Imgur link). Brick shaped metal enclosures were mortared into the wall of the building. Each rear projection screen is illuminated by a DLP projector which sits inside the metal enclosure. The Raspberry Pis sit on a shelf below all this. The bricks are in a building in the Aker Brygge section of Oslo, Norway, and show historical facts and short videos about the local area.
[eN0Rm] could have used a PC for this task, the price for a low-end PC with a few graphics cards probably wouldn’t have been much more expensive than several Raspberry Pi’s with cases. However, this system has to just work, and a PC would represent a single point of failure. Even if one Raspberry Pi goes down, the others will continue running.
The current installation is rather messy, but it’s just a test setup. [eN0Rm] has already been taken to task for the lack of cable management in his Reddit thread. As [eNoRm] says – first get it working, then make it pretty.
In the cold and mysterious wilderness of Norway, it pays to be ready for anything–especially heavy-walking trolls. The team at [nullohm] decided to prepare thoroughly for their trek into the woods to witness the Leonids meteor shower by putting together an Arduino-based “troll detector”.
The device is based on the superstition of hammering a steel spike into a tree to keep trolls away from camp. This goes one step further by including an accelerometer and LED indicators so that you can tell exactly what type of troll is just about to feast upon your tender human flesh.
When the detector is installed into a nearby tree, it takes an average seismic measurement and then looks for telltale footfalls. Even if you’re not concerned with perpetuating superstitions, you might find a use for the source code for simple seismic activity monitoring at home to supplement your miniature seismic reflector.