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At MakerFaire NYC

Hi all,I'll be at the NYC MakerFaire this weekend (Sept 21-22), in case anyone wishes to join up...

Concepts For A CubeSat LARP

I am a firm believer that simulations improve reality.  If you want to launch a CubeSat, you...

Putting a TARDIS in Space?

I am used to odd looks when I say I'm flying a satellite to convert the ionosphere to music. ...

Who Can Launch a CubeSat?

In the half year since I wrote last September, the CubeSat field has greatly moved forward. ...

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Project CalliopeRSS Feed of this column.

Alex "Sandy" Antunes is the mastermind behind 'Project Calliope', a pico-satellite funded by Science 2.0 and being launched in 2011 by a mad scientist who is a space & music enthusiast. This... Read More »

Will picosatellites pollute space like in Wall-E? Why do we let amateurs kill Mother Earth? Send in the UN!

These are part of the overwhelming comments following my Discovery interview. I am amazed at the variety of space litter connondrums presented.  I thought about writing a calm, well-measured response, but you know what?  If the posters can rant, so can I!

Unlike them, however, I will rant with scientific backing on my side.
I am often asked questions about my musical picosatellite, Project Calliope. Easy questions have concrete answers. "What are your sensors?": I-CubeX magnetic, thermal, light. "What magnetic field is expected?": ."How are you going to distribute the tracks?": as free remixable MIDI files via web.

Others are either vague or awkward. "When will the satellite be done?": obviously 'by launch'. "What will it sound like?": whatever the musician wants. "What's your downlink bandwidth?" I'm still working on the radio parts.
What does the ionosphere sound like?  Well, our Project Calliope sonification will map the ionosphere's properties to a musical range.  What you'll hear is the volume and changes of activity within it.

In some ways, sound is the best method for getting a 'big picture' of an item.  Think of a large body of water.  With your eyes close, you can tell the gentle lapping of a lake from the burble of a brook, the flow of a river, or the periodic crashing waves of an ocean.
deconstructing a solar event
Just a short bit, since I'm tired after BEING INTERVIEWED BY WIRED!!!??!  Not that I'd brag about being INTERVIEWED BY WIRED or anything, just thought I'd mention, in pass, that WIRED INTERVIEWED ME about Project Calliope.

Anyway, two good results of the interview (besides being interviewed by Wired!!!).  First, I updated the project website, still at http://ProjectCalliope.com, to reflect the current progress and the current 'storyline'.  So if you want to build a satellite, and not just read about it, that's where the story is starting to shape up.  It's the same articles as I write here, but in meaningful order, not chronological.
How high is space, how far can you fall with a parachute, where is the Project Calliope satellite going to be, and where does the hard radiation from the sun get nasty?  Gathered for the first time in one place is our High Altitude Explorer's Guide.

A typical airplane cruises at 9km (6 miles) up, around 30,000 feet.  Military jets (from the SR-71 onward to modern planes) can hit over 30km (19 miles) up, over 100,000 feet.

Can you parachute from that height?  Yes, in 1960 Joseph Kittinger set the record at 31.3km (19.5 miles), or 102,800 feet.  Felix Baumgartner is trying this year, 2010, to freefall from 36km (over 22 miles), an 118,000 feet fall.
What do you get when you mix politics and space exploration?
a) an impenetrable mess
b) an interesting clash between technology and people
c) something scarier than sausage making

For those who think politics is messy or scary, I agree. But it makes for good reading.  And when you read space politics, you also get nice logo-like images like this one.

I've covered some of the 'people' issues abut space exploration, most recently in . But I'm focused on just getting my lil' old satellite up. What's the picture for getting people, space stations, nuclear reactors, and kitchen sinks into space?