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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 »

NASA creates dramatic artistic renderings of upcoming launches, in full color animation, often scaled for the IMAX screen.  They're great eye candy, but they are also informative, and have genuine science at their core.

For example, the STEREO solar panel deployment is fascinating to watch, even as a simulation.  It uses a highly accurate 3D model of the actual spacecraft, and attempts to balance physical realism with artistic license.  Noteworthy is the robotic nature of the deployment and the oscillation of the solar panels as they deploy.
IT arrived. With little fanfare, an ordinary cardboard box full of packing peanuts has thrown my life into panic and confusion. For the mighty packing slip says it all. "Parts&Packing List". Inside is... a piece of paper. And, hopefully, buried under the packing peanuts, also a satellite.

box with packing peanuts

My satellite. My InterOrbital pico-satellite. "Project Calliope", the satellite. The THING I'm BUILDING in my BASEMENT (dum-dum-dah-dum!). Did you ever wonder just what a satellite is made of? The answer is... this!
I enjoyed presenting on Project Calliope two weeks ago, at the 215th AAS meeting.  I have a partial podcast of my talk in preparation, but in the meantime, here are the visual slides from my presentation (and also up as a PDF at ProjectCalliope.com.  The most important theme I covered was the shift from a tech mindset (build a crack engineering team) to a social mindset (gather a circle of interested people able to talk this up).   Though the value of the talk was in the dialog, not the slides, this does provide a useful basic primer on the how and why of launching a personal picosatellite.

Project Calliope
Science&Social Media

I've often run into the idea of 'realspace' (or 'meatspace') versus 'virtual reality' (or 'the Internet').  The concept is that they are two often separate worlds.  I disagree with that, and feel there are three spaces.  One has solid entities like people and rooms, and you interact with them noticeably.  The second may be online or it may be solid, but the interactions are between individuals and kept private.  The third is completely open, for many to access-- typically via online presence, because online lends permanence that the 'solid' world rarely has.
Our satellite hits the road-- even before it gets built!  I will be presenting a short talk on "Project Calliope: Science and Social Media" at the winter AAS meeting in Washington DC on January 7, 2010.  The session is 'Innovations in Teaching and Learning'.
Today, while thrift-shopping, I found an important component for our satellite building.

rolling trunk

Yes, it's a rolling trunk, and I'll admit it's not the most exciting science prop.  But there are four important details that make this an important detail in DIY satellite building.

1) Pragmatics.  I need a place to store the satellite and components when I'm not working on it.

2) Conveyance.  I need something to lug the kit around when I take it over to my friend's workshop, when we eventually get to final assembly.