Friday, September 23, 2011

What goes Up....UARS

Upper Atmosphere Research SatelliteImage via WikipediaSing it, Sammy. "Catch a painted pony on a merry go round!"

A big satellite is coming down tonight, and it's calles UARS.

Do you remember when SkyLab fell? I do. And I watched it. I was a sci-fi space junkie. Now I'm in my office, father of 10, 4 congregations, lots of personal, family, and parish duties. But space still fascinates me.

UARS was launched in in September 1991 from STS-48 Space Shuttle Discovery. UARS cost about $750 million to build. (I couldn't find figures on the cost to launch and deploy) The original mission for UARS was 3 years. A paltry $250 million a year. There are plenty of American Taxpayers to fund that!!!!

The purpose of UARS was:
to study human effects on the planet's atmosphere and its shielding ozone layer. The UARS mission objectives were to provide an increased understanding of the energy input into the upper atmosphere, global photochemistry of the upper atmosphere, dynamics of the upper atmosphere, the coupling among these processes, and the coupling between the upper and lower atmosphere. This provided data for a coordinated study of the structure, chemistry, energy balance, and physical action of the Earth's middle atmosphere - that slice of air between 10 and 60 miles above the Earth. The UARS was the first major flight element of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth, a multi-year global research program that would use ground-based, airborne, and space-based instruments to study the Earth as a complete environmental system.[2] UARS had ten sensing and measuring devices: Cryogenic Limb Array Etalon Spectrometer (CLAES); Improved Stratospheric and Mesospheric Sounder (ISAMS); Microwave Limb Sounder (MLS); Halogen Occultation Experiment (HALOE); High Resolution Doppler Imager (HRDI); Wind Imaging Interferometer (WlNDII); Solar Ultraviolet Spectral Irradiance Monitor (SUSIM); Solar/Stellar Irradiance Comparison Experiment (SOLSTICE); Particle Environment Monitor (PEM) and Active Cavity Radiometer Irradiance Monitor (ACRIM II). UARS's initial 18-month mission was extended several times – it was finally retired after 14 years of service.
 It worked until Jan 1992, fixed in June, broke again 14 months later, a partial fix was made months later, then in 1995 the earth sensor broke which led to a solar array failure, three fo its batteries failed in 1997, then in 1999 its backup tape recorder started to fail. A few of the sensors still operated, but UARS was decomissioned in Dec 2005 (14 years after its launch) and brought down to a destructive orbit that month. The International Space Station had to dodge the UARS one time so that the astronauts abord wouldn't be space dust.

The Highights of the UARS mission can be seen at this website.

But those Highlights aren't really objective science if you are willing to search through the scientific literature.

What matters tonight is that there will be a pretty fireworks display. Sammy Davis, Jr. put it to music, "What goes up, must come down!"  I hope some of you can record it with your cameras.

It was pretty expensive fireworks. Someone should enjoy it.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

Help Building a Hen House

 Well, we're finally getting started on the hen house so we can have eggs during the winter.

I framed it with 2x4s. The siding, roofing, flooring, windows, and door are all scrap from neighbors.

The kids want me to cut a half-moon in it so it looks even more like an outhouse.

I want it to be servicable and not really visible from the church.

Clara, Elsie, John, Sophie, Stella, Donna, and Inge are all helping with the details.

Mary, Louisa, and Matt also helped to move the frame back behind the house.

We also had some special help from our Turkey.
Thanksgiving Dinner is supervising my work on the door.
Any time the drill squeaked or made noise Thanksgiving Dinner had to make his gobbling sound.

I think he is probably lonely. Lots of chickens, 2 sheep, but the other turkey died in a storm last May. So he walks around us puffing up his feathers, rattling his wings, and chuffing at us.

Really, he's very gentle, just wants attention. Have you ever held and pet a turkey? Well, he's helping get the hen house done.

I'll need to get more scrap siding in the morning and a couple of palates to scavange for floor boards.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Cheap Pans for Camp Grilling or Home Grilling

There are times when we buy really cheap baking pans for use on the fire or grill. Like the cheap pizza tins, these are usually available at any K-Mart, Wal-Mart, Target, or grocery store. A brand like EZ-Baker from G&S Metal Products Company makes a lightweight steel pan that costs less than $2 and most often are on sale for less than $1 per pan.

We get the plain pans and then season them. Besides being inexpensive, this seasoning is what makes them extra useful over the fire.

Seasoning steel pans is the process of burning/oxidizing some kind of fat over the cooking surface of the pan. The oxidized fat turns into thin layers of carbon. This thin layering of carbon then prevents the food from sticking.

Mary picked up a couple of 7"x1.5" squares, a couple 7"x10x1.5" pans, and a couple 13"x9" cookie sheets.The goal was grilled chicken, grilled yams, and grilled sliced potatoes.

Preparing the pans:
The pans work better and last longer if you season them before use.

At first use this means:
  1. Washing the new pans and rinsing thoroughly.
  2. Drying the pans in heat.
  3. Letting them cool.
  4. Coat the pans with a thin coating of high temperature oil (using a paper towel or some such): peanut, canola, grape seed oil, or--like most people--pork lard.
  5. Place the pans in an oven heated between 250 and 350F. Bake for an hour and run a new coating of oil/lard, return to oven for another hour.
 Let them cool, wipe off, store or use.

Cleaning the seasoned pans is done without much - if any- soap. And typically, after the pan is emptied, scraped, then I'll put some oil on it and set it on the grill/coals to re-season the surface.

(another discussion of seasoning pans)

Using the pans:
For yesterday's picnic at Old Mill State Park we had
  • 2 Split Chickens
  • Yams
  • Potatoes
Split Chicken
  1. Two chickens 3-5lb.
  2. I split them up the sides along the thin ribs below the breast up to the wish bone. Then I chop off the rest of the neck.
  3. The giblets and neck are placed in the bottom of the pan. 
  4. The inside of the back and front halves are seasoned.
  5. The front is placed on the cutting board and pressed until the breastbone breaks or lays flat. 
  6. Put the front in the pan, skin/breast up, tucking the wings.
  7. Put the back in the pan overlapping the bottom of the breast, skin/back up, tucking the drum sticks.
  8. Season the top/skin side. Add other ingredients if desired.
  9. Cover with heavy aluminum foil.

Place on hot coals, takes between 40 minutes to an hour. Use a thermometer to check the breast through the foil, if it's at 182F then it's ready to eat.
You can take them out of the foil and use direct heat if you desire for finishing.

  1. 4 Medium Yams peeled cut, sliced, with 1 onion, cut and sliced and 4 T butter. Place in smaller square pans, top with onion and butter. 
  2. Cover with heavy aluminum foil. 
  3. place in coals for 30 to 45 minutes.

  1. Slice potatoes thin, coat with a bit of olive oil.
  2. put on cookie sheet, cover with Al foil.
  3. Burn the potatoes up on the coals on the grill. Possibly the sheet was to thin, or I got distracted. Grr.
  4. Throw them away.
  5. Try something different next time.