Space – The Final Fronteer

So, Space is the last real place that mankind is engaged in real pioneering exploration right. So does the idea of space inspire you enough to want to get involved in this exploration? Does the idea of being involved in the discovery of something new, unique and completely unknown make your juices flow enough to make you excited enough to want to take part in making some amazing discovery?

Meh

That all sounds too expensive, difficult, time consuming, and frankly Mr Yettie, I have no intention of joining the space program I hear you muttering.

:lol:

No Fear, I’m not asking you to expand on that childhood dream of becoming an astronaut or going out and buying some really expensive kit to explore the skies. No way Hosea! What I am talking about is taking part in a project that was started a few months ago, and promises to make 2013 a pretty special year in the exploration of the Red Planet, our next door neighbour Mars.

This is an image of fan like structures that have been observed on the face of Mars by a satellite in orbit of the Red Planet that has for the last few years been photographing every square foot of the planet over and over again. This has resulted in the production of literally millions of photographic images of the planet in various stages of the season, and it is now known that these fans appear every year in the Martian Spring, what scientists suspect are gaseous eruptions much like geysers here on earth. It is believed that there is a warming of ice below the surface in the spring as the planet warms, and this is what leads to the formation of these structures that can be seen on the planet.

The thing I found amazing about this discovery is that it was made by a Joe Blogs like you or me, who had registered on a website to take part in a project to help map and explore the pictures taken from the surface of the Martian surface. And this, spurred me to go and have a look, and suddenly become really enthused about taking part.

It is simple really. You visit www.planet4.org where you can join over 55,000 other every day explorers who are given a piece of Mars to explore and classify to help scientists catalogue abnormalities on the surface and discover new and interesting formations on the surface. In this way, over 2 million images have now been classified, helping scientists to zone in and focus on findings that are leading to new and exciting ideas, theories and discoveries about our next door neighbour. The amazing thing. You could be a part of all that, and from the comfort of your over stuffed chair.

It is not just Mars that these guys are exploring either. The main program, Zooinverse, located at www.zooniverse.org/projects has all manner of projects on the go, from exploring the moon, to helping to classify cyclones or explore the ocean floor. If you really want to, you can even help to classify cancer samples.

It’s nice to feel that in some small way, maybe something I did to help will be used to make some sort of breakthrough or fascinating discovery, and while maybe that is me being just a little bit delusional  it is still a good feeling to be a part of something that is charting the exploration of parts of our universe we know nothing about. It also felt pretty amazing in that while I was working on the pictures I helped to classify, I couldn’t help but think to myself that just maybe I was looking close at a portion of the Red Planet that had never been studies or looked at in such detail before. That is quite a remarkable feeling. I guess it’d be even better to be the first man to stand on the same spot and see it visually, but for now, this small effort on my part is as much as we can do, and yes, I can say that a Yettie was a part of that.

2013 will in many ways be a pretty remarkable year as spacial events go. On the 15th February 2013, the largest object of recent history will pass a mere 35,000 miles from our surface, the asteroid 2012 DA14 a chunk of rock 45 metres wide. Make sure your valentines day is a special one this year. :p

And then, come November December 2013 the mega comet Ison will come within 800,000 km of the surface of our sun, meaning we could have a feature in the sky that could be even brighter than a full moon in daylight hours. If that does indeed happen, surely it will be one of the most dazzlingly spectacular astronomical features of our night sky in our time. No wonder they are coining the term Comet of the Century for Ison’s pass through our system.

Two big events in a great year for star gazing if you are so inclined. Anyway, enough of me babbling on about something I’ve really enjoyed checking out, and I hope that in some ways, just maybe you’ll be able to get as much interest out of it as I did. Hugs to you all and hope January is not treating you too badly.

Thought for today – “Dream as if you will live forever, Live as if you will die today.” – James Dean

Song for today – Fill My Little World by the Feeling

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How much do you enjoy your life style?

Spontaneity is a spice that makes life interesting, unexpected, exciting and adventurous. Doing something on the spur of the moment means that there is seldom a set pattern for anything that you do spontaneously and the results that come from a lack of planning I find can often lead to some of life’s most special memories.

With many of my friends throughout life I have always tried to maintain a level of unplanned adventure. At some level, this unorganised approach to life and the things that we have done while living life, has meant that there is always an air of anticipation as to what will be our next big adventure.

My mother told me from a very early age that I was a free spirit and would never be tied down for very long to one place or one thing. My mother has proved a multitude of times through my life to be an uncanny judge of character, and I’ve always trusted her opinion when it comes to people. She seems to have an ability to see to the very essence of a person, and will tell you pretty quickly if someone is going to be a friend or foe.

Many of my friends have either learnt to adapt to my chaotic unpredictability or are very similar to me in this sense. In fact one person that I came to know in my life was so similar to me in this sense it was quite uncanny and many of the trips and things that Ashley and I got up to while we were close are still some of my fondest memories. From visiting London for the very first time, to walks along the beach at three am in the morning, we always managed to find something interesting to fill our time together.

I’d say that my fondest memory of an impromptu journey with Ashley was spent in the company of another close friend of mine called Liam. The three of us one night decided to drive to Pembroke Dock, get on the ferry to Rosslare in Ireland and spend the day travelling around Ireland, up to Dublin where we finally boarded the ferry to Hollyhead in Anglesea, and then driving through Wales home. I can say that the excitement of the trip, the thrill of exploring together and the fun of being away from the pressures of normal life made our day trip one of the most amazing day trips I can recall.

I remember as a youngster winning a White Water Rafting excursion down the Zambizi River with Fronteers River Rafting Company. It was a day trip for two, and so at the time my best mate Miguel and I packed our bags for the weekend, hired a flat, caught a bus to Bulawayo and the overnight train to Victoria Falls. On the train we shared a room with three Kiwi explorers who were travelling through Africa, and spent a wild night getting drunk and trading stories. The nest day we explored Victoria Falls and visited the Rain Forrest path that takes you along the length of the falls. It was low season so the water mist was not as intense as it can be. We were able to get right up to the edge of the cliff and sit watching the boiling pot churning up the water below us.

The next day was the birth of my addiction of water driven adrenaline rushes. Going down the Zambizi on a White Water River Raft has got to be one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had, and I was hooked almost from the first rapid we hit. Our guide was a Canadian lad who’d been working on the river for a couple of years and we had a fantastic day of adventure, adrenaline, excitement and pure enjoyment. I guess the worst part of that day was the climb out of the river gorge at the end of the day. 283 steps up the cliff was hell. But its amazing how nice an ice cold beer tastes after all that effort.

I recall one day while I was working up at the Timber Wholesale Centre Forrest in Nyanga in Zimbabwe, waking up and deciding that today was the day I was going to climb Mount Nyangani, the highest peak in the Chimanimani Mountain Range on the Western boarder of Zimbabwe. Bruno was visiting me for the weekend, and we managed to work each other up to a bit of a frenzy as we thought about what we should take and what we shouldn’t. Mount Nyangani has a reputation of mystery and intrigue, and many African people will not climb it as they believe it is possessed by evil spirits. We gathered a team of workers from the security team I was building at the estate, and set off in the Land Rover. When we got to the parking at the bottom of the mountain, it was a sunny Sunday morning, and we were excited to be undertaking the challenge. Five of us made the climb as one of the team remained with the jeep. It was not an easy climb I have to say, and when we approached the summit it became very misty and it felt we were walking in thick cloud. There were warning signs all the way along the track advising you to stay on the track. The foliage on top the mountain was stunted in growth and produced some of the weirdest shapes through the mist as we approached. We finally made it to the summit beacon, and stood screaming and howling in excitement at having achieved our goal. We had a bite to eat and then began the decent to the car. When we got there, we were discussing the climb with the member of the team that’d been at the car, and two things alarmed us. Firstly the member at the car has seen no cloud on the mountain at all during the day, and was certain that he’d seen us at the beacon, yet the climbing team had been unable to see anything but thick grey cloud at the beacon. The second mystery was while it seemed we’d only been climbing for a few hours, when we reached the car we discovered that it was late afternoon, and we’d been on the mountain most of the day.

There are dozens of trips that I could talk about in reality. Visiting John O’Groats in Scotland with Tom, or a weekend in Torque with Barbara visiting the Zoo. New York with Scott was an experience and a half. Six cities in one night with Tyke, Liam and Tyrone or Blackpool Pleasure beach were also great days out. Protesting outside No 10 Downing Street with Barbara and 1 Million Zimbabwean Voices was quite a big thing.

But spontaneity does not just have to exist in adventure or taking trips. It can be worked into your every day life. Pick up the phone to an old friend and spend some time chatting. Get up and go out for a meal or watch a movie. DO something extraordinary, or stop and help out someone that you would not normally take the time to help.

When I was younger I loved building models, and a few months ago I bought myself an airfix model. It was the first time in years that I’d spent some time building something that I enjoy looking at, and I thoroughly enjoyed the change, challenge and break away from the other things that I do on a normal basis. Learning to enjoy the time we have is about learning to be creative. We don’t always have the money to jump in the car and travel miles around the world exploring this magnificent country of ours. Yet it is just as easy to spend 15 minuets on the phone to your mates and organise a sadza party, or a wii night. When was the last time you had a good giggle playing Pictionary? In these times we must be creative in creating things to do. Our friendships should be stronger, our relationships closer, and together we should be able to create enough to do to keep our lives interesting, exciting and fun. The truth is that we spend so much time in high pressure environments, struggling to survive, striving to succeed, and burning the candle at both ends to keep up. So its time to be smart about our free time, and I for one am a strong supporter of being spontaneous and keeping it all interesting.