Author Archives: roamingfirehydrant

About roamingfirehydrant

I get paid to break things.

Iconic Photos

Welcome to the timesuck that is Iconic Photos.
Duke of Wellington, by Antoine Claudet, 1844.
Dresden after the fire bombing, by Richard Peter from the Rathaustrum.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, on the SS Great Eastern by Robert Howett, 1857.
Gurung honeyhunter, by Eric Valli, 1987.
Now I wish I’d kept some of the contact sheets from the NASA photographers. They don’t do that with digital photography.


Filed under history


NASA’s photo of the day – the Canary Islands are seen kicking up von Kármán vortices off the Atlantic coast of Africa:


Comments Off on Vortices

Filed under space

Titusville Warbird Museum

The really cool thing about this blog is that I can share my vacation photos, and no one seems to mind too much.

The official name of the museum is Valiant Air Command Warbird Museum, and the docent was kind and indulgent to the nerds in our little group. (Engineers can’t help it.)
We got to stick our heads in the bomb bay of this B-25.
DSCN0064 crop
Continue reading


Filed under Air Force, history, marines, navy, Personal, planes, World War II

As promised, more Atlantis pics

Scottthebadger was kind enough to compliment my simile of Atlantis pinned like a butterfly on display. It’s even more obvious when you see the cargo bay doors open.
Continue reading

Comments Off on As promised, more Atlantis pics

Filed under history, Personal, space

Kennedy Space Center and Atlantis

I promise to write more about this trip later, but the dearth of posts this weekend cries out for something, anything right now.

I took my family to the Kennedy Space Center Visitors Center. Something of a busman’s holiday, but that was okay. I’ll admit that it was not cheap (what in Florida is?) but it was a full day of exhibits and tours, plus the fun of a collegiate robotic challenge.

What I came to see was this:

I’ll admit, I cried when I first saw her, pinned like a butterfly on display when she should be soaring through space. But the exhibit for Atlantis is a good one, lots about the history of the Space Shuttle program, the accomplishments in telescopes, satellites, and assembly of ISS, remembrances of the crews we’ve lost, and spinoffs from space. And as a friend reminded me, better on display like this than a jumble of broken pieces hidden in a warehouse. She accomplished her mission, though I still think she was retired too soon.


Filed under engineering, Personal, space

Roamy roundup

NASA is using its Earth-observing satellites to help Nepal recover from the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit April 25.

The satellite data will be used to compile maps of ground surface deformation and to create risk models. NASA and its partners are also contributing to assessments of damage to infrastructure. They are tracking remote areas that may be a challenge for relief workers to reach, as well as areas that could be at risk for landslides, river damming, floods and avalanches…
NASA technology that can locate people trapped beneath collapsed buildings is being deployed to Nepal. A remote-sensing radar technology called FINDER (Finding Individuals for Disaster and Emergency Response), developed by JPL in conjunction with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate, can locate individuals buried as deep as 30 feet (9.1 meters) in crushed materials, hidden behind 20 feet (6 meters) of solid concrete, and from a distance of 100 feet (30.5 meters) in open spaces. This technology, licensed by the private entity R4 Incorporated of Edgewood, Maryland, has been taken to Nepal to assist with recovery efforts.

The folks here at Marshall are also compressing needed data to make up for the limited bandwidth available in Nepal.


The MESSENGER spacecraft lithobraked into Mercury sometime yesterday. The primary mission was to orbit Mercury for a year and send back data. It lasted just over 4 years in an intense thermal and radiation environment and only took the dive when it ran out of fuel. NASA Science News covered some of MESSENGER’s discoveries, such as ice at the poles, tectonic landforms, an active magnetic field, and an exosphere.
Photo from Astronomy Picture of the Day.

Mariner 10 is the only other spacecraft to visit Mercury, and that was a flyby mission. That spacecraft also ran out of nitrogen for maneuvering and went quiet in 1975.


A Russian Progress resupply ship launched on April 28 failed to reach the International Space Station and is expected to burn up during reentry. The current rumor is that the third stage engine failed to shut down and bumped the spacecraft into a spin.

So no one here is complaining that SpaceX didn’t get the first stage landing like they wanted. The Dragon successfully docked with ISS on April 17, delivering food, water, and experiments.


Speaking of experiments, the X-37B mini-shuttle will be launching soon. One experiment that they mentioned is a Hall thruster propulsion experiment. I helped with some ground testing of Hall thrusters a decade or so ago, so it’s nice to see it actually fly. There’s another experiment, but the press release isn’t out yet, so that will have to wait for the next Roamy roundup. :)


Filed under space

Muskogee War Memorial and the USS Batfish

This is one of those happy accidents that you have to be ready for when traveling. For our trip to Oklahoma, I wanted my kids to learn about the different Native American tribes. After some reading and research, I decided on the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee. In hindsight, I should have focused on the Cherokee in Tahlequah. The Five Civilized Tribes Museum consists entirely of “Andrew Jackson moved us here, here’s some art.” The art was good but unsatisfying for the left-brains of the family.

A pamphlet stand for area attractions included one for the USS Batfish. A submarine in land-locked Oklahoma? This deserved further investigation.

The USS Batfish is a Balao-class submarine.

Continue reading


Filed under history, navy, Personal, ships, World War II