For the first time, a spacecraft has been photographed on its descent onto another planetary body. Check out these pictures of the Mars Phoenix Lander on its final descent taken from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera some 310 km above the planet's surface. In the scene, the parachute is deployed to slow the craft's decent to the surface. (NASA press release)
As the Mars Phoenix Lander was successfully touching down on Mars, I was completing the PADI Open Water Diver certification course. During the week prior to the dives, I had to study the PADI Open Water Manual, watch the videos with the class, and take quizzes plus a final exam. Then, the class spent Saturday and Sunday doing 5 closed water and 4 open water dives.
Diving was a lot of fun. I got to see a white-tipped reef shark, swim with a large sea turtle, watch a sea horse, as well as the usual reef wildlife (fish, urchins, starfish, etc.). I logged nearly 2 hours during my 4 open water dives, and the deepest I went was 27 ft (8.2 m). I was originally worried about equalizing the pressure in my ears, but it wasn't hard at all. The thing that surprised me the most was how heavy the scuba equipment is out of the water. In fact, just gearing up and walking between the staging area and beach really wore me out. I feel like I've been on a strenuous backpacking trip.
Check out this video of my son laughing really hard. I'm also testing out the link to my video-hosting service.
Forget jet packs and their severe fuel/distance/speed limitations. Swiss pilot Yvess Rossy (aka: "fusion man" or "jet man") has developed the world's first jet turbine-powered wings that allow him to fly at speeds ranging from 130 to 300 km/h (81 to 186 mph). He controls his movement simply by shifting his body weight, similar to hang gliding. This is the ultimate in personal powered flight. You can read a press release, see a short video (no audio), and 34 great photos from his flight here:
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