"Replaced by the simple twist of an Archimedes spiral"
June 7, 2016 4:39 PM   Subscribe


 
spoiler alert, geez
posted by DoctorFedora at 4:43 PM on June 7, 2016


aaaaaand subscribed.
posted by alex_skazat at 5:00 PM on June 7, 2016


Ahhh, that's so clever. I love love love this sort of stuff.
posted by figurant at 5:22 PM on June 7, 2016


So the tool used to navigate space was basically a specialized version of the tool that sailors had been using to navigate oceans for centuries?

Because stars can help us navigate both on and off planet?

Wild.

Presumably there are different tools available now. If we go back to the moon, I wonder what we'd use.
posted by Dr and Mrs Eaves at 5:37 PM on June 7, 2016


I love his videos and the way he makes the science behind things so darn approachable and understandable.
posted by xedrik at 5:52 PM on June 7, 2016


Dr and Mrs Eaves, I know that the Space Shuttle Orbiters used Star Trackers, the window for which can be seen clearly on the orbiter's nose, an automatic system for determining location based on the stars, though human-powered fixes were necessary if things got too far out of alignment. The ISS uses a combination of looking at the stars, the sun, GPS and GLONASS (aka Russian GPS) satellites (its orbit is lower than theirs) and more to keep track of its own location. I was not easily able to find details about NASA's next spacecraft, Orion, other than it will have a LIDAR system to help with docking maneuvers, but some kind of automated star tracker seems likely since we clearly have the technology.
posted by timdiggerm at 6:27 PM on June 7, 2016 [6 favorites]


Even the Voyagers had star trackers, although it had to only worry about, er, one particular star.

The Rosetta orbiter recently had a problem with its star tracker that was quite harrowing.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:34 PM on June 7, 2016


In the eighties when I was in the USAF in of my jobs was to clean the Astro Tracker this involved climbing up on top of the plane. You even had a little bottle of astro tracker cleaner that was probably windex.
posted by boilermonster at 10:46 PM on June 7, 2016 [4 favorites]


Bill Hammack stole about five hours of my life when I discovered his videos on Michelson's gear driven harmonic analyzer. Yes, that Michelson.

Seriously, those videos are great, I'm surprised they haven't been featured here previously.
posted by midmarch snowman at 10:54 PM on June 7, 2016 [2 favorites]


Sorry, after an additional five minutes searching I found both Bill and the harmonic analyzer have been on Metafilter for a while now.
posted by midmarch snowman at 11:03 PM on June 7, 2016


This guy is awesome. I know where today is going now!
posted by Dysk at 3:22 AM on June 8, 2016


His video on plastic injection molding is a personal favorite and a good conversation starter for a certain set of individuals.
posted by Dr and Mrs Eaves at 7:00 AM on June 8, 2016


Wonderful, I needed to reminded how awesome people can be today, thanks.
posted by beowulf573 at 6:47 PM on June 8, 2016


The ISS uses a combination of looking at the stars, the sun, GPS and GLONASS (aka Russian GPS) satellites (its orbit is lower than theirs)

This is something a lot of people really don't get. I've asked people how far away the ISS is and have gotten answers ranging from "a million miles" to "a billion miles" to "I don't know? A few light years?".
ISS altitude:               400 km
GPS altitude:             20200 km
Geosynchronous orbit:     37500 km
Moon:                    384000 km
Sun:                  150000000 km
Nearest star:    40000000000000 km
posted by dmd at 6:48 PM on June 8, 2016 [5 favorites]


Wonderful to see this on metafilter. A couple of comments: Dr and Mrs Eaves notes"So the tool used to navigate space was basically a specialized version of the tool that sailors had been using to navigate oceans for centuries?" Indeed: on the command modules there was a sextant that an 16th century mariner would still recognize. The astronauts could navigate with this as needed, but only in emergency. It was used to align the guidance system, which was then run by the Apollo Guidance Computer. If you want to bundle watch my videos I put them in a playlist here . There is an upcoming series that might interest metafilter folks (although in fact we really don't know the audience for it). A few years ago we filmed Michael Faraday's Great Chemical History of a Candle Lectures, and then spent 18 months writing a book to go with it. You can learn about the forthcoming book and video series -- and I don't hesitate to mention it because you can download it as a free pdf -- here. The next video up, though, is on the engineering of a disposable diaper.
posted by engineerguy at 9:00 AM on June 10, 2016 [11 favorites]


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