Space Sunday: Starliner, “dog doors” + more SpinLaunch & China

The CST-100 Starliner sits just 10 metres off the ISS, its nose open to expose its docking mechanism and forted port May 20th, 2022. Credit: NASA

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner finally lifted-off from Space Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Sport Force station on Thursday, May 19th, sitting atop a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas 5 booster, in what is a critical test flight for the system, one that involves a rendezvous and docking with the International Space Station (ISS).

Called Orbital Flight Test 2 (OFT-2), the uncrewed mission is the second attempt to fly a Starliner vehicle to a successful docking with ISS – seen as a critical precursor to Starliner vehicles carrying crews to / from the ISS. The first attempt, carried out in December 2019 failed to rendezvous with the ISS after a software issue caused the vehicle’s orbital manoeuvring and attitude control (OMAC) thrusters to misfire repeatedly, leaving the vehicle with insufficient propellant reserve to make the rendezvous once the issue had been controlled. However, the Starliner – christened Calypso, and now earmarked for the first CST-100 crewed flight – still completed the orbital tests for the mission successfully, and made a safe return to Earth.

CST-100 OFT-2 lifts-off from SLC-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force station, May 19th, 2021. Credit: NASA

Following lift-off at 22:54 UTC, on May 19th, the Starliner vehicle (currently unnamed) reached an initial orbit successfully. However, at 31 minutes after launch, things went slightly awry. At this point one of the vehicles 12 main OMAC thrusters was due to fire for 45 seconds to place the Starliner on the correct trajectory to commence its “chase” to the space station.

However, one second after firing, the thruster shut down. This triggered an automatic firing of a second thruster, which ran for 25 seconds before shutting down, leaving a third thruster completing the burn. Whilst of concern, the initial two thruster failures were not sufficient to prevent the mission continuing, and both NASA and Boeing are reviewing data to determine what the problem is – and whether the two faulty thrusters are still capable of firing correctly – the main OMAC thrusters being needed to de-orbit the vehicle at the end of its flight.

Sunlight flashes off of the hull of the CST-100 Starliner as it chases the ISS. Credit: NASA

Despite these teething problems, the Starliner “caught up” with the ISS on Friday, May 20th, having successful completed a series of tests whilst closing on the ISS. At 20:36 on the 20th, the crew on the ISS caught their first sight of the Starliner. The capsule steadily closed on the station before completing two “flyarounds”, allowing the ISS crew to observe the vehicle’s overall condition ahead of docking.

Utilising self guidance, the capsule then closed to within 180 metres of the space station before coming to a stop and then moving away once more in an “approach and retreat manoeuvre” intended to test the vehicle’s ability to carry out precise manoeuvres in close proximity to the station. After this, it resumed its approach towards the Harmony module and its docking port, coming to within 10 metres of the station when it was ordered to stop when mission control confirmed it was a little off-centre relative to the docking port.

Another view of the Starliner approaching the Harmony module of the ISS, May 20th, 2022. Credit: NASA

This eventually required the vehicle to back away from the station, correct its alignment and make a second approach – which was again halted at 10 metres from the station. This proved to be the start of an irritating period of minor issues with the docking mechanism at the front of the vehicle which ultimately delayed docking by 90 minutes, Starliner finally connecting with the ISS at  00:28 GMT on Saturday, May 21st.

Following docking, a further series of testes on the vehicle were conducted, and the hatches between station and capsule were finally opened at 16:04 GMT, allowing astronauts Robert Hines and Kjell Lindgren connect ventilation systems and move camera systems into the capsule. They also greeted the capsule’s main occupant: Rosie the Rocketeer, a mannequin occupying the commander’s seat in the capsule and equipped with various instruments to test how orbital ascent (and return to Earth) affect those riding in the vehicle.

The Starliner docked against the extended docking arm of the Harmony module – the latter retracts to pull the capsule against the docking port. Credit: NASA
Also on the flight is a plush toy of Jebediah Kerman, one of the four original characters from the space game Kerbal Space. The first Kerbal to officially make it to space, “Jeb” is the mission’s “zero-g indicator” for the flight. His presence was kept secret by the ground control team, so that he might be discovered by the ISS crew on entering the vehicle – Kerbal Space is apparently very popular among Boeing and NASA staff.

The Starliner is set to remain docked with ISS for 4-5 days before departing for a return to Earth.  If declared a success post-analysis, OFT-2 should pave the way for the first crewed flight before the end of 2022. Called Crewed Flight Test, it will carry a crew of 3 (personnel still to be confirmed) to the ISS on a 10-day (ish) mission to the space station. That in turn should clear the way for operational flights with Starliner to start in early 2023.

Curiosity’s “Dog Door” and InSight’s Demise

Parts of the Internet have been all agog over the last few days, after NASA Tweeted images on May 18th captured by the Mars Science Laboratory rover Curiosity, labelled (perhaps a little unfortunately) as a “door shaped fracture” that offers (again, unfortunate wording) “a doorway into the ancient past” – terms that were taken just a little too literally by some.

A mosaic of 113 images captured by the MastCam system on NASA’s Curiosity rover captures the face of “East Cliff” on May 7th, 2022, (mission sol 3,466). The fissure of “Dog Door can be seen over to the upper left. This mosaic has been colour and light adjusted to give the same conditions as if the feature was being viewed on Earth. Credit: NASA/JPL

The images were part of a series captured by the rover on May 7th, during a survey of a sedimentary mound of rock layers dubbed “East Cliff”, and sitting on the flank of “Mount Sharp”, the 5-km high mound of material at the centre of Gale Crater. During the processing of 133 images taken of “East Cliff” using the rover’s MastCam, the science team noted an interesting fissure within the upper, most weathered layers of the mound.

Looking to be rectangular in shape, the fissure does appear to be door-like – although not one any human is going to be walking through, given it is just 29.1 cm tall and the maximum width of the feature in just 38.9cm (sizes which prompted NASA to call the feature a “dog door” as it is closer in dimensions to the front opening on a kennel).

A further mosaic from Curiosity taken on May 7th, 2022, showing the “Dog Door” fissure more centred (and circled) in the image. Again, the image has been colour / light adjusted for Earth lighting. Credit: NASA/JPL

However, while the fissure is real, it’s door-like appearance is the result of two key factors: the angle at which sunlight is striking the mound, which casts the back of the fissure into shadow, giving the impression it is some form of entrance; and the also pareidolia – the tendency for the human brain to try and interpret strange sights and objects by trying to perceive them as something familiar – in this case a door.

Such fissures are not actually uncommon within geological features like East Cliff, both here on Earth and on Mars. They are caused by the intersection of multiple vertical (from weathering under the influence of water / wind) with horizontal layering of rock such that the most exposed part of the result lattice break away, forming a shallow fissure with regular-looking sides.

An anaglyph close-up of the “Dog Door” with annotations indicating the approximate width, height, and depth of the open fissure. Credit: NASA/JPL

And the comment about being a “doorway into the past”? That’s simply a reference to the fact that the collapse that formed the fissure offers the opportunity to perhaps examine rocks that haven’t been so exposed to the ambient surface conditions of Mars and may have had a degree of protection from harsher solar radiation, and so might reveal further chemical / mineral clues to the ancient past of “Mount Sharp”.

It has also been announced that NASA’s InSight Lander mission, which has been operating on Mars since November 2018, but which tends to get overlooked in favour of the “sexier” rover missions, may be coming to an end as soon as mid-July 2022.

InSight, which I covered in-depth at its May 2018 launch (see: Space Sunday: insight on InSight, May 2018) has been carrying out studies into the interior of Mars, including the study of “Marquakes” that appear to take place deep within the planet. However, it has been suffering from a significant decrease in available power as a result of dust accumulation on the pair of 2.2 metre diameter solar arrays.

Comparative images showing how dust accumulated on InSight’s sollar arrays. On the left, one of the arrays 10 days after landing, looking fairly clean. On the right, the same array after just under 4 months on Mars. Credit: NASA/JPL

As I reported in 2021, such was the dust build up on the arrays, the electrical power generation on the lander has been reduced to just one-tenth of the 4.6 kilowatt-hours the arrays generated during the initial days of Mars operations, and is now insufficient to continue to meet the needs of all systems on the lander.

Because of this, the decision has been taken to start powering-down non-essential systems and instruments, the intention to leave only the seismometer positions on the surface of Mars working, together with the camera system mounted on the lander’s robot arm (which will be oriented to focus on the seismometer before the arm is shut down), and the lander’s communication system.

However, even with the reduction in power usage this will achieve, the mission team believe that power production levels will drop below the minimum required to keep the seismometer functioning by mid-to-late July; although sufficient power will still be generated to power the communications system through until possibly the end of 2022.

Despite being overlooked at times, InSight has far surpassed its planned 2-year primary mission, and has yielded a lot of information about the processes at work deep within Mars.

SpinLaunch Update

In November 2021, I wrote about Spinlaunch, a company that plans to use a 100-metre diameter vacuum accelerator to propel payloads of up to 200 kg on the first leg of their journey to orbit.

This would be achieved by placing the payloads and their rocket inside a ballistic projectile (total mass: 11.2 tonnes) which would then be spun-up to a speed of 8,000 km/h with the drum-like accelerator before releasing it along a guidance tube (think gun barrel) and out into the atmosphere to be hurtled to a altitude of 61 km, where the projectile splits open to release the rocket, which can ignite its motors and power its way to orbit.

The Spinlaunch prototype accelerator shown in scale to the statue of liberty. Credit: SpinLaunch
This may sound crazy – and there are a lot of issues / questions around the full-size implementation of the system – however, since October 2021, SpinLaunch has been carrying out increasingly ambitious sub-orbital tests using a 1/3rd scale accelerator operating at 20% of the full-scale system to launch projectiles (“simulators”) on ballistic flights to offer both a proof of concept for the idea and to gather essential data on its overall feasibility.

As a part of these tests, on April 22nd, 2022, Spinlaunch for the first time carried out a test launch of a simulator equipped with a camera system. The resultant video is impressive, showing the launch accelerator dwindling in size below the projectile as it climbs into the atmosphere at 1,600 km/h before starting its tumble back to Earth, where the video cuts out.

However, before watching the video be warned: a longitudinal spin is imparted to the simulator to help with stabilising it in flight (again akin to a bullet being stabilised by the rifling in a gun barrel), and this spinning might induce a sense of motion sickness in the sensitive.

The exact height reached by the projectile simulator has not been confirmed by SpinLaunch, but given the curve of the Earth can be seen, it would seem likely that the simulator reached several kilometres in attitude.

There is still a long way to go before SpinLaunch is close to being ready to start full-scale operations (and much to be proved before they do), but such has been their progress to date, NASA has signed-on to the project with the intent to fly at least one payload of their own on a sub-orbital launch so that they might gather data on system and payload performance.

More from China

May has been a busy month for announcements by China concerning its space ambitions. In the previous Space Sunday update, I covered the most recent news on China’s upcoming space telescope. It is just one of three initiatives to gain update / confirmation.

The first part of May saw a series of television interviews with CCTV, the state television network, Huang Zhen the chief designer at the China National Space Administration (CNSA) gave the first official confirmation of the multi-facetted work being put into developing a permanent human presence on the Moon.

In particular, the interviews gave the first official confirmation of China’s Manned Lunar Deep Space Exploration Project Office (MLDSEP), tasked with developing the technologies required to establish a permanent presence on the Moon – and to enhance those technologies, where relevant, for future crewed mission to Mars.

The interviews also touched upon – if only superficially – various aspects of the work MLDSEP is engaged upon. These include: the development of Earth-based training facilities for lunar hardware and operations; design and development on lunar hardware including: crewed lander vehicles, pressurised rover vehicles, payload landers, and what appears to be a lunar orbital space station similar in nature to NASA’s Gateway station, together with research into and research into in-situ resource utilisation capabilities to provide air, water, and building materials to support an expanding lunar presence.

A general graphic displayed by China state television during interviews with CNSA chief designer Huang Zhen, showing some of the lunar hardware CNSA are developing for human operations on the Moon. Credit: CNSA / CCTV

Then, on May 13th, another of China’s chief designers – Zhang Rongqiao, responsible for China’s highly successful Mars orbiter / lander / rover mission, Tianwen 1 – confirmed his team are deep into developing Tianwen-2, a decade-long two-phase, mission of enormous ambition.

The first phase of the mission, lasting 2 years, will see the vehicle launches and rendezvous  with asteroid 469219 Kamo’oalewa, a quasi-satellite of Earth occupying a solar orbit close to our own..On arrival, Tianwen-2 will first perform a “touch and go” flyby similar to those used by Japan’s Hayabusa 2 and NASA’s OSIRIS-Rex, to gather samples from the surface of the asteroid.

Assuming a suitable location can be found; the vehicle will then attempt to anchor itself to the asteroid using a set of robot arms, and then drill into the asteroid to obtain a core sample. Tianwen-2 will then return to Earth and use the planet’s gravity to slingshot it on its way to its next target, but not before it has dropped off the samples from 469219 Kamo’oalewa for recovery and study.

The slingshot manoeuvre will set the vehicle on a 7-year journey to 311P/PanSTARRS, a so-called “active asteroid”, because it has properties seen within both asteroids and comets. Once there, it will orbit and analyse the asteroid for at least a year (possibly longer, depending on propellant reserves) using a range of cameras and spectrometers to glean insights into questions such as the mystery of the source of Earth’s water. Data gathered will be communicated back to Earth, although Tianwen-2 will not itself be returning. No images have been released as yet to show the proposed design of Tianwen-2.

Art that’s Almost Blue(s) in Second Life

Vibes Gallery: Almost Blue(s) – Anaya Oneiro and Tutsy Navarathna

Almost Blue(s) is an ensemble exhibition featuring the work of 16 artists brought together in the gallery spaces at Vibes Gallery, curated by Eviana (eviana Robbiani).

The introduction to the exhibition speaks pretty much for itself – and is expanded upon in the halls itself.

Because blue is favoured by so many people, it is often seen as a non-threatening colour that can seem conservative and traditional. Blue brings to mind feelings of calm or serenity. It is often described as peaceful, tranquil, secure and orderly. Blue is often seen as a sign of stability and reliability.
Vibes Gallery: Almost Blue(s) – Peachy Holst, Hermes Kondor and Kiron

The artists participating in the exhibition comprise:

  • Theatre 7: Kimeu Korg, Meilo Minotaur, Shane Spero, Sonic and Karma Weymann.
  • Theatre 8: Peachy Holst, Kiron, Hermes Kondor, Anaya Oneiro and Tutsy Navarathna.
  • Theatre 9: Mya Audebarn, Evie Heights, Matt Marcus, Jo Molinaro, Ooxooi and Cate Vogel.

The majority of the artists offer two or three images that encompass the overall blue theme, with the majority of the images taking the form of avatar studies, some of which use blue tinting / lighting to convey a mood / emotion (as with Jo Molinaro. Mya Audebarn or Anaya Oneiro) or offer a narrative frame for a story (e.g. Matt Marcus or Tutsy Navarathna). Some sway toward broader tonal pieces to convey emotion / ideas (e.g. Kiron or Ooxooi), whilst all offer an engaging and richly diverse series on pieces that demonstrate individual talents to the fullest.

Vibes Gallery: Almost Blue(s) – Mya Audebarn, Cate Vogel and Jo Molinaro

Adding a sense of emotion and depth to each of the theatres are additional words – the lyrics from Almost Blue by Elvis Costello, the represents of music through the colour blue – or, if you prefer, the description of the tones musical instruments in terms of the colour blue -, which serve to add a further layer of interpretation to the pieces on display.

With pieces that both contract and compliment whilst reflecting and interpreting the central theme through multiple ideas, forms and narratives, Almost Blue(s) is an engaging exhibition set out within a gallery space that doesn’t leave you feeling overwhelmed by the pieces on display.

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Making a beeline for WTB in Second Life

What The Buzz, May 2022 – click any image for full size

The Destination Guide led me to a little corner of Heterocera called What the Buzz. Designed by Emm (HeyEmm) and located within the larger Willow Creek National Park – a place I’ll be covering in more detail in a future piece.

What the Buzz is, to quote Emm:

An interactive bee/pollinator reserve. Wander the path and stop at the yellow signs to learn about the different ways that YOU can help save and protect our precious pollinator population. Try your hand at virtual farming with the DFS Community Garden or relax at Firefly Lake and take in all of the sights and sounds.
What The Buzz, May 2022

Bees are the major type of pollinator in many ecosystems that contain flowering plants; so important that of the estimated one-third of the human food supply dependent on pollination actually receives it via bees, either wild or domesticated. They are thus a vital – if declining, due to a variety of reasons – role in the lifecycle of plants.

This and more is covered with What the Buzz, a walk through a garden-like setting, rich in plant life and areas in which visitors can learn about bees, their habitats, pollination, keeping bees, and more. Signs along the way can be touch for information, and – if they wish – also learn about the “Digital Farm System (DFS) through the What The Buzz Community Garden, where a number of vegetables, herbs and crops are being grown.

What The Buzz, May 2022

Located on the main trail that winds its way through Willow Creek National Park, What the Buzz can be explored on foot or via horseback (horse rezzer at the park’s main landing zone for those who don’t have their own to wear).

It is clear that Emm has taken considerable care in putting the setting together: areas of interest are clearly marked, and touch signs will either provide well-written information on bees and bee-keeping via note card or take you to website where further information can be obtained on helping bees in the physical world, such as creating your own pollinator garden.

What The Buzz, May 2022

At the same time, the garden spaces, located alongside an orchard, the park’s lake, offer opportunities for a careful walk within a Nature’s lap, places to sit and relax, and sits as a good place to start an exploration of the Willow Creek park as a whole

Rounded-out by a fitting soundscape, What the Buzz is a charming, informative and photogenic setting well worth visiting and wandering through – and I’ll be taking more of a look at the park as a whole in the near future, as noted!

What The Buzz, May 2022

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2022 CCUG meeting week #20 summary: reflection probes update

Lemon Trees Mediterranean – blog post

The following notes were taken from my audio recording and chat log of the Content Creation User Group (CCUG) meeting held on Thursday, May 19th 2022 at 13:00 SLT. These meetings are chaired by Vir Linden, and their dates and times can be obtained from the SL Public Calendar.

This is a summary of the key topics discussed in the meeting and is not intended to be a full transcript.

Official Viewers Update

  • On Wednesday, May 18th, the Performance Improvements RC viewer updated to version 6.6.0.571869.

The rest of the official viewers remain as:

  • Release viewer: version version 6.5.5.571282, – formerly the MFA RC viewer, dated April 26, promoted Wednesday, May 4th – Non change.
  • Release channel cohorts:.
    • Makgeolli Maintenance RC viewer (Maintenance M) viewer, version 6.5.6.571575, May 12.
  • Project viewers:
    • Performance Floater project viewer, version 6.5.4.571296, May 10.
    • Mesh Optimizer project viewer, version 6.5.2.566858, dated January 5, issued after January 10.
    • Legacy Profiles viewer, version 6.4.11.550519, dated October 26, 2020.
    • Copy / Paste viewer, version 6.3.5.533365, dated December 9, 2019.

Materials and PBR Work

Please also see previous CCUG meeting summaries for further background on this work. In summary:

Three core elements of work:

  • Work on an implementation of reflection probes which can be used both with PDR shading and with legacy content. This formed the focus of this meeting.
    • The overall aim of this work is to provide a means to support more physically accurate reflections in SL than can be currently generated (seen as a requirement for PBR support).
    • It applies to both PBR generated content, once available, and to legacy content.
  • Foundational work in creating a materials type with an associated inventory asset, as per the week #16 meeting. This  will initially comprise the ability to copy a texture entry (with its specific parameters) to inventory, to be followed by
  • Initial work to work implement a PBR graphics pipe in the viewer.

Reflection Probes

  • Additional information available within the week #18 CCUG meeting summary.
  • This work is close to feature complete.
    • The viewer gets to work with 256 reflection probes, which take the form of spheres or boxes within a region.
    • Anything within a sphere or box will receive reflections from the cube map rendered from the centre of the sphere / box.
    • Some of these probes will be automatically placed in open areas of land where there are objects, etc., by the viewer.
    • Additional probes can be created by users using prims tagged as probes and placed where they want to influence the reflections being generated (e.g. inside rooms, etc.).
    • Baking for reflection probes will be automatic, and updates will be handled at least once every 30 seconds.
  • A test viewer has been available within the #content-features channel of the Second Life Discord server (join the server and request channel access here) for content creator testing and feedback.
  • There is a performance hit with the capability, and this is still being adjusted so that it will hopefully not be overly onerous.
  • Elizabeth Jarvinen (Polysail) is working  on the current light shader to enable legacy content to receive the reflection probes without looking “too different” and look like it belongs in the environment along with PBR content.

Materials /PBR Work

  • Progress continues in developing a “materials” type with an associated inventory asset capable for containing PBR materials data.
    • LSL access to said materials is regarded as being “tricky”, simply because the materials will be an asset type loaded by the viewer.
    • What is being proposed is to have the ability to “override” elements of the asset (e.g. colour or texture) via LSL by applying the changes to the properties of the object face to which the materials is applied.
      • So, for example, the LSL override says, “OK. I know this material has a texture UUID inside it – I don’t know what it is, but I want this face to use MY texture UUID instead” – so the material asset itself is not changed / updated, but the UUID defined by the LSL code is displayed, rather than the texture UUID defined by the asset.
      • If the materials asset type subsequently be changed, then the overrides applied via LSL to the object face are automatically dropped until such time as new overrides are applied.
    • This is seen as the most flexible approach, as it protects the integrity of the materials asset (in a similar manner to texture data) whilst also allowing the flexibility of using colour variants against an asset type (such as in the case of a sweater using a single materials asset, but with multiple colour options in the pack or in allow a HUD to alter the tint of an object that uses a materials asset).
  • Nothing of significance to report on the PDR shader work.

In Brief

  • Custom pivot point work: currently awaiting simulator updates & will require viewer-side changes.
  • A fix has been implemented in the viewer to speed-up opening media / web floaters (such as search). This should be surfacing in the next Maintenance RC viewer (“Maint N” to follow the Makgeolli  Maintenance RC).
    • An upcoming simulator release should have a fix for objects failure to rez when users first log-in. .

Next Meeting

  • Thursday June 2nd, 2022.

Milena’s Masks in Second Life

The Carbone Studio: Milena Carbone – Masks

Masks. Whether physical or otherwise, have always been a part of humankind’s multi-faceted cultures, and also a part of life itself.

Every day we use masks of one form or another, whether we recognise this fact or not, as a means of projection and / or as a means to try to shape how others perceive us (for example: the manner in which we project ourselves at work, is not the same as how we present ourselves among family; who we are in courtship is not necessarily reflective of who we are going to be in marriage, and so on).

We use these masks so subconsciously, that the majority of times we’re not really aware of them. Even when we are alone, we will often adopt and outlook or frame of mind to mask the anxieties and fears that might otherwise plague us. However, there is another way we use masks: to hide that which we do not wish to see. Whether it is the homeless man asleep on a park bench or the images of war and strife on the television or those fears the come upon us in the night,  we mask them out out by focusing our attention elsewhere in the park or in the room or in our thoughts, so we are no longed plagued by what we are seeing / thinking.

The Carbone Studio: Milena Carbone – Masks

It is these latter uses of masks – the tuning out, the looking elsewhere, and on on – that Milena Carbone uses as the central theme to her latest exhibition, called simply Masks, and which is currently open within her personal gallery space at the Carbone Gallery.

I wanted to explore our relationship to the mask, an object that dates back to the beginnings of time mankind … to ask the question of the masks that we do not see as masks; what hides our sight, our anxieties, our fears, ours disgusts; what hides the real that we do not wish to see. 

Milena Carbone

Offering a series of nine images (together with support texts and quote) in the minimalist style that Milena executes so well, Masks explores our subconscious use of masks and projection in a manner that is both stark and richly nuanced, each with layers of narrative to be peeled away.

For my part, I found myself drawn to The Tyranny of Truth, with its triple layering of ideas of courtship, the manner in which “truth” can be used as means to enforce authoritarianism (look at the stance of the figure in white), or an inconvenience to be denied, shied away from (the attitude of the masked figure), together with We’re Fictions and Burned Out.

The Carbone Studio: Milena Carbone – Masks

These latter two in particular framed – and to me – the ideas that whether we are aware of it or not, we frame ourselves in so many masks we risk losing ourselves within fictional projections and that when all has been peeled away of the masks in which we shroud ourselves, nought by a shell of whom we might have been remains. In this, We’re Fictions and Burned Out brought to mind two further quotes which might also frame this exhibition along with the Banksy quote (itself a variation on Wilde’s more famous comment on masks) Milena uses with the exhibition, and those quotes are:

You wear a mask for so long, you forget who you were beneath it.

– Alan Moore

And:

We all wear masks, and the time comes when we cannot remove them without removing some of our own skin.

– André Berthiaume

Masks is a carefully understated exhibition that actually has a lot to say.

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A walk in The Wylde in Second Life

The Wylde, May 2022 – click any image for full size

Occupying a quarter Full region adjoining, but separate from, their private home, The Wylde is offered by Jazaar Silvermoon (Jazaar Heartsong) and Ami and Aeon Silvermoon (AmiAndAeon) as a public garden for people to visit and appreciate.

The Wylde, May 2022 – click any image for full size

It sits under a hazy sky in which the Sun sits close to the horizon so as to suggest a late evening or early morning (as the Sun lies to the north, you can take your pick as to which it is), presenting a wooded setting rich in a sense of fantasy and fae through which visitors are free to wander, sit, and pass the time.

The Wylde, May 2022 – click any image for full size
The landing point sits in the south-west corner of the woodland, next to a round gate leading into Jazaar and Ami and Aeon’s private gardens – so please don’t try passing through it. Instead head north, following one of the arms of the footpath as it divides a few metres from the landing point. Which you take is down to choice; both offer multiple points of interest.

The Wylde, May 2022 – click any image for full size

As you explore, you’ll find the stream that runs from the southern highlands to the northern coast, a rocky path that winds up a portion of those southern cliffs, glades, fountains, wall-side walks, caverns that pass under hills, and multiple places to sit and pass the time. Also waiting to be found both on the ground and up on the cliff sides are pavilions, statues, drifting lights, creatures from fact and fantasy, and plant life that is an equal mix of the real and the imaginative.

The Wylde, May 2022 – click any image for full size

This is a place that is mystical in its look and feel – although admittedly, some adjustment may have to be made to the viewer for those on low-to-mid range systems in order to appreciate it fully when exploring and taking photos – which actually speaks for itself rather than need a lot of exposition through text. Simply put, the richness of the setting lies both within the natural beauty of the design and through discovering the more mystical elements during explorations such that I really don’t want to give everything away here.

So instead, I’ll Leave you with the images here – offered with the side-not that I did tweak the environment settings a little in taking them to offer a little more light – and encourage you to go pay a visit yourself.

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  • The Wilde (Club of Friends, rated Moderate)