Space Sunday: “impossible” propulsion, biosigns and life, and taking flight

The NASA Eagleworks EmDrive prototype. Credit: NASA Eagleworks / NASSA Spaceflight Forum

The NASA Eagleworks EmDrive prototype. Credit: NASA Eagleworks / NASA Spaceflight Forum

The radio frequency (RF) resonant cavity thruster, or EmDrive (pronounced “M-drive”) as it is more popularly known, has been a source of much controversy since the idea first came into the public eye around 16 years ago, and the debate has been heating up again over the last few months.

First proposed by British engineer Roger Shawyer in 1999, the EmDrive is supposed to be the world’s first working reactionless drive, a means of generating thrust without the use of any propellant.  Over the years, it has undergone investigation and testing by a number of organisations and agencies before being quietly pushed aside, while some critics have been publicly scathing of the whole idea, labelling it the “impossible drive” as it violates the fundamental law of conservation of momentum (summed up in Newton’s third law, “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”). Even so, research and testing has continued.

The EmDrive supposedly generates thrust by reflecting microwaves between opposite walls of a cone-shaped cavity. In principle, no microwaves or anything else leaves the device, and so it is considered reactionless – although Shawyer states that it isn’t, because the propulsive force is created by a “reaction between the end plates of the waveguide and the Electromagnetic wave propagated within it.”

The attraction of the drive is that were it to work, it could provide an almost endless supply of thrust for satellites and other spacecraft, opening the door to flights to Mars in just 70 days as opposed to the 180-234 days currently required using conventional means. The problem is no-one has actually got the idea to work. Researchers at the at the Northwestern Polytechnical University (NWPU) in Xi’an, China, thought they had in 2012, but further testing in 2014 revealed the thrust apparently created by their EmDrive test rig was actually due to a faulty power connector causing false readings.

Now, however, it seems that a test rig operated by NASA’s Eagleworks Laboratory might actually have demonstrated that in principle an EmDrive could work.News on the testing has actually been leaking out of the laboratory for the past 2-3 months – and has rightfully been met with a healthy dose of scepticism. However, a paper from the team carrying out the research was submitted for peer-review through the Journal of Propulsion and Power, a publication maintained by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) – and is said to have passed muster.

NASA's Johnson Space Centre, Texas, the home of the Eagleworks Laboratory. Credit: NASA / James Blair

NASA’s Johnson Space Centre, Texas, the home of the Eagleworks Laboratory. Credit: NASA / James Blair

So, does this mean the EmDrive works? Well – no. The peer-review process means that no discernible flaws have been found in the methodology and testing carried out by the Eagleworks team, meriting the idea worthy of further investigation and research. It doesn’t mean fault or error may not yet be found going forward.

One major means of testing the theory of the EmDrive would be to build a working unit and place it in space and see if it works. This is precisely what US engineer Guido Fetta hopes to do. He is planning to place a small  version of his Q-Drive (derived from the EmDrive) in orbit for 6 months aboard a CubeSat (between 10×20×30 cm and 12×24×36 cm in size), and then try over six months to manoeuvre the CubeSat using the drive. He’s not alone; China similarly plans an on-orbit test of an EmDrive prototype, although no dates have been specified for them mission.

Did Spirit Find Signature of Past Martian Life?

NASA's MER rover, Spirit (MER-A) and Opportunity (MER-B) arrived on Mars in January 2004, and Opportunity continues to explore the planet today. Credit: NASA / JPL

NASA’s MER rover, Spirit (MER-A) and Opportunity (MER-B) arrived on Mars in January 2004, and Opportunity continues to explore the planet today. Credit: NASA / JPL

In January 2004, NASA landed two solar-powered rovers, Spirit and Opportunity on Mars. There primary mission was scheduled to last just 90 days – but Opportunity is still operating today, almost 13 years after it arrived on Mars. Sadly, Spirit was not so lucky; in May 2009, it became stuck in a “sand trap” and unable to free itself, eventually losing power as its solar panels could not be oriented towards the winter Sun on Mars, and falling silent in May 2010.

Nevertheless, Spirit gathered a huge amount of data and images, some of which is being re-examined by scientists Steven Ruff and Jack Farmer from Arizona State University as a result of their field expeditions to Chile – and they believe the rover may have come across evidence for past Martian life.

While examining images of a plateau of layered rocks dubbed “Home Plate”, examined by Spirit in 2006, Ruff and Farmer noticed the ground was covered in multiple nodular masses of opaline silica with digitate structures strikingly similar to structures they have encountered within active hot spring/geyser discharge channels at a site in northern Chile called El Tatio.

This is a region which, due a rare combination of high elevation, low precipitation rate, coupled with a high ultraviolet irradiance, is regarded as a potential analogue for past conditions on Mars. What’s more, as a volcanic are, it shares much in common with “Home Plate”, which is believed to be an explosive volcanic deposit created when hot basalt rock came into contact with liquid water. Part of the formation may actually be an extinct Martian fumarole.

An image of "Home Plate" showing a mass of opaline silica nodules, captured by NASA's Spirit rover in 2006, and a photograph showing similar formations at El Tatio, Chile Credit: ASU/Ruff & Farmer

An image of “Home Plate” showing a mass of opaline silica nodules, captured by NASA’s Spirit rover in 2006, and a photograph showing similar formations at El Tatio, Chile Credit: ASU/Ruff & Farmer

The opaline silica Ruff and Farmer found at El Tatio have been shown to be largely of biotic origin; that is, created by microbes. Could this be the same for those Spirit saw at “Home Plate” in 2006? Ruff and Farmer believe it might.

“Although fully abiotic (physical rather than biological) processes are not ruled out for the Martian silica structures, they satisfy an a priori definition of potential biosignatures,” the researchers state in a paper on their work. A biosignature is defined by NASA as “an object, substance and/or pattern that might have a biological origin and thus compels investigators to gather more data before reaching a conclusion as to the presence or absence of life.”

A closer view of the structures as images by Spirit in 2006, and a an image of the opaline silica at El Tatio taken at the same distance and resolution. Credit: ASU/Ruff & Farmer

A closer view of the structures as images by Spirit in 2006, and a an image of the opaline silica at El Tatio taken at the same distance and resolution. Credit: ASU/Ruff & Farmer

Ruff and Farmer note that while they cannot prove nor disprove a biological origin for the structures imaged by Spirit at “Home Plate”, they should be regarded as a potential biosignature by NASA’s own definition of the term. They go on to state that the only way to be sure would be for a robust examination to be made of the “Home Plate” location, perhaps by NASA’s upcoming Mars 2020, were it to be sent to that region, or through the examination of another region of Mars which is identified as being geographically and geologically similar.

Virgin SpaceShipTwo Flies

Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo vehicle, VSS Unity completed its first free flight test on Saturday, December 3rd, after a month’s delay due to a combination of high winds and an unspecified technical issue, which combined to leave the vehicle able to make just a single captive / carry flight with its carry / launch aircraft, WhiteKightTwo.

VSS Unity seen from a chase plane as it glides towards touch-down on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016. Credit: Virgin Galactic

VSS Unity seen from a chase plane as it glides towards touch-down on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016. Credit: Virgin Galactic

The unpowered flight, took place over the Mojave Air and Space Port in California  and was the first in a series of around 10 – the precise number will depend on how well the targets for each flight are met – such tests the vehicle will make before Virgin Galactic move to powered flight tests using their new rocket motor for the vehicle, which has so far only been tested on the ground.

“It’s a happy day to be here,” Virgin Galactic’s founder, Sir Richard Branson said just before WhiteKnightTwo lifted SpaceShipTwo aloft. “We’ve got an exciting year ahead, and this is just the start of it.”

VSS Unity comes to rest on the runway after a successful first first flight test. Credit: Virgin Galactic

VSS Unity comes to rest on the runway after a successful first flight test. Credit: Virgin Galactic

As TGO Flexes Its Muscles, More Ice Found on Mars

ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter (TGO), which arrived in orbit around Mars in October, has yet to reach its primary science orbit but it is already flexing its muscles.

On November 22nd, as TGO swept over Mars on one of its current 4.2 day elliptical orbits, a test was carried out on its ability to relay data from the Martian surface to Earth, acting as a go-between for both the Curiosity and Opportunity rovers.  As well as carrying a suite of science instruments and camera systems, TGO also carries a communications relay package from NASA called Electra, which allows the spacecraft to successful receive and store communications from NASA’s surface vehicles and then relay them to Earth.

Currently, TGO’s orbit carries it from just 300km (200 mi) above the surface of Mars all the way out to 98,000 km (60,000 mi), limiting its effectiveness  as a communications relay. However, this will be lowered and circularised in the coming months to just 400 km (250 mi) above the planet, at which point TGO will be perfectly positioned to carry out its primary science mission and act as a relay for current and future surface missions, including Europe’s own ExoMars rover.

The relay test came at a time when ESA were working on calibrating TGO’s instruments during the close flights over Mars in each of it current orbits around the planet. These calibration tests included initial use of the orbiter’s “eyes”, the Colour and Stereo Surface Imaging System (CaSSIS), which yielded, in the mission team’s words, “spectacular” results.

CaSSIS is an impressive system, capable of capturing still images and video across a number of colour wavelengths, and in 3D if required. All of CaSSIS’s capabilities were exercised during the test as the orbiter passed over Hebes Chasma, an eight km (5 mi) deep trough just to the north of the mighty Valles Marineris. The images collected during the pass have a resolution of 2.8 metres per pixel. To put that in perspective, it’s the equivalent of flying over New York city at 15,000 km/h (9,375 mph) and simultaneously getting sharp pictures of cars in Philadelphia.

The stereo capabilities of CASSIS will allow scientists to build topographical 3D images of the surface on Mars, such as this test model, built from images of the Noctis Labyrinthus at the north-eastern end of the Vallis Mariners. Credit: ESA / Roscosmos / CaSSIS / UniBE

The stereo capabilities of CaSSIS will allow scientists to build topographical 3D images of the surface on Mars, such as this test model, built from images of the Noctis Labyrinthus at the north-eastern end of the Vallis Mariners. Credit: ESA / Roscosmos / CaSSIS / UniBE

Once TGO reaches its operational orbit towards the end of 2017, CaSSIS will be capable of acquiring 12-20 high-resolution stereo and colour images of selected targets per day.

Meanwhile, NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (TGO) has located another gigantic water ice deposit lying just under the Martian surface. The ice, lying beneath the planet’s Utopia Planitia, was located using MRO’s ground-penetrating Shallow Radar (SHARAD) instrument.

Utopia Planitia: home of a massive water ice deposit the size of New Mexico, and sitting just below the surface of Mars

Utopia Planitia: home of a massive water ice deposit the size of New Mexico, and sitting just below the surface of Mars – click for full size. Credit: NASA

Estimated to be bigger than the US state of New Mexico and containing more water than Lake Superior, it is the second massive ice deposit SHARAD has found in just over a year. The first exists as a deposition averaging 40 metres (604 ft) think, extending almost all the way from the planet’s mid latitudes up to north polar region and covers an area the size of Texas and California combined.

The ice under Utopia Planitia – the landing site for NASA’s Viking 2 mission of the 1970s – is between 80 to 170 metres (260 feet to 560 ft) in thickness, comprises around 85% water ice (the rest being dirt and other deposits), and – most crucially – lies between 1 and 10 metres (3 and 30 ft) beneath the surface, potentially making it an accessible resource for  future human missions to Mars.

NASA Considering Foreshortening Orion Crewed Flight

NASA is considering a shorter mission for the first crewed flight of its Orion Multi-Purpose Crewed Vehicle.

Originally, the flight was to have comprised a “slow cruise” out to the Moon of between 3 and 6 days, followed by three days in lunar orbit before making a similar 3-6 day “slow cruise” back to Earth. However, under the new plans being considered, Orion and its crew would be placed in a high Earth orbit (HEO) with an apogee of 35,000km (21,875 mi), where it would remain for a day, before separating from the Exploration Upper Stage (EUS) of its Space Launch System rocket and suing its Service Module motor to enter a trans-lunar injection orbit, for a single free-return flight around the Moon without ever going into orbit there.

Orion's first mission may now only comprise a flight around the Moon, rather than orbiting it. Credit: Cosmic Pearl

Orion’s first mission may now only comprise a flight around the Moon, rather than orbiting it. Credit: Cosmic Pearl

“We’ve effectively designed this mission to be commensurate with the amount of risk we’re taking with crew on the vehicle for the first time,” Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations said when announcing the new plan. “We’ve tailored the mission to be appropriate with the risk we’re willing to take.”

Two particular risks worried mission planners: a failure with the Orion’s life support system in what would be its first space-based test with a crew aboard, or a failure with the Service Module’s engine which might leave them stranded in Lunar orbit. The redesigned mission means the life support system can be tested whilst in HEO, and the service module motor only needs to be fired once, when boosting Orion towards the Moon.

The revised Exploration Mission 2 flight plan. Credit: NASA

The revised Exploration Mission 2 flight plan (click to enlarge). Credit: NASA

The change in approach does not affect the Exploration Mission 1 flight, scheduled for 2018. That mission is expected to last around 25 days, with an uncrewed Orion vehicle placed in lunar orbit for several days before it returns to Earth. However, it does open the door to a more gradual approach to extending Orion’s capabilities, with NASA now planning one Exploration Mission a year being flown between 2023 and 2030.

Most of these flights will be cislunar operations, with EM-6 (2026) earmarked as the asteroid rendezvous mission originally scheduled to take place in 2023 as EM-3, but which has been pushed back as a result of delays in the Asteroid Redirect Mission (ARM), its necessary precursor.  EM-10 would mark the likely transition from cislunar missions to BEO (“Beyond Earth Orbit”) missions directed towards Mars, utilising Orion and expanded capabilities such as habitat modules and possible nuclear-powered propulsion units.

Sci-fi, fantasy and stories for the season in Second Life

It’s time to kick-off a week of story-telling in voice, brought to our virtual lives by the staff and volunteers at the Seanchai Library. As always, all times SLT, and events are held at the Library’s Second Life home at Bradley University, unless otherwise indicated.

Monday, December 5th 19:00: Sci-Fi Gems

Gyro Muggins digs deep into his amazing library of classic Science Fiction and emerges with more jewels to share.

Tuesday, December 6th 19:00: Serafina and the Twisted Staff

Caledonia Skytower reads the second adventure for Robert Beatty’s young heroine, Serafina, published in July 2016.

serafina-2Introduced in Serafina and the Black Cloak, the titular heroine had, up until the events of that story, lived a secret life in the basement bowels of the manor house on Biltmore Estate. However, she was forced to reveal herself to the estate owner’s young nephew in order that together, they might discover why the children on the estate were mysteriously vanishing.

Now, just a few weeks after those events, Serafina and her new friends must confront a new danger, one worse than the Black Cloak.

In doing so, they well face tests that will strain friendships, while Serafina learns more about her unique talent and abilities, allowing her to grow from introspective “other”, to a young girl accepting of herself. Nor is she alone in her growth; Braeden also is able to come into his own, understanding his own particular gifts,

Intended for younger readers, the Serafina books have a richness of prose and an approach to storytelling guaranteed to keep readers – and listeners – of all ages enthralled. Join Caledonia to find out more!

Wednesday, December 7th 19:00: Miracle and Other Christmas Stories

miracleTrolley Trollop offers a selection of readings from this collection of eight seasonal tales first published in 2000 by winner of multiple Hugo and Nebula Awards, Connie Willis.

The tales capture the timeless essence of generosity and goodwill of Christmas, reimagining classic tales for the time of the year, such as the journey of the three wise men, the tale of Mary and Joseph as they seek lodgings, and more.

Each has something of a sci-fi element to it, but each story is much more than that: there’s a  holiday themed mystery; a revisiting of the classic Christmas story as noted above; there’s even a tale which allows Willis to show why she thinks Miracle on 34th Street is a superior film to It’s a Wonderful Life. And while they may all be unique, they all  offer a  celebration of the power of love and compassion.

Thursday, December 8th 19:00: Joulutarina – The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus

Shandon Loring presents Julie Lane.s classic story for Christmas.

Nicholas the orphan becomes Nicholas the wood-carver, whose job is to create a gift for every child in his small village on the Baltic Sea. As he grows older, explanations for many beloved Christmas traditions are woven into the story as the true spirit of Christmas is revealed.

Saturday, December 10th: A Christmas Carol

The 2016 Edition of Seanchai Library’s annual celebration of English literary giant Charles Dickens, The Dickens Project, will open in Second Life on Saturday, December 10th with over 20 hours of live events of all kinds, spanning eight days, to benefit Team Diabetes in Second Life. This year’s Project is sponsored by Kultivate Magazine and will take place on Kultivate’s headquarters region, Water Haven.

I’ll have a special preview of the event, including a chat with the project’s Director, Caledonia Skytower, ahead of the opening.

Please check with the Seanchai Library SL’s blog for updates and for additions or changes to the week’s schedule.

The featured charity for November-December is Reach Out and Read, a non-profit organization that gives young children a foundation for success by incorporating books into paediatric care and encouraging families to read aloud together.

Walking La Digue du Braek in Second Life

La Digue du Braek, Muppets Island; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr La Digue du Braek, Muppets Island – click any image for full size

“The warehouse at the back is fun,” Cube Republic told me, when passing me the landmark to La Digue du Braek last week – and it is. Sitting at the “back” of the region (in terms of how you reach it if you follow the road), it’s a veritable curiosity shop, stacked with bric-a-brac and topped by a chandeliered club house.

La Digue du Braek is the work of Serene Footman, responsible for the stark beauty of Furillen (which you can read about  here and here), and his SL partner, Jade Koltai. Like that design, it is based on a physical world location, in this case the 7 kilometre long headland sitting between the English Channel and the working port area of the Dunkerque grand littoral intercommunity in Hauts-de-France.

La Digue du Braek, Muppets Island; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr La Digue du Braek, Muppets Island

It is on the seaward side this headland, known for the long road running along it, that visitors arrive in the region. The air is heavy with haze, and a short walk up and over the dunes is required to find the road. This brings into view the Canal de Bourbourg, which runs between the headland and the busy port, the shadowy bulk of which can be seen through the haze. The road itself sits at the foot of the dunes, running east from the maw of a tunnel before turning south to enter the port via a metal bridge. A ruined house and ageing pillbox, reminders of Dunkerque’s physical history, watch over the road.

Like the sky under which it sits,  the port is grey and tired looking, colours muted by years of work, the drabness seems only relieved by the bright colours of the containers stacked in their three wall-like rows. Ships are berthed alongside the wharf, their tired engines belching oily smoke up through their funnels to add to the haze of the sky. Tall cranes stand against the skyline like giant one-legged stick figures with oddly disproportionate arms, while the rounded bulk of oil storage tanks squat around their feet.

La Digue du Braek, Muppets Island; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr La Digue du Braek, Muppets Island

This is a busy place – but it is also one with certain incongruities which offer interest spiked with a little intrigue. It may be a working port, but the local power substation  appears to be in a state of disrepair and no longer connected to the main power grid. Further along the wharf, near the bulk of the warehouse, sit the wrecks of crashed trucks and vans, their broken and damaged remains apparently ignored; then there is the curiosity shop of the warehouse itself, complete with television eyes watching all who come and go.

But perhaps the most unusual part of the region lies close to port entrance. It is a great iron frame which rises into the sky to rival the tallest of the cranes. Metal stairways connect its multiple levels, within each of which sits at least one old mobile home or prefab. It forms a vertical trailer park, a place anyone who has read Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One will doubtless recognise.

La Digue du Braek, Muppets Island; Inara Pey, December 2016, on Flickr La Digue du Braek, Muppets Island

La Digue du Braek is another atmospheric build; one rooted in the physical world but with interesting twists of the unexpected. It stands both on its own and as a companion to Furillen, and I’ve little doubt those who have enjoyed the latter will enjoy a visit here – and if you’ve not visited either La Digue du Braek or Furillen, now is the time to drop into both!

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December’s Art at the Park in Second Life

Art at the Park, December 2016

Art at the Park, December 2016

Opening at 12:00 noon SLT on Saturday, December 3rd, 2016, is the last Art at the Park exhibition at Holly Kai Park.

Joining us to see out the year are Owl Dragonash, Kayly Iali, Frankx Lefavre, Kody Meyers, Bluesrocker Resident, and Caitlin Tobias, and I’m delighted to have all of them appearing at the park through until the end of December 2016. And here’s a little more about each of them.

Art at the Park, December 2017 - Owl Dragonash

Art at the Park, December 2017 – Owl Dragonash

I’m particularly delighted to see Owl Dragonash at the Park. I imply no favouritism here, but I’ve been wanting to have Owl join us ever since I took on curating the exhibition spaces at Holly Kai. But circumstances have meant it’s not worked out  – until now.

Owl’s art – and her writing – are always thought-provoking, evocative, and beautifully conceived and presented. I’ve been in awe of her work for a long time, and through it, she has taught me a few things which I hope have improved my own attempts at SL photography.

For her time at Holly Kai, Owl presents a series of images which reflect both her love of places in Second Life, and her exploration of personal expression through her avatar. When not photographing, exploring or writing, Owl host art exhibitions and handles booking live music artists for Commune Utopia. More of her work can be seen on her Flickr stream.

Art at the Park, December 2016 - Kayly Iali

Art at the Park, December 2016 – Kayly Iali

Physical world artist Kayly Iali both presents her work in Second Life and promotes the art of other artists through her galleries. I’m particularly in her debt for introducing me to Silas Merlin and Sheba Blitz, so her appearance at Holly Kai Park is a genuine delight.

Kayly entered art in 2009, and started exhibiting in Second Life in 2010. Her pieces are expressive oil paintings which she produces in one or two sittings, allowing them to appear as fresh as her subjects. She was recently selected for entry into a major regional art competition, the Crocker/Kingsley Art Competition – and was just one of 75 selected to participate out of 1200 applicants.

You can discover more of Kayly’s art through Etsy and Daily Paintworks and via her website.

Art at the Park, December 2016 - Frankx Lefavre

Art at the Park, December 2016 – Frankx Lefavre

I’ve admired Frankx Lefarve’s immersive 3D art environments ever since his debut appearance at the Linden Endowment for the Arts in January 2014 with Glass and Light. There is a spectacular beauty in his use of light, colour and form which is exquisite; his installations often incorporate elements which look as if they have been spun from glass and transported in-world.

Whether full region installations, such as those presented at the LEA, or smaller pieces such as those produced for the UWA or SL Birthday celebrations, Frankx never fails to stun and delight the eye. His art can also be deeply personal. With  Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor for example, he explores his experiences in dealing with anxiety and depression; it’s an evocative piece, one I sought to try to capture in both words and film.

For Holly Kai Park, Frankx presents his interactive Reflections at Midnight – please follow the instructions on the board leading up to it in order to enjoy it to the fullest – and Oracle.

Art at the Park, December 2016 - Kody Meyers

Art at the Park, December 2016 – Kody Meyers

“Capturing the wonderful ambiance and environments created by so many talented landscapers in Second Life is my way to relax and explore my imagination,” Kody Meyers says of his photography. “Each picture depicts a story or is a reminder of an experience one can reflect upon when admiring it. As a perfectionist, I take the time necessary to capture the picture, experimenting with different angles, framing and windlights, until the perfect shot is created — the one that comes alive.”

The result is work which, whether focused on an avatar or a landscape or piece of art, never fails to captivate the eye and hold the attention – as can be seen from his Flickr stream. I’ve long admired Kody’s work at exhibitions in Second Life, and am very pleased to welcome him to Holly Kai Park.

Art at the Park, December 2016 - Bluesrocker Resident

Art at the Park, December 2016 – Bluesrocker Resident

“I’ve been involved in the arts most of my life,” Bluesrocker Resident says of himself. “Coming from a musical background, I have had a very keen appreciation of the creative process, whether it be in music,  the performing arts, painting, writing or photography. Having that interest sparked my involvement in the artistic possibilities of Second Life.

“I much prefer shooting out on location in the multitude of amazing sims which populate SL than in a studio, as I feel I get much better results that way,” he continues. “Since starting seriously taking photographs in SL about two years ago, I have broadened my horizons in what wonders this virtual world has to offer.  Really, the only limits are those of the imagination.”

I’ve shared a number of exhibitions with Bluesrocker, and have always been intrigued by his work. His involvement and fascination with the creative process is readily apparent in his work, which is richly diverse in content and approach. This latter point is illustrated by the selection of images he has brought to Art at the Park, and can further be seen throughout his Flickr stream.

Art at the Park, December 2016 - Caitlin Tobias

Art at the Park, December 2016 – Caitlin Tobias

Caitlin Tobias has always lived her Second Life to the full. A former C:si combat player, specialising in the katana, she has been and active blogger and photographer since 2012, and has gained a rightful reputation for emotive, evocative, richly layered images which not only illustrate her blog and Flickr stream, but have also graced the pages of the RFL Fantasy Faire website.

“Taking pictures in Second Life is a hobby and I do not consider myself an SL Artist,” Caitlin says modestly. I’m not sure I agree; the artistry in her work is readily apparent, and amply demonstrated in her exhibit, Come As You Are.

“I asked six good friends one simple question, would you pose with me?  And the answer to their question on what to wear was: ‘Come as you are’. It is not just posing, it is about accepting friends – as they are. I have used the same pose (by Del May) for all six and the men in them are: Almost Finished (nearly.doune), Temperance Haalan (tem.haalan), Huckleberry Hax, Grabriel (gabriel4botto.resident), JC Underwood and Brad Zeurra, and I want to thank them so much for their time and patience!”

You can also try your hand at photographing yourself and a friend using the provided poses and backdrop.


My thanks to all of the above artists for participating in Art at the Park, and I hope you’ll pay them a via at Holly Kai Park between now and December 31st.

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