Imagination’s golden autumn

Autumn [Imagination], Intouchable; Inara Pey, November 2014, on FlickrAutumn [Imagination], Intouchable (Flickr)

A year ago, I was drawn to ARNICAR India’s beautiful region, Imagination. Back then I described it as “a perfect haven for those wanting to escape the trials of the world or who are looking for a place to soothe their tired minds. Predominantly water, the region has a number of small islands scattered across it and, in one case, floating over it.”

Now called Autumn [Imagination]  and having been relocated to Intouchable, the region offers an autumn-themed design which sees a subtle shift in presentation whilst retaining all of the beauty and tranquillity I discovered there in 2013, with much that remains familiar within the changes made.

Autumn [Imagination], Intouchable; Inara Pey, November 2014, on FlickrAutumn [Imagination], Intouchable (Flickr)

Water still forms the predominant feature, hence one reason for my continued attraction, and if anything is far more prevalent. The landmark will deliver you close to the middle of Imagination, where a familiar large fob watch sits with a broken face and gears hanging out of one side of the case, a reminder that while here, time holds little importance. Three tree-lined paths form a Y around the landing point, presenting the visitor with a choice on their arrival. Which one you take – if any – matters not; all three will lead to discovery and delight as you explore.

Walking beneath the golden arches of each is worth the time, as each path has its own character and contains small motifs from earlier designs for the region, giving those who have visited before a pleasant feeling of familiarity and comfort. Keep your eyes peeled as you walk, as there are some wonderful little touches and details that are oh-so-easy to otherwise miss.

Autumn [Imagination], Intouchable; Inara Pey, November 2014, on FlickrAutumn [Imagination], Intouchable (Flickr)

A small island lies a short distance through the ankle-deep water from the paths. Here children play, Wendys and Lost Boys in the long grass, their laughter sprinkling the air as the chase one another or fly kites. Nestled against the rocks of the island is a tented boat – perhaps their home; certainly a place for visitors to sit and forget their worries.

Another island floats serenely at the end of one of the paths, the waters of the open sea washing against the rocks of a breakwater beneath it. You’ll have to fly up to the little house atop the island (or at least I didn’t find a teleport). If you do you’ll discover a lovely collection of bonsai trees and more places to sit and snuggle, or to dance. Platforms scattered around the island – on the water and in the trees – offer similar retreats from the worries of life, or places to share with friends.

Autumn [Imagination], Intouchable; Inara Pey, November 2014, on FlickrAutumn [Imagination], Intouchable (Flickr)

For those who prefer not to walk, rideable horses wander through the region, simply right-click on one to mount it and you can set off on your wanderings. One thing I would recommend is that you try keeping to ARNICAR’s chosen windlight for the design (seen in all the images here); the dark skies, rippled by the odd wave of cloud and with the sun dipping towards the horizon perfectly complements the rippled waters below whilst also brighting the golden colours of the trees to the fore.

The description for Autumn [Imagination] is a quote from George Bernard Shaw: Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will. It’s perfectly apt for this place, imagination brought it into being, and it is turn stirs the imagination as you explore.

Autumn [Imagination], Intouchable; Inara Pey, November 2014, on FlickrAutumn [Imagination], Intouchable (Flickr)

Do keep an eye out for the hippos! 🙂

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The little lander that could – and did

Rosetta,Philae and, behind them, comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko seen in an artist’s impression of the mission

It’s been a hectic 48 hours. On Wednesday, November 12th, after 10 years in space, travelling aboard its parent vehicle, Rosetta, the little lander Philae touched down on the surface of comet 67P/C-G/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (67P/C-G). It was the climax of an amazing space mission spanning two decades – and yet was to be just the beginning. Packed with instruments, it was hoped that Philae would immediately commence around 60 hours of intense scientific investigation, prior to its batteries discharging, causing it to switch to a solar-powered battery system.

Unfortunately, things haven’t quite worked out that way. As I’ve previously reported, the is very little in the way of gravity on the comet, so in order for Philae to avoid bouncing off of it when landing, several things had to happen the moment it touched the comet’s surface. As it turned out, two of these things didn’t happen, with the result that the lander did bounce – twice.

Where Philae may be (ESA image via BBC News) – Rosetta has yet to positively locate the lander beyond a rough estimate based on communications and signals received from the CONSERT instrument on the lander

The first time it rose to around 1 kilometre above the comet before descending once more in a bounce lasting and hour and fifty minutes, the second time it bounced for just seven minutes. Even so, both of these bounces meant the lander eventually came to rest about a kilometre away from its intended landing zone. What’s worse, rather than touching down in an area where it would received around 6-7 hours of sunlight a “day” as the comet tumbles through space, it arrived in an area where it was only receiving around 80-90 minutes of sunlight – meaning that it would be almost impossible to charge the solar-powered battery system.

As noted above, the mission was designed so that most of the core science could be carried out in the first 60 hours of the mission, just in case something like this occurred. Even so, in order to prolong the life of the vehicle, it would have been nice to move it into a greater area of sunlight. A means of doing this had also been built-in to Philae: the three landing legs can be flexed, allowing it to “hop”. But as images were returned to Earth by the Lander, it became apparent that one of the legs is not in contact with the ground, making such a hop problematic. After discussion, it was decided not to attempt to move the lander, but focus on trying to achieve the planned science objectives.

In this image released by ESA, a model of the Philae lander has been superimposed on images of the vehicle's shadowy surroundings as captured by the panoramic cameras mounted around the lander (image: Image: Sipa USA/Rex)
In this image released by ESA, a model of the Philae lander has been superimposed on images of the vehicle’s shadowy surroundings as captured by the panoramic cameras mounted around the lander (image: Image: Sipa USA/Rex)

As it turned out, the initial contact between the lander and the comet confused several of Philae’s instruments into “thinking” it had in fact landed, causing them to activate. These included the ROMAP magnetic field analyser, the MUPUS thermal mapper, the CONSERT radio sounding experiment and the SESAME sensors in the landing gear. Data received from these instruments, arriving on Earth some 30 minutes after initial contact with the comet, and the information which followed, help alert mission staff that something had gone wrong, and enabled them to subsequently piece together the events that occurred during the landing sequence, while the instruments continued to gather data and transmit it back to Earth via Rosetta.

On Friday, November 14th, the decision was taken to activate Philae’s sample-gathering drill, officially referred to as SD2. This had been postponed from the previous day, as the drill uses a lot of power. However, obtaining and analysing samples from inside the comet is a central part of the mission, the decision was made to push ahead with drilling operations.

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