This summary is published every Monday, and is a list of SL viewer / client releases (official and TPV) made during the previous week. When reading it, please note:
It is based on my Current Viewer Releases Page, a list of all Second Life viewers and clients that are in popular use (and of which I am aware), and which are recognised as adhering to the TPV Policy. This page includes comprehensive links to download pages, blog notes, release notes, etc., as well as links to any / all reviews of specific viewers / clients made within this blog
By its nature, this summary presented here will always be in arrears, please refer to the Current Viewer Release Page for more up-to-date information.
Official LL Viewers
Current Release version: 184.108.40.2064126, dated March 3rd, promoted March 6th – formerly a Maintenance RC viewer download page, release notes
At the end of February / start of March 2017, NASA hosted the “Planetary Science Vision 2050 Workshop” at their headquarters in Washington, DC. The workshop covered a number of ideas for the future exploration of the solar system using automated means.
Two of the more interesting areas of discussion were the exploration of the “ocean worlds” of the solar system, notably Jupiter’s Europa and Saturn’s Enceladus. The other was options for exploring Saturn’s moon Titan.
The “Icy Worlds”
As I’ve recently reported Europa is already the target of the upcoming Europa Multi Flyby mission, due to launch in the early 2020, and which is now known once more by its earlier title of Europa Clipper. However, at the workshop, scientists looked at future options for exploring it, starting with the lander mission already being planned as a follow-on mission.
What makes these icy worlds so interesting is that under their crusts of ice, there may well be oceans of liquid water. Europa and Enceladus in particular have demonstrated very strong signs that under a surface coating of ice, they have liquid water oceans, perhaps 100 km (62.5 mi) deep in the case of Europa.
These oceans are kept in a liquid state due to gravitational flexing: they are constantly being pulled in different directions by the gravities of their parent planet and the other moons in orbit around it. The flexing generates heat, and this heat could be sufficient to keep the water trapped under the ice crust of such a world in a liquid state. It could also mean that the ocean bed of such a world might be the locations of hydrothermal vents and fumeroles which are pushing out the heat, energy, minerals and chemicals needed to kick-start life.
Europa, Ganyemede and Callisto, around Jupiter show every indication of such sub-surface oceans, although Ganyemede’s and Callisto’s case, it might be more icy slush than liquid water. Both will be the subject of study by Europe’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer, due for launch in 2022.
Europa’s ocean is believed to be liquid both as a result of spectral analysis of the ice covering it, and because images of the moon captured by the Hubble Space Telescope appear to show huge geysers erupting from the moon’s south polar regions.
Geysers of water vapour have also been seen erupting from Enceladus by NASA’s Cassini mission, indicating it also has a liquid ocean under its covering of ice.
Worldlets like Ceres and Pluto also appear to have liquid interiors overlaying their cores, although the processes that might by allowing such liquid layers – likely water – have yet to be properly understood.
Of them all, Europa perhaps shows the strongest evidence for harbouring life-giving nutrients within its oceans, marking it as a prime candidate for study. This is because of the reddish-brown staining covering much of its surface. Most of this is likely debris from the huge volcanic eruptions which occur on Io, the innermost of the Galilean moons of Jupiter, and the one experiencing the greatest levels of gravitational flexing. However, some of Europa’s straining might be material deposited as a result of geyser action, particularly where the stains appear to run along many of the fault lines which crack Europa’s surface.
Given all this, planetary scientists are itching to get a vehicle onto the surface on Europa and – if possible, get one through the ice and into the ocean beneath it. Hence the discussions at the NASA workshop.
As I noted in writing about Europa Clipper (see the link above), a lander mission is already in the advanced planning stages thanks to strong support for missions to Europa in Congress. It could potentially take place just a couple of years after Europa Clipper arrives in orbit around Jupiter, and would have three mission objectives:
Search for biosignatures and signs of life by analysing the surface and subsurface deposits on Europa, particularly recently erupted material near the lander’s location
Analyse the composition of the surface ice and determine the proximity of liquid water beneath the ice
Attempt to identify the dynamic processes responsible for shaping Europa’s surface and its properties.
If the lander mission detects signs of life or strong evidence of life-giving materials within Europa’s ice sheet, then it will likely pave the wave for the most ambitious mission of all: sending a vehicle to Europa with the means to penetrate the surface ice and release an automated submersible into the waters below to search for possible life.
While there is no time frame for such a mission, it has long been a goal for NASA and scientists. So much so that there have been numerous studies and even competitions for such vehicles, and a broad range of proposals and designs have been put forward. As such, it could be that such a mission could follow the Europa lander mission relatively quickly – perhaps within a decade.
We’re moving ahead with Filling the Cauldron, the event to support Elicio Ember and his family. Already the Design a Garden contest is filled and designers are hard at work. We’re also receiving applications from DJ, entertainers, artists and volunteers na dahre still looking for more!
Work is continuing in preparing Holly Kai Park – so if you see bits of work going on her and there, please pardon any mess. Hopefully, things are only having minor tweaks, so you should notice too much changing!
In fact the biggest change is to the Storyteller’s Circle in the south-east corner of the park. The tree circle and the paths have been removed to make way for Cerridwen’s Corner, a store area where Elicio’s creations will be on sale, with all proceeds going to Elicio and his family.
Designed by Judi Newall using items created by Elicio to present a little corner of his home region, Cerridwen’s Corner. What’s more, not only will the Corner be selling many of Elico’s creations, if there is anything you cannot find there, a teleport will take you to and from his store at Cerridwen’s Cauldron, giving you immediate access to all of his items!
Applications and Support
While we’ve had a lot of responses to Filling the Cauldron so far, we still have applications open in a number of areas, so if you want to get involved and help support the event, here’s how:
Join our Art Show: do you have images of Elicio’s past builds at Fantasy Faire, or his art installations such as Calvera! and would be willing to display them in an art show for Filling the Cauldron? If so, we would love to hear from you.
Donate to our Auction: what better way to raise funds than with an auction? But in order to do so, we need items to be donated. Would you be willing to donate. It can be 2D art, 3D art, clothing or anything else you would like to provide – such as your time? See the auction page for more
Be part of our Entertainment: are you a live performer, band, dance troupe or DJ and would like to volunteer an hour or two of your time to help raise money for Elicio Ember and his family? If so, please hop over to the entertainments page
Become a Volunteer: running an event like Filling the Cauldron takes a lot of time and effort – and help! If you’d like to lean a hand, please visit the volunteers page.