Glenrosa’s tranquillity in Second Life

{ Glenrosa }; Inara Pey, October 2018, on Flickr{ Glenrosa } – click any image for full size

Update: {Glenroas} has closed. SLurl have therefore been removed from this article.

The Destination Guide led me to { Glenrosa }, a stunning Homestead region designed by Brandi Monroe and her SL partner Gabriel (gabriel4botto) which – at the time of writing – deservedly sits within the Editor’s Picks section of the DG.

It is a place specifically designed to encourage exploration; a countryside location caught in the early bloom of morning, where the rising mist drifting across unpaved paths and between wooded hills gives a siren call for us to eat a warm breakfast, don thick coats and hiking boots and set forth before the Sun gets too high above the horizon. The region description adds to this call, inviting visitors to “set off down the winding road or take the shoreline,” and noting that whichever route is taken, surprises await discovery.

{ Glenrosa }; Inara Pey, October 2018, on Flickr{ Glenrosa }

The winding road in question lies close to the region’s given landing point, located just above the shoreline on the north coast. Two dry stone walls cup the landing point within their arc, the shingle coastline presenting a view of the broad, flat sea watched over by a squat off-shore lighthouse just away to the east, framed by the rising Sun.

The two dry stone walls are prevented from touching one another by the tall pillars that between them support wrought iron gates guarding the road. The stone stags atop the pillars, together with the region’s name, give the impression this is some landed estate, with the overall ambience of the setting giving me the feeling I could be somewhere in the remoter parts of Scotland – although admittedly, banyan trees aren’t typically found in Scotland.

{ Glenrosa }; Inara Pey, October 2018, on Flickr{ Glenrosa }

This feeling was heightened during my wanderings by the discovery of a single-track railway line running the short distance from a tunnel to a set of buffers, passing a small country station along the way. Clearly a spur line, it is not hard to imagine a small regional train – perhaps a privately owned steamer – pulling into the station with one or two vintage rail cars, so that visitors might alight and explore before the train reverses its way back down the track.

The feeling that this is – or once was – a private estate is further heightened by the presence of a grand hunting lodge at the end of the road leading up from the landing point. Furnished throughout, the Lodge shares the setting with a small chapel a short distance away, atop a  rocky hill. No longer used as a place of worship, the chapel is surrounded by gravestones, giving the impression it may have once been a family chapel and burial plot.

{ Glenrosa }; Inara Pey, October 2018, on Flickr{ Glenrosa }

The house can also be reached along the coast, following the shingle beach towards the Sun and where it broadens alongside the lighthouse before turning south. Along the way, it passes steps leading up to the chapel and one of the surprises in the region: a grand piano sitting under the banyan tree; one of several places where time can be spent in quiet contemplation.

More such places can be found scattered across the landscape, from a little deck built out over the cold-looking waters close to the lodge, to up over the train tunnel, where a little vagabond camp has been set up. This is reached by way of a small house overlooking the railway line on one side, and out across the fir trees and rocky hills of the estate on the other. Down the slope from this little house, possibly once cared for by whoever many have at one time lived in it, is an orchard, still very much being cultivated, although the house itself no longer appears to be a working home.

{ Glenrosa }; Inara Pey, October 2018, on Flickr{ Glenrosa }

A cinder track continues beyond the beach behind the main house, arcing slightly up and away from the coast before dropping back to rejoin the shingles. It leads the way to where part of the land has been flooded to form a natural inlet, its narrow neck spanned by an old bridge. Here the setting, with reeds and trees growing from the water and the wooden shack to one side, is perhaps more mindful of a Louisiana swamp than a place sitting somewhere on the Scottish  coast – but it still feels very much a part of the overall landscape, and it offers more places to sit and spend time in the region.

Caught by the rising Sun, { Glenrosa } also lends itself to other daytime windlights – although for once I’ve tended to keep to the default in the images here. Those who do take photos are invited to add them to the region’s Flickr group, and there is more than enough here to keep anyone’s camera busy.

{ Glenrosa }; Inara Pey, October 2018, on Flickr{ Glenrosa }

Although sitting within a sim surround, I confess I found the rolling, rocky landscape dominated by fir trees, to be more attractive with it derendered to present a more coast-like setting (although just having one side of the region open to water would have really done the trick). Nevertheless, with its gently undulating landscape, this is a place of beauty rounded-out by a gentle soundscape and is definitely not a destination to be missed.

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Space Sunday: Mars roundup

via Associated Press

NASA’s INterior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) lander, launched in March 2018, is due to land on Mars on November 26th, 2018. Managed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, the mission is intended to study the internal structure of the planet, and in doing so it could bring new understanding of the Solar System’s terrestrial planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars and the Moon.

The lander is based on the design used for NASA’s Mars Phoenix lander, which successfully arrived on Mars in 2008, using circular solar arrays to generate power for its systems and instruments. As with the Phoenix Lander, InSight is designed to operate for a Martian year once on the surface of Mars, with an initial primary mission period of 90 days.

As a static lander, InSight will use a range of instruments to study the deep interior of Mars. Two of the principle instruments in this investigation are the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) and HP3, the Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, both of which will be placed in direct contact with the surface of Mars after touch-down.

An artist’s impression of InSight on Mars, showing the SEIS package deployed. Credit: NASA / JPL

Developed by the French Space Agency (CNES), with the participation of the Institut de Physique du Globe de Paris (IPGP), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH), the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research (MPS), Imperial College, Institut supérieur de l’aéronautique et de l’espace (ISAE) and JPL, SEIS is a sensitive instrument designed to do the work of an entire network of seismographs here on Earth.

It will measure seismic waves from marsquakes and meteorite strikes as they move through the planet. The speed of those waves changes depending on the material they’re travelling through, helping scientists deduce what the planet’s interior is made of. Seismic waves come in a surprising number of flavours; some vibrate across a planet’s surface, while others ricochet off its centre and they also move at different speeds. Seismologists can use each type as a tool to triangulate where and when a seismic event has happened.

Such is the sensitivity of SEIS, it can sit in one place and listen to the entire planet and detect vibrations smaller than the width of a hydrogen atom. It will be the first seismometer to be directly placed on the surface of Mars, where it will be thousands of times more accurate than seismometers that sat atop the Viking landers.

Artist’s illustration of InSight’s Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS) instrument on the Red Planet’s surface. Credit: NASA TV/JPL

Also, because of the instrument’s sensitivity, SEIS will be protected from the local weather by a protective shell and skirt, both of which will stop local wind interfering with the instrument. In addition, it will be supported by a suite of meteorological tools to characterise atmospheric disturbances that might affect its readings.

HP3 has been provided by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR). It is a self-penetrating heat flow probe,  more popularly referred to as a “self-hammering nail” with the nickname of “the mole”. Once deployed on the surface of Mars, it will burrow 5 m (16 ft) below the Martian surface while trailing a tether with embedded heat sensors every 10 cm (3.9 in) to measure how efficiently heat flows through Mars’ core, revealing unique information about the planet’s interior and how it has evolved over time.

The “self-hammering nail” description comes from the spike, or “mole” at the end of the tether. A mechanism within it  will allow it to propel itself into the Martian regolith and down through the rock beneath it.

Diagram of HP3, showing the deployment system, the “mole” and tether. Credit: DLR

Once fully deployed, HP3 will be able to detect heat trapped inside Mars since the planet first formed. That heat shaped the surface with volcanoes, mountain ranges and valleys. It may even have determined where rivers ran early in Mars’ history.

On arrival at Mars, InSight will enter the planet’s atmosphere and land on Elysium Planitia, around 600 km (370 mi) from where the Curiosity rover is operating in Gale Crater. I’ll have more on the mission around the time InSight makes its landing on Mars.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: Mars roundup”