A return to Cooper Creek Wilderness

Cooper Creek Wilderness; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrCooper Creek Wilderness, July 2019 – click and image for full size

In passing suggestions for regions to visit, Miro Collas recently reminded me that it has been almost four years to the day since I last wrote about Cooper Creek Wilderness and the public regions of Sailor’s Cove Rain Forest (see A walk in the wilderness in Second Life). We’ve been back numerous times, both by boat and by air, and have noted various changes to the regions – notably the rise of Mount Cooper, the massive mountain that dominates the southern end of the estate, which I’ve yet to write about. So Miro’s reminder served as a reason for us to hop back for a visit that could include Mount Cooper and give a reason for me to write an updated post.

Now, to be clear, there are a lot of places to explore within the Rain Forest, and they can be reached via direct teleport or by flying / boating. For this article, and to match the flavour of my original piece, I’m setting out a possible tour using the latter – aircraft and boat -, but SLurls are also provided for those preferring the more direct means of travel.

Cooper Creek Wilderness; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrCooper Creek Wilderness – Frasier Island Airstrip, July 2019

For those flying in, the Rain Forest Airfield (formerly the Sailors Cove South (SCS) airfield) is the initial destination to head for. In 2015, this was a fairly small affair, with the runway running east-west. It’s since been expanded, with a north-south runway (although approach and take-off should be from / to the north, given the bulk of Mount Cooper looming so close. With revised helipads, a seaplane ramp and a fair amount of parking, the new airstrip offers more space – but is still only suitable for light aircraft.

From here, explorers can switch to kayak – there is a rezzer to the east of the airfield, just beyond the Get The Freight Out terminal. The rezzer pier sits close to a channel that cuts northwards through Frasier Island and Cerrado to Cooper Creek Wilderness, or offers a route south to Mount Cooper (which, if you prefer, can also be reached by ferry).

Cooper Creek Wilderness; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrCooper Creek Wilderness, July 2019

Should you head north along the water channel, keep in mind that both Frasier Island and Cerrado have private residences on the west banks of the main north-south channel cutting through them. There is also a large private residence on the north side of Cerrado as well, sitting just across the water from the Fishers Island Yacht Club, which is open to the public.

As well as being navigable via kayak, both Cerrado and Cooper Creek Wilderness each have a series of raised board walks and winding wooden paths running through the trees, over the water and climbing up the higher reaches of land. These offer plenty of opportunities for exploration on foot (there are other numerous kayak rezzing points, should you wish to resume your explorations on the water).

Cooper Creek Wilderness; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrCooper Creek Wilderness -The Alchemis, July 2019

There are numerous places to be found whilst exploring the walks and waters of the rain forest – from the obvious places such as the Yacht Club (another kayak rezzing point sitting just across the east side channel), or The Alchemis coffee bar or the Butterfly House, and so on. The best place to find out more about the sights is from the sign at the Cooper Creek Wilderness landing point. When touched, this will offer you a note card detailing many of the attractions, all the way down to Mount Cooper.

If you do head south to Mount Cooper, I recommend avoiding the marina-style mooring sitting on the far side of the channel from Frasier Island, and instead turn south-east to make for the smaller pier sitting by a sandy shelf on the far side of the great gorge cut into the side of Mount Cooper. From here, you can follow the trails up the side of the mountain on foot or via horseback (terrain allowing, if you are using a rezzed horse – wearable horses are fair better, if you have one) and enjoy the open air.

Cooper Creek Wilderness; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrCooper Creek Wilderness – Mount Cooper, July 2019

A point to note with Mount Cooper – as with other parts of the rain forest regions as noted above – is that as well as being a public park, it is also home to a number of private residences – the first of which can be encountered when following the trail up from the horse rezzer. So while exploring, do keep people’s privacy in mind.

The paths up the mountain are a mix of grassy trail, rock-based path or stony trail (the latter of which can cause rezzed horses some problems). The also offer multiple routes of exploration, so I strongly recommend you give Mount Cooper plenty of time for a visit, as there is far more to see than may at first appear to be the case.

Cooper Creek Wilderness; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrCooper Creek Wilderness – Mount Cooper, July 2019

In particular, keep an eye out for the numerous entrances to the network of tunnels and caverns running through the heart of the mountain. These offer surprises of their own, including the opportunity to take a wet bungee jump (which can also be reached via a rocky path  up from the marina). And when you’ve done with that, a swim through the underwater tunnel might reveal more.

All of the above really just scratches the surface of the Cooper Creek Wilderness and Mount Cooper. As destinations, both deserve a decent amount of time to explore – possibly over more than one visit. Both present their own points of interest, with zip line rides, walks, places to sit, and so on, and each obviously offers its own opportunities for photography.

Cooper Creek Wilderness; Inara Pey, July 2019, on FlickrCooper Creek Wilderness – Mount Cooper, July 2019

SLurl Details

 

Art with a Monocle Man in Second Life

Monocle Gallery

Monocle Man is a new gallery endeavour by Lynx Iuga, along with SL partner Kit Boyd, that is available for artists seeking a free, short-term space in which to exhibit their art.

We would love to inform you about a new concept at Monocle Man. We have two lovely exposition places that we would love to share with you. Showing your wonderful work to others and share it or even sell it. Have your own free gallery for a short time (20 days)! Ask Lynx or Kit for more information.

– from the Monocle Man introductory note card

Monocle Gallery: DustinPedroia

Occupying two floors – a main ground floor and a mezzanine upper level – with the décor suggestive of a café or private club, the ground-level gallery offers a fair amount of wall space for art exhibitions in an environment that makes for a comfortable visit. Outside is a teleport lead up to the additional gallery spaces and other attractions.

Currently on exhibition is DustinPedroia, a Second Life photographer focusing on avatar studies. He presents some two dozen pieces covering a range of themes, from fairly direct portraiture through fantasy to studies of love and companionship.

This range of themes makes this exhibition and eclectic, engaging viewing, one that is enhanced by Dusty’s use of different styles in finishing his images, employing soft focus in some, a degree of colour saturation in another, tonal colouring in others, a split balance of monochrome and colour, and so on. These variations in style ensure that each piece offered appears fresh and new to the eye.

Monocle Gallery: DustinPedroia

As is well known to anyone reading these pages, I’m particularly drawn to artists who can tell a story with their images – and Dusty most certainly falls into this category. Take A Primise [sic] Within or Let Freedom Ring, sitting side-by-side at the back of the ground floor of the gallery. The former embraces a moment from a much broader tale just waiting for the imagination to unfold, the latter contains both a story and an evocative statement for the current political climate in the United States (and other western nations).

Elsewhere, the message / story is perhaps more subtle / evocative / personal, but it is there nevertheless. Just look at the likes of Take On Me and You Make Me Smile as just two examples of this.

Monocle Gallery: DustinPedroia

Having opened on July 6th, Dusty’s work will be on display for another 18 days – and definitely should not be missed. And as noted, artists wishing to available themselves of the gallery should contact either Lynx or Kit in-world.

SLurl Details

2019 viewer release summaries week #27

Logos representative only and should not be seen as an endorsement / preference / recommendation

Updates for the week ending Sunday, July 7th

This summary is generally 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.
  • Note that for purposes of length, TPV test viewers, preview / beta viewers / nightly builds are generally not recorded in these summaries.

Official LL Viewers

  • Current Release version 6.2.3.527758, formerly the Rainbow RC viewer dated June 5, promoted June 18 – No change.
  • Release channel cohorts:
    • No updates.
  • Project viewers:
    • No updates.

LL Viewer Resources

Third-party Viewers

V5/V6-style

V1-style

  • Cool VL viewer Stable branch updated 1.26.22.53 to version and the Experimental branch updated to version 1.26.23.6, both on July 6th (release notes).

Mobile / Other Clients

Additional TPV Resources

Related Links

Space Sunday: rockets, exoplanets and alien oceans

rion AA2, July 2nd 2019The Orion test article lifts-off from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at the start of Ascent Abort-2, July 2nd 2019. Credit: NASA

NASA’s Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle passed a significant test on its way to its first crewed launch (due in 2022) on July 2nd, 2019, as it completed a flight test of the capsule’s launch abort system (LAS).

The LAS is a system designed to pull a crewed capsule clear of a malfunctioning rocket during an ascent to orbit, hopefully saving their lives in the process. As such, it is a significant system that must be tested and cleared for use before crewed flights can commence with a new launch vehicle.

For the Space Launch System (SLS), NASA is following its traditional approach, with the LAS designed to “pull” a crew capsule clear of launch vehicle. It does this by placing a special fairing over the capsule that has a tower extending from its top, fitted with three motors. This has always been the traditional approach to US LAS systems – by contrast, Russian LAS systems generally sit below the capsule and are design to “push” it away from a malfunctioning rocket.

The Orion / SLS launch abort system (LAS). Credit: NASA

The July 2nd test – called the Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) mission – was a critical test flight, designed to test the LAS at the point in an ascent to orbit when the Orion / SLS combination will be subjected to the highest aerodynamic stresses – the so-called period of “Max-Q” – that occurs during a rapid ascent into space.

To achieve this, NASA mounted an Orion structural test article – basically an Orion capsule sans its flight systems – contained within a LAS fairing onto the motor stage of an MX Peacekeeper ICBM, and launched it into the Florida skies in a early morning ascent designed to last some 55 seconds.

In that time, the rocket was expected to reach an altitude of 9.5 kilometres (31,000 ft) and a speed of Mach 1.3, at which point the abort sequence would trigger.

As it turned out, the MX rocket motor ran “hot”, accelerating a little faster than anticipated, so reaching its assigned separation altitude 5 seconds early. Nevertheless, the abort sequence initiated correctly, and the powerful abort motors on the LAS fired, generating 181,400 kg of thrust, hauling the Orion free of the ascent motor unit.

Once a clear separation from the still ascending motor stage had been achieved, the attitude control motors at the very top of the LAS fired, flipping it and Orion over. The middle jettison motor then fired, separating the LAS from the Orion.

During an actual abort sequence, the Orion would then re-orient itself so it would be falling heat shield first, allowing its parachutes to be deployed in preparation for a splashdown. However, for the AA-2 flight, the test article did not carry a parachute system. Instead, and like the LAS, the capsule was allowed to fall back into the Atlantic, hitting it at an estimated 480 km/h (300 mph) and breaking up. Just before it did so, however, it ejected 12 bright orange data recorders not unlike those so-called “black boxes” used by aircraft. These contained critical data recorded during the 3 minute 11 second flight, and which will be assessed post-mission to confirm everything did go an planned.

That was a spectacular test we all witnessed this morning. It was really special for the programme; a really big step forward to us. It was a really great day all around – weather and the vehicle. One of the most important parts of the test was to see how the attitude control motor performed. The internal motor pressure was rock solid, straight line and it had excellent control characteristics. Everything we’ve seen so far looks great.

– Mark Kirasich, NASA’s Orion Programme Manager

Orion AA2, July 2nd 2019The Orion test article climbs into the early morning sky over Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at the start of Ascent Abort-2, July 2nd 2019. Credit: NASA

The US has never has to use the LAS on an actual mission. However, there is no guarantee this will always be the case, and circumstances where a LAS must be used are not unkown – as the Soyuz M-10 mission in October 2018 demonstrated (see Space Sunday: of Soyuz aborts and telescopes). Therefore, passing this test was critical if  Orion and SLS are to achieve the flight goals required for NASA’s programme – Project Artemis – to return humans to the surface of the Moon.

Half-Planet, Half-Star

Discovered in 2012, GJ3470b is a “mini-Neptune” planet orbiting a red dwarf star called Gliese 3470, 100 light years from our Sun. Occupying an orbit some 6 million km (3.7 million mi – roughly one-tenth of the distance between the Sun and Mercury) from its parent, the planet has a mass of around 12.6 Earths.

None of this is particularly unusual; as I’ve noted in past Space Sunday articles, M-type stars are the most common type of star in the galaxy, and mini-Neptune type planets account for around 80% of the exoplanets discovered to date. Nevertheless, recent studies have revealed GJ3470b to be a very unique world.

GJ3470b, its atmospheric composition, and its relative location to its parent star. Credit: NASA, ESA, and L. Hustak (STScI)

The presence of an atmosphere around the planet was detected fairly soon after its discovery and prompted astronomers to take a prolonged look at it. To do this, they combined the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes to examine the planet’s atmosphere for a total of 20 transits in front of its parent star.

These observations, using the light of the star passing through the planet’s atmosphere during the transits, allowed the astronomers to gather data on the composition of GJ3470b’s atmosphere. What was discovered came as a huge surprise.

It has been expected that the observations would reveal an atmosphere somewhat similar to Neptune’s, but such was the depth to which they could measure, it quickly became clear that GJ3470b has an almost pristine atmosphere of hydrogen and helium surrounding a large solid core.

The presence of hydrogen and helium may not sound too unusual – after all, the four gas giants of our solar system have atmospheres largely made up of those two gases. However, they also have amounts of other, heavier elements – methane, nitrogen, oxygen, ammonia, acetylene, ethane, propane, phosphine, etc., – none of which showed up in any of the spectral analyses performed by Hubble and Spitzer. This makes GJ3470b’s  atmosphere closer in nature to that of the Sun or a star than it does to a planet, leading to it being dubbed “half-planet / half-star” in some quarters, and making it the most unique exoplanet yet discovered.

Continue reading “Space Sunday: rockets, exoplanets and alien oceans”