Updates from the week through to Sunday, September 11th, 2022
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
Release viewer: version 126.96.36.1994158 – formerly the Profiles RC viewer, dated August 18, promoted August 30 – No change.
Early in August 2022, Chic Aeon dropped me a note concerning a new venture on her part – Artscape Gallery Village, designed to be a small community hub for artists, offering (among other benefits) free gallery spaces to those interested located within an landscaped location and surrounding a central gallery.
Artscape Village is public arena for both established and new artists.
The village goal is to be a realistic rendition of our corporeal world, and possibly a stepping stone to connections beyond our keyboards. Gallery space is provided free with Pay It Forward quarterly gifts for art lovers. The aim is to enhance visibility for virtual artists as well as act as an introduction to pixelated creativity for those new to Second Life.
– Chic Aeon on Artscape Village
Located on a Homestead region, Artscape Village is intentionally small, the emphasis being on fostering a community feel to the setting, whilst encouraging artists both new and established within Second Life with a modest space in which to display and sell their work. Some 24 boutique galleries are offered in little blocks of four apiece. Built by Chic herself these have something of an adobe pueblo look took them, and sit as two groups of twelve around three sides of a pair of terraces which in turn bracket the central gallery.
The latter takes the form of the Zujin Modern Estate by Cory Edo, which as Chic explains, helped to push her into developing Artscape Gallery Village:
My inspiration in part was the new build from Cory Edo of Trompe Loeil, a brand who I have been blogging for continuously over the last ten years. It is spectacular and as I was taking photos I couldn’t help envision the modern structure as a gallery. A few days later I went out looking for land and found that a region I had rented before was one of the few homesteads out there. Serendipity and I are good friends.
– Chic Aeon on Artscape Village
The boutique galleries come with 35 LI in which can be used to display art and put out suitable supporting décor. In addition, and for those who may need them, Artscape Village offers group members a choice of unfurnished and furnished skyboxes for those in need of a small home, together with a communal arts sky platform when working.
The unfurnished skyoboxes offer a 50 LI allowance for furnishings, and the furnished versions a 25 LI allowance for additional décor. They are also offered for free, and artists displaying at Artscape should contact Chic if interested in obtaining one.- but again, please note that they are intended for those without a regular home in Second Life.
Applications for gallery spaces – there were a number still available when I visited while writing this piece – can be made via note card; click the Application board at the signage within the gallery’s landing point. The application card includes a series of guidelines and rules for the Village which should obviously be read, and completed cards should be dropped onto the Leave A Notecard board within the same signage as the Application board.
In addition the guidelines / rules set out within the Application note card, there are some additional points of note to be found within the Artscape web pages (both within the Rules page and elsewhere). These include points such as Artscape being reserved for human avatar artists (to enhance the “real life” feel to the setting), and that the skyboxes cannot be used as additional gallery space and the galleries cannot be used as any form of living space. Given this, a look through the web pages is encouraged when thinking of applying.
As well as the boutique galleries spaces and skyboxes, benefits in getting involved with Artscape include the opportunity to be a part of a small community of like-minds (at least in terms of art!); being able to display and/or sell your art in an environment which is somewhat optimised for a good experience (one not cluttered with dozens of unique meshes and textures (outside of the art itself!), etc.), and the potential for group activities:
There may be classes in the future. I have experience teaching colour theory and composition along with leading critique groups that aren’t too painful (always start with the positive).
– Chic Aeon on Artscape Village
A unique aspect to the setting is the gallery itself. Rather than being the home to rotating displays of art, forms a central display area in which pieces by group members are displayed, together with a name board of the artist. Clicking the latter will open the World Map and allow you to teleport to their little gallery. At the time of my visit, the upper levels of the gallery were given over to communal social spaces, offering further opportunities for artists and visitors to mingle.
With 3D sculptures from Chic’s personal collection occupying some of the garden space, Artscape Gallery Village is an engaging and (given Chic is covering the tier cost) generous idea for helping foster arts and arts communities in SL, and is well worth a visit whether you are an artist or a patron of art in Second Life.
The above image is of a region of space officially called 30 Doradus, located in the south-east corner (from Earth’s perspective) of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC), one of the “satellite” galaxies to our own.
Known more familiarly as the Tarantula Nebula, the region has long been a subject for study by astronomers as it is the largest and brightest star-forming group in our local group of galaxies. Its popular name originates in the way the dusty filaments within it suggest the web found within the holes of burrowing tarantulas, the black “holes” within the suggesting the spider lying in wait in its hide, ready to pounce on any prey passing by.
Even though it and other nebulae have been imaged many times over the years, the Tarantula and its cousins still contain many secrets about the processes involved in the formation of stars. As such, they remain targets of considerable interest to astronomers, and the these images, captured by the Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam) and processed by the Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec), and also by the Mid-infrared Instrument (MIRI) on the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), reveal the Tarantula Nebula in never-before seen details.
Visible in depth for the very first time are thousands of young stars, distant background galaxies, and the detailed structure of the nebula’s gas and dust formations as they are pushed, pulled and twisted by the solar winds within the nebula. Such is the unprecedented power of Webb’s imaging systems; it was even able to capture one young star in the act of shedding a cloud of dust from around itself, dust which may eventually form one or more planets orbiting the star.
Processing of the images by (NIRCam), combined with the NIRSpec data show that the cavity at the centre of the nebula is the result of powerful solar winds radiating outwards from a cluster of massive young stars, which appear as pale blue dots.
Only the densest surrounding areas of the nebula resist erosion by these stars’ powerful stellar winds, forming pillars that appear to point back toward the cluster. These pillars contain forming protostars, which will eventually emerge from their dusty cocoons and take their turn shaping the nebula.
– Part of a statement on the Tarantula Nebula image by the JWST imaging team
This image is one of the most recent to the published from the cache JWST has already gathered and transmitted back to Earth – but it is not among the more recent to be received. Ironically, despite its beauty, it was one of those received following the telescope completing its commissioning and starting formal science operations. However, it was passed over as one of the images to be selected for the very first release of JWST images back in July on the ground NASA / ESA had “more interesting” subjects to be included in the initial release and press conference!
Following the September 3rd launch attempt scrub for the Artmis-1 mission, featuring NASA’s new Space Launch System, engineers have been hard at work. The scrub was the result of a significant liquid hydrogen leak during the propellant loading process, and following the scrub, it was unclear as to whether the rocket would be rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) for repairs or an attempt would be made to fix matters on the pad.
On September 6th, the decision was made to try the latter, and would focus on replacing the seal on the 20-cm liquid hydrogen feed within the quick disconnect system that connects the propellant feeds from the mobile launch platform to the rocket. Work on replacing the seal commenced on September 8th, and was successfully concluded on September 9th.
At the same time, a smaller 10-cm bleed valve located between the rocket’s core and upper stage was also replaced as a precautionary repair; this valve refused to obey ground instructions when engineers were trying to use an overpressure of the liquid hydrogen pipe to try and force the feed seal to work. With both repairs successfully completed, NASA looked towards possible dates for a third launch attempt, settling on either September 23rd or September 27th.However, these are dependent on a couple of significant requirements.
The first is a fuelling test designed to ensure the propellant feeds are now working correctly, and will involve loading both liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen in a revised propellant loading process. This will take place on September 17th and will involve loading the tanks of both the core stage and the upper stage of the SLS. This test will also be used to perform a “kick-start bleed test” on the SLS rocket’s four main engines. That test is designed to chill the engines down to a temperature of -251º Celsius) to prepare them for their super-chilled propellant during a launch.
The second requirement is the granting of a waiver by the U.S. Space Force for the vehicle’s flight termination system (FTS). This is the package designed to destroy the rocket if it veers off course during launch. Powered by batteries, the FTS needs periodic checks, and the current certification period ended on September 6th. Therefore is the USSF do not agree to a waiver, the SLS will need to be rolled back to the Vehicle Assembly Building in order for the FTS packages to be inspected, and possibly replaced; all of which would mean missing the September launch dates.
If Artemis 1 were to launch on September 23rd, it will be on a so-called “short class” mission lasting 26 days, with splashdown on October 18th. However, if the 27th launch date is used, it would mark a “long class” mission, with splashdown not occurring until November 5th for total mission duration of 41 days.
Prior to the repair attempt on the Artemis 1 SLS, NASA announced the contract for the Artemis space suits due to be used with the Artemis 3 mission and the first lunar landing for the programme.
As I’ve previously noted, the development of an entirely new space suit NASA could use to replace the current suits – themselves based on the Apollo design – started in 2007. however, development was riddled with issues to the point where even after a “final” design was announced, NASA’s own Office of Inspector General (OIG) rated it as unsuitable and unlikely to be ready for the then-planned 2025 lunar landing of Artemis 3 (see: Space Sunday: Mars, Starliner woes, accusations & spacesuits).
Because of this, earlier in 2022, NASA turned to Axiom Space – who are already engaged in space station activities; and to Collins Aerospace + ILC Dover – a team that has decades of experience with the current EVA suits used by NASA – and offered them the opportunity to put forward initial designs for a new EVA suit, with potential to gain a US $3.4 billion contract to supply NASA with suits through until 2035.
That contract has now – somewhat surprisingly, given the track record Collins / ILC Collins have in space suit design – gone to Axiom, who will supply NASA with a “moonwalking system” of suits and support systems to be used as a part of the Artemis programme, starting with Artemis 3. Neither NASA nor Axiom have been particularly forthcoming as to why the latter was chosen, and few details on their suit – outside of a partial image and the idea that it will be “evolvable” – have been provided.
By contrast, and prior to the announcement, Collins / ILC Denver presented concepts of their suit designs, and opened a new facility for suit development and construction on August 31st.
However, documentation suggests that pricing has been a major consideration: Axiom’s pricing is said to have been some 23% below NASA’s cost estimate for suit development, and Collins / ILC Dover’s pricing was just 2% below the estimate – which may actually reflect a more realistic estimate for suit development.