Navigating with a rocket scientist

WhereCampPDX unconference schedule
WhereCampPDX unconference schedule

It was to be a lovely sunny afternoon and I was thinking that I’d like to go down to the Columbia to work on the Balliwick and Upstart with the OWSA work team that got started last week. But with WhereCampPDX being pretty fascinating, why not just find some sailors to talk to. So I grabbed a big yellow stickie and put it up in the schedule. On the seas! navigation, radar, AIS. All low tech stuff, but highlighting free data from others as in our cool, cheap AIS set up as guest-posted by Jack on Baggywrinkles Blog.

So who shows up but Nathan, a rocket scientist. He’s with PSAS, the Portland State Aerospace Society. Their goal is eventually to go into orbit and he has some tough navigation challenges. But getting there he tells us all the challenges these folks have solved. Physics as story telling. It was terrific.

Going from an ordinary launch – they’ll launch within the next few months – to orbiting is a huge step. Here’s an instant lesson on how satellites orbit. The JTrack 3D image on the NASA Science website shows how the ordinary orbiting satellites huge the earth and the super duper ones line up in a ring far far beyond.

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