Bees land like spacecraft

May 29, 2014

Now this is something I found pretty interesting; biologists found out that bees use a time-to-contact strategy when planning their landing. ESA’s Advanced Concept Team already summed up all relevant information, so I’ll give just the appropriate citations for further reading. Bonus: ACT implemented this strategy in a Parrot AR drone!


  1. “ACT / ESA – News – Biologists Find Bees Land like Spacecraft.” Accessed May 29, 2014.
  2. Baird, E., N. Boeddeker, M. R. Ibbotson, and M. V. Srinivasan. “A Universal Strategy for Visually Guided Landing.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110, no. 46 (November 12, 2013): 18686–91. doi:10.1073/pnas.1314311110.
  3. Izzo, Dario, and Guido De Croon. “Landing with Time-to-Contact and Ventral Optic Flow Estimates.” Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics 35, no. 4 (July 2012): 1362–67. doi:10.2514/1.56598.
  4. Visual Landing on a Planetary System, 2012.

NASA Appoints Constellation Program Managers

June 15, 2010

NASA LogoThis is so sad. What was once probably one of the coolest jobs on Earth – “Constellation Program Manager” – now turns out to be something deliberately pepped up. NASA News writes:

Lawrence D. Thomas has been appointed manager of NASA’s Constellation Program, which manages the effort to take humans beyond low-Earth orbit and develop the next generation launch vehicle and spacecraft.

Watch the emphasis (mine). We wanted to go to the Moon, Mars and also get back. Orion? Merely an escape-vehicle for the ISS, if at all. Ares? Canceled. Altair? Who knows.

Anyway: Congratulations to Lawrence Thomas!

Re: The Worldwide telescope

May 13, 2008

Tomaso just had this beautiful posting about Microsoft’s new software, WWT. There were some comments on his blog which pointed out that Google Earth has this feature for quite some time. I was aware about it, but I took the Pepsi-Test with Tomaso’s NGC7331 usecase.


Now the same picture which I just took from Google earth:


Google Earth can’t even compete with the low-res picture, not to mention with the high-resolution picture Tomaso provided:

NGC7331 closeup

Long story short: Though it might be inconvenient, MS WWT seems to be better than Google Earth in this certain case.

Buran calling

April 10, 2008

The Museum of Technology of Speyer just bought the last remaining Buran Spacecraft – you remember, the russian competitor to the american Space Shuttle.

This vessel, the Buran, has quite some history. After lurking around for quite some time in a russian hangar it was shown at the Olympic Games in Sidney back in 2000. After that event it went to Bahrain, where a venture-capitalist took over the ownership.
Due to legal problems the Buran was rotting in a harbor of Bahrain, until it was resdiscovered just recently, when it was bought by the Museum of Speyer.

The Buran started it’s journey on the river Rhine in Rotterdam, where it was put on the river Rhine vessel “Broedertrouw 2” – which means “Brother Loyality” in english.

It’s just being shipped up the river Rhine and my friend Edwin Top made those really nice pictures last night.

Buran Spacecraft - Courtesy of Edwin Top

Figure 1: Buran Spacecraft at the harbor of Cologne

Buran Spacecraft - Courtesy of Edwin Top

Figure 2: Buran engine closeup

Buran Spacecraft - Courtesy of Edwin Top

Figure 3: Buran wings closeup

Buran Spacecraft - Courtesy of Edwin Top

Figure 4: Buran Cockpit closeup

Buran Spacecraft - Courtesy of Edwin Top

Figure 5: Buran carried on the river Rhine vessel “Broedertrouw 2”

According to the official website, the Buran is just right now – as of 00:15 2008.04.10 – a couple of kilometers south of Koblenz, close to Boppart. You can track the Buran’s path to it’s final destination online.

Thanks a lot to Edwin Top for those fine pictures and all his help for this article.
The pictures can be seen in full resolution at Edwin’s website.

Edit: koww has some cool pictures too!