Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, July 28, 2012

MVNews this week:  Page 7



 Mountain Views News Saturday July 28, 2012 


NASA’s most advanced planetary rover is on a precise 
course for an early August landing beside a Martian mountain 
to begin two years of unprecedented scientific detective work. 
However, getting the Curiosity rover to the surface of Mars will 
not be easy.

 Curiosity is scheduled to land at 10:31 p.m. Pacific Daylight 
Time on Sunday, Aug. 5.

 To achieve the precision needed for landing safely inside 
Gale Crater, the spacecraft will fly like a wing in Mars’ upper 
atmosphere instead of dropping like a rock. To land the 1-ton 
rover, an airbag method used on previous Mars rovers will not 
work. Mission engineers at JPL designed a “sky crane” method 
for the final several seconds of the flight. A backpack with 
retro-rockets controlling descent speed will lower the rover on 
three nylon cords just before touchdown.

 During a critical period lasting only seven minutes, the 
Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft carrying Curiosity must 
decelerate from about 13,200 mph to allow the rover to land 
on the surface at about 1.7 mph.

 Curiosity will use tools on a robotic arm to deliver samples 
from Martian rocks and soils into laboratory instruments inside 
the rover that can reveal chemical and mineral composition. A 
laser instrument will use its beam to induce a spark on a target 
and read the spark’s spectrum of light to identify chemical 
elements in the target.

 Other instruments on the car-sized rover will examine the 
surrounding environment from a distance or by direct touch 
with the arm. The rover will check for the basic chemical 
ingredients for life and for evidence about energy available for 
life. It also will assess factors that could be hazardous for life, 
such as the radiation environment.

 The chosen landing site is beside a mountain informally called 
Mount Sharp. The mission’s prime destination lies on the slope 
of the mountain. Driving there from the landing site may take 
many months.


 In a NASA–Microsoft collaboration, a new outreach game will 
give the public a sense of the challenge and adventure of landing 
in a precise location on the Martian surface. Called “Mars Rover 
Landing,” the game is an immersive experience for the Xbox 360 
home entertainment console that allows users to take control of 
their own spacecraft and face the extreme challenges of landing 
a rover on Mars.

 “Technology is making it possible for the public to participate 
in exploration as it never has before,” said Michelle Viotti, 
JPL’s Mars public engagement manager. “Because Mars 
exploration is fundamentally a shared human 
endeavor, we want everyone around the 
globe to have the most immersive experience 

 NASA has several other forthcoming 
experiences geared for inspiration and learning 
in science, technology, engineering and 
mathematics. Information about many ways 
to watch and participate in the Curiosity’s 
landing and the mission on the surface of Mars 
is available at:

 You can also follow the mission on Facebook 
and on Twitter:

 For more information about the mission and 
to use the new video game and other education-
related tools:


 On Sunday evening, August 5, you can 
witness the Curiosity landing in real-time 
at the Pasadena Convention Center, 300 E, 
Green St. Planetfest, a two-day weekend 
celebration focused on the Curiosity landing, 
features some 30 scientific experts plus dozens of artists and 
performers. Sunday evening’s program includes a play-by-
play live narration of the spacecraft’s decent and landing. An 
unforgettable addition to your space memories! Details: www.


 You can contact Bob Eklund at: b.eklund@MtnViewsNews.

Follow this link to skip to the main contentNASA - National Aeronautics and 
Space Administration Home News 


 I had a great time in Long Beach last week. You might’ve been there, too, 
but I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have seen each other. That’s because my 
parents and I were at the Handweaver’s Guild of America’s International 
Fiber Convergence! Every two years all the fiber nuts from around the 
country unite to buy, sell, and learn about the latest innovations in 
prehistoric technology. 

 Have you ever stared at the fabric of your sleeve and marveled at the 
complexity of woven cloth? Perhaps not. But there are people who are 
passionate about fiber in all its forms and applications! (I figured “passion” sounds more 
positive than “obsession.”) 

 Most hobbyists do one or two things in their field of interest. Bikers bike, and sometimes 
branch off into mountain biking and riding marathons. Painters paint in oil or acrylic, and 
might do a mural or go into watercolors. But weaving is just one of the passageways into the 
world of fiber nuts. (I say “nuts” with the most respect; similar to people who are “health 

 Fiber is like a drug in the way in which it affects people who are susceptible to addiction. 
Some people can just crochet something and walk away. But for others, a knitted sweater is 
merely the brink of a plunge into weaving and a host of other handwork. You’ll never know 
whether or not you’re one of theses people 
until you try it! These people say things like, 
“It all started when I joined a knitting group. 
Then before I knew it, I had bought a couple 
of sheep for the back yard and now I spin their 
wool each year.”

 Just like how it takes a village to raise 
a child, it takes a host of experts to raise a 
weaver. Teachers at my mom’s weaving class 
have become household names for us. My 
mom has spent many an hour watching DVDs 
of Madelyn van der Hoogt explaining how to 
warp a loom from front to back, and back to 
front. And everyone knows John Novak from 
Solvang. His shop, Village Spin & Weave, is 
the staple supplier of all things fiber this side of the Mississippi. 

 In Fiber Land, you acquire a whole new vocabulary for spinning (not what you do 
at the gym), carding (not what you do during the holidays), and dyeing (with colors, not 
embalming fluid). Weaving practically has its own language ! You shoot shuttles through 
the shed. I never can remember which is the castle and which is the temple. And I still get 
the treadles and headles mixed up. You can imagine being in a convention hall filled with 
people speaking “fiberese.”

 Another interesting observation at the Convergence was the number of men there. And 
I’m not talking about husbands and boyfriends wearily trailing behind women, pausing now 
and then to hold a purse while the lady feels every different type of alpaca wool. No! These 
guys are sitting at carpet looms --weaving carpets. A couple of burly guys were camped 
out at spinning wheels. Their speed and accuracy indicated this wasn’t their first try at it. 
Weaving also appeals to men because looms are mechanical in nature.

 And like a drug, fiber arts offer an immensely soothing escape from the stress of everyday 
life. The repetitive motion echoes the rhythmic beating of your heart. Making thread 
and fabric is such a basic, earthy craft. You feel somehow connected to the ancients who 
were doing the same thing all around the world. It’s fascinating to imagine that before the 
spinning wheel was invented in the 15th century, people were using hand held drop spindles 
to make thread. Ships with sails would have been nonexistent without a bunch of folks 
spinning single threads at a time!

 Although the Convergence went on for a week, we felt fulfilled after just one day. On our 
way out my mom spotted Madelyn van der Hoogt talking with some shoppers at a booth. 
“That’s Madelyn van der Hoogt!” she whispered to my dad. (My parents couldn’t pick Lady 
Gaga out of a lineup, but Madelyn van der Hoogt is iconic.) “Want me to take your picture 
with her?” I asked. “No, no.” my mom laughed. We started toward the exit, but then my 
mom turned around toward Madelyn’s booth. “We can go back,” I said. “It’s now or never!” 
My mom chuckled, “No, that’s okay.” So we left without a picture of my mom next to her 
fiber heroine. Since the Convergence only happens every other year and travels all around 
the country, my mom probably won’t get another opportunity like that. But at least she can 
say that she was in the same room as Madelyn van der Hoogt. And that makes the drive 
down there all worth it!


Paul Miller, a Technology writer for “The Verge” ( will attempt 
to live without the Internet for a year. He began his project on May 1st of this year and is 
now going into the 4th month of his endeavor. In the pursuit of this goal he has ruled out 
using the Internet in any manner whatsoever. He may not use it at work or at home. He may 
not ask anyone to use it for him or look over their shoulder as they use it for themselves. 
He may not use email or any web-enabled software, including games and video-streaming 
applications. Although Text Messaging uses the SMS (Short Message Service) protocol to 
send messages over a telephone network to text-enabled end devices, Mr. Miller feels as if 
texting is too close to web browsing and is has been ruled out as well. In order to keep up 
current events and keep in touch with friends and family Mr. Miller will make use of basic 
telephones (Internet-free), the Post Office, television, newspapers and magazines. A lot like 
the state of communications in pre-Internet 1993. 

He has continued to write for The Verge during his time off the Internet but he’s unable to 
see his work after it has been posted or respond to comments on his articles. 

Mr. Miller also writes about some of the effects that his Internet-free lifestyle is beginning 
to have on his life in general. So far he’s noticed that his handwriting has gotten better and 
that he talks to people more often in his daily life. He’s become more aware of the frequency 
in which he gets lonely. While his friends contact each other frequently in cyberspace, Mr. 
Miller’s contacts are confined to face-to-face contacts in meatspace and as such he sometimes 
doesn’t get to seem them as often as he would like. 

And since the Internet is a place of non-stop action and stimulation he’s found that he cares 
less for things that can be easily “Googled” and can be definitely categorized as minutia. 

While the author may have many reasons for undertaking this journey, his entries at

his column ( gives us direct insight into how 
much the technology we use on a daily basis changes how we relate to each other and the 
world around us. 


This is your chance to be part of the action by welcoming thousands of guests 
to Santa Anita Park for the world's greatest races! The Breeders' Cup takes place 
November 2 and 3, 2012. Please contact Connie Russell to register or get more 
information at 626-574-6664 or 

We’d like to hear from you! What’s on YOUR Mind?

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