Archive for March, 2009

Lights on, lights off

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Two events for tomorrow of significant sustainable noteworthiness…

First, the anticipated landing of the the shuttle on their return trip  from a successful mission. The final solar array was installed for full power at the international space station. The expected landing will be at 1:30pm on Saturday.

Then later tomorrow night (8:30 – 9:30), earth hour is happening around the globe. Be a part of a global awareness to reduce unnecessary lights and turn off any nonessential lighting for one hour. Follow as the world participates in earthhour.  Be sure to check out the great videos and lists for creative things to do for an hour with no lights.

Solar Shuttle

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The countdown is underway for Discovery’s STS-119 mission.  Matt and I missed being at the launch by a few weeks, while we were in Florida.  There were delays with the control valves that have been fixed.  The new launch date is set for Wednesday March 11th at 9:20 pm,  Sunday, March 15th  at 7:43 p.m. EDT.  It will be one of the very cool night sunset launches.

The STS-119 astronauts pose for a formal crew portrait. In the front row (right) are Lee Archambault, commander and Tony Antonelli, pilot. In the back (left) are Joseph Acaba, John Phillips, Steve Swanson, Richard Arnold and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Koichi Wakata, all mission specialists.  There will also be one “passenger” exchange, Koichi Wakata will be giving his seat to Sandra Magnus for the ride home.  He stays behind to return on another mission.  She has been on the space station for 4 months and it is her time to come home.

STS119-S-001 [Converted]On the sustainability front this is an exciting mission.  They will be carrying and installing the last of the large trusses and solar arrays that will power the space station.  Here are some of the facts from NASA’s website

Space shuttle Discovery’s STS-119 crew is set to fly the S6 truss segment and install the final set of power-generating solar arrays to the International Space Station.

The S6 truss, with its set of large U.S. solar arrays, will complete the backbone of the station and provide one-fourth of the total power needed to support a crew of six.

The two solar array wings each have 115-foot-long arrays, for a total wing span of 240 feet. They will generate 66 kilowatts of electricity — enough to provide about 30 2,800-square-foot homes with power.

The mission patch references the mission by highlighting the S6 Truss with solar array and the American flag coming from the tail of the spacecraft is signifying U.S.’s support of the International Space Station as well as the support of the American people.

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I wonder if the solar panels in space gather more energy from the sun or are made differently than those on the planet?  There proximity to the sun and the lack of ozone hampering its power would lead me to think that they are.  It is exciting to think of our future world supported completely on the power of the sun.

Flights of Wonder

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I want to leave my Disney experience on a good note, so I saved this post for the last.  It has been a few weeks since our visit and this one show keeps coming back in my memory.  After a few thrilling rides on Animal Kingdom’s Everest Expedition.  I stumbled upon the Flights of Wonder exotic bird show.  When at the Animal Kingdom, I strongly recommend that you make the effort to see this show.  The show itself is well done with a strong sustainable message.  It is all held in a shaded caravan styled theater.  The birds are the stars with two human hosts doing the translations for us.

Disney has some pretty impressive bird conservation programs that have restored bird populations to many parts of the world.  Their release programs have been going on for the past decade have made a difference in several endangered and threatened species.

Some of the birds in the show included:

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  • Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
  • American Bald Eagle
  • Augur Buzzard
  • Barbary Falcon
  • Eurasian Eagle Owl
  • Gray-Crowned Crane
  • Harris Hawk
  • Ibis
  • Indian Runner Ducks
  • Macaw
  • Pigeon
  • Seriema
  • Toco Toucan
  • Yellow-napped Amazon Parrot

flight-of-wonder-showTo see these birds up close and personal is amazing on it own merit, but to actually learn a little about the birds along the way enriches the experience to a new level of appreciation.  Here are just a few of the things I learned from the show…

  • Littering is one of the top causes of bird death in the US.  What may only be a can or a piece of trash on the side of the road to us is a shiny object to a bird.  When they come down to the roadside to investigate, they are often killed by cars.  I am amazed that people would continue to toss trash instead of disposing of it in a proper place. 
  • Eagles are now off the endangered species list.  Thanks to many groups, not only Disney, that have restored our nation’s symbol to healthy population levels in the wild.
  • The more you duck the lower they swoop.  Yes, you can expect them to fly over you for parts of the show.
  • crane2Cranes are a natural barometer of a river’s health.  Because their food directly comes from the river, numbers of cranes are a good way of determining the health of rivers.  If the river is sick the cranes move on.

Birds are an important part of the eco-system.  Do all you can to protect their habitats.  

Check out the Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, they do good stuff and go hand in hand with Animal Kingdom.