On The Atlantic, Robison Meyer looks at the work behind creating Ralph, one of the three cameras on NASA's New Horizons probe. Currently snapping high-resolution photos of Pluto, the camera was made entirely out of aluminium so that it would survive nine years in space, while being bombarded by cosmic rays, at ridiculously cold temperatures.
Even the camera’s mirrors were made out of aluminum. (To turn dull aluminum into mirrors, Ball sharpened it with diamonds.) The lens was one of the few pieces of the camera that could be safely made out of glass.
Another constraint on the mission was that Ralph had to take photos using only the sun’s dim light that reaches Pluto. During its flyby, New Horizons will photograph the side of Pluto that’s turned away from the sun. This side is lit solely by the sun’s light reflecting off Charon. This is like taking a photo using just the light from a “quarter moon” on Earth, a lead optical engineer for the mission told me in an email.
|"It would be quite dangerous for humanity to communicate with a civilization we don’t know anything about."|
|“The static fire is one of the last major tests prior to the maiden launch.”|
|Astronomers Watch Supernova Happen Over and Over Again|
|A Diamond the Size of Earth, Floating in Space|
|Aliens Almost Certainly Existed at Some Point in Cosmic History|
|“The idea of the self-empowered Uber driver or Airbnb host is a rarity if not an outright myth.”|
|“It is financially insane to buy anything other than a Tesla.”|
|Be an Unfucker|
|CaptchaTweet: Write Tweets in Captcha Form|
|How to Avoid Jury Duty|
|The (Very Scary) People of Public Transit|
|Fake Name Generator|
|U.S.S. Enterprise Owner's Manual|
|“Impossible Aerospace founder and CEO Spencer Gore hopes to make self-flying electric planes.”|
|“The deadlines aren't the problem. It's our failure to heed them.”|
|Naked Preacher Lady [NSFW]|
|Recycled Vacuum Lamps|