Let It Rain, Let It Rain, Let It Rain


Although Olympic focus has been trained on Rio, the gringa would like to take the dear reader back in time and to the other side of the globe to the 2008 Beijing Olympics. When China was preparing to host this historical event, pollution was high on the list of problems to solve. Although everyone is probably familiar with the tactic of temporary bans on driving & factory operations as drastic measures to help reduce smog. What many may not be aware of is China’s ambitious plans to control the weather, a $30 million dollar plan that they are still working on today. A plan to shoot into the heavens special “bullets” filled with salt and other minerals. What in the world are those crazy Chinese scientists up to? Apparently, nothing new! They’re just trying to make it rain.

Officially called “weather modification”, China helped clear their smog-filled skies during the Olympic games by making it rain, rain, rain. They are not alone in being rainmakers. Fifty-two other countries have developed their own rainmaking strategies. Ten of these countries joining the rainmaking team only five years ago. Rainmaking countries include: Canada, United States, Mexico, Cuba, Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Australia, India, Senegal, South Africa, Russia and the list goes on. You can see the map created by the World Meteorological Organization to see who all is in on the rainmaking game.

The gringa is rather ashamed to admit that as for the United States, the origins of its weather modification program is not as noble as China’s. For the U.S., it all started with Operation Popeye which was a top secret program that weaponized weather during the Vietnam War. Although I’m sure the scientists who worked for General Electric had noble intentions, they probably had no idea that the U.S. government was going to take their technology and rain down silver iodide on the poor Vietnamese people.

But I digress. Back to China. In addition to creating rain to saturate polluted air and get rid of smog, they also wanted to prevent rain from spoiling events taking place in the stadium that was dubbed the “Bird’s Nest”. To achieve this amazing god-like feat, the Chinese implemented a 3 stage weather modification strategy:

  1. Officials tracked weather patterns with satellites, planes, radar and supercomputer.
  2. 2 aircraft, 20 rocket launcher & artillery sites sprayed silver iodide and dry ice into remote cloud systems that might approach the stadium so they would dump their rain before arrival.
  3. Nearby cloud systems filled with rain were seeded with chemicals that shrink the water droplets thus ensuring that the clouds would have time to pass over the Bird’s Nest without dropping their rain.

Now was all of this really necessary? The Beijing Olympics were held in August which is a high precipitation season for China so, yes, the gringa supposes that it was necessary. Consequently, China’s success in being a master rainmaker or rainstaller has resulted in China being the world leader in the weather modification sciences. They have more than 1,500 professionals devoted to all things necessary in controlling the weather: scientists, pilots, flight crews. Also proudly serving in the program are tens of thousands of peasant farmers who are more than happy to help their government blast away a cloud when crops have been inundated or have clouds seeded during times of drought. Peasants are on call to operate more than 7,000 aircraft guns and almost 5,000 rocket launchers when called to report to rainmaking duty.

The gringa is not too sure what to make of all this. For the most part I am the type to believe that the less we interfere with nature, the better. However, considering how bad mankind has screwed things up where climate change is concerned, it may just be that Mother Nature could use a few rainmakers. So, I say to the Chinese:

Let it rain. Let it rain. Let it rain.

 

Sources:

www.technologyreview.com

www.wmo.int

uspto.gov

fas.org

wikipedia.org/OperationPopeye

Image Credit:  cloudfront.net

 

 

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Operation Highjump – Not The Launch of a Dark Ops Space Program


Certain conspiracy theorists (CTs) have put forth that there is a dark ops space program called Dark Fleet that is an offshoot of technology and goals that originated with secret societies that organized during the heyday of Nazi Germany. The members of these organizations were not so much devoted Nazis but, rather, exploited the resources and power of the Nazi party in order to realize their fantastical dream of reuniting with a superpower, extra-terrestrial, master race.

After the Nazi empire crumbled when they lost World War II, many of the members of the secret societies relocated to other countries and kept their dreams and research alive, supposedly developing advanced weapons and spacecraft technology. As proof, CTs offer up the records of Admiral Byrd’s expeditions to the North and South Poles. The gringa says, “Well, let’s take a look at those records.”

There is a wealth of information about Admiral Byrd but the gringa wants to stick with facts and eyewitness accounts. To begin with, a look at official military records. Is there anything interesting there? Hmmm. Let us see…

From 1946-1947 the U.S. Navy had Operation Highjump underway. This operation was overseen by the U.S. Navy Antarctic Developments Program. Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd, Jr. was Officer in Charge, leading Task Force 68, and Rear Admiral Richard H. Cruzen was commanding officer. When these two admirals put to sea, they were joined by 4,700 seamen and airmen, 13 military ships, and 33 military aircraft. To achieve the goal of establishing a research base, Little America IV, it sounds like an awful lot of firepower was put into play, but, that’s just the gringa’s curious little mind in overdrive. It could have been perfectly normal to pack all that weaponry on an Antarctic excursion.

The published objectives of the mission were:

  • Personnel training and equipment testing in subzero temperatures
  • Evaluate how to establish, maintain and utilize Antarctic military bases and scout sites
  • Develop techniques for creating, maintaining and using military bases in ice
  • Make new discoveries of the following Antarctic conditions: electromagnetics, geological, geographic, hydrographic, and meteorological

Up until this time it was primarily the British who had spent time exploring Antarctica with eleven expeditions from 1898-1945. Other countries who had explored the earth’s South Pole region: France (2 missions); Germany (3) missions; Belgium, Japan, Norway, and Sweden (all a single mission). Operation High Jump was the second U.S. mission, following the conclusion of Byrd’s initial exploratory expedition four years earlier.

The fleet of ships arrived in the Antarctic December 12, 1946 and immediately set up weather monitoring stations. Within 12 days of arrival aircraft was in the air flying reconnaissance missions. Some of the ships that were in the flotilla:

  • Henderson – Destroyer class, commissioned in 1945 and served with distinction for 35 years receiving (8) battle stars for service in the Korean War and (7) battle stars and a commendation for service in the Vietnam War; armament at the time of Operation Highjump: (6) 5” guns, (12) 40mm anti-aircraft (AA) guns; (11) 20mm AA guns; (10) 21” torpedo tubes
  • Cacapon – Cimarron class fleet oiler; commissioned 1943, decommissioned 1973 and scrapped; armament: (1) 5” gun; (4) 3” guns; (4) twin 40mm AA guns; (4) twin 20mm AA guns
  • Currituck – Currituck class seaplane tender, nicknamed “Wild Goose”; commissioned June 1944, decommissioned October 31 1967, scrapped 1971; armament: (4) 5” guns

Eighteen days after arrival (3) men were killed when their plane crashed during a blizzard. Six crewmen survived the crash and were rescued two weeks later. The remains of the plane and the three lost airmen have never been recovered. The aircraft they were flying was a Martin PBM Mariner. This craft is a patrol bomber flying boat. Standard armament for the Mariners were: (8) 50” machine guns, 2 tons of bombs or depth charges or (2) Mark 13 torpedoes. The gringa can only ask why a bomber would be needed in an exploratory, scientific expedition in Antarctica?

An interesting thing to note is that there was a Navy chaplain serving on the mission. He held a religious service and consecrated Antarctica. The gringa scratches her head and wonders if this is typical or strange? I’m no Catholic so I wouldn’t know.

New Year’s Day, 1947, American dive team began exploring underneath Antarctic ice shelves. The gringa supposes this may have been related to search efforts to locate the downed bomber. No big mystery there.

Two weeks later an airfield was constructed and named “Little America IV”. Within a month, late February, weather conditions worsened and the expedition was terminated. The return trip home would have the expedition making a stop in March along the South American coast. Admiral Byrd gave interviews and a Chilean newspaper, El Mercurio, reported. The most interesting quote the gringa will share is often cited by CTs to prove that something dark was afoot underneath the ice:

“… Byrd warned today that the United States should adopt measures of protection against the possibility of an invasion of the country by hostile planes coming from the polar regions.”

Now, was Byrd’s warning because he thought something sinister was going on secretly at either the North or South Pole? No. That’s not what his warning was about. CTs take that important quote out of context. They don’t usually reveal the rest of the interview which explains Byrd’s reasoning.

He recognized that technology meant the world was shrinking. America was no longer safe from enemy invasion because of isolation and distance. It was well within the capabilities of other nations to fly from one side of the globe, passing over either pole, and reach the U.S. Byrd was not fearful of a threat from an extra-terrestrial master race living within the earth and Antarctica being its headquarters.

So why all the firepower on an exploratory mission? It was right after World War II. The U.S. had already experienced the surprise air assault of Pearl Harbor. The militaries of the Allied Powers knew that Germany had been developing new weapons and technologies. The Navy had no idea what to expect and was taking no chances. The gringa says, “I don’t blame them.” So, no big suspicious, nefarious plot behind packing all the big guns on an expedition to Antarctica.

Just a few of the vessels that comprised the fleet’s complement:

  • Sikorsky R-4 helicopter
  • (2) Coastguard icebreakers
  • US Navy icebreaker
  • (2) Seaplane Tenders
  • (2) Destroyers
  • (2) Tankers
  • Battleship
  • (2) Supply ships
  • Submarine
  • Aircraft carrier (Byrd’s ship)

The gringa thinks that the main reason behind U.S. interest in Antarctica at that time is the same ol’, same ol’ imperialistic territory seeking mentality that has motivated the country’s interest throughout history. Great Britain had spent a lot of time in Antarctica. They also created all sorts of problems over the Falkland Islands. When the U.S. decided to stick their big nose in and establish a military base in Antarctica most of Latin America was none too happy about it.

The Cold War was getting under way and Russia was perfectly suited to wage war in the bitter conditions of a European winter. Americans? Not so much. So, according to official records the expedition to Antarctica was absolutely about military strategy. Not about little green men living under the ice. But, then, there’s Admiral Byrd’s personal diaries. What do they say? Well, come back and see what the gringa finds out!

Sources: Wikipedia and http://www.navy.mil

Photo credit: http://www.nzhistory.net.nz

 

 

Jason & the Argonauts… and NASA, Too


Who remembers the story of Jason and the Argonauts? You know, that ancient Greek myth of seafaring Jason and his crew, the Argonauts, who embarked upon the high seas in search of the Golden Fleece. Well, Jason is back! And this time he is orbiting Earth’s high seas and measuring their levels.

SpaceX may have had a bitter disappointment a couple of days ago, but the gringa prefers to focus on their accomplishment that went unnoticed. Sunday, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launched Jason into outerspace, well, the Jason-3 spacecraft, that is. Jason-3 is the product of NASA collaboration with France’s CNES and Europe’s Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites. Jason-3 is on a mission to track the rise of sea levels all around the world.

The goal of this intelligence gathering is to improve forecasting of Earth’s weather, climate and oceans. The data will also help scientists expand their knowledge on the ocean’s role in the world’s climate. Jason-3 will be working in tandem with Jason-2 that is already in a locked in orbit. Jason-2 has been in operation since 2008. Jason-3 will officially clock in and report for duty after a six-month phase of calibration and system checks. Once on duty, every ten days Jason-3 will report precise measurements of the height of 95% of Earth’s ice free oceans, this is called ocean-surface topography.

The Jason duo measurements will provide information about coastal tides, shallow seas, open ocean tides, currents and eddies. This type of topography also tells scientists how much energy from the sun is stored within the ocean which is the key to understanding how sea level rise affects climate change.

Jason’s official mission began in 1992 along with Topex/Poseidon. Since then scientists have discovered that the world’s seas are rising, on average, about 3 millimeters every year. As humans continue to make industry and lifestyle decisions that cause global warming, mankind is actually reshaping the surface of our home planet.

The gringa wants to know exactly what kind of shape we are getting ourselves into. What the heck is going to happen if sea levels keep rising?  But first, the gringa needs to know how this happens. What I’ve found out is:

  • Climate Change Causes Thermal Expansion: Water heats up, it expands, therefore it occupies more space
  • Glacial & Polar Ice Cap Melts: These natural ice formations experience a natural summer cycle of ice melt that is usually replaced in winter by evaporated seawater that creates snow. Climate change creates consistently warmer temperatures. This creates warmer Summers where more ice than usual melts. Summer usually lasts longer, Spring arrives earlier, thus winter is shorter and unable to keep up with replacing all the extra ice that is lost. Thus, all of this extra melt runoff causes sea levels to rise.
  • Greenland & West Antarctica: Climate change creates warmer temperatures that is causing the accelerated melt of massive ice sheets in these critical regions. Meltwater & seawater may also be seeping beneath these ice sheets which is causing them to slip out to sea quicker. Warmer sea temperatures are compromising the stability of underwater ice shelves causing them to weaken and break. All this contributes to rising sea levels.

Here are some of the things that happen as sea levels rise and the geography and coastlines of Earth transform:

  • Coastal habitat erosion
  • Coastal wetlands flooding
  • Contamination of coastal aquifers and agricultural land
  • Habitat loss for coastal fish, birds and plants
  • Larger, more powerful storms
  • Vulnerability to flooding for coastal dwelling people
  • Eventual mass migration of island and coastal dwelling people

The gringa wants to know, “What can we do?” Scientists seem to think that it’s a done deal with a relatively slow timeline (depending on how you look at it). So, mankind has until about the year 2100 to relocate folks from the future swamplands of the world’s coastlines. That’s the year they predict the world’s oceans could be about six feet higher than they are now, or possibly even 20 feet higher if the Greenland ice sheet bites the dust.

The gringa, however, has a plan. I’m near enough the Texas Gulf Coast that, by the time I’m in my golden years, my low rent apartment could be prime ocean front property. Sweet. My one hour drive to the beach could become a ten minute stroll when I’m too darn old to drive. So, over the next couple of decades I’ll be stocking up on fishing supplies and sunblock. I tell ya, timing is everything!

If you want to know more about Jason’s mission and follow along with the tracking of the seas, visit www.nesdis.noaa.gov/jason-3.

Source & Photo Credit: http://www.nasa.gov

 

 

The Federal Space Agency AKA Rocosmos


The Russian Federal Space Agency has an illustrious history managing the space assets of Russia as well as being a cooperating partner with many other nations involved in space exploration. Russia has played a significant leadership role in advancing the technologies and capabilities of exploring space safely.

Although the Russian Bear has historically been depicted by American literature as the “enemy”, and there certainly are Defense Ministry aspects to Russia’s space program, this should not overshadow the fact that Rocosmos is dedicated to the purpose of developing space technologies for socioeconomic and scientific purposes. In fact, their website expressly states that Rocosmos is committed to maintaining “coordination and cooperation with foreign states under cooperation agreements in the field of peaceful space exploration and research…”

Areas of activity Rocosmos is committed to using its space technologies for are:

  • Environmental monitoring of natural disasters and emergencies, natural resource exploration, gathering hydro and meteorological data
  • Improving current space navigation system and creating a unified data transmission system
  • Global communication support over Russian territories
  • Support International Space Station missions
  • Research and development of space technologies and microgravity medical research
  • Research and development of space vehicles, launching systems, experimental facilities and infrastructure

If you happen to be in the neighborhood, visitors are welcome at Rocosmos. Simply write a letter to:

Russian Federal Space Agency (Rocosmos)

42 Schepkina st.

Moscow, Russia  107996, GSP-6

Or, you can send your visitor request by fax to: (495) 688-90-63, (499) 975-44-67. After you send your fax, call (495) 631-94-44 or (495) 631-94-48 to confirm that it was received. A digital request can also be made online through their website:  http://en.federalspace.ru/

Online requests will receive a written response via snail mail. If you do a digital visit request, make sure you use the Rocosmos website form and do it correctly. Boo-boos are rejected.

A brief recap of Russia’s accomplishments in space begin even before World War I:

  • In 1929 Konstantin Tsjolkovsky introduced the concept of the multi-staged rocket
  • 1933 the first Soviet rocket launched
  • 1951 the first Soviet rocket with animals aboard launched with successful recovery of live crew
  • 1957 the first intercontinental ballistic missile launched
  • 1961 the first human, Yuri Gagarin, safely completed a single orbit
  • 1961-1963 six manned spaceflights, including the longest flight up to that date, 34 hours
  • 1963 first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova
  • 1968 first living creatures reach the moon & successfully return, Russian tortoises
  • 1971 first space station, Salyut 1
  • 1980 first Hispanic and Black person in space, Arnaldo Tamayo Mendez, Soyuz 38
  • 1984 first woman to walk in space, Svetlana Savitskaya, Salyut 7
  • 1987 first crew to spend over one year in space, Vladimir Titov & Musa Manarov, Soyuz TM-4, Mir space station

So, the dear reader asks the gringa, “What are they up to today?” Well, they are the only space agency that currently has space flight capabilities. Since the United States scuttled the shuttle program, all astronauts around the world have to rely on Russia to ferry them back and forth between Earth and the ISS.

They also manage an orbiting remote sensing system (RSS). Its mission objective is to monitor the Earth and provide images used to manage natural resources, monitor atmospheric/water/soil pollution, monitor natural and man-made disasters, and conduct research.

There are the Meteor-M No. 1 Spacecraft and ELEKTRO Geostationary Hydrometeorological Spacecraft. These spacecrafts observe Earth’s atmosphere and provides hydrometeorological data used for scientific and socioeconomic purposes.

The Kanopus-V spacecraft and Resurs-P spacecrafts are devoted to monitoring natural and man-made disasters. It does this by providing high quality imaging of Earth.

The gringa is a big fan of Rocosmos and grateful that the Russians do not mind letting American astronauts hop aboard and hitch a ride to outer space. It is my greatest hope that this type of cooperative relationship will spill over into all aspects of international dialogue and engagement because the gringa continues to dream a dream of cosmic proportions.

Source:  en.federalspace.ru