In Space, No One Can Hear You Say, “Coolio!”

Sunrise from Space Shuttle Discovery, 2008 (NASA)

It’s Always Sunrise Somewhere

On its return to Earth from a mission to the International Space Station in 2008, an unnamed crew member aboard the space shuttle Discovery took this picture of sunrise. The bluish line in the upper atmosphere is unrelated to the dawn. Called “airglow,” this light is always present, the product of a chemical reaction.

The Discovery is seen here from the Space Station as it’s about to dock on July 6, 2006.

Discovery, 2006 (NASA)

Rooftop Solar PV Gets a New Face

Sanyo's bifacial PV

Sanyo's bifacial PV

Today in my blog “Brief Back” (written for True/Slant) I wrote about the implications of a story out of Canada that’s not getting much play in the States.

It’s about Sanyo’s “bifacial” solar PV, that can use solar radiation coming from in front or from behind it. Why do that? Because when it’s placed on roofs with 85% reflective coating, the array can produce 30% more electricity than the one-sided variety.

The details are more interesting than that might sound, so check it out at True/Slant.

Solar Powered Heat Pump a No Show

Despite my optimism earlier today, it looks as if my dreams of putting up a fully solar-powered heat pump — mass production model, not custom made — will go the way of my high school dream of setting the world record in the pole vault. In case you’re not a track-&-field fan: my name is not in the record books.

There are probably sound engineering reasons for the absence of such devices. Sigh. It seemed like a good idea. But, I’m sure the pitch for Waterworld sounded great, too.