Wind Turbines | National Database

Electricity generated by wind turbine technology in Iowa is robust. There are over 4135 turbines installed producing nearly 37% of the electricity for the state. New installations will soon bring the installed capacity to 40%. Contrary to the claim by a politician, there is no outbreak of cancers due to these wind turbines. Rather, the reduction of fossil fuel use has likely reduced cancers.


The turbines are installed in wind farms over a broad region of the state mostly in the north and west where wind is most strong and steady. The map of Iowa turbines was captured from the U.S. Wind Turbine Database released in January 2019. The database is a collaborative effort of the U.S. Geological Survey, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the American Wind Energy Association.

Colors indicate output power of the turbine farms. The link to the interactive viewer is here. Use it to zoom in to find turbines near you if there are some. Details will appear for individual machines when you hover or click.

A wealth of information about installations is available through the viewer. Details can be filtered using tools at the right of the viewer. This excellent 6 minute video tutorial explains how those tools work.


Aerosols on 23 Aug 2018

Aerosols are very small particles of matter in the air suspended by winds and air currents. The haze they cause can reduce visibility and redden sunrises and sunsets. The particles are much smaller than grains of sand. Common types are carbon from fires, wind blown dust from deserts, and salt from winds at the ocean surface.

The map below is a snapshot from 23 August 2018 showing where these three types were observed globally by satellite sensors. Color coding makes them easy to identify. A much larger version of this map is available at this link. The download allows you to zoom in on any of the regions shown. A previous aerosol post is here.

Continue reading

Booster Rocket Landings | Early 2018

Saturn V Booster | Kennedy Space Center | Launch Viewing Site

Booster Rockets are big, heavy, and expensive components essential to launching vehicles into space. The 12 ft diameter nozzles of the Saturn V booster from the Apollo era developed thrust of 7.5 million pounds capable of lifting the 6 million pound fueled rocket into orbit. Those boosters were not reused after they did their work and fell into the Atlantic Ocean. Cost saving is important, as are safety and reliability. Private companies are involved in the development of reusable booster rockets.

Show me more…

Endurance | A Year On ISS

I’ve been enjoying the book Endurance by Astronaut Scott Kelly. He tells of his life before becoming an astronaut and of his year in space aboard the International Space Station from March 2015 to March 2016. He and his identical twin brother Astronaut Mike Kelly were studied extensively to see the effects of long duration space flight on the human body. This study is an important one for the planned trip to Mars. The Twin Study is ongoing. Here are some of the latest articles about it.

The book provides countless behind the scenes looks at the lives of space explorers. I highly recommend the book to the space enthusiast. Part of Kelly’s duties now include travel to stores and special events to promote the book. My son attended a book-signing event near him and bought a copy for me. Kelly was invited to Talks at Google on 24 Nov 2017 where he spoke for about an hour about his experiences. You can watch his talk at this link.

I am a strong believer that we humans are capable of amazing and wonderful things. When we set our minds to a goal and work together, we can accomplish the most difficult of tasks. As Scott Kelly ended his talk, he spoke of how he feels about the potential of mankind. This is exactly how I see it.

Hurricanes | Zooniverse Helps Relief Efforts

Zooniverse is a citizen science network. Hundreds of thousands of volunteers worldwide who take part in science projects online. I participate in several and wrote about Zooniverse in a previous post. Researchers invite volunteers to take part in many types of projects from astronomy to zoology.

Recent hurricanes in the Caribbean islands caused much loss of life and damage to property and ecosystems. Zooniverse volunteers were asked to help relief efforts by examining satellite images of the islands before and after the hurricanes. By comparing before-after images of the same places, structural damages, flooding, road blockage, and temporary housing were assessed. Color coded maps were made from the assessments showing the places most in need of relief efforts. Rapid response was extremely important. Here is an example of one of those ‘heat maps’ of the island of St. Thomas. Red and purple show the greatest need for help.

Show me more…

SpaceX | How They Do Booster Landings

SpaceX, the private rocket launching company owned by Elon Musk, has had successes lately with commercial satellite launches. On 1 May 2017, they launched the military satellite NROL-76 from historic Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Another major accomplishment by SpaceX is the successful landings and re-use of the stage 1 booster of the Falcon 9 rocket. This has never been done before, not even by NASA. The way I see it, that story deserves some explanation.

Watch this compilation of clips from the most recent booster landing, their 4th. The landing takes place on an unused pad not far from launch complex 39A a short distance up the coast. I wondered what flight path the stage 1 booster took to allow it to return back to this spot near the launch site. Most of its fuel had been used to get it and the stage 2 payload to high altitude, far downrange, and going very fast. The flight needed to be very efficient.

Show me more…