The Rancho Santa Fe Post

Water News… It's Getting Hot in Here!

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SFID Special Meeting Workshop, Thursday, August 30, 2018, starting at 8:30 am: This Special Meeting Workshop will present the opportunity for further public and Board response to the Carollo COSS presented at the August 16th Board meeting. As noted previously, the Board adopted extended public comment time periods for COSS Workshops. Everyone is welcome to attend.

July 2018’s water usage continues its upward trend due to increasing warm temperatures: The R.E. Badger treatment plant delivered potable water to SFID customers that penciled out at 544 r-gpcd - 544 gallons per capita per day. As you are probably aware, July broke all sorts of historic temperature records: warmest month in California history; new records for hottest evening temperatures, which are a hallmark of Global Warming; historic ocean temperatures logged at Scripps Pier in La Jolla; and according to climatologist Daniel Swain, “Death Valley apparently recorded the warmest single month recorded anywhere on Earth.” NOAA projections for El Nino are holding steady at 70% for this winter.

Update on NASA’s Mars rover, Opportunity… and ways to involve students: NASA’s last contact from the Mars rover Opportunity was June 10, 2018. The planet encircling dust event seems to show signs of peaking, with a slight decrease in opacity, as of July 31st. NASA now states the rover most likely has experienced a low-power fault, a mission clock fault, and an up-loss fault. These three faults have not killed the rover, but will require NASA assets – rover, scientists, and deep-space satellite network – to methodically collaborate to re-establish contact. The mission clock fault means that if and when the rover’s solar arrays begin to recharge, the rover no longer knows if it is morning or night. If it “wakes up” in the middle of the night, and doesn’t see the sun, it is programmed to put itself back to sleep. NASA is hoping for what they call “Solar Groovy”, meaning the rover is awake, sun is out and arrays are recharging batteries. Once the rover is solar groovy, NASA will increase commands to the deep space satellite network to “sweep and beep”, to elicit and receive communication back from the rover.

Last week NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory at Caltech announced they posted, via GitHub, open-source instructions to build a rover model from commercial off-the-shelf parts for $2500. JPL advertised this project for high school age students, but I wonder if middle schoolers could also take on the project. JPL highlighted the rocker-bogie suspension. If you have younger children, NASA has cute instructional postings for making Mars rovers out of candy and cookies, a la gingerbread houses. Oreo cookies apparently do a surprisingly good job of mimicking the rover’s wheels.

So…if your children or grandchildren or nieces or nephews have time on their hands, cruise NASA’s various sites designed to fire children’s imaginations and have a go. NASA celebrated its 60th anniversary last month. That little golf-cart sized robot has been through a Mars dust storm of previously unheard of duration and has been trucking on the Red Planet for one quarter of the time NASA has been in existence.

Opportunity… phone home.