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[Image of a Cassini spacecraft model inside a black gimbal structure comprised of three concentric rings, mounted on a plexiglass stand and sitting on the corner of a desk.]

Now that I'm back at work, I present another of my Rare Objects from Space History for #tbt. This is a model of the Cassini spacecraft, mounted in the centre of what I can only think to describe as a gimbal. The high gain antenna is pointed toward the bottom of the photo. The model was distributed to instrument teams to aid them with pointing design. It can be rotated around three axes within the gimbal. Each circle of rotation is marked in degrees, so that from a set of numbers indicating its orientation (eg "RA & dec"), an instrument engineer can work out which way the spacecraft is pointing.

I have no idea when it was originally given to our team but it predates me joining the Cassini project (ca 2006).
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[Image of a fluxgate magnetometer in its housing with its frayed MLI-coated cable curled round it. The destroyed connectors can be seen. The whole assembly is sitting on top of an antistatic envelope. The sensor housing reads: "CLUSTER-FGM SENSOR 08 FM1", where FM means "flight model".]

I gave an outreach talk at an open day this morning, to about a hundred A-level students, their parents and their teachers. The talk was focused on the Cassini end-of-mission science, but I managed to sneak in this bit of space history when explaining what a magnetometer does.

The fluxgate in the photo above actually went into space for a few brief seconds. It got about 5 km up before it was unceremoniously returned to the Earth. The Ariane 5 rocket that launched the spacecraft whose payload it was part of had exploded, showering the swamps of French Guiana with wreckage.

This sensor sat in that swamp for a good few weeks before a French Foreign Legionnaire fished it out.

I'm afraid that being blown up and mouldering in a tropical pond was, in fact, enough to kill it, but it's still a pretty cool object, and the students seemed to like seeing it very much.
nanila: wrong side of the mirror (me: wrong side of the mirror)
( Jan. 26th, 2017 08:51 pm)
Dad & Mom at Waimea Canyon, Kauai
This is a scanned photo of my mom and dad with their arms around one another at Waimea Canyon in Kauai, Hawai'i. I love this photo partly because they both look happy, and partly because this is how they always appear in my mind. I know they have white hair and stooped shoulders now, but my brain fails to see that unless they're right in front of me, which doesn't happen very often since they live so far away.
Hanalei Valley, Kauai
This is me, my mum and my grandma at Hanalei Valley in Kauai, Hawai'i, USA. I believe we have stopped at a Point of View along the road into the valley. Items of special interest in this photo: my mum's glasses, my grandma's flowery dress and my yellow bonnet.
Me & Gram at Kalalau Lookout, Na Pali, Kauai
This is a scanned snapshot of me, aged about one, in my grandmother’s arms. We are at Kalalau Lookout in the Na Pali Coast State Park on Kauai in Hawai’i. When I was very small, my parents had a condo on Kauai and we went there for our holidays (from Honolulu). It was wonderful. I have vivid memories of the hike down the cliffs to the fine white sand of the deserted beach below the condo, and of playing for hours in the crystal clear water. My parents always found this surprising as I was, at the time they sold it, only about four years old.
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In the second installment of Weird Metal Contraptions I Was Placed In As A Baby, I give you my baby bouncer. At least this one features floral print fabrics instead of black leather like my high chair. The bouncer was modified by my grandfather (also pictured) so that he could bounce me with minimal effort. We’re on the lanai (porch) in my grandparents’ house in Honolulu, here.
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Above, my (only white) cousin, aka Big Keiki, aged about five, spoon-feeds me, aged a few months, in the weird black leather and metal contraption that functioned as my high chair. The chair looks as though it were designed for more sinister or deviant purposes. It was the 70's in Hawai'i, so who knows. Anyway, I like how his mouth is wide open and mine is not.
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For Throwback Thursday, here's a scanned photo of me flopped out on my maternal grandmother, who is bottle-feeding me. I think I'm only a few months old here. She was like a second mother to me when I was growing up, until she began to suffer from dementia when I was a teenager. I don't have a lot of photos of her, as she was not fond of having lenses pointed in her direction, so I treasure all the snaps I have of her.
I grew up in Honolulu. I was one of the youngest of a large group of cousins, most of whom are male and Filipino, apart from my mom’s sister’s son, who is white. We spent a lot of time together since we all lived pretty close, and my Filipino grandfather (and, until three days before I was born, grandmother) owned a large house that always seemed to have at least two or three aunties and hence vast quantities of delicious food in it (chicken malunggai! pancit! lumpia! suman!) .

I haven’t seen these cousins very frequently since we all became adults. Two of them were in the military for many years. They came to visit us in Monterey on our recent trip to the USA. So before I share the photos from the meals we ate together (because of course there was food, lots of food), here are the photos my parents brought of us as children. Most of these were taken at Waimea Falls on the north shore of Oahu.


I’m on the left. The two cousins in the middle came to Monterey over Labour Day weekend. On the far right, holding the camera to his eyes, is the cousin I shall refer to as Big Keiki, because Little Keiki is named after him. Please note matching bowl cuts. Niiice.

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