Russian Beast of the Ice

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The NS Yamal is a Russian Arktika class nuclear-powered icebreaker operated by Atomflot (formerly by the Murmansk Shipping Company). It is named after the Yamal Peninsula in Northwest Siberia; the name means End of the Land in Nenets.

Laid down in Leningrad in 1986, and launched in October 1992, after the breakup of the Soviet Union, it never filled its designed role of keeping shipping lanes open. It has always carried passengers on arctic excursions. In July of 1994 Yamal took an excursion to the North Pole, with the NSF (National Science Foundation), to celebrate the Official Maiden Voyage. While at the exact north pole (verified by GPS & Inmarsat satellite coordinates) the crew and passengers celebrated with a barbeque – the ambient temperature was -10 degrees F (wind gusts were measured at -40 degrees F). Because of the ship 90/90 coordinates the ship captain (Smirnov) organized a swimming party with Mr. Will Rountree (USA) being recorded as the 1st person to ever swim there (21 Jul 94) – water temperature was below freezing, ranging from 28 degrees to 31 degrees F. The Yamal is the 12th surface ship ever to reach the north pole.

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The Yamal is equipped with a double hull. The outer hull is 48 mm thick where ice is met and 25 mm elsewhere and has a polymer coating to reduce friction. There is water ballast between the inner and outer hulls which can be shifted in order to aid icebreaking. Icebreaking is also assisted by an air bubbling system which can deliver 24 m³/s of air from jets 9 m below the surface. The Yamal can break ice while making way either forwards or backwards.

Yamal is one of the Russian “Arktika” family of icebreakers, the most powerful icebreakers in the world. These ships must cruise in cold water to cool their reactors, so they cannot pass through the tropics to undertake voyages in the Southern hemisphere.

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Yamal docked in Murmansk

Yamal carries one helicopter and several Zodiac boats. Radio and satellite communications systems are installed which can provide navigation, telephone, fax, and email services. Amenities include a large dining room (capable of holding all 100 passengers in one sitting), a library, passenger lounge, auditorium, volleyball court, gymnasium, heated indoor swimming pool, a sauna, and an infirmary. She is equipped with 50 passenger cabins and suites, all with toilets, exterior windows, a television, and a desk.

Yamal also played a significant role in creation of annual travel expeditions to the North Pole, being one of the few vessels capable of getting there and bringing tourists with it in safety. Since 1993 the icebreaker was operated by Murmansk Shipping Company and in 2001-2008 the operation was made by Murmansk Shipping Company and Poseidon Expeditions. Yamal has made a total of 47 voyages to the North Pole.

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Sister ship 50 Let Pobedy, biggest icebreaker in the world

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is a NASA robotic spacecraft currently orbiting the Moon in an eccentric polar mapping orbit. Data collected by LRO has been described as essential for planning NASA’s future human and robotic missions to the Moon. Its detailed mapping program is identifying safe landing sites, locating potential resources on the Moon, characterizing the radiation environment, and demonstrating new technologies.

The probe has made a 3-D map of the Moon’s surface and has provided high resolution images of Apollo landing sites. The first images from LRO were published on July 2, 2009, showing a region in the lunar highlands south of Mare Nubium (Sea of Clouds).

Launched on June 18, 2009, in conjunction with the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), as the vanguard of NASA’s Lunar Precursor Robotic Program, LRO was the first United States mission to the Moon in over ten years. LRO and LCROSS were launched as part of the United States’s Vision for Space Exploration program.

Artist’s illustration of the LRO

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Tycho Central Peak

Far side of the Moon

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Near side of the Moon

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North Pole

 

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South Pole

 

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Earthrise over Compton Crater

 

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Apollo 11 landing site

 

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Apollo 17 landing site

 

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Mono Lake Bigfoot Footage

Video at bottom.

Mono Lake is a large, shallow saline soda lake in Mono County, California.  It is located in the eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range.  The lake was the backdrop for the town Lago in the 1973 Clint Eastwood film “High Plains Drifter”. 

Clint Eastwood riding towards the lake.

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In 1991 another film was shot at Mono Lake.  And one of the characters in that film was very big and hairy.

Back in 2008, a science teacher from Orange County, California came forward and presented to the Bigfoot community one of the most intriguing footage of Bigfoot they had seen in a long time. The teacher said his family had viewed the vacation video privately for almost 20 years– not knowing he had captured a possible Bigfoot until his daughter pointed it out to him. The home video was taken in 1991, around Mono Lake, near the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. In the video, a large, hairy, upright figure can be seen walking between two rock formations near the shore.

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Investigators suggest that the figure in the video shows either a Bigfoot, or someone in a Bigfoot costume. According to the BFRO, if it was a person, it would have been someone who was wearing a large, full-length brown fur coat with excessively long furry sleeves.

The witness submitted his report to the BFRO on May 9, 2008 (17 years after filming the creature). Based on his credibility as a high school science teacher with absolutely nothing to gain by releasing the tape– the BFRO believes the film is authentic:

He is a science teacher at a high school in south Orange County, California. He has no incentive to fake this footage or to involve his family in an elaborate prank.

The animal seen strolling among the tufa spires appears to be upright and bipedal and muscular. It appears to have long arms and makes long strides with its legs. It does not appear to be a bear. It appears to be either a man in a bigfoot costume, or an actual bigfoot.

The profile of the cameraman, combined with the random circumstances of the videotaping, strongly suggest this is not a man in a costume — not a hoax.

On May 18, 1991, while on vacation in the Mammoth Lakes area in Northern California, my family took a short day hike to Mono Lake to do some sightseeing. It was overcast and very cold with a strong wind blowing. There was still snow on the surrounding peaks. Mono Lake is at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

I do not recall the location at which we parked the car to begin our hike, but I do remember that ours was the only car in the parking area and that the spot was quite desolate. It was a cold Saturday morning and the area was deserted. At 9:17AM I began shooting VHS video footage of our trek, and after a short period of time we finally decided to leave because of the wind and cold. We went back to our hotel in June Lake, enjoyed the rest of the weekend and went home. The trip was quite uneventful (or so we assumed).

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The tape went into our family home video collection and for 17 years, from 1991 to 2008, it has been watched countless times by family and friends. So much so that my kids have the dialog on much of the tape collection memorized. On April 19, 2008 my daughter (6 years old in the video and now 22) was watching the tape in the downstairs family room when she suddenly screamed out and began yelling for me to come downstairs. I thought something bad had happened and after racing down the staircase, found my daughter and my ex sitting in front of the television telling me to watch a segment from the tape. What I saw when we played it back made the hair stand up on the back of my neck. And it was something none of us had ever noticed in almost 17 years of watching this tape,

In the final few seconds of the Mono Lake segment just before I turned the camera off I caught something very large and black moving between two rock formations a short distance from where we had been hiking. It was completely black with no differentiation in color or texture and walked upright like a human but with a gate more like a primate. At first I thought it was a bear, but after going over the video many times and finally digitizing and sharpening it I am now unsure what to think. From examination of the footage of my family whose distance from the camera was comparable to that of the creature it is easy to see the distinct details and variation in clothing, hair, face and hands. In contrast, the creature caught on tape exhibits none of those distinctions. The shape of the body does not resemble a human. The head is too large and the arms are too long. And although it does resemble a bear at one particular angle in the clip, the stance and gate don’t add up. It is an intriguing mystery.

That we were able to go for 17 years without noticing this event on the tape seems unbelievable, but in retrospect it actually makes some sense. The segment lasts for only a couple of seconds and the focus is on the lake and mountains which is what I must have been filming at the time. I didn’t see it when I shot the tape and it has since gone unnoticed because one must really be looking for it to see it.

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I am not a person who is prone to believing in conspiracy theories, alien abductions and bizarre events such as a purported Bigfoot sighting. I’ve seen various footage and photographs of Bigfoot/Sasquatch sightings over the years and have always been extremely skeptical of their authenticity. As an engineer who now teaches high school physics, I am highly educated and very level headed. If I see something I don’t understand my natural reaction is to analyze it rationally using the scientific method. I do not jump to conclusions based on faulty hypotheses. So in this case, I will suspend judgment pursuant to further investigation. But having shown this video to family and friends whose opinions I trust, the overall reaction seems to be a unanimous “Bigfoot!!” Wishful thinking? Maybe. Maybe not. Either way it is very intriguing and definitely warrants further investigation.

Your opinion and assistance in this matter would be appreciated.

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Another strange encounter in the same range.

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The ‘Stars and Bars’ alive and well down in Brazil

The town in Brazil that embraces the Confederate flag

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The debate over flying the Confederate flag has reignited in the US, but the American South isn’t the only place in the world you’ll see the emblem – it’s also proudly displayed in the rural Brazilian town of Santa Barbara D’Oeste.

Once a year, the descendants of about 10,000 Confederates that fled the United States to Brazil after the US Civil War have a sort of family reunion.

“They all take part in stereotypically southern things like square dances, eating fried chicken and biscuits, and listening to George Strait,” says Asher Levine, a Sao Paulo-based correspondent for Reuters.

“And a lot of Confederate flags everywhere, all over the place.

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Despite being six or seven generations removed from their antebellum ancestry, many local Brazilians still maintain strong ties to Southern culture, and proudly wave the Confederate flag.

But for them, Levine says, the flag is much more of an ethnic symbol than a political one.

“They see themselves as ethnically American to some degree,” he says.

“At an Italian festival, you would see people waving an Italian flag. Or on Saint Patrick’s Day you see people waving the Irish flag. They see it that way. They don’t have any political affiliation to it whatsoever.”

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Over time, the Southern white population has mixed with the Brazilians, resulting in people with a variety of different shades of skin colours waving the Confederate flag. Americans might be surprised by the resulting visual.

“A lot of people who are descendants of these confederates have African blood as well, so you’ll see at the party people with dark skin waving the Confederate flag.”

Levine says he talked to an American at the festival who was completely amazed at watching a young girl singing Amazing Grace – often sung in black churches across the US – while standing on top of a Confederate flag.

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The banner is everywhere – kids wave mini-flags and women wear Confederate flag dresses.

“You know, the symbolism is totally lost on them, but for us it’s quite a contrast,” Levine says.

Despite being a very mixed-race country, Levine says that the killings in Charleston are being seen in Brazil as more of a gun safety issue than a racial issue.

“When they see an event like what happened in South Carolina last week, they wonder if it’s really so much better in the United States, safety-wise.”

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After the end of the American Civil War, beginning in 1867, the region began to see immigration from the southern United States, these immigrants were known as the Confederados.

Today’s Confederados maintain affection for the Confederate flag even though they consider themselves completely Brazilian. In Brazil, the Confederate flag has not had the racial stigma that has been attached to it in the United States. Many modern Confederados are of mixed-race and reflect the varied racial categories that make up Brazilian society in their physical appearance. Recently the Brazilian residents of Americana, now of primarily Italian descent, have removed the Confederate flag from the city’s crest citing the fact that Confederados now make up only 10% of the city’s population. In 1972, then Governor (and future President) Jimmy Carter of Georgia visited the city of Santa Bárbara d’Oeste and visited the grave of his wife Rosalyn’s great-uncle, who was one of the original Confederados.

BBC

50 Years of Space Walking

1965-2015

‘Spacewalkin’

50 years ago Ed White became the first American to step into space.

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June 3, 1965

Astronaut Edward H. White II, pilot for the Gemini-Titan 4 space flight, floats in space during America’s first spacewalk. The extravehicular activity (EVA) was performed during the Gemini 4 mission on June 3, 1965. White spent 23 minutes maneuvering around his spacecraft as Jim McDivitt remained inside the spacecraft. White is attached to the spacecraft by a 25-foot umbilical line and a 23-foot tether line, both wrapped in gold tape to form one cord. In his right hand, White carries a Hand-Held Self Maneuvering Unit (HHSMU), which he used to help move him around the weightless environment of space. The visor of his helmet is gold plated to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun.

It’s half a century since Ed White became the first American to step into space, in 1965. Now an almost routine part of any space mission, the EVA (Extra Vehicular Activity), or “spacewalk” was once a hazardous procedure.

During the 1950s and 1960s, the USSR scored a few early firsts in the Space Race: first satellite (Sputnik 1); first man in space (Yuri Gagarin); and first spacewalk (Alexei Leonov on March 8, 1965).

Leonov encountered many difficulties during his own spacewalk. He could only maneuver by pulling on the umbilical cord that tethered him to the spacecraft, and his suit over-inflated in the vacuum of space. Leonov had to bleed some oxygen from the suit to be able to get back in the hatch. The extent of these problems was not revealed until after the end of the Cold War.

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June 3, 1965

Ed White over the Gulf of Mexico.

NASA scheduled its first spacewalk to take place during the Gemini 4 mission. On June 3, 1965, Ed White left the Gemini spacecraft and, with the aid of a Hand-Held Self Manoeuvring Unit (HHSMU), or “zip gun,” White was able to move 15 feet (5 meters) from the craft.

Communication problems meant White had to be actively ordered to re-enter the spacecraft. Opening and closing the hatch was problematic, and a planned dump into space of White’s used spacewalk equipment was abandoned.

Several more spacewalks were performed during the Gemini missions, but the astronauts tired quickly and experienced overheating. It was Buzz Aldrin who first overcame these problems, working for just over two hours outside Gemini 12. Aldrin’s experiences as a scuba diver inspired NASA’s move to training astronauts for spacewalks in large water tanks to simulate the weightlessness of space.

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Nov. 12, 1966

Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., pilot of the Gemini 12 spacecraft, performs extravehicular activity (EVA) during the second day of the four-day mission in space. Aldrin is positioned next to the Agena work station.

With the advent of the space shuttle, spacewalks became routine. In 1983, NASA astronauts began using the Extravehicular Mobility Unit (EMU), a self-contained life support device. The Shuttle Remote Manipulator System (SRMS), also known as Canadarm, was developed by Canada and delivered to NASA in 1981, the first of five such arms. This machine could be used as an anchor for astronauts during spacewalks.

On Feb. 7, 1984, the Manned Manoeuvring Unit (MMU) was deployed. For the first time, this allowed an astronaut to work untethered. Using the MMU, Bruce McCandless became the first astronaut to fly free in space, moving 320 feet (98 meters) away from the shuttle.

In 2001, Susan Helms and James Voss set the record for the spacewalk with the longest duration, at eight hours and 56 minutes.

Spacewalk-6

Mar. 6, 1969

Apollo 9 Command/Service Modules (CSM), nicknamed “Gumdrop,” and Lunar Module (LM), nicknamed “Spider,” are shown docked together as Command Module Pilot David R. Scott stands in the open hatch. Astronaut Russell L. Schweickart, Lunar Module pilot, took this photograph of Scott during his EVA as he stood on the porch outside the Lunar Module. Apollo 9 was an Earth orbital mission designed to test docking procedures between the CSM and LM, as well as test fly the Lunar Module in the relative safe confines of Earth orbit.

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Feb. 12, 1984

Mission Specialist Bruce McCandless II, is seen further away from the confines and safety of his ship than any previous astronaut had ever been. This space first was made possible by the Manned Manuevering Unit or MMU, a nitrogen jet propelled backpack. After a series of test maneuvers inside and above Challenger’s payload bay, McCandless went “free-flying” to a distance of 320 feet away from the Orbiter.

Spacewalk

Sept. 16, 1994

Astronauts Carl J. Meade and Mark C. Lee (red stripe on suit) test the Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue (SAFER) system some 130 nautical miles from Earth. The pair were actually performing an in-space rehearsal or demonstration of a contingency rescue using the never- before-flown hardware. Meade, who here wears the small backpack unit with its complementary chest-mounted control unit, and Lee, anchored to Discovery’s Remote Manipulator System (RMS) robot arm, took turns using the SAFER hardware during their shared space walk.

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Sep. 16, 1995

The pale blue Earth serves as backdrop for astronaut Michael Gernhardt during his Extravehicular Activity (EVA). He is standing on a Manipulator Foot Restraint (MFR) attached to the Remote Manipulator System (RMS). He is positioned over the Payload Bay, and Endeavour’s forward section is reflected in his visor. A thermal cube is attached to the RMS and records temperatures during spacesuit evaluations. Unlike earlier spacewalking astronauts, Gernhardt was able to use an electronic cuff checklist, a prototype developed for the assembly of the International Space Station (ISS).

Spacewalk-8

Nov. 14, 1984

Astronaut Dale A. Gardner, having just completed the major portion of his second extravehicular activity (EVA) period in three days, holds up a “For Sale” sign referring to the two satellites, Palapa B-2 and Westar 6, that they retrieved from orbit after their Payload Assist Modules (PAM) failed to fire. Astronaut Joseph P. Allen IV, who also participated in the two EVAs, is reflected in Gardner’s helmet visor. A portion of each of two recovered satellites is in the lower right corner, with Westar 6 nearer Discovery’s aft.

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Russian cosmonaut conducting maintenance on the ISS

Ramblin Man

Gregory LeNoir Allman (December 8, 1947 – May 27, 2017) was an American musician, singer, and songwriter.
He was best known for performing in the Allman Brothers Band. He was born and spent much of his childhood in Nashville, Tennessee, before relocating to Daytona Beach, Florida. He and his brother, Duane Allman, developed an interest in music in their teens, and began performing in the Allman Joys in the mid-1960s. In 1967, they relocated to Los Angeles and were renamed the Hour Glass, releasing two albums for Liberty Records. In 1969, he and Duane regrouped to form the Allman Brothers Band, which settled in Macon, Georgia.

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Gregg top blonde guy.