MH370 Found?

Last night (Central Daylight time), news broke that what might be part of the wing of a Boeing 777, which is the same type of aircraft as the missing Malaysian Flight 370, washed up on the French island of Réunion in the Indian Ocean. The Guardian was following the story last night and one of their reporters used a ocean currents simulator to see if wreckage from a crash off the coast of Perth (western Australia) could make it to Réunion.

Possible debris currents

Possible debris currents

Yep, it can.

Credit for the piece goes to adrift.org.au.

Your Average Daily Sunshine

(Hint, it’s not me.)

I was talking with someone the other day about how I dislike warm weather. Give me nice, cool, crisp weather any day of the week. And also how I am okay without sunshine—a cool, misty, grey day is lovely. Much of weather, of course, is determined by sunlight, energy, hitting the Earth. Well, just a few weeks ago the Washington Post published a piece looking at daily sunlight. At the end of the piece it has a nice small multiple graphic too.

Average daily sunlight

Average daily sunlight

Credit for the piece goes to the Washington Post graphics department.

The Funding Sources for the 2016 Candidates

We are past the halfway point for summer in 2015 and that means the autumn 2016 presidential election is off and running. But running an election campaign, if even just for the primary phase, costs money. So where does each candidate receive its money? Well, FiveThirtyEight looked at the early reporting and identified four types. Their scatter plot does a nice job of summarising the state of the field.

Funding source types

Funding source types

Credit for the piece goes to the FiveThirtyEight graphics department.

Explaining the Greek Crisis

In today’s post we look at a graphic made by the South China Morning Post to explain the Greek Crisis. The graphic does a nice job anchoring the story in a combined chart and timeline. The reader then continues down the piece learning about additional points from demographics to text-based explanations.

The combined chart and timeline

The combined chart and timeline

Credit for the piece goes to the South China Morning Post graphics department.

Pedro Martinez Was Amazing

So the Red Sox in 2015 are godawful, terrible, bloody bad baseball. But, go back 11 years and they were amazing, fantastic, great and awesome baseball. 2004 was, of course, the year the curse was broken and that was in no small part due to the pitching efforts of Pedro Martinez, who would head down to Flushing in the off-season to end a seven year run of Pedro pitching for Boston. Well, this weekend, after being elected in his first year of eligibility, Pedro enters the Hall of Fame and then will have his number retired at Fenway.

The Boston Globe looked at Pedro, his arsenal, his career, and his best game ever: the 1999 17-strikeout, one-hit performance against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium. The whole piece is worth a looking. But this screenshot shows just how devastating his changeup was, especially in the context of an upper-90s fastball.

Pedro's circle change

Pedro’s circle change

 

Who’s your daddy?

Credit for the piece goes to

Water Level on Lake Michigan

Today’s a little piece for those of you who follow me from the Chicago area. It turns out that in the last 30 months, the water level of Lake Michigan has risen three feet. Despite what some people think, Lake Michigan is not an ocean—I have overheard conversations in my neighbourhood about people who went “swimming in the ocean today” and want to show them a map that points out the Atlantic is almost a thousand miles away—and is not under the same threat as the coast via melting icecaps. The Great Lakes are instead impacted by other regional and cyclical patterns, e.g. El Niño. This article by the Chicago Tribune makes use of this small but clear line chart in its discussion of those very factors.

Water levels for Lakes Michigan and Huron

Water levels for Lakes Michigan and Huron

Credit for the piece goes to the Chicago Tribune’s graphics department.

How We’re Talking to New Horizons

So New Horizons is long since gone from Pluto. But it will still take 16 months to send back all the photographs and science. Why so long? Because so far away. 3 billion miles away. Put another way, light from the sun takes eight minutes to reach Earth as it travels at, well, the speed of light. Radio signals that travel at the speed of light take 4.5 hours to reach Earth from Pluto. So imagine trying to send large data files that far away at a download speed less than that of a 56k modem, for those of you old enough to remember such a thing.

But what receives these radio signals? NASA’s Deep Space Network of antennae that allow NASA to communicate with spacecraft and such things that are in, wait for it, deep space. These antennae are scattered throughout the world, but in this screenshot taken Monday, you can see just what the antennae at the various complexes are doing. Here, we see New Horizons (NHPC) just prior to its flypast communicating with the large antenna at the Madrid complex. The lack of signal lines indicates that it is preparing to setup, takedown, or is tracking the spacecraft.

From early Monday night

From early Monday night

As a fun aside, I left the tab open in the browser and a few hours later came back to find the Deep Space Network sending signals to the Mars rover Opportunity (MER1), the Chandra X-Ray Observatory (CHDR), and the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) amongst others.

Opportunity is still chugging along on Mars

Opportunity is still chugging along on Mars

Credit for the piece goes to the NASA graphics department.

Your Guide to the Solar System

As New Horizons will soon begin sending back photographs of Pluto, Charon, and the other moons, I figured it would be a good to share a Wall Street Journal piece that looks at the other photographed bodies of the system.

Field Guide to the Solar System

Field Guide to the Solar System

Credit for the piece goes to Jon Keegan, Chris Canipe, and Alberto Cervantes.

New Horizon’s Flypast

A little after 07.30 EDT, New Horizons began its race past Pluto, what your author grew up learning as the ninth planet in the Solar System—the last planet to be explored. I recall thinking that when it launched back in 2006 I had no idea what I would be doing nine years later. Or at least I think I thought that. It launched nine years ago, almost a third of my life. Regardless, I was definitely one of those upset with the decision to downgrade Pluto from planet to dwarf planet. Anyway, a decade on, there New Horizons is. By the time this post goes live, she will be barreling away towards the Kuiper Belt while transmitting her photographs and science data.

This piece from the New York Times looks at what happened earlier today in, for Americans, the wee hours of the morning.

What New Horizons is doing

What New Horizons is doing

Credit for the piece goes to Jonathan Corum.