Links Hackaday: December 4, 2022

Hackaday Links Column Banner
Written by admin

Well this is embarrassing! Imagine sending a multi-billion dollar rover to an ancient lake bed on Mars only to discover after a year of rummaging through the rocks that it might not have been a lake after all. That seems to be the impression of Jezero crater that planetary scientists are forming after looking at data coming from Perseverance Since nailed the landing in what sure looked like a dry lake, complete with a river delta system. A closer look at the sediments Perseverance has been sampling reveals much of the mineral olivine, which on Earth is rare near the surface because it reacts easily with water. Finding large amounts of olivine near the surface of Jezero suggests that it was not once so watery, or that the water there was basically ice cold. Results are limited to places the rover has been, of course, and the nice thing about having wheels is that you can go somewhere else. But if you were expecting clear signs that Jezero was once a lake teeming with life, you may have to keep waiting.

In other space news, we have to admit that we took a bit of a swipe at NASA on the podcast a couple of weeks ago for not living up to SpaceX’s Zazzle standards regarding SLS launch instrumentation. Yes, a night launch is great, but not having all those internal cameras like the Falcon has left us flat. But we should have been more patient, because the returning images from Artemis 1 are simply spectacular. We had no idea that NASA attached cameras to the Orion spacecraft’s solar panels, which act a bit like selfie sticks and allow the spacecraft to be in the foreground with Earth and the Moon in the background. Seeing Earth from lunar distance again for the first time in 50 years has been a real treat, and having our satellite in frame at the same time is a huge bonus.

We all know how algorithmic tides of news ebb and flow across the internet these days, but even when you expect it, it can be jarring to see related stories suddenly appear in your feed. Namely, we found a couple of stories this week about electric vehicles sustaining serious damage at charging stations. The first was a report from a Ford F-150 Lightning driver that a loader blocked his truck. The user reports that while refueling at an Electrify America station in Oregon, he heard a loud bang before the charger and his impiously expensive vehicle shut down, requiring a flatbed tow to the Ford dealer for repair. Separately, A BC Hydro charger in Vancouver reportedly broke down at least two electric vehicles, one of which racked up $6,300 in repair expenses. Of course, nothing is known about the nature of the damage, and BC Hydro claims the charger was put out of action. However, we can’t help but wonder what the concurrence of these two stories tells us about the state of charging stations in general.

Also from “Isn’t that weird?” files, reports are appearing around the world of LED streetlights suddenly turn purple. Typically, intense bluish-white LED streetlights in places like Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, California, and elsewhere now glow an eerie yet beautiful shade of deep purple. When we first saw this story, we thought it would only be a problem with the phosphors in the COB LEDs, perhaps wearing out and allowing the underlying UV light to shine through. And indeed, that’s the conclusion this story ultimately comes to, at least for the Vancouver lights that appear to be suffering from phosphor coating delamination due to heat damage. The article goes a bit further and blames the ever-present “supply chain woes” for the problem, which is honestly not that hard to swallow.

And finally, can you turn a car into a pillar of salt? No, you can’t, but if you follow the example of artist James Birdle, you just might be able to catch an autonomous car with a couple of kilos of salt. James found that surrounding his car with a double dashed line of salt made the car think it could drive through the barrier and not breach it. So the car just failed and stuck inside the salty circles. We’d love to dig a little deeper into this – it’s unclear what car this is, but a comment on the Vimeo video claims it’s a 2006 SEAT Ibiza, whatever it is. A 16-year-old vehicle isn’t likely to be autonomous, so maybe it has lane departure sensors.

About the author


Leave a Comment