Wednesday, 17 December 2008
Thursday, 27 November 2008
This website was originally designed as an educational project assessing the Internet as a learning resource; its design was based around an educational theory about concentric learning which had something to do with the learner following their own path around an educational resource and not being told what to do. This meant that they were not given a set place to start or to finish their educational journey, and they didn't have to read from beginning to end (like a book) to acquire the information they need. The circular nature of the Solar System was ideal for the project. Originally, the learner was going to be presented with a picture of the Solar System with the various destinations as clickable links. Where the user clicked first was up to them. It would be their interest that would guide them to their first destination and then to their next. After completion of my project, I decided to continue development and maintenance of the site. For years, it has used its concentric approach, which is ideal because the nature of the Internet means that most visitors to the site don't actually visit the home page of it. They usually get here from a link in a search engine, and go to a page which, if the site was designed to be read chronologically, would be somewhere in the middle of it. Once they've visited, they either get the information they want and leave, or continue to browse seemingly randomly. But, this method doesn't suit all visitors. Like I said, most people enter the site at any of the pages (for some reason, the ten facts about saturn page seems to be the most popular). Hopefully, they like what they see and decide that they want to more of it. But they may not want to just browse randomly. Instead they may want some kind of direction. I believe that with the new links on the left hand side, if they feel that they don't know where to go next, or what they may have missed out on already, they can go on to browse in a more orderly and logical way.
All of the pages in the Mars section have been given the new look. I'll probably play around with them a bit more over the next few days until I'm happy with the look, and then I'll begin the process of updating the rest of the site. If you want to see the new look now, go to Mars and have a browse. Or, have a look at the images below. Which ones do you prefer? The first and third images are the old pages, the second and fourth are the new ones.
Thursday, 30 October 2008
Saturday, 25 October 2008
Anyway, that's my little advert out of the way. Although I will be doing that website, that doesn't mean I'm giving up with this one. Bob the Alien's Tour of the Solar System will still be updated and maintained, and is due to get a proper facelift early in 2009 seeing as it's hardly changed for the last eight years!
Tuesday, 23 September 2008
So, what's been happening in the world of space over the summer? Water has been confirmed to exist on Mars. The Phoenix lander analysed a sample of soil it had dug up and found out that one of the particles contained in it was water. Scientists at the time claimed that had "touched and tasted" water on Mars which is something of a bold claim seeing as they are sitting comfortably in their science labs on Earth, nowhere near the Martian water! And although they haven't found enough water to quench the thirst of any passing alien, the fact that water does still exist there confims for definite that the planet had a wet history, and greatly increases the chances of life having survived or still suviving there. Ooooh, exciting stuff!
Other events included a space shuttle going to the International Space Station to fix the toilet. That happened in the early part of summer. So, an astronaut onboard the space station called NASA and said, "You know that space shuttle you're sending up to us. Well, can you send up a plumber too?" You can imagine the bill afterwards - "That'll be $40 parts and labour, $1,000,000 call-out fee." Talking of the space shuttle, NASA has announced that it's successor, Orion, won't be ready to fly until at least 2014. The fleet of existing space shuttle are due to be retured in 2010, which leaves a four year gap for manned space travel. Astronauts can hop onboard the Russian Soyuz rockets which also make regular journeys to and from the International Space Station, but there may be a chance that the retirement date of the space shuttle will be put back.
Other news - objects like Pluto, which became known as Dwarf Planets a couple of years ago, may get reclassified as Plutoids. Ceres, an object in the asteroid belt, which also became classified as a Dwarf Planet at the same time as Pluto, may become an asteroid again, seeing as it doesn't really fit in with the Plutoid category. I'll wait until some official announcement before having to change my Pluto section again. Grrrrrr, grumble, grumble.
Hmmmm, that's all I can think of for now, but I'll update again soon now that I'm back from my summer break (I didn't actually go anywhere, I just didn't do anything with my website!) .
Bob the Alien
Sunday, 27 July 2008
It's summer! The sun's out and school's finished for a few weeks. As usual, it's a very quiet time of the year for my website, so I don't tend to do much exploring of the Solar System during it and take it easy instead. I've added a couple of new pages: One page showing a map of the Moon and the landing sites of space probes and astronauts (www.bobthealien.co.uk/moonmap.htm) and another comparing the Inner and Outer Planets (www.bobthealien.co.uk/innerouter.htm). And that's about all that's new for now!
Monday, 9 June 2008
Monday, 26 May 2008
Phoenix was launched back in August 2007 to set off on its journey to the red planet. This journey has been largely trouble-free and uneventful (well, as trouble-free and uneventful as a trip of over 200 million miles can be, which I suppose is a good thing). It landed safely at its destination near the north polar region of Mars on 25th May 2008. Its suitcase was packed with several gadgets and gizmos which Phoenix (sounds more like an Gladiator than a space craft) will use to probe the soil of Mars. As is customary for all space tourists, Phoenix has also taken its camera to Mars and will be sending back regular snapshots of the view to the people of Earth. The main purpose of Phoenix, and probably of any space craft sent there, is to look for signs that Mars can and did (or even better, still does!) support life. It is now widely believed that Mars was once a wet planet. Its oceans have since dried up, but there is still hope that water is present beneath the surface of Mars. Phoenix will use its array of expensive scientific equipment to try to detect this water. If unsuccessful, it is programmed to do a rain dance to see if that helps. Or maybe not. The landing site of Phoenix is the most northerly of any probe to land on Mars. It is in a region known to contain water ice (the bit that looks like snow on pictures of Mars) and is thought to be a likely spot for life to be able to exist.
Just in case there is life on Mars, and a passing alien happens to bump into Phoenix, scientists have very kindly provided Phoenix with a DVD to be given to any curious Martians, or future human visitors, as a gift. This action-packed DVD, with the highly original name The Phoenix DVD, should hopefully play on all Martian DVD players, providing the DVD is region-free. Contained on the DVD are various multimedia snippets related to the role Mars has played in art and literature in culture on Earth, including the text of H.G. Wells' The War of the Worlds and a copy of the radio broadcast of this story which terrified America. It's not known whether the Tom Cruise film of the story is also included on the DVD. Messages from people of Earth to Martians or any other visitors to Mars are also contained on the DVD, as are the names of a quarter of a million Earthlings. Taking a DVD to Mars isn't a new idea, as both the Spirit and Opportunity rovers, which are still roving Mars, also had DVDs with them. But, what will they take next on future missions to Mars??? Blu-ray or HD-DVD? And when will the first branch of Blockbuster open on Mars so Martians can rent out other Earthly masterpieces?
Phoenix's primary mission is expected to last 90 Martian days (sols), which is just over 92 days on Earth. Scientists hope that it will go on to last into Martian winter, where up to three feet of carbon dioxide ice may form at the region of Phoenix's landing. Because of the intense cold on Mars during winter, Phoenix is not expected to make it through the whole season and is likely to give up at some point during winter. If only those scientists had thought to pack an extra pair of socks and a thermal vest! However, 1997's Pathfinder lander and its Sojourner rover lasted longer than expected, and Spirit and Opportunity, which both landed in January 2004 and were expected to last same 90 days as Phoenix, are still going strong(ish), so who knows, Phoenix may exceed expectations again.
On this blog, I'll keep updating any developments and discoveries from the Phoenix mission and one day, when I get around to completing my Missions to Mars 2 page, it'll get a mention on there too!
Monday, 19 May 2008
Anyway, other than playing around with the colours on this page and putting on a poll, only for nobody to use it (!), I've also been busy updating my website. Over the last few years, more and more sections have been getting added to the site, such as a chronology of space exploration, Ask an Alien and, erm, I can't remember what else, but there are some other new sections that have been added anyway. However, the main control panel used for browsing the site at the top of most pages (the one below)
Thursday, 15 May 2008
This is the first time I've ever tried to write a blog (doing well so far, aren't I?), so I'm going to save this and have a look around to see what else you can do on this blogger thing!