It was a great summer weekend across the area, in fact, I would rate it 10 out of 10. Temps were warm, the humidity was low, it rained on Friday afternoon and then ended up dry later Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday. I hope everyone was able to get outside and enjoy it. Most of this July has been quite nice. The best part is that we have received enough rainfall. Sure it was nice over the last 5 years when we had drier than normal weather because there were more sunny weekends, however, it was hard for me to enjoy knowing how the farmers were suffering through the periodic droughts. This year we have experienced reasonable temps as well as sufficient precipitation. Temps have been so "reasonable" that we haven’t even endured on 90 degree day as of yet, which means I am not going to win the latest forecast contest in the weather office. The contest was to predict how many 90 degree days would occur in July. I forecast 5. Our intern Taylor picked 7. Megan went with 4. Brian projected 3. Our other intern Eric looks like the winner (for coming the closest) with a forecast of 2 90 degree days. In reality, it doesn’t look like we will hit 90 even once this July (officially in Wausau). If the skies would remain sunny on Tuesday we would have a chance, but it looks like there will be some clouds and a chance of thunderstorms so that should put a lid on temps. Wednesday will be close with high temps in the mid to upper 80s. Thursday will be slightly cooler than Wednesday. So it looks like our next best chance of hitting 90 will be over the weekend. Both Saturday and Sunday look to have the potential for high temps at least in the mid to upper 80s. Thunderstorms chances will be mainly on Tuesday and Friday with slight chances lingering into the weekend. It is the week of the Wisconsin Valley Fair so you know there has to be at least a couple hot humid days with chances of thunderstorms.
There is a ton of AGW news to get to, as always, but I don’t want to bore you by mentioning everyday, so I decided to go with some space news tomorrow because today is the 50th anniversary of the creation of NASA. To get you up to speed on the big anniversary, Wired.com has a large spread about the agency on its front page, including this article about all of NASA’s achievements. Some of the interesting things I learned: NASA used to be called NACA, the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics. The mission statement of NASA is "To improve life here, to extend life there, to find life beyond." To find life beyond, is one of the more exciting efforts. Here is a little trivia nugget I was aware of: What was the first word spoken when humans landed on the moon? The answer: Houston. The complete first phrase was "Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed."
The writer of the article makes this odd statement near the end:
The idea that a few wealthy space enthusiasts could somehow supplant NASA and come anywhere near matching its achievements — ever — is laughable, or would be if it weren’t given so much credence in certain corners of the popular consciousness.
This is in reference to the budding private space industry that has garnered a lot of attention in the last couple years. I don’t think it is laughable to think private companies could achieve many of the things that NASA did. All the satellites, landing on the moon, the space shuttle, etc… were all mammoth accomplishments that no other organizations were able to achieve. The engineering feats were amazing for the materials they were working with and the technology that was available. What has changed in the present day is that more knowledge is available (open and free), more technology is available, and more manpower is available, for all the private space firms. They have the benefit of all that NASA has learned over the years. The playing field has leveled. Throw in the drive for profit, exploration, and excitement, and I might even say the private space firms are pulling ahead in some areas. Bigelow already has a small scale inflatable hotel in space. Virgin Galactic is on pace with their plans for suborbital flights. They are planning on unveiling WhiteKnight today. There is also speculation that WhiteKnight2 could make an appearance at EAA later this week. I am sure there will be a lot more information on this coming out tomorrow.
In other news: Phoenix is still having trouble scooping Martian dirt and analyzing it. I am still waiting to see some of the data from the analysis that has occurred thus far. Seems to be taking a while.