05 June 2009

Operating In Our World

Man, it's as nearly perfect as it can be outside-
Cobalt blue sky and a light breeze, 78 degrees with low humidity.
I weeded what the deer have left of my garden, then started tinkering with the old pickup I just bought. (More on that later.)
This weather makes you want to stay out of doors!

When the weather is NOT like today I think about how work gets done. I'm always surprised when I go to visit Big Bubba in Phoenix to see work crews out in temperatures of 110 degrees, but then think, "If they didn't work in these temperatures, no work would ever get done!"
The other night we were watching another episode of "Ice Road Truckers"... they're operating on the "Dalton Highway" in Alaska on this segment. They showed how they prepare trucks to operate in temperatures of -40 degrees and less.
We don't like working in temperature extremes. Our machines don't much like it either. I've done no research on the reasons why, so maybe one of you can educate me, but it seems the reason why is we are limited to using resources formed in our environment, particularly our fuels, lubricants, and cooling fluids. Through our use of chemistry we have learned to operate in more extreme temperatures, both hot and cold. I think we've extended our abilities further into the cold extremes than the hot... witness the two rovers we landed on Mars. Both survive and operate in extreme cold conditions.
Neither we, nor our machines do real well in extended temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and almost nothing works for long above a temp. of 130 or so.

Considering these limitations, how will we ever get up close and personal with the extremes we'll encounter on Mercury, or the toxic environment of Venus? Will we continue to make small technological steps until we can build machines that will work there? Or will we have a "Eureka" moment when someone thinks outside the box and solves the problem with a brilliant idea?
I'm sure it'll be a little of both.

And that journey itself will be fun to watch.


camerapilot said...

Don't forget Mars GB!
Extreme temps.........
I've done several films in the desert and for some reason directors always want to film in July or August (fellow crew members laughed when they saw me wearing wool socks in 135 degree ground temps. and then noticed I did not have blisters like they did from wearing cotton socks) To protect myself I went back in time and started reading about early desert explores and one of my favorite is "Bagnold of The Desert".
Look him up, NASA did.

cary said...

camerapilot - you can go back in time? cool!

GB - when the mercury gets above 112, Sky Harbor starts shutting down the scheduled take-offs due to the lack of high temp testing of planes.

When it hits 120, nothing is allowed to land, either. They get rerouted.

I prefer cold weather to hot - I can always add layers to get warm. Removing layers to cool off only works for so long before you start scaring the dogs...

Greybeard said...

From what little I've already read of him he's an interesting fellow, CP...
Did the impossible, didn't he?!