Sunday, June 17, 2012

Surveys


Calico Peak
A fun way to spend some free time is hunting down US Geological Survey benchmarks.  These are markers that were used to create maps, and many of them are historic.  Many mountain tops are perfect locations for surveying because they have line of sight to many landmarks, so these summits frequently have bronze disks where the survey station was positioned to triangulate new positions and determine elevations.  Because they can be remote, often the benchmarks have not been visited in a long time.  The National Geodetic Survey maintains a database of these marks and knowing if the mark is still usable could be valuable information.
video

Over the weekend, I visited two survey markers: one on Eagle Mountain and another on Expectation Mountain.  I followed Horse Creek trail up from Rico; it's a nice trail that begins with a pretty waterfall and passes by many old mines, such as The Puzzler, Nutmeg, and of course, Expectation.  Some of the rocks along the peak have sparkly crystals in them; the bright green tiny crystals that I think are olivine and a dark silvery crystal in the shape of small daggers that are probably galena.  Since it was kinda on/in the way, I also scampered up Anchor Mountain.  Climbing three peaks in one day was a little exhausting, but an excellent adventure.

The weather continues to be hot and dry, so burn bans are being implemented.  Let's hope the monsoons start soon!
Aptly named Eris and her moon Dysmonia

To help keep my cool, I've begin hunting minor planets made of ice again.  That's right, icehunters is back, this time reincarnated as IceInvestigators.  Log in, take the tutorial, and hopefully score New Horizons some additional  new worlds to explore. On the previous set of images from icehunters, volunteers had identified 24 Kuiper Belt Objects in the 2004/2005 data and so far about 18 unique KBOs in the 2011 data. No KBO yet found is reachable by New Horizons, but the closest one requires less than twice the available onboard fuel to be targeted -- so close.  As a bonus, a few asteroids and variable stars were discovered too.  Awesome!


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