When we speak of exploration in the modern era, many people are surprised to learn how much is left unknown on our own planet, much less in the cosmos beyond. While we see hyper-realistic renderings of deep space entities and 3D maps of the ocean floor with some regularity, our sense of omniscience is a tenuous one. The reality is that we’re constantly discovering new things, both near and far away. In 2018, scientists and explorers made huge strides to expand our understanding of the world and create the technology and science that will drive discoveries for years to come. As we hurdle into the new year, we’ve assembled our favorite exploration milestones from 2018, from light years away to the deepest parts of the sea. SpaceX Double Booster Landing The last time so many people watched an aerospace event together was the Felix Baumgartner jump in 2012. Then, in February 2018, we all collectively held our breath and were treated to one of the most unexpectedly beautiful sights of the year as twin boosters from the SpaceX Falcon Heavy touched down simultaneously. With 21 launches (18 of them commercial) last year, SpaceX confirmed its position as the leader in...Read...
Annual client gifts are a fun tradition that give us an excuse to get the things we’ve been eyeing all year. We try to avoid the frivolous, the disposable and the self-serving; instead our gifts are things that we’d like to receive ourselves which have lasting value and represent the spirit of Lat Long, without being plastered in our branding. Our theory is that something meaningful and useful will be reminder enough of our focus on tangible success and craftsmanship. This year has been a banner year for adventure and travel writing – dozens of “coffee table” books were published that have left us yearning for more coffee table space. So we decided that helping our clients build their own exploration libraries would be the focus of our 2018 gift list. The Books We’re Gifting Honorable Mentions These books were on our list of consideration, but didn’t quite match any of our recipients’ interests. While we didn’t gift them to anyone, they could definitely be a great gift for someone this holiday season or throughout the year!
Last night, over 150 people joined us for the New York City premiere of Ode to Muir, the latest film from Jeremy Jones and Teton Gravity Research. The result was an awesome party with sweet gear giveaways from our headline sponsor Paragon Sports and we even raffled off a skateboard from SHUT Skateboards that was signed by Tony Hawk! All the proceeds from last night’s event went to benefit Protect Our Winters, a global non-profit focused on mobilizing the snow sports community against climate change. Paragon Sports contributed $600 on top of our donation based on a percentage of all North Face, Patagonia, Burton and Paragon gear sold in the store last Saturday! Our guests modeled their Alpine best with our friends from Trusty Photography and struck some awesome poses! Of course the most fun of the night was everyone getting cozy in the winter scene:
Each year, a few dozen rowing teams set off from the Canary Islands and cross the Atlantic without an engine or sail. Rowing 3,000 miles (4,800 km) to Antigua, they’ll spend months battling waves, weather and themselves while pulling at the oars in 2 hour shifts. It isn’t so much a race as it is a group challenge – the spirit is one of mutual cooperation where boats with 1-4 crew members set off cross an ocean. It’s called the world’s toughest row and perhaps most surprisingly, most teams actually finish. Of the last 38 to set off, 37 have reached the finish. The next race kicks off December 12 and as the date gets closer, you can follow the race tracker on the challenge website.
In 2013, Elia Saikaly recorded hist entire ascent of Mt. Everest in HD video. The result is an incredible first person view of the challenges that face climbing parties amidst breathtaking scenery. Having read a number of accounts of the climb, I’ve built a mental image of various parts of the mountain but here you can clearly see milestones fo the climb and get a sense for how they affect the climbers. You can feel they tension of the Hillary Step and see why it is (was?) such a bottleneck with an infamous history.
Singaporean researchers created this underwater drone that swims like a manta ray. Flexible fins give it the ability to glide through turbulent seas and while there have been other crafts built with a similar capabilities, the MantaDroid is the first to use just one motor for each fin. It uses the water around it to help control the motion of the fin and drive the drone forward. It can move about .7 meters per second and you’ve got to check out the video to see how similar it moves to a true manta.
Everything about telecommunications feels so instantaneous and global that most of us just assume satellites are the magic network that holds it all together. Sure, they stitch together vital parts of our networks but when you need to move heaps of data around the globe, it’s going underwater. Over 400 international cables stretch more than 550,000 miles (885.139 km) across the ocean floor and carry unfathomable amounts of data. The longest cable is SEA-ME-WE3, and moves data at roughly 575 gigabytes per second between 34 countries from Germany to Australia. SubmarineCableMap.com has an interactive map that lets you dive into the specs of every cable out there and explore how they connect the far reaches of the planet. Business Insider made this cinematic view of the same data which sprinkles in some fun facts along the way. And if you really want to get into the far corners of possibility, Gizmodo published a fun read back in 2012 about how one might theoretically be able to destroy the internet in which the cable network plays an important role.
Mary Blagg started the effort to standardize astronomical feature names in the early 1900s and today, the work is carried on by Tenille Gaither and Rosalyn Hayward of the USGS. Together, they manage the database incredibly known as the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. The article is a great read about the history of naming features beyond Earth and the people who have kept everyone in sync. and then check out the Gazeteer’s website where you can browse all the named features, some of which feature great imagery like Pantheon Fossae on Mercury, the Baphyras Catena of Mars or a full maps of Uranian moons.
Using satellite imagery and machine learning, we can now monitor global fishing fleets in near real time, including the previously opaque world of fishing on the high seas. It’s estimated that without government subsidies, over half of this $8 Billion market would be unprofitable, including all deep-sea trawling, a perennial culprit of extensive ecosystem damage. The high seas — marine waters that fall outside national jurisdiction — cover 43% of the Earth’s surface and the fishing of its depths is dominated by 5 countries: China, Taiwan, Japan, South Korea, Spain. In their paper “The economics of fishing the high seas“, the authors dive into the technical details of their economic analysis and while it can get pretty dry in spots, the use of satellite imagery with advance machine learning is an incredible application of technology.
A Jilin-1 satellite at an altitude of 535km captured an orbital view of an OS-X1 rocket launch from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in the Gobi Desert on September 7. The OS-X1 is a suborbital research rocket developed by Chinese aerospace company OneSpace. You can also check out the view from the ground for a full 360 mashup.