With the exploration of space and the eventual colonization of Mars humanity needs to establish a method for improving internet connectivity for people on the surface.

One method of achieving this is to place one or more satellites in high orbit around the planet.  These would use interplanetary internet(delay tolerant) technology and protocols to service requests as well as actively mirror content for primary sites located on Earth.  The goal of this strategy is to reduce the latency of user requests from 8-48 minutes down to at most a few seconds for popular content.

What is needed for a single node:

  • High bandwidth communications equipment similar to what would have been on the Mars Telecommunications Orbiter.
  • A cluster of servers in an a spacecraft the the size of a supply module.  Something similar to Microsoft’s Project Natick would be about right for a first generation.  There would be a redundant capacity built in to cover eventual server failure.
  • A heat management system.
  • A nuclear power generation system.

Now we just need NASA, Microsoft, SpaceX, Amazon (w/Blue Origin) AWS – Mars, or Google to make it happen!


Current Project Excelsior Technology

For the past month or so I’ve been working on a little side project that I’ve dubbed “Project Excelsior.”  I’ve not had an abundance of time to spend on it over the past few week, so I’m just now wringing out some of the technology stack.  I’ve almost decided completely on the MEAN stack.  I’m close enough to a final decision that I’ve started prototyping the server side.  I’ve not worked with angular before, but I am familiar with ember and backbone.


View of the whole setup

View of the whole setup

Almost every year, I try to select a fun project to do while off for Christmas. This year the project I selected was based on Raspberry Pi.  Specifically I decided to build a device that would, when motion is detected, find the range to the motion using an ultrasonic rangefinder, take a picture using the camera module, and finally email me the results.

After just a few hours of work, I had separate proofs of concept working for each sensor written in Python.  A short time after, I started combining all the proofs of concept into a consolidated script which I got working.  Right now I am perfecting the classes for interfacing with the range finder and the motion detector and I am currently using picamera 0.8 for interfacing with the camera module.  I’ve included a link to the git repository I’m using for source control below.


  • Raspberry Pi Model B
  • Raspberry Pi 5MP Camera Board Module
  • HC-SR501 Human Sensor Module Pyroelectric Infrared
  • SainSmart HC-SR04 Ranging Detector Mod Distance Sensor
  • 5 180 ohm resistors
  • Breadboard and miscellaneous connectors

Source Code: https://github.com/chaddotson/PiPy


This weekend, I had a chance to tour the The Columbus Foundation’s replicas of the Niña and Pinta on one of its last days in port in Chattanooga, TN.

I took several photos, but I made a wallpaper quality version of one.  This is the rigging and top sail of the Pinta at the docks.

"And all I ask for is a tall ship and a star to steer her by..."

“And all I ask for is a tall ship and a star to steer her by…”

I also took this 360 degree panorama of the area including the TN Aquarium.

They are worth seeing.  You can find out more about them on the website below.

The Niña and Pinta – The Columbus Foundation – http://www.thenina.com/

This is a time-lapse of a lightning storm that I took back in July.  The video consists of a series of images taken as a thunderstorm passed overhead.  All pictures are taken with ISO 200, f/3.5, and an exposure time of 15 seconds. The audio is “Ritual Of Earth” by The Neon Judgement. I lucked out and found it in the audio swap library provided on youtube.


Some stills from the video.

These pictures were taken during a flyover of the International Space Station on August 28, 2012.  The one lesson learned from this set is that next time I want to take a series and stack them together for a picture that has the space station crossing the whole sky.