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Someone put some 5.25" disks for dBase IV up on craigslist for free, with location "Palo Alto" but the actual location they specified on craigslist's map applet isn't in palo alto, it's in the mountains west of palo alto.
There's no road there, do they expect me to hike in?
because if you think I won't hike up a mountain just to get some floppy disks, then you seriously misunderstand what I'm all about.
best guess from google maps, the floppies are located somewhere around this region.
I should make a game where you're a covert operative parachuted into dense jungle crawling with enemies, to retrieve floppy disks dropped by a spy satellite
"There's no flare, Snake, we couldn't risk the enemy seeing it and collecting the disks themselves. You'll have to triangulate the position from the signal beacons. We've dropped 5 around the area, your map will show their locations"
"Each one you activate will narrow down the area you'll have to search but they use active radio transmissions, so the enemy will detect them. You'll have to decide for yourself if you want to search over a larger area in relative peace..."
"Or activate them all and have to fight through half a battalion to get to an exact dot on your map. Good luck, we're all counting on you. Without those spy satellite downloads we can't prove they're breaking the treaty, and it could mean the start of World War 3"
BTW as best I know there was never any cold war dropping of floppy disks from orbit.
We dropped film instead, which was captured in mid-air by a recovery plane.
the days before CCDs were WACKY
for reference, the US also thought this was overcomplicated and silly, so they also tried an alternate method on the SAMOS satellites: They still used film cameras, but contained a robot photo developing lab on-board, so they'd develop the photos and then scan them in.
So instead of taking a digital picture that you can just transmit, they took a film picture, had a complex system to develop it in a mini-photo-lab, then essentially faxed it back to the air force.
Most of this is still classified so we don't know for sure but apparently this produced worse results and was just as troublesome as the whole "eject the film back to earth" method so it didn't last all that long.
The US didn't start using digital cameras in spy satellites until 1976, with the KH-11 KENNEN/CRYSTAL/KEYHOLE satellites.
Fun fact: This series is still in active service, with the most recent KH-11 satellite being launched in January of this year.
Most of what we know about KH-11s and their capability comes from a sort of sideways "leak" from NASA, because early on in the development of the Hubble they were planning on using a 3-meter mirror and then switched to a 2.4 meter, because equipment already existed to make those
So the general idea of what we know about KH-11 from unclassified sources is just "a hubble-class telescope, but pointed the other direction"
this is especially likely cause in 2011 the National Reconnaissance Office offered two spare 2.4m mirrors (equivalent to Hubble's but with a wider field of view) to NASA.
They apparently just had them lying around, unused.
It's believed that the later KH-11 models are using a bigger mirrors, 2.9m to 3.1m. So presumably the 2.4m mirrors are left-overs from earlier models that never got launched.
The NRO, by the way, developed the computer-controlled mirror-polishing system the Hubble mirror used.
The flaw in the Hubble mirror wasn't the NRO's fault, it was a problem with a null corrector that was assembled incorrectly, with one lens being 1.3mm out of position, resulting in the final mirror being slightly too flat.
Presumably the NRO had a null corrector that would have worked fine but it was probably Too Classified to loan to NASA (or the subcontractor that made the mirror,
In any case, here's an example of a picture from a KH-11. This one is known to be from a KH-11 and it's public because it was involved in a federal court case.
This is a Soviet Kiev-class aircraft carrier under construction, in 1984.
An intelligence analyst at the Navel Intelligence Support Center forwarded this picture and two others to Jane's Fighting Ships. These were Very Classified pictures and they were sentences to two years in prison for leaking these.
This is probably what the pictures look like (or looked like), btw, not just an artifact of publishing it in a book. Much like telescopes and cameras on probes, if you want to get the maximum amount of detail, you make it black and white.
This was done as far back as the Corona missions: They tried color film on two missions, but found that using monochrome film gave higher resolution.
For example, the Pancam cameras on the Spirit & Opportunity Mars rovers are B&W. To take color photos, they have an attached color filter wheel, which can rotate through 8 different filters (with different frequencies for each of the two cameras)
This means they take high quality B&W images that are most sensitive to a specific frequency of light. By taking them across multiple frequencies, you get a series of B&W images that can be recombined to generate a color image.
Which seems complicated to just take a picture, but it means each picture is as sensitive and detailed as possible. The science is the key part, putting together pretty pictures for the folks back home is a secondary goal (but still an important one)
The main camera on New Horizons (LORRI) was similarly B&W.
It makes sense: They had to take a picture approximately 6 BILLION KILOMETERS from the sun. It's pretty fucking dark out there, so they wanted the most sensitive camera possible, and even then they had 10s exposure times
The other camera on New Horizons is Ralph, which has the MVIC, the Multispectral Visible Imaging Camera. It's color, but not RGB: It can do several different wavelengths but the two traditional color ones are Blue & Red.
Green didn't make the cut. But it also does near-infrared & methane (860-910 nm), so that's neat.
anyway, just be glad that your pluto pictures don't have to come back on film. can you imagine how hard that would have been to do?
BTW, the guy with the free floppies got back to me, and gave me their address:
They're in the middle of Palo Alto. The location on craigslist was entirely wrong.
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