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29 August, 2001

August 29, 2001

Technology Isn't Perfect

Today we are nearing a point on the planet where we are anticipating more problems communicating. Up to now, our ability has been sporadic, but within the next few days it will surely become worse.

If you know anything about satellites, you are familiar with the fact that most have geo-stationary orbits near the Earth's equator. This means that if you head to a polar region, you are "hidden" by the rounded shape of the Earth from the reach of the satellite. We are currently using a satellite to send and receive e-mail and get on the Internet (when we are lucky). This satellite, owned by NASA and used for the Space Shuttle program and the Hubbell Telescope, is orbiting Earth near the equator. However, it is special because it has a "wavy" path that takes it above and below the equator. This wandering path allows its reach to extend to where our antenna can "see" it (link up to it) for several hours a day. We are currently the only customers using this satellite in the Northern Hemisphere. As we proceed onward, we will most likely lose the link with our wonderful NASA satellite and be forced to link up with a different NASA satellite that has many users. We are anticipating a reduction of satellite time to just 30 minutes per day, and it may stay that way for the majority of our expedition!

The journals that I have sent lately have been posting incorrectly. Also, the captions to the pictures have not been posting at all. I am trying to resolve these problems and have resubmitted several items. Hopefully you may check back at a later time to find corrections.

To this point, I have received close to 200 e-mails and would like to thank you for communicating with me! When I find that I have received mail, it is the best part of my day. I have replied to all e-mails that I have received. If you haven't heard back from me, please try again. I love to hear from everyone and will keep my fingers crossed that our ability to communicate will continue.

This is the antenna responsible for our link to the NASA satellite. It is no bigger than a person, but its value to us is immeasurable. <>

<> This map shows where the NASA satellite we have been using extends (white). We are about to break into the striped and are anticipating communication problems when we do.

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