Paper models, photos and musings of a Paper Kosmonaut

29 March 2013

MER-A Spirit - second part: Troy 1/40 [4]

Spirit is finished.

The last part I had to do was making the small arm up front with the RAT tool head. It contains a abrasive tool to scrape the surface off of rocks with a drill-like apparatus. In real life, it is as big as an average soda can. Here, it is a little bit smaller. I made it from pieces of brass tube and cardboard. I painted it in an aluminium colour first but after that I weathered it with a watered down mix of red and black acrylics, like I did with other parts of the rover's surfaces.

I have also cast the diorama. More on the RAT arm and the casting after the jump.

28 March 2013

MER-A Spirit - second part: Troy 1/40 [3]

And on we go. The solar wings were mated with the rest of the body. At the back of the solar panel surface I placed the high and low gain antenna. The high gain dish was made from red sandpaper. It now looks like a lot of dust is caket on to the dish's surface. Also, it was time to give Spirit her eyes. Apart from the original parts I also used very small beads to make the lenses on the camhead. In the end I gave them all a dab of clear gloss paint to make lenses, although in reality the dust might have made them dull by now.

As usual, there's more after the jump.

25 March 2013

MER-A Spirit - second part: Troy 1/40 [2]

Well, here we go with Spirit herself! It is quite small but not too small. 1/40 is very well doable, I think. First up were the solar wings. In the flight to Mars, Spirit's solar panels were folded up into a triangular way. On the surface it all deployed into these wings. 

In the original 1/20 model the solar panels were a one-piece part. I decided to cut off all panels and use paper "hinges" to glue them into place. I also wanted to make this model a bit more moveable.

More in the part after the jump!

24 March 2013

MER-A Spirit - second part: Troy 1/40

It only comes naturally, to have this follow-up after what I just have finished. I made the beginning of Spirit's journey with the launch of the Delta II that carried her to Mars in 2003. It seems only fitting now to show her end. Spirit's final resting place is where she had to spend her last winter: in the Columbia Hills, in a sand pit where she couldn't get out any more.
(the people at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab, who coordinate the rovers on Mars, refer to Spirit (and her still active twin Opportunity as "she", so I do too.)

A computer generated picture of Spirit in the Columbia Hills on Mars. image: ©NASA

After a while, Spirit was getting troubles with her front wheel, it became harder and harder to let it run. In the end it just got stuck and forward movement was out of the question. JPL decided to let Spirit roll backwards, and this way, dragging her limp wheel behind her, Spirit continued her journey to Columbia Hills. Her stuck wheel even got her a remarkable discovery when it scraped the surface layer off and revealed a white under layer, which consisted of silica rich dust, which could be a clue to life on Mars long ago.
However, Spirit still did what she was made for and drove further. She proceeded climbing the hills, something she was never made for but apparently had no problems with. That was in 2006.

Unfortunately, while exploring the Columbia Hills, in 2009 she got stuck in a bowl of sand which was so loose it almost had no cohesive power and her wheels were whirring around without getting grip. After almost a year of trying to get Spirit out of this sand, it became clear she was stuck for good. Her drivers called the place where she got stuck "Troy". From there they tried to do as much research as possible before the winter started. With the winter there, Spirit went into hibernation to save energy and to be awoken in spring.

But spring never came for Spirit. The winter was cold and harsh. She froze and when in the spring JPL tried countlessly to contact her, she didn't answer. After only 7,7 kilometres but over six years, much more than the 90 days and 1 KM radius NASA officially had estimated,  the little rover slept for good and was given a heartfelt goodbye.

The Columbia Hills, named after the perished crew of the shuttle of the same name, seen from where Spirit started out, her landing base platform.  image ©NASA

Okay I am getting all misty here again, let's just start talking about the building of the diorama, shall we?

More after the jump.

17 March 2013

MER-A Spirit - first part: Delta II 1/96 [2]

Here's the finished Delta II. it was a fun build. What else is there to say about this model? it fits very well, it is a well-designed kit, and printed on semi gloss photo paper it actually even gains a little more realism. The detailing is nice, although it could have been be more detailed for me. All in all it's a very good model and certainly recommendable. Here's a pic of the Delta II, joining its younger siblings, the less fortunate Delta III and very successful and huge IV on the shelves.

Some more close up pictures after the jump.

15 March 2013

MER-A Spirit - first part: Delta II 1/96

Spirit always hits me in this soft spot I have. The animist in me always causes a little lump in my throat when I think of that little six wheeler stuck in the loose sand, frozen, never seeing his makers again. (it's all because of that xkcd-comic I once linked here already)
I thought it was time to make a little homage to Spirit. A two-part homage, actually. It started with me wanting to add another rocket to the collection and deciding on the Delta II, NASA's long time workhorse. Now the choice for Spirit was easy.
Dutch designer Erik te Groen made a nice 1/72 model of the launcher but I reduced it in size to match the rest of the rockets. It is labeled "super detailed" and I thought this also was easily doable in a smaller size. It is, actually.
I am almost done, but I haven't finished yet. Here's the work so far.

This model has been printed on silk gloss photo paper. It looks great, just like the gloss version, it just is a little less shiny and in my eyes a little more realistic, in that sense. It has one big disadvantage, though: it sucks at being glued. White glue is good but only for the parts that do not have any tension. For cylindrical and conical shapes you almost are obliged to use CA glue. 
Before I actually glue a cylinder, I always roll it up into a smaller cylindrical shape and let it rest for a night or so. This way the paper is better shaped when I actually glue the sides together.
The rest of the story after the jump.

09 March 2013

Coming soon...

As we speak I am working on new stuff. I haven't had the time to make a full day by day report but that is not really necessary anyway either. It's going to be a diptych, if you want, of two things with the same subject. Actually, it started as another simple inbetweenie,  I just wanted to make a new addition to the rocket garden, but as soon as I decided which one it would be, the second part stepped forward. And that part was something I already spoke of a long time ago. Curious? Here's a small hint:

See you soon!


01 March 2013

The little tragedy of the Miles M.52

Time for a little story.

It all happened in the first year after the 2nd world war. During the war, the military on both sides continuously developed faster aircraft that were capable of ever higher speeds, up to the point where propellers weren't enough any more. So both the Germans and the British started to develop the first crude jet engines. 
But even with propellers, planes seemed to lose all control above certain speeds and often crashed. These speeds appeared to have a connection with shock waves when approaching the speed of sound. The aircraft compressed those sound waves when diving at top speeds and the shock waves they produced shook the whole plane until it broke up in the sky. Also, there seemed to be a problem with steering at those high speeds. The elevator, or tail plane didn't seen to have any effect any more.
People spoke of a barrier where no one could breach through without dying.

The Lockheed P-38 Lightning was one of the first aircraft that suffered transonic troubles. (image: wikipedia)

More and a little surprise after the jump.

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