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Celebrating Second Life’s 12th Birthday 2015 June 20 — July 05 July 5, 2015

Posted by Bryce Walden in Buildings & Things, Environments, Events, Life Support, Outside Activities.
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NSS Expeditions Display

NSS in Second Life Mars Tourism Display in Context at Second Life 12th Birthday Exhibition

As we have in previous years, NSS in Second Life brainstormed a new, creative display for the twelfth Second Life Birthday Party (SL12B). Granted the usual approximately 30m x 30m plot, we, like hundreds of other Residents (yes, that appears to be Big Ben across the water), built a tight, creative tableau.

The overall theme of SL12B was “What Dreams May Come”, so our theme was “Mars Dreams: Ice Skating on Mars with NSS Expeditions”, concept by Ariel Miranda and the Oregon L5 Society Research Team.

In recent years we not only try to do something interesting and educational, but also make it useful to “bring home” and use at NSS’ own Sim permanently. This build looks to have the potential to be extremely useful and flexible, on the Moon as well as Mars.

NSS Expeditions

Ice Skate on Mars with NSS Expeditions!

This pressurized “rolligon” train with two touring cars rolls over most hazards as it travels across the Martian terrain (areain?). Actual travel is mostly at night. During the day adventure tourists debark for exploration, sightseeing and outdoor activities, such as this stop for ice skating on a triplet of frozen, water-filled craters.

The base Martian terrain is a true-color real terrain photograph as is the Martian sky. Actual (3-D) “boulders” have been added that match the size and distribution of natural boulders found on Mars. The vehicles were designed to “clear” 80%—90% of the actual boulders found on Mars. The tires are almost twice average human height and a person can easily walk beneath the modules.

One nice thing about VR (Virtual Reality) is that the panels making up the “sky” are completely transparent when viewed from the other side (see opening photograph), and “phantom” so that they may be walked (or flown) right through without harm.

A nominal “adventure tour” or “expedition” consists of six clients and two staff with enough supplies for two weeks in the field. There are a number of thoughtful design and outfitting concepts in this exhibit.

The vehicle is built of modular components, from the “trucks” housing batteries, motors, and giant low-pressure all-terrain tires, to standardized, pressurized “modules” with solar–electrical panels on the roof and radiation-shielded wide-angle windows on each side.

Each module can be fitted with different “ends”: shown here are two airlock assemblies on the outside ends, and a flexible pressurized coupler assembly joining the two coaches. Each airlock assembly includes a small closet and changing-area for donning and doffing spacesuits. The coupler includes four bathrooms (shower, commode, sink) including water supply and waste storage for recycling. The floor is built like the curving conveyor belts found in airport baggage claims. Other arrangements and additional special– and general–purpose “ends” are available.

The module on the left is the “Lounge Car” where meals are eaten, lectures given, media watched, and preparations made; the other module is the “Sleeper Car” with a half–dozen tiny “staterooms” and two open beds where staff sleeps.

A tall pole stabilizing the outside ramp includes a homing beacon (light and radio) and a high-compliance windsock to help read the weather. A crater “triplet” filled with frozen water is a natural ice-skating rink.

Exhibit Concept: Oregon L5 Society Research Team
Exhibit Designers & Builders: P’rng Flagstaff, Synthetic Jewell, and Ariel Miranda

Chassis Design

Where the Rubber Meets the Rocks

There are several important design elements to the modular “truck” assemblies:

The central “box” beneath and supporting the module and between the two wheels, is actually a pair of triangular “boxes” bound together by a strong torsion-bar spring (spare torsion bars are stowed under the module floors). This allows each wheel to have a semi-independent suspension to help smooth out the larger undulations of the rough, unimproved Martian terrain.

Batteries—charged from the rooftop solar cells—and controllers are inside each triangular “box”.

A strong parallelepiped spring assembly lifts the chassis base above the wheel centers, improving clearance over rough, rock-strewn Martian (or Lunar) landscapes. This suspension smooths out the medium variations in rock and terrain.

Attached to the lower portion of the parallelepiped suspension is a fixed-in-place electric motor, out of which comes the rotating, driven wheel hub assembly. The sensitive bearings are snuggled deep within the assembly to prevent dust contamination. Steering is accomplished by varying the torque/speed of each wheel.

Big, strong, inflated radial balloon tires provide a fine high-frequency (small impediments) smoothness to the ride. These tires are natural white latex colored. Powdered black basalt and orange iron oxide dust clinging by mechanical and electrostatic means add colorful shading.

Nearby (left) sits the “Mars Meteor Survey” instrument proposed in 2000 by the Oregon L5 Society Research Team. Touching this particular device gives out a copy of our Lunar and Planetary Institute paper.

P’rng’s Foolproof Airlock

P’rng’s Foolproof Airlock

One design feature of this build was P’rng’s Foolproof Airlock (n.b.: Second Life will not let P’rng include the apostrophê in his name, so it is “Prng” in–world. He has included a pronunciation guide in his profile in Second Life).

P’rng’s airlock consists of two self-similar hollow ovoids, one nested inside the other. The inner ovoid is open on one side and has a floor and a light. Under the floor is the rotation mechanism: a motor. The rotor of the motor is solidly fixed to the outer ovoid; upon activation, the motor, which itself is fixed to the inner ovoid, rotates itself and the ovoid around the fixed rotor. Therefore, the airlock has one moving part, the interior ovoid–and–motor assembly, which rotates on the z-axis in steps.

The outer ovoid has two opposing openings that match exactly the opening in the interior ovoid. The inner-ovoid walls are touch-sensitive so a touch activates the mechanism: there are no buttons or switches to corrode or wear out.

There are only two conditions: a person is inside and wants to go out, or outside and wants to go in.

When the user enters the airlock, it rotates 90°, sealing off the opening, and pauses while the atmosphere is matched to the destination (outside or inside). Once the atmosphere is normalized to the destination, the rotation continues to the next 90° which opens the inner ovoid to the destination. No doors, hinges, or latches are involved.

The airlock normally remains in the last-left state, as it is logical the user will sooner or later wish to return and reverse the process (which can continue rotating in the same direction to even-out wear). If another user is faced with the closed back of the interior ovoid, a touch will cause the airlock to cycle and present its opening to the new user.

The sign in the image says:

Prng’s Foolproof Airlock

If the door is closed:
touch the door.

Step inside.

Touch the wall.

Exit and walk forward.

Lounge Forward View

Lounge Forward View

There are two modular coaches in the NSS Expeditions “train”. The design capacity of this–sized train is eight souls: six clients and two crew or staff. The forward coach shown here is the Lounge Car where most waking inside activities take place.

Our P’rng Flagstaff is demonstrating the fold–out “pilot’s station” seat. The (lockable) controls are in the arms of the seat; piloting is done using the datascreen in the wall, fed by remote cameras, and the nearby window. When not in use, the station folds against the wall to create more space.

Note: the wall, or bulkhead, is not round but oval, indicating the oval cross-section of the coach like some tanker–trucks, for better volume utilization and increased stability of a lower center–of–gravity.

Materials used in construction are local-sourced (i.e., Mars) as much as practical, called In-Situ Resource Utilization, or ISRU. For example, the tabletops are made of artfully–inlaid local stone and textiles (seats, wall coverings) are made from home-grown sources. All the metals are smelted on Mars from Mars rocks, and the “waste heat” of the processes adds its bit to warming the planet.

Lounge Aft View

Lounge Aft View

The interiors of the two coaches are designed and styled to help keep the clients calm and comfortable. The walls of the Lounge are mint–green to relax the eyes from the extensive reds and oranges and blacks of the Martian landscape; natural materials and fabrics are used, including covering the bulkhead walls with textured fabric, to make the metal modules less harsh and more comfortable, as well as being somewhat sound-absorbing; the floor is a resilient material, warm to the touch and easy to walk on.

Under the floor is ample storage space for food, water, and supplies for eight people up to two weeks’ “away from civilization”.

The tables and chairs seem a bit high relative to the windows . . . but, because the necessary radiation shields overhang the windows, blocking the view upward, the higher furniture makes it easier to look across and down, where the actual view is. It’s also a little easier to watch activities near the “train”, which otherwise is so high that nearby ground views are harder to get.

Some of the amenities visible here are tables with swivel stools, small serving counter and wet bar, a hot coffee dispenser, and a small refrigerator just peeking out from the vertical edge of the counter. There is a sign indicating the fire extinguisher and a First Aid cabinet. Bathrooms are in the flex-section, just on the other side of the aft bulkheads.

The rectangular doorways hide “pocket doors” to save space.

The hand-lettered whiteboard above the First Aid Station on the aft bulkhead reads:

Overnight: Travel
Morning: Staff Setup
Afternoon: Skating
Dinner & Lounge

Sleeper Car

Sleeper Car

Considering how much these “adventure tourists” are paying, it’s amazing what they’ll put up with. Here is a view down the hall of the “Sleeper Car”, outfitted in relaxing Cadet Blue livery. There are six tiny private “suites” off the hallway, with securable pocket doors, and two open bunks at the front left and rear right for crew.

As illustrated by the view of a bed on the left, additional space is acquired by a storage drawer under the mattress. A user opens or closes the drawer by touching it (click the mouse cursor) and can “drop” things in and “take” things out. Each cabin also has overhead storage space that spills over into the hall ceiling, above the pale blue “nightlight” flat electroluminescent strips.

The brighter daytime lighting in the long overhead strip in both coaches is perhaps provided by a highly efficient, bright white “sulfur microwave lamp”.

At the other end of the car, P’rng, who has snuck around our photographer, is standing in the “back door” emergency “Foolproof Airlock”. Between the aft bulkhead and the airlock itself is a small changing room to don a spacesuit, although on Mars not quite so rigorous a spacesuit is needed as for vacuum work.

Banker Visits the Set

Banker Tomorrow Takes a Holiday

A visit by Oregon L5 Society Financial Avatar Banker Tomorrow (right of center) gives a chance to show the scale (the tire next to him is nearly twice his height) and a good exposure of the “NSS Expeditions” sign. A “Financial Avatar” is a corporate person who holds the Linden-dollar financial assets of an in–world group, in this case Oregon L5 Society chapter of National Space Society. He has come by to take in the sights at the Second Life 12th Birthday Celebration and pick up some free swag along the way. NSS in Second Life also offered free items . . . including ice skates!

Banker’s Tour 1

Banker’s Tour, Part 1

There are kilometers of streets at these huge Birthday celebrations, and Pod Tours are a popular way of winding around to get a good overview. Several Performance Stages are constantly in use, but Banker is sight–seeing, taking in exhibits from naturalistic gardens (lower right) to high-tech educational displays (upper left).

Banker’s Tour 2

Banker’s Tour, Part 2

Continuing his tour, Banker sees more creative builds, from part of a small old–town street, to a 3–tier cake, to ladders in the clouds (upper right). Wonder where those go? He’ll have to come back later to find out.

Banker’s Banquet

Banker’s Tour, Part 3: Banker’s Banquet

Here was a strange, yet charming little tableau inside the cake. Banker found an empty seat at a banquet reminiscent of the Lost Boys’ fantasy feast in the movie Hook.

Banker Home Late

Banker Comes Home Late

By the time Banker returned to the NSS Expeditions’ Mars Adventure Tourism exhibit, night had fallen and it was long after–hours. The Lounge was empty and the night–lights provided only dim illumination.

Banker Sleeps

Banker “Drops Like A Rock” Fast Asleep

Banker was so tired, he stumbled into the bed in his suite and fell straight asleep. He even forgot to remove his hat! (There are rumors it is attached.)

Note: the beds are supplied with a script and an alternate configuration, such that one can select and “sit” on the bed from a pop-up menu, upon which one finds oneself snuggled under the bulging covers and asleep. This is just one of the many fine details possible in the virtual world.

Banker Dreams

What Dreams May Come?

Maybe it was all the adventures, or maybe the rich food. Banker’s dreams were filled with fantastic images. What was at the top of those ladders in the clouds?



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