October 2014 Archives

Students to Control Satellites from New Mobile Lab

Santa Clara University's School of Engineering added a new tool to its program that monitors and controls satellites. The Mobile Mission Control Lab (MMCL) is a 28-foot trailer loaded with equipment that allows students to communicate with satellites for longer periods of time than ever before. "The satellites we control for NASA and our industry partners only fly over the local area a few times a day and only for a few minutes each time," says Engineering Professor Chris Kitts. "This mobile station makes us more efficient and agile. We now have the potential to more than double our communication time. It's a huge learning opportunity for our students."

"Wanted: Amateur star-gazers and Star Trek fans interested in exploring planets outside this solar system. Must be open to the possibility of life beyond Earth. Knowledge of Klingon not necessary. Sense of humor a plus. So might read the description for Andrew West's MOOC--massive open online course--called Alien Worlds: The Science of Exoplanet Discovery and Characterization. The course launches on Friday, October 31, and more than 4,870 people have already registered. More are welcome to join."

More at Boston University

Skybox for Good Program Announced

"Skybox Imaging, one of the more recent acquisitions of Google, announced at the company's yearly Geo for Good User Summit that it is launching the Skybox for Good program. Under the program, Google and Skybox will be providing updated satellite images to several projects that "save lives, protect the environment, promote education, and positively impact humanity," wrote Julian Mann, co-founder of Skybox and Develop Advocate for Google Earth Outreach, on the official blog for Skybox. According to Mann, when Skybox started in 2009, the founding members already knew that the company's imaging services could bring positive changes to the world. As soon as the company's SkySat-1 imaging satellite was launched to orbit, Skybox already started monitoring critical sites for the tracking of climate change. One of these locations is Greenland's Helheim Glacier."

More at TechTimes

Citizen Science Network Produces Accurate Maps of Atmospheric Dust

Measurements by thousands of citizen scientists in the Netherlands using their smartphones and the iSPEX add-on are delivering accurate data on dust particles in the atmosphere that add valuable information to professional measurements. The iSPEX team, led by Frans Snik of Leiden University, analyzed all measurements from three days in 2013 and combined them into unique maps of dust particles above the Netherlands. The results match and sometimes even exceed those of ground-based measurement networks and satellite instruments.

Radio Amateurs Report Hearing 4M Moon Orbiter JT65B Signal

"A Chinese Long March 3C/G2 rocket carried the Manfred Memorial Moon Mission (4M) lunar flyby experiment into space at 1759 UTC on October 23, on its way to a lunar transfer orbit and a return to Earth in about 9 days. Radio amateurs in Oceania and Europe have reported hearing the JT65B from the onboard Amateur Radio payload. Lunar flyby is to occur, nominally, on October 28, and the Amateur Radio package will transmit continuously throughout the voyage. During the lunar flyby, the spacecraft will be about nearly 248,000 miles from Earth and between 7440 and 14,480 miles from the Moon. The 4M Amateur Radio payload is transmitting a WSJT JT65B beacon and telemetry on 145.980 MHz. Roland Zurmely, PY4ZBZ, in Brazil, was reported to be the first to receive telemetry from the JT65B beacon at 1918 UTC."

More at ARRL

Belgian Students Are Closer To Their Ticket to Orbit

A team of Belgian students have taken steps towards gaining their 'Ticket to Orbit!', not for themselves, but for the CubeSat they are developing. OUFTI-1 is designed and developed, and now being tested by a team of students from the University of Liege, Belgium. It has a mass of approximately 1kg and dimensions of approximately 10x10x10cm. It is designed to demonstrate the D-STAR digital communication protocol and validate high-efficiency solar cells. D-STAR is an amateur radio digital communication protocol. Once OUFTI-1 is in orbit, it will allow radio operators worldwide to communicate through the CubeSat.

SETI Institute Hosts Asteroid Hackathon

"The SETI Institute has partnered withEchoUser, SpaceGAMBIT, Maui Makers, the Minor Planet Center, NASA, and Further by Design to host an Asteroid Hackathon on Saturday, Oct. 25. Using the world's best sources for asteroid data, hackers from all over the world will transform data into digestible, visual information for citizen scientists, allowing them to help save the planet from rocky space invaders."

More at SETI Institute

MOOC on Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities

"Planetary Boundaries and Human Opportunities: The Quest for Safe and Just Development on a Resilient Planet helps students to explore and apply a range of emerging concepts within sustainability science. These concepts include: the Anthropocene, planetary boundaries, the social-ecological systems approach and resilience thinking. Such concepts are at the core of contemporary research and debates in the arena of global sustainability. They are key to frame and understand rapidly changing trends in global environmental change caused by humans, and to assess responses that aim at addressing the consequences and impacts of these changes. They are also helpful in exploring pathways for ensuring safe and just human development for present and future generations."

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Your Smartphone Can Become A Cosmic Ray Detector

Soon, the growing capability of your smartphone could be harnessed to detect cosmic rays in much the same way as high-end, multimillion-dollar observatories.

With a simple app addition, Android phones, and likely other smartphone brands in the not-too-distant future, can be turned into detectors to capture the light particles created when cosmic rays crash into Earth's atmosphere.

"The apps basically transform the phone into a high-energy particle detector," explains Justin Vandenbroucke, a University of Wisconsin-Madison assistant professor of physics and a researcher at the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC). "It uses the same principles as these very large experiments."

Cosmic rays are energetic subatomic particles created, scientists think, in cosmic accelerators like black holes and exploding stars. When the particles crash into the Earth's atmosphere, they create showers of secondary particles called muons.

Proceed to Space College

Who Is Behind @NepalSpace and Space College Nepal?

Keith Cowing (L) and Scott Parazynski (R) in front of the Khumbu Icefall at Everest Base Camp in 2009. Keith and Scott are currently building the framework for Space College Nepal. Stay tuned for more news at @NepalSpace

ISEE-3 Reboot Project Update

AR Provides Power Amplifier To Help Re-Establish Connection With ISEE-3 Spacecraft, AR

"AR RF/Microwave Instrumentation is proud to support the team of citizen-scientists that is working to re-purpose a probe launched by NASA in the 1970s. NASA abandoned the probe due to budget limitations, but the group of citizen-scientists has found a way to make it useful again."

Making stars: Astronomy program provides tools, support to enhance diversity, NSF

"In a study done by the American Astronomical Society, which includes most professionals and many students in these fields, only 21 percent of its members is female, which is light-years ahead of the representation of African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos--1 percent and 3 percent, respectively. Not surprisingly, those numbers have prompted a call for diversity within the astro community. In 2008, the National Science Foundation (NSF) started a program called Partnerships in Astronomy and Astrophysics Research and Education (PAARE, pronounced "pair"). Its goal was to identify and explore ways to repair "leaks" in the astronomy/astrophysics career pipeline for minority students. In many cases, minority students would start out studying astronomy, but they weren't making it all the way through the pipeline to pursue science careers."

NASA OpenNEX Data Challenge

Description: Seeking creative new ways to utilize the Climate and Earth Science data recently made available on the Open NASA Earth Exchange (OpenNEX) platform on Amazon Web Services (AWS)

Sponsoring Organization: NASA, Amazon Web Services Inc., Innocentive

Awards Available: This Challenge has a special award structure with awards of $25,000, $15,000, and $10,000 for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, respectively. In addition, NASA plans to announce winning Solvers and submissions at the American Geophysical Union's (AGU) Fall Meeting in San Francisco
December 15 - 19, 2014.

Registration Deadline: Ongoing
Close Date: October 21, 2014
Frequency: One time series of contests
For More Information: https://www.innocentive.com/ar/challenge/9933585

Bringing New Life to an Old Spacecraft - Maker Faire 2014

Crowdsourcing Extrasolar Planet Naming

Register Now to Enter NameExoWorlds Contest, IAU

"The IAU invites all public organizations with an interest in astronomy to register on the IAU Directory for World Astronomy website for the NameExoWorlds contest, where they will in early 2015 be able to suggest names for exoplanets and their host stars. For the first time in history the public will then be able to vote for the official names of stars and planets."

After ISEE-3: What Other Old Space Stuff Might Be Rebooted?

Space: the financial frontier - how citizen scientists took control of a spaceship, The Conversation

Although ultimately short-lived, the ISEE-3 project demonstrated the enthusiasm and resources available for private space endeavours. What other projects might follow? The sky is the limit - perhaps even involving the three lunar rovers sitting on the moon since the early 1970s. Only new batteries are needed to bring them back to life, so perhaps well-funded space tourists will, in a few decades, be able to not just fly to the moon but drive on it when they get there.

NASA Seeks Citizen Science Help For Cloud Study

NASA Invites Public to Join #SkyScience Cloud Study

"NASA is inviting people around the globe to step outside during Earth Science Week, Oct. 12-18, observe the sky and share their observations as citizen scientists. NASA's #SkyScience activity is part of an annual educational event organized by the American Geosciences Institute to encourage the public to engage in Earth sciences. Citizen scientists can participate in this global Earth science data collection event by observing, photographing and reporting on clouds over their location as a NASA satellite passes over. Reports and photos will be compared to data collected by NASA Earth-observing instruments as a way to assess the satellite measurements."

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