December 2014 Archives

Astronaut Photographs Inspire Next Generation of Scientists

Students from Connetquot High School in Bohemia, New York, used astronaut imagery of Earth to compare impact craters on Earth with those on other planets. The images were provided through the Expedition Earth and Beyond (EEAB) program, which connects students in grades 5 and higher with pictures taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station. "The images provide a hook for students to formulate questions, think about how to collect and analyze data, and then draw their own conclusions," says EEAB Director Paige Graff. "The whole idea is authentic science you can do in the classroom, to give students an experience based on their interests and motivation."

Build Your Own Cubesat For Less Than $6,000

"Satellites have traditionally been expensive with even lower cost solutions like Cubesat costing six figure amounts, limited to those with larger budgets. The PocketQube Kit addresses these problems and widens access to space for smaller budget organisations. The PocketQube Kit is ideal for a wide range of groups who are interested in building a low cost Satellite. For example Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (or STEM) educators, from K-12, High School up to University. The Kits is also ideal for Governmental customers looking to begin a program."


"We are a team of passionate students at Boston University who have been working hundreds of man-hours per week for three years to make this possible. Interestingly, Boston University does not have any faculty members with backgrounds in rocket propulsion, so we have had to learn everything ourselves. As a result the program is entirely student run."


NASA's Space Station Research Explorer App

Have you ever wondered about the hundreds of experiments that have been conducted on the International Space Station? The Space Station Research Explorer provides current information on ISS experiments, facilities and research results through video, photos, interactive media, and in-depth descriptions. The Experiments section provides access to the six main experiment categories and their subcategories. Experiments are depicted as dots within the category system and the stems connecting the dots to the system depict the length of time the experiment spent on orbit. Users can drill down to see specific experiments within the categories and subcategories or search for a specific experiment or subject using the search option.

"Why do we need your help? The images you're looking at come from Landsat images taken every 16 days from 1984 to the present. When one of our project scientists first began working with these images, he had hoped he could just throw the hundreds of thousands of images into some image classification software, and have the software tell him where kelp was located. There's just one problem: Kelp is tricky. Landsat was not designed to be able to see kelp. Kelp's reflectance signature is just at the edge of its detection abilities."


Crowdfunding Opportunity: Project Spartan Spear

"Our goal is to create a fast and reliable launch vehicle that is cheaper than today's options for delivering CubeSats into space. Current forms of transportation for CubeSats can take several years and hundreds of thousands of dollars to take these miniature satellites into orbit. Our launch vehicle will be able to take CubeSats into orbit within a matter of months."


Weather and Environmental Satellite Crowd Sourcing: Two New Apps

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)'s academic partner, the Space Science and Engineering Center (SSEC) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has developed two free mobile apps that bring the ability to see and capture satellite data to mobile users' fingertips. The apps received development support from NOAA and NASA. The SatCam app for iOS devices allows mobile users to capture observations of sky and ground conditions at the same time that an Earth observing satellite is overhead. The WxSat (short for Weather Satellite) app, for iOS and android, displays and animates full-resolution, real-time weather satellite data. WxSat leverages the SSEC Data Center holdings to provide global coverage for visible, infrared, and water vapor channels.

University Researchers Develop Zero-G Expresso Technology

The Maseeh College of Engineering and Computer Science at Portland State University (PSU) today announced another advance in the development of micro-gravity drinking cups. The new design makes possible the enjoyment of espresso and other drinks in the low-gravity environments of spacecraft. It is the second such innovation to be announced by PSU, following the zero-gravity coffee cup unveiled last summer. Without the pull of gravity, fluids behave very differently than on earth. Instead of 'pouring,' a liquid retains a more globular shape held together by its own surface tension. This phenomenon complicates even the most basic of maneuvers such as drinking a cup of coffee.

Crowdfunding Opportunity: DreamUp

DreamUp, powered by NanoRacks, is a nonprofit organization now providing a place for student project teams to raise required funds to fly a science experiment to the International Space Station (ISS). The goal of DreamUp is to help students integrate into the commercial space community by delivering their experiments via NanoRacks to the U.S. National Laboratory onboard the ISS. "Whether you are a large company or a high school student, space is complexand although it isn't quite as expensive as in the past, it's still outside of the average student budget" says DreamUp Director Patricia Mayes. "Our platforms give access to the frontlines of space research and we see all of our educational payloads as a contribution to the space industry. We are thrilled to see NASA and the ISS Program Office supporting commercial and student research on Station."

NASA Announces Micro-g Experiment Design Teams

NASA is offering undergraduate students an opportunity to participate in a new microgravity activity called Micro-g Neutral Buoyancy Experiment Design Teams (Micro-g NExT). The deadline for proposals is Jan. 28, 2015. Micro-g NExT challenges students to work in teams to design and build prototypes of spacewalking tools to be used by astronauts for spacewalk training in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory (NBL) at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. Teams will be selected to participate in the experiential/hands-on learning portion and will travel to Houston to have their prototype tested in the simulated microgravity environment of the NBL-- a 6.2 million gallon indoor pool where NASA astronauts perform complex training activities in advance of their assigned space missions. This project coincides with the 50th anniversary of NASA extravehicular activity.


Send Your Computer Code Into Space with Tim Peake

"Leading UK space organisations have joined forces with British ESA Astronaut Tim Peake and Raspberry Pi to offer students a chance to devise and code their own apps or experiment to run in space. Two Raspberry Pi computers are planned to be flown to the International Space Station (ISS) as part of Tim's 6 month mission and both will be connected to a new "Astro Pi" board, loaded with a host of sensors and gadgets. Launched today at an event held by the UK Space Agency, the Astro Pi competition will be officially opened at the BETT conference (21-24 January) and will be open to all primary and secondary school aged children who are resident in the United Kingdom. The competition will be supported by a comprehensive suite of teaching resources that are being developed by ESERO-UK and Raspberry Pi."


NASA-USGS Data App Challenge

NASA in partnership with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is offering more than $35,000 in prizes to citizen scientists for ideas that make use of climate data to address vulnerabilities faced by the United States in coping with climate change. The Climate Resilience Data Challenge, conducted through the NASA Tournament Lab, a partnership with Harvard University hosted on Appirio/Topcoder, kicks off Monday, Dec 15 and runs through March 2015. The challenge supports the efforts of the White House Climate Data Initiative, a broad effort to leverage the federal government's extensive, freely available climate-relevant data resources to spur innovation and private-sector entrepreneurship in order to advance awareness of and preparedness for the impacts of climate change. The challenge was announced by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Dec. 9.


In recent years, crowdfunding has become a popular method of funding new technology or entertainment products, or artistic projects. The idea is that people or projects ask for many small donations from individuals who support the proposed work, rather than a large amount from a single source. Crowdfunding is usually done via an online portal or platform which handles the financial transactions involved. The Universe Awareness (UNAWE) programme decided to undertake a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign centring on the resource Universe in a Box2. In this article we present the lessons learned and best practices from that campaign.

Citizen Science Help Sought Locate Cities at Night From ISS Imagery

"Help us to georeference the position of cities which appear in the ISS images. We are members of the Group of Extragalactic Astrophysics and Astronomical Instrumentation from the of Universidad Coplutense de Madrid. Among our activities is a study of light pollution and the energy consumption derived from it. We use images taken from the International Space Station as part of our investigations, provided by Earth Science and Remote Sensing Unit, NASA-Johnson Space Center. "The Gateway to Astronaut Photography of Earth." To compare the images with the different light sources on the earth, we need to know the city's location. Due to the large number of images, we need your help. Some of these pictures are from unknown locations for us, and it is very difficult to identify them in the pictures. However, a lot of people around the world will know the cities. We need you to identify the cities and connect them with their position point on the map. This application allows you to do this."

More at Locate Cities from ISS by Universidad Coplutense de Madrid and at their FAQ page.

NASA Seeks Ultralightweight Core Materials

NASA Space Technology Game Changing Program Solicitation for Ultralightweight Core Materials for Efficient Load-Bearing Composite Sandwich Structures - NASA is seeking proposals to develop and manufacture ultralightweight materials for aerospace vehicles and structures of the future. Proposals will demonstrate lower-mass alternatives to honeycomb or foam cores currently used in composite sandwich structures. The goal of this Game Changing Development Program is to develop and demonstrate scalable and cost-effective manufacturing approaches to produce ultralightweight core materials both as flat panels and curved structures. The final products will have half or less the area density of conventional honeycomb cores, with equal or better mechanical properties.

Deadline Extended: Student Spaceflight Experiments Program

The National Center for Earth and Space Science Education and the Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education, in partnership with NanoRacks LLC, announce an authentic science, technology, engineering and mathematics, or STEM, opportunity for school districts across the U.S. and space station partner nations. The newest flight opportunity, Mission 8 to the International Space Station, or ISS, gives students across a community the ability to design and propose real experiments to fly in low-Earth orbit on the ISS. This opportunity is part of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program, or SSEP.

Remote Sensing of Exoplanets

"A two day long winter school on Remote Sensing of Exoplanets will be held at our University on December 4th and 5th, aimed primarily at graduate students involved in hysperspectral remote sensing activities, physics and astronomy, geography. The winter school will provide an overview of the knowledge acquired during the past 20 years in the domain of exploration of exoplanets. It will review the different detection methods, their limitations, and the information provided on the orbital system and the planet itself, and how this information is helping our understanding of planet formation."

More at University of Lethbridge

2015 ESA App Camp

"Apply today for the 2015 ESA App Camp in Barcelona, and the opportunity to develop mobile apps that tackle some of the world's greatest challenges. This unique app development event offers access to the latest space data and the SAP HANA Platform - choose your challenge and meet with like-minded people to tackle some of the world's greatest challenges. The winning teams will be invited to the ESA App Camp in Barcelona, Spain and honoured at the Mobile World Congress 2015. Think you're up to the challenge?"

More at ESA App Camp

Crowdsourcing Helps Discover 49th Radio pulsar: PSR J1910+07

"Einstein@Home currently processes PALFA Mock spectrometer data from Arecibo Observatory. This search run is called "BRP4" (short for Binary Radio Pulsar search #4). It uses the computing power donated by volunteers from all over the world to search the Arecibo data for radio pulsars in binary orbits. Thanks to the enormous amount of donated computing power Einstein@Home conducts the search with the highest sensitivity to pulsars in very tight binary systems. This page lists the detections of known and new pulsars identified from this processing. In the tables below you'll find information for each pulsar."

"Einstein@Home uses your computer's idle time to search for weak astrophysical signals from spinning neutron stars (also called pulsars) using data from the LIGO gravitational-wave detectors, the Arecibo radio telescope, and the Fermi gamma-ray satellite."

DIY Exoplanet Detector

"I discovered that one amateur astronomer had already posted online about how he had detected a known exoplanet using a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera outfitted with a telephoto lens. He was able to discern the dip in the brightness of a star as an orbiting planet passed in front of it - a technique known as transit detection. The exoplanet he chose to go after was a gas giant that belongs to a binary star system variously named HD 189733, HIP 98505, or V452 Vulpeculae, depending on the star catalog."

More: DIY Exoplanet Detector, IEEE Spectrum

Also: Detect known exoplanet with DSLR/telephote lens, Cloudy Nights

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