February 2016 Archives

UK Students Can Send Their Computer Code Into Space

New Chance For UK Students To Send Their Computer Code Into Space For Tim Peake

"Following the success of the 'Astro Pi' competition, there is a new competition offering UK school children the chance to send their computer code to ESA astronaut Tim Peake on the International Space Station (ISS). Two augmented Raspberry Pi computers, called Astro Pis, are on board the ISS as part of ESA astronaut Tim Peake's Principia mission. Both are equipped with different cameras and a range of sensors that the students can use in a wide variety of experiments. The new competition 'Astro Pi Coding Challenges', launched this month, presents a specific problem to students and asks them to solve it with code. This approach differs from the 2015 competition, where students were given an open-ended brief to come up with their own ideas for experiments. This time, Tim has a particular task in mind for them, with two challenges on offer, both of which are music-based."

Star Trek Replicator Challenge

Star Trek Replicator Challenge

"Calling all Starfleet cadets! Star Trek and NASA want you to engineer the future of food in space. If you are a K-12 student in the United States, your challenge is to create a digital 3D model of a non-edible, food-related item for astronauts to 3D print in the year 2050. We want students to 'boldy go where no one has gone before' with 3D printing, by making designs that help astronauts eat nutritious meals so they can 'live long and prosper' in locations beyond the International Space Station. Eating a meal in space involves more than the actual food itself - from growing plants to preparing and eating meals."

MIT, Boeing, NASA, and edX Offer MOOC

MIT, Boeing, NASA, and edX to launch online architecture and systems engineering program

MIT is collaborating with Boeing and NASA to develop a four-part online, certificate-based program: "Architecture and Systems Engineering: Models and Methods to Manage Complex Systems." The program aims to ensure that the engineering workforce has continual training and access to the latest knowledge and methods to design and develop products in a rapidly changing environment. The four courses, which will be delivered by MIT Professional Education via the edX platform, will marry the research and knowledge of MIT's world-renowned faculty with lessons and case studies in industry and government from Boeing and NASA professionals. Focused on modern complex systems from hybrid cars to aircraft, the program will teach how to frame system architecture as a series of decisions which can be actively sorted and managed. "Engineering practice is changing rapidly in tandem with the growth of software, driving incredible capability changes, but also causing enormous challenges managing complex development programs," says Bruce Cameron, director of the System Architecture Lab at MIT, and director of this program.

Crowdsouring Planet Hunters X. KIC 8462852 - Where's the Flux?

Over the duration of the Kepler mission, KIC 8462852 was observed to undergo irregularly shaped, aperiodic dips in flux down to below the 20% level. The dipping activity can last for between 5 and 80 days. We characterize the object with high-resolution spectroscopy, spectral energy distribution fitting, and Fourier analyses of the Kepler light curve. We determine thatKIC 8462852 is a main-sequence F3 V/IV star, with a rotation period ~0.88 d, that exhibits no significant IR excess. In this paper, we describe various scenarios to explain the mysterious events in the Kepler light curve, most of which have problems explaining the data in hand. By considering the observational constraints on dust clumps orbiting a normal main-sequence star, we conclude that the scenario most consistent with the data is the passage of a family of exocomet fragments, all of which are associated with a single previous breakup event. We discuss the necessity of future observations to help interpret the system.

How Astronomers View Education and Public Outreach

Over the past few years, there have been a few studies on the development of an interest in science and scientists' views on public outreach. Yet, to date, there has been no global study regarding astronomers' views on these matters. Through the completion of our survey by 155 professional astronomers online and in person during the 28th International Astronomical Union General Assembly in 2012, we explored their development of and an interest for astronomy and their views on time constraints and budget restriction regarding public outreach activities. We find that astronomers develop an interest in astronomy between the ages of 4-6 but that the decision to undertake a career in astronomy often comes during late adolescence. We also discuss the claim that education and public outreach is regarded an optional task rather than a scientist's duty. Our study revealed that many astronomers think there should be a larger percentage of their research that should be invested into outreach activities, calling for a change in grant policies.

2016 Space Life Sciences Training Program

The Space Life Sciences Training Program (SLSTP) is seeking student applications for the 2016 summer program, which will run from June 13 to August 19, 2016 at NASA Ames Research Center. The Space Life Sciences Training Program (SLSTP) provides undergraduate students entering their junior or senior years with professional experience in space life science disciplines. The primary goal of the program is to train the next generation of scientists and engineers, enabling NASA to meet future research and development challenges in the space life sciences.

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