The latest TMRO/Spacevidcast show is now online : Kickstarting a rocket company - TMRO
The latest TMRO/Spacevidcast show is now online : Kickstarting a rocket company - TMRO
The public radio program BackStory with the American History Guys had a space themed show today : Starry-Eyed: A History of the Heavens – BackStory with the American History Guys
Americans have had an ongoing fascination with the skies above us, so in this episode, we’re taking on space. How have people made sense of meteors, eclipses, and the stars? What has made us want to travel among them, to go to the moon, to Mars, or beyond? And how do things change for those of us here on earth when we do? Peter, Ed, and Brian will be looking up, and looking back.
Update: A report (translated from Danish) on what happened during the test: HEAT2X static test – Preliminary information – Google Translate
He has posted the song today in this tweet - Twitter / BradPaisley:
Don’t see how to embed it here so go to the tweet to listen to it.
An update on the Sally Ride EarthKAM program, which lets middle-school students take images of the earth from the International Space Station:
NASA is helping students examine their home planet from space without ever leaving the ground, giving them a global perspective by going beyond a map attached to a sphere on a pedestal. The Sally Ride Earth Knowledge Acquired by Middle School Students (Sally Ride EarthKAM) program provides a unique educational opportunity for thousands of students multiple times a year.
EarthKAM is an international award-winning education program, allowing students to photograph and analyze our planet from the perspective of theInternational Space Station. Using the Internet, students control a special digital camera on the orbiting laboratory to photograph Earth’s coastlines, mountain ranges and other interesting geographical topography. The camera has been aboard the orbiting outpost since the first space station expedition began in November 2000 and supports approximately four missions annually.
Schools around the world are lining up to participate in the program, which is growing by leaps and bounds. The most recent mission, July 15-19, set summertime records, drawing nearly 36,000 students from 562 schools and summer programs in 34 countries across six continents. Mission organizers believe they may set more participation records when the fall session begins Sept. 29. EarthKAM officials have scheduled two new sessions that are set to begin in the next few months. Interested teachers or students can still sign up at the EarthKAM website.
“This program will help our students become more scientifically literate,” said Annie Bourque, a teacher with Barnstead Elementary School in New Hampshire, one of the hundreds of schools that signed up for the recent summer mission. “We want them to understand how new technology can help design tools to improve our ability to measure and observe our world. Real, current photographs of the Earth are powerful learning tools, especially when the students have a hand in creating them.”
“The goal of the investigation is to cast the net wide and encourage all students to take advantage of this great opportunity from the space station,” said Cindy Evans, Ph.D., International Space Station associate program scientist for Earth Observations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “It is also a great way for future scientists and engineers to explore the many aspects of spaceflight.”
Students learn about Earth science including human geography, geology, ecology and global change, as well as the intricacies of what it takes to live and work in space, such as orbital dynamics, mission operations, scales, precision and accuracy. The outreach program staff is made up of a group of students attending the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), who have been accepted into the EarthKAM Voluntary Internship Program. They operate as flight controllers, giving them training and inspiration for the next generation of space engineers.
In order to participate in the research platform, middle-school students must first learn about spacecraft orbits and Earth photography. They then request their desired images by tracking the orbit of the space station. This includes checking the weather to make sure the station will have a clear view.
UCSD collects the requests and, with help from representatives at Johnson, uplink them to a computer on the space station. The computer transmits requests to the digital camera, which snaps the images. The photos are downlinked to computers on the ground and, within hours, the EarthKAM team makes the images available on the web for easy access by schools, as well as the public. Students can explore the pictures and make connections with the topics they are studying. They can review a particular lesson not only from textbooks and atlases, but also by using real images of geographical objects and analyzing the data obtained.
EarthKAM is designed to be an inquiry-based investigation for students, but it also provides wide latitude for implementation and focus. The image database with all of the photos taken since 2001 and the educational tools on the website can be tailored for a few afternoon classes or semester-long courses. Teachers and schools — including home schools — can build their lesson plans to support a variety of educational standards that fit within their curricular constraints.
“Their enthusiasm to learn more about our home is awe-inspiring,” said Pete Hasbrook, associate program scientist in the International Space Station Program Science Office at Johnson. “EarthKAM gives us the opportunity to interact with these students and show them the practical applications of what they are currently studying and how they can build on that knowledge to help NASA investigate our planet.”
Students are able to participate actively in spaceflight by taking and seeing images of Earth. They also learn critical scientific fundamentals, obtaining a taste of operational pressures and pursuing their own interests about viewing Earth’s surface. This allows students to think globally and, if they are in involved in multiple missions, look for changes.
The image collection and accompanying learning guides and activities are resources that allow EarthKAM to support lessons in Earth science, space science, environmental science, geography, social studies, mathematics, communications and art. Whether students are participating during summer school or planning an EarthKAM mission in the coming school year, they will find the program a source of inspiration as they learn about their world.
The Asteroid Grand Challenge Series will be comprised of a series of topcoder challenges to get more people from around the planet involved in finding all asteroid threats to human populations and figuring out what to do about them. In an increasingly connected world, NASA recognizes the value of the public as a partner in addressing some of the country’s most pressing challenges.
For example, there is the AsteroidDataHunter challenge, which
tasks competitors to develop significantly improved algorithms to identify asteroids in images from ground-based telescopes. The winning solution must increase the detection sensitivity, minimize the number of false positives, ignore imperfections in the data, and run effectively on all computers -
This video explains the basics of the Asteroid Grand Challenge:
The arrival of a European cargo module is a highlight of activities over the past week on the International Space Station: Space to Ground: Hello Georges: 8/15/14
In a recent post I discussed Helion Energy, a spin-off company from John Slough‘s plasma physics group at the University of Washington, that is developing a nuclear fusion power system. They are aiming to have a commercial 50MW reactor in six years.
Today comes word that they have raised $1.5M from Mithril Capital Management and Y Combinator venture capital firms: More Valley investors are funding nuclear energy tech — Tech News and Analysis.
They apparently need a few tens of millions to get to a reactor but this is a start. Interesting that VC firms are willing to take a risk on such a project.
Rosetta returns more great pictures of the comet t 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko:
Full-frame NAVCAM image taken on 12 August 2014 from a distance of about
103 km from comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. Credits: ESA/Rosetta/NAVCAM
The Cassini spacecraft orbiting Saturn has returned images showing clouds moving over the surface of the Moon Titan:
Cassini scientists noted a decrease in clouds everywhere on Titan
after a large storm in 2010, and expected clouds to return sooner,
based on computer models of Titan’s atmosphere.
NASA’s Cassini spacecraft recently captured images of clouds moving across the northern hydrocarbon seas of Saturn’s moon Titan. This renewed weather activity, considered overdue by researchers, could finally signal the onset of summer storms that atmospheric models have long predicted.
A movie showing the clouds’ movement is available at: www.jpl.nasa.gov/spaceimages/details.php?id=PIA18420
The Cassini spacecraft obtained the new views in late July, as it receded from Titan after a close flyby. Cassini tracked the system of clouds developing and dissipating over the large methane sea known as Ligeia Mare for more than two days. Measurements of cloud motions indicate wind speeds of around 7 to 10 mph (3 to 4.5 meters per second).
For several years after Cassini’s 2004 arrival in the Saturn system, scientists frequently observed cloud activity near Titan’s south pole, which was experiencing late summer at the time. Clouds continued to be observed as spring came to Titan’s northern hemisphere. But since a huge storm swept across the icy moon’s low latitudes in late 2010, only a few small clouds have been observed anywhere on the icy moon. The lack of cloud activity has surprised researchers, as computer simulations of Titan’s atmospheric circulation predicted that clouds would increase in the north as summer approached, bringing increasingly warm temperatures to the atmosphere there.
“We’re eager to find out if the clouds’ appearance signals the beginning of summer weather patterns, or if it is an isolated occurrence,” said Elizabeth Turtle, a Cassini imaging team associate at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab in Laurel, Maryland. “Also, how are the clouds related to the seas? Did Cassini just happen catch them over the seas, or do they form there preferentially?”
A year on Titan lasts about 30 Earth years, with each season lasting about seven years. Observing seasonal changes on Titan will continue to be a major goal for the Cassini mission as summer comes to Titan’s north and the southern latitudes fall into winter darkness.
The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at JPL. The imaging team consists of scientists from the United States, England, France and Germany. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
More information about Cassini is available at the following sites:
Here’s an overview of the MakerSpaces movement: Makerspaces: A Revolution in Sustainable Production – CustomMade.
Some additional resources:
An announcement from NASA:
NASA’s Office of Education will award more than $17.3 million through the National Space Grant and Fellowship Program to increase student and faculty engagement in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) at community colleges and technical schools across the U.S. Each award has a two-year performance period and a maximum value of $500,000.
The 35 awards were granted after a solicitation to members of the national Space Grant Consortia. Winning proposals outlined ways to attract and retain more students from community and technical colleges in STEM curricula, develop stronger collaborations to increase student access to NASA’s STEM education content, and increase the number of students who advance from an associate to a bachelor’s degree.
The California Space Grant Consortium, for example, proposes to enhance STEM preparation at 12 state community colleges and improve opportunities for approximately 300 students to transfer to either the University of California or the California State University system. This multi-faceted program includes development of a distance learning STEM course for faculty and students that fosters education and training in programmable microcomputers, near-space ballooning, small satellites, autonomous ground robots and wearable sensor vests for sports and health monitoring.
The Colorado Space Grant Consortium proposes to add four new community college campuses as affiliates to the consortium. Students and faculty members from these institutions will participate in STEM activities by designing, building and launching high-altitude balloon payloads. In addition, the students will have an opportunity to compete for scholarships, summer internships at NASA centers and to participate in the RockOn! workshop, part of an ongoing collaboration with NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
On the East Coast, the North Carolina Space Grant Consortium proposes to offer competitive STEM scholarships at the community college level in order to attract and retain students through graduation and/or matriculation into four-year universities. The consortium also will offer a Team Design Challenge and Competition for faculty and students across the state to increase STEM education experiences featuring NASA content.
Space Grant Consortia operate in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico. Each has a lead institution to manage its activities. In addition, there are more than 850 affiliates, including colleges and universities, industry, museums and science centers, and state and local agencies, that work to support and enhance science and engineering education, research and public outreach efforts for NASA’s aeronautics and space projects. The affiliates work directly with the lead Space Grant institutions to deliver quality STEM programs.
Through this NASA higher education program, the agency continues its tradition of investing in the U.S. education infrastructure with the goal of developing STEM skills and capabilities critical to achieving the nation’s exploration goals through a robust, STEM-literate workforce.
To view a complete list of the awardees and their winning abstracts, visit: go.nasa.gov/1svsrWD
For more information about the National Space Grant and Fellowship Program, visit: go.nasa.gov/1svtbuW
For more information about NASA’s education programs, visit: www.nasa.gov/education
In this SETI Institute seminar, Serina Diniega of JPL talks about Investigations of strange, linear features on Mars :
Space artist David A. Hardy is interviewed about his lifelong involvement in space art : Our Dreams of Space Are Fueled by the Art of David A. Hardy - Motherboard.
The European ATV cargo vessel that arrived at the International Space Station today carried a “a hand-sized re-formed meteorite by Katie Paterson, which will become the first artwork aboard the International Space Station”
Check out this big collection of beautiful Mars photos: Mars As Art – Mars Exploration Program.
Helion Energy, a spin-off company from John Slough‘s plasma physics group at the University of Washington, has become very confident after building and operating several prototypes that their fusion design will lead to a low cost operational commercial nuclear fusion reactor within six years:
Here’s a cartoon diagram of their process:
Note that their system produces electricity by direct conversion, not by heating up a fluid and then using the fluid to run a generator. Direct conversion is the more efficient approach.
Also, the D-He3 fusion reaction does not produce neutrons so there are no residual radiation problems.
The secretive Tri-Alpha Energy company, a spin-off from a UC Irvine program, has a somewhat similar design to Helion and has raised as much as $140M from Paul Allen and others. It would be interesting to know how close they are to a net energy producing reactor.
A very beautifully made animation: Two Astronauts Fall In Love A Little More Each Time Their Orbits Meet -
These two astronauts may come from warring species, but alone in space they become valued company, exchanging tokens of affection each time they encounter one other in orbit. But what happens when disaster threatens one of the space-faring pair?
Orbitas was made by students in the Masters in 3D Animation program at the PrimerFrame animation school under the direction of Jaime Maestro.
A Cornell University group experimented with cooking in weightlessness by taking “a specially constructed space galley” onto a plane doing parabolic flights:
From the Cornell Chronicle:
In a series of four flights launched from Houston, the team tossed tofu and shredded potatoes into pans of sizzling oil and filmed the resulting oil splatters as the plane climbed and dove in parabolic paths. Each cycle created a brief period of partial weightlessness, simulating the conditions astronauts would face during extended stays on the moon or Mars, which have one-sixth and one-third the gravity of Earth, respectively.
The experimenters positioned strips of paper inside the galley fume hood and dyed the oil bright red to help them see and collect splatter patterns. Under reduced gravity conditions, the food settled more slowly into the pan, and more oil appeared to fall outside of it. The oil droplets also traveled a greater distance from the pan than under Earth conditions – probably because it took longer for gravity to pull them down, Arquiza said.
Arquiza ended up with a collection of 200 red-speckled strips that might resemble evidence from a crime scene investigation, but could contribute greatly to our understanding of the basic science of cooking in space. He is now analyzing them to measure the particles’ size distribution and distance traveled. Results will be used to create computer models that could be extrapolated to inform the design of future terrestrial and extraterrestrial cooking technology.
1. Monday, August 11, 2014: 2-3:30 PM PDT (5-6:30 PM EDT, 4-5:30 PM CDT): We welcome DR. MARTIN ELVIS to the program to discuss his research that estimates the potential number of asteroids of value for mining.
2. Tuesday, August 12, 2014:,7-8:30 PM PDT (10-11:30 PM EDT, 9-10:30 PM CDT): OPEN LINES discussion. All space, STEM and first time callers are welcome.
3. Friday, August 15, 2014, 9:30 -11 AM PDT (12;30-2 PM EDT; 11:30-1 PM CDT): Due to recent conference travels, this is a TBD program for now as I am waiting for people from AIAA to respond. Watch the website newsletter for details later this week as that is where I will post the guest information for this program.. .
4. Sunday, August 17, 2014, 12-1:30 PM PDT (3-4:30 PM EDT, 2-3:30 PM CDT). We welcome both JOE CASSADY and CHRIS CARBERRY of Explore Mars to the show for new information with the organization plus new programming.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
We exist to make the capability of human travel beyond our solar system a reality within the next 100 years. We unreservedly dedicate ourselves to identifying and pushing the radical leaps in knowledge and technology needed to achieve interstellar flight, while pioneering and transforming breakthrough applications that enhance the quality of life for all on Earth. We actively seek to include the broadest swath of people and human experience in understanding, shaping and implementing this global aspiration.
Taking up this task ignites not only our imagination, but the undeniable human need to push ourselves to accomplishments greater than any single individual.