Video: ‘100 Year Starship’ – panel discussion

A panel discussion sponsored by the SETI Institute on the DARPA initiated 100 Year Starship program:

The panel included:

  • Mae Jemison – an American physician and NASA astronaut.
  • Richard Rhodes – the author or editor of twenty-four books including The Making of the Atomic Bomb
  • Bill Nye – scientist, engineer, comedian, author, and inventor
  • Dana Backman – director of SOFIA’s Outreach programs.
  • Moderator: Adrian Brown – a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute


BELLA GAIA to release debut album ‘Beautiful Earth’

The world music ensemble BELLA GAIA  provides

an unprecedented audiovisual experience that combines NASA satellite imagery of Earth, time lapse nature photography, and cultural heritage footage with stirring live performances of music and dance from around the world.

Inspired by astronauts who spoke of the life changing power of seeing the Earth from space, director-composer Kenji Williams’ award winning BELLA GAIA successfully simulates the Overview Effect  from space flight, by using NASA supercomputer data-visualizations to explore the relationship between humans and nature through time and space, with a “message of oneness amidst a deeply moving and shimmering soundscape that combines sacred dance with gorgeous sets and stunning imagery” (Blog Talk Radio). 

They will release their debut album, BELLA GAIA – Beautiful Earth, on November 11th. Find more about the album and performance plans in their latest newsletter: World renowned cosmic world music ensemble releases new single

Here is the track Biosphere Pulse:

You can listen to the entire album at BELLA GAIA – Beautiful Earth on SoundCloud.

Here is a video from BELLA GAIA:

Part 3: Photometry tutorial for amateur and pro astronomers

Rick Boozer on his Astro Maven blog has posted the third installment of his Photometry with AIP4WIN: a Tutorial, which is aimed at astronomers both amateur and professional:

From Part 1:

The science of photometry can be used by both amateur astronomers and professionals for some very advanced scientific work.  You can detect the light changes caused by eclipsing binary stars, plot the changes in luminosity of a variable star and even detect an exoplanet orbiting another star.  This tutorial will be your step-by-step guide on how to employ the powerful Magnitude Measurement Tool that comes with the renowned astronomical imaging software known as AIP4WIN by Richard Berry and Robert Burnell.  Special thanks to Mr. Berry for giving me permission to include screen images and extensive operating details from AIP4WIN.

NASA opens Mars Ascent Vehicle Challenge

A new NASA sponsored contest:

NASA Opens Registration For Inaugural
Mars Ascent Vehicle Challenge

Registration is open for the 2015 NASA Centennial Challenges’ Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) Prize, which will take place April 7-12, 2015. The competition carries a prize purse of $50,000 and will be held in Huntsville, Alabama, in conjunction with the NASA Student Launch event, an academic engineering design challenge that provides resources and experiences for students and faculty.

Graphic for MAV Challenge

The Mars Ascent Vehicle Prize will aid NASA in advancing technologies that could be used to return samples from Mars in the future. The challenge focuses on simulating the collection of samples from the Martian surface, placing them into Mars orbit for collection and returning them to Earth. This new challenge is open to both academic and non-academic teams to demonstrate technologies that may be relevant to potential future NASA Science Mission Directorate Mars missions. This challenge has no relation to NASA missions currently in development such as the Mars 2020.

“The MAV Prize is an opportunity for us to team up with an established academic competition and invite teams of all kinds to work in parallel on technologies that will aid in future Mars exploration,” said Sam Ortega, Centennial Challenges program manager.

The Challenge requires reliable, autonomous sample insertion into the rocket, launch from the surface, and deployment of the sample container. Innovative technology from this competition could be considered in future planning for a Mars exploration mission.

Centennial Challenges will award prizes for successful demonstration of an end-to-end autonomous operation to sequentially accomplish the following tasks: picking up the sample, inserting the sample into a single stage solid-propellant rocket in a horizontal position, erecting the rocket, launching the rocket to an altitude of 3,000 feet, deploying a sample container, and landing the container safely while following the National Association of Rocketry guidelines.

The first-place award is $25,000; second-place is $15,000; and third-place is $10,000.  Competing teams will be eligible for prize money only after the successful completion of all the required tasks.

Interested teams may apply for the challenge by submitting a registration proposal to the Student Launch project office. Details for submitting the proposal and complete rules may be found in the handbook.

The Centennial Challenges program is part of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, which is innovating, developing, testing and flying hardware for use in NASA’s future missions. It is managed out of Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

For more information about the MAV Prize, visit:

For more information about NASA Student Launch, visit: