NASA Needs You To Play ‘Disk Detective’ And Search for New Planetary Nurseries.

NASA needs your help to discover embryonic planetary systems hidden among data from the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) mission through a new website, DiskDetective.org.

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Disk Detective is NASA’s largest crowdsourcing project.  Its goal is to produce publishable scientific results.  “Through Disk Detective, volunteers will help the astronomical community discover new planetary nurseries that will become future targets for NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope and its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope,” said James Garvin (on the right), the chief scientist for NASA Goddard’s Sciences and Exploration Directorate.

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WISE surveyed the entire sky twice at infrared wavelengths.  WISE measured more than 745 million objects.

Astronomers have searched the data for planet-forming environments and narrowed the field to about a half-million candidate. There may be thousands of solar systems in the WISE data, but the only way to know for sure is to inspect each one by eye.

So citizen sciences arise. Put on your Deerstalker hat and lend a hand.

Disk Detective incorporates images from WISE and other sky surveys in brief animations the website calls flip books. Volunteers view a flip book and classify the object based on simple criteria, such as whether the image is round or includes multiple objects. By collecting this information, astronomers will be able to assess which sources should be explored in greater detail, for example, to search for planets outside our solar system.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Weekend Star Party Recap.

Well, not much to report.  The weather gods still hate me.  First, cloud cover during the lunar eclipse earlier this month (of course, only during totality, it was perfectly clear on either side, just blocking out the main event).  And now this weekends wind storms ruined another opportunity to image the Universe.

New Roof 20140412~ (1)

I did manage to get some work done on my new roof for remote observing.  I have what I think is a better idea for the roll off roof for our climate.  I thought that I had come up with a great new idea, but it turns out that other people have been making wedge shaped roll off roof observatories for a while (at least one other person has, that I have found).

The frame construction is made from Unistrut(r) and all the bracing as well.  The roof will be covered by either 1/4 or 11/32 inch plywood sheets to add rigidity and keep it safe from the elements.  I am going to waterproof the wood exterior and then cover is with a self adhesive rolling roof base sheet for additional protection.  I have a 1hp DC garage door opener that I will use to open and close the roof remotely.

I still have to install the internal cameras to make sure that the scopes are clear before the roof opens and closes and I am still working on remote waking the computers so that I don’t waste electricity.

I am trying to set up a Raspberry Pi to remote wake on lan the other computers, because it runs at about 0.8 watts when operational and lower when just sitting there.  However, to date, I haven’t had much success using a reverse autossh tunnel to bypass my ISP’s firewall to give the commands.  If anyone out there can help me with this, I would greatly appreciate it.

Hopefully, by the end of May, I will have a fully functional remote observatory.  I’ll post some images and some video when it is done.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Let The Battle Begin!

In this corner, the newcomer, SPHERE!

The Spectro-Polarimetric High-contrast Exoplanet REsearch telescope trained and managed exclusively by the European Space Agency.

And in this corner, another newcomer, the Gemini Planet Imager! Born and trained in North America.

Both these bruisers are set to battle it out for the title of King of Exoplanet imaging!

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While most of their contemporaries find planets the old fashioned way, these two imager’s are going to take actual pictures of exoplanets!

Fighting it out down in Chile.  This battle is not to be missed!  And who will win this battle?  Why, we will!  Good luck to both teams and may the data flow begin.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Looking Up For A Change.

High-altitude scientific balloons have been used for years by scientists for a variety of studies including hauling telescopes to near space for observations.  However, planetary scientists haven’t been able to use them. That’s because they needed a highly stable system to accurately point their instruments and track planetary targets as they move.

Now NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., has designed a new pointing system — the Wallops Arc Second Pointer (WASP) — that can point balloon-borne scientific instruments at targets with sub arc-second accuracy and stability. A full scale test is scheduled later this year.


“Arc-second pointing is unbelievably precise,” said David Stuchlik, the WASP project manager. “Some compare it to the ability to find and track an object that is the diameter of a dime from two miles away.”


WASP is designed to be a highly flexible, standardized system capable of supporting many science payloads and frees scientists from having to develop their own pointing systems. Now, they can focus on creating the instruments.
– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Herschel Finds Water On Ceres.

Scientists using the Herschel space telescope have made the first definitive detection of water vapor on Ceres.

Ceres is the largest and roundest object in the asteroid belt and is classified as a dwarf planet, a solar system body bigger than an asteroid and smaller than a planet.

Photo : CNRS

Scientists think that plumes of water vapor shoot up from Ceres when parts of its surface are warmed by the Sun.

 

In 2015 the Dawn spacecraft will be able to provide more information, hopefully confirming and expanding the data, when it arrives at Ceres next year.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Wake Up!

The ESA’s Rosetta comet probe has woken up to make its rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

Rosetta’s mission will take 10 years to complete.

During its trip Rosetta passed by two asteroids, Lutetia and Steins.  The image above shows landslide that happened on Lutetia.

When Rosetta reaches the comet, it will deploy a 220-pound (100 kilogram) lander called Philae.

Once on the comet’s surface the pair of craft will accompany the comet on its journey through the inner solar system, observing at close range how the comet changes as the Sun’s heat transforms the cold surface to a boiling gaseous mass.

Rosetta is about 500 million miles (about 800 million km) from Earth near Jupiter’s orbit.  At that distance radio transmissions take 45 minutes to reach Earth and vice versa.  What is fascinating is that, due to gravity, the radio signals don’t travel in a straight line back and forth.

Once Rosetta’s on-board alarm clock went off it took seven hours to warm up its star trackers,  fire thrusters to slow its spin, turn on its transmitter and send a message back to Earth.  And with all the advances in science the drumming monkey clock was the best we could do (just kidding, atomic clocks were used, although the monkey clock would be fabulously hilarious).

There are a lot of firsts for Rosetta, but the images from the comet as it starts out-gassing should be spectacular.  I just hope Philae doesn’t land on one of the explosive vents that many comets have.  We will know later this year as the comet passes by the Sun.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman