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Beyond Earth Orbit

News and views from the final frontier

Month

August 2015

ABC invites citizen scientists to identify galaxies for Science Week

The Australian national broadcaster is getting into the spirit of National Science Week (15-23 August 2015) with a project that gives citizen scientists an opportunity to identify and classify galaxies.

Called ABC Galaxy Explorer, the website supports the Galaxy and Mass Assembly (GAMA) project, which has over 200 thousand images of galaxies between 800 million and four billion light years away.

“Comparing distant galaxies will help scientists understand inconsistencies with what’s observed in the universe and what’s predicted by Einstein’s equations, and as a result may change our fundamental understanding of dark matter and dark energy. They will also help astronomers understand how galaxy evolution has changed through time, which will provide insight into how the processes in the universe have evolved.” – Kylie Andrews, ABC Science

The GAMA team needs the help of citizen scientists due to the sheer volume of imagery that needs to be processed to provide a useful data set.  Data will be used to build a model of how the galaxy population in the universe has evolved.

Up for grabs for participants, are two Celestron 90GT WiFi 90mm (3.54″) refractor telescopes.

I’ve identified over 80 so-far!  🙂

Link: http://www.galaxyexplorer.net.au

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This Day in Space: 6 August

6 August 2014 – One year ago today ESA’s Rosetta spacecraft rendezvoused with comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko out between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, over 400 million kilometres from Earth.

As the comet’s gravity is so minimal – if you were standing on 67P’s surface you could easily throw a ball upwards faster than its escape velocity, IE it would never come back down again! – Rosetta couldn’t just insert into a normal elliptical orbit, but instead had to perform a series of triangular-shaped orbits, making periodic engine burns to gradually work its way down to an orbital height of around 30 kilometres a month later.

Artist impression of ESA's Rosetta approaching comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The comet image was taken on 2 August 2014 by the spacecraft's navigation camera at a distance of about 500 km. The spacecraft and comet are not to scale.
Artist impression of ESA’s Rosetta approaching comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.
The comet image was taken on 2 August 2014 by the spacecraft’s navigation camera at a distance of about 500 km.
The spacecraft and comet are not to scale.

Image source: http://www.esa.int/spaceinimages/Images/2014/08/Rosetta_arrives_at_comet

This Day in Space: 5 August

5 August 2011 – NASA’s Juno spacecraft blasted off from Cape Canaveral aboard an Atlas V rocket, beginning a five-year journey to the Solar System’s largest planet, Jupiter.  The 3.6-tonne spacecraft is scheduled to arrive in July 2016.

The name ‘Juno’ isn’t an acronym or a reference to the Ellen Page/Michael Cera comedy movie.  In Roman mythology Juno was the wife of Jupiter:  When Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief, Juno was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter’s true nature.  Similarly, the Juno spacecraft will look deep into Jupiter’s obscuring cloud cover – http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/juno/news/juno20110805.html.

The god Jupiter drew a veil of clouds around himself to hide his mischief, and his wife, the goddess Juno, was able to peer through the clouds and reveal Jupiter’s true nature.

NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft snapped this beautiful silhouette pic of Pluto’s night-side on 15 July, when it was about two million kilometres past the charismatic dwarf planet.  The soft glow is the result of sunlight being refracted through Pluto’s atmosphere, which is thought to be composed mainly of nitrogen (like Earth’s atmosphere), with smaller quantities of carbon monoxide and methane present.

Pluto sends a breathtaking farewell to New Horizons. Backlit by the sun, Pluto’s atmosphere rings its silhouette like a luminous halo in this image taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft around midnight EDT on July 15. This global portrait of the atmosphere was captured when the spacecraft was about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometers) from Pluto and shows structures as small as 12 miles across. The image, delivered to Earth on July 23, is displayed with north at the top of the frame.
Pluto sends a breathtaking farewell to New Horizons.
Backlit by the sun, Pluto’s atmosphere rings its silhouette like a luminous halo in this image taken by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft around midnight EDT on July 15.
This global portrait of the atmosphere was captured when the spacecraft was about 1.25 million miles (2 million kilometers) from Pluto and shows structures as small as 12 miles across. The image, delivered to Earth on July 23, is displayed with north at the top of the frame.

Source: https://www.nasa.gov/image-feature/pluto-s-breathtaking-farewell-to-new-horizons

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