Archive for August 9, 2012

Space Apps Company Seeking Crowd Funds To Launch, Further Space Research And Education

Uwingu LLC, a space-themed, for profit start up, is conducting a crowd-sourced funding campaign to launch an ongoing series of public engagement projects. Uwingu’s mission is to use proceeds from those projects to generate funding for space exploration, research, and education efforts around the world. Uwingu’s crowd funding agent for this campaign is IndieGoGo (, a leader in the field.

UwinguTM (which means “sky” in Swahili, and is pronounced “oo-wing-oo”) consists of astronomers, planetary scientists, former space program executives, and educators.

“Uwingu will employ novel software applications to game-ify space, with the profits going toward research and education,” says Gay. “Our projects will be fun to use, and the proceeds from their use will make a real difference in how space exploration, research, and education is funded.”

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NASA’s Curiosity Beams Back A Color 360 Of Gale Crater

The first images from Curiosity’s color Mast Camera, or Mastcam, have been received by scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. The 130 low-resolution thumbnails, which were received Thursday morning, provide scientists and engineers of NASA’s newest Mars rover their first color, horizon-to-horizon glimpse of Gale Crater.

“After a year in cold storage, where it endured the rigors of launch, the deep space cruise to Mars and everything that went on during landing, it is great to see our camera is working as planned,” said Mike Malin, principal investigator of the Mastcam instrument from Malin Space Science Systems in San Diego. “As engaging as this color panorama is, it is important to note this is only one-eighth the potential resolution of images from this camera.”

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AGU Fall Meeting: News Media Registration Opens; Book Hotels Now

The American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting returns this year to the Moscone Convention Center, located at 747 Howard St. in San Francisco, California. The dates are Monday-Friday, 3-7 December 2012. More than 20,000 scientists from around the world are expected to assemble for this premier meeting of the Earth and space sciences. The meeting will take place in the convention center’s West, North and South buildings.

For journalists, the Fall Meeting is an opportunity to learn about the latest research in fields as diverse as climate change, water resources, planetary exploration, volcanism, seismology, and extreme weather— as well as the latest results from the Mars Science Laboratory, a.k.a. the “Curiosity” rover.

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NASA To Hold Media Teleconference About Record-Breaking Galaxy Cluster

August 9, 2012 1 comment

NASA will hold a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Aug. 15, to discuss an extraordinary galaxy cluster that is smashing several important cosmic records.

The general public also can ask the panelists questions via Twitter using the hashtag #asknasa.

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New NASA Mission Ready To Brave Earth’s Radiation Belts

NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) mission will send two spacecraft into the harsh environment of our planet’s radiation belts. Final preparations have begun for launch on Thursday, Aug. 23, from Florida’s Space Coast.

The RBSP spacecraft are designed to fly and operate in the heart of the most hazardous regions of near-Earth space to collect crucial data. The data will help researchers develop an understanding of the Van Allen radiation belts, two rings of very high energy electrons and protons that can pose hazards to human and robotic explorers.

RBSP will help scientists understand how the invisible radiation belts — named for James Van Allen, who discovered them — behave and react to changes in the sun, thereby contributing to Earth’s space weather. Space weather is caused in great part by the sun’s influence on Earth and near-Earth space, including solar events such as giant eruptions of solar material called coronal mass ejections.

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Plenty Of Dark Matter Near The Sun

The high resolution simulation of the Milky Way used to test the mass-measuring technique. Credit: Dr A. Hobbs.

Astronomers at the University of Zürich, the ETH Zurich, the University of Leicester and NAOC Beijing have found large amounts of invisible “dark matter” near the Sun. Their results are consistent with the theory that the Milky Way Galaxy is surrounded by a massive “halo” of dark matter, but this is the first study of its kind to use a method rigorously tested against mock data from high quality simulations. The authors also find tantalising hints of a new dark matter component in our Galaxy. The team’s results will be published in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Dark matter was first proposed by the Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky in the 1930s. He found that clusters of galaxies were filled with a mysterious dark matter that kept them from flying apart. At nearly the same time, Jan Oort in the Netherlands discovered that the density of matter near the Sun was nearly twice what could be explained by the presence of stars and gas alone. In the intervening decades, astronomers developed a theory of dark matter and structure formation that explains the properties of clusters and galaxies in the Universe, but the amount of dark matter in the solar neighbourhood has remained more mysterious.

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