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Archive for the ‘Awards & Prizes’ Category

Student Asteroid Naming Contest Announced

September 6, 2012 Leave a comment

Students around the world have the opportunity to suggest names for an asteroid that will be visited by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft later this decade.

Scheduled for launch in 2016, the OSIRIS-REx mission will return the first samples ever taken from a special type of asteroid holding clues to the origin of the solar system and likely organic molecules that may have seeded life on Earth.

“Our mission will be focused on 1999 RQ36 for more than a decade, and we look forward to having a name that is easier to say than (101955) 1999 RQ36,” said OSIRIS REx principal investigator Dante Lauretta.

Full Story: http://www.planetary.org/press-room/releases/2012/0904-student-asteroid-naming.html

NASA Announces Asteroid Naming Contest For Students

September 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Students worldwide have an opportunity to name an asteroid from which an upcoming NASA mission will return samples to Earth.

Scheduled to launch in 2016, the mission is called the Origins-Spectral Interpretation-Resource Identification-Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx). Samples returned from the primitive surface of the near-Earth asteroid currently called (101955) 1999 RQ36 could hold clues to the origin of the solar system and organic molecules that may have seeded life on Earth. NASA also is planning a crewed mission to an asteroid by 2025. A closer scientific study of asteroids will provide context and help inform this mission.

The competition is open to students under age 18 from anywhere in the world. Each contestant can submit one name, up to 16 characters long. Entries must include a short explanation and rationale for the name. Submissions must be made by an adult on behalf of the student. The contest deadline is Sunday, Dec. 2, 2012.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/name-asteroid.html

NOAO: Dr. Malcolm Smith Receives IDA David Crawford Lifetime Achievement Award

September 4, 2012 Leave a comment

On August 29th, the lights went off and the stars turned on during a special event at Beijing Planetarium. As part of the meeting of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), Dr. Malcolm Smith, National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) was honored for his long and substantial contributions to light pollution abatement on behalf of astronomical observatories and the community at large. Dr. David Silva (NOAO Director) and Bob Parks (International Dark-Sky Association Executive Director) presented Dr. Smith with the IDA David Crawford Lifetime Achievement Award. This award, in honor of the International Dark-Sky Association’s (IDA) co-founder and first executive director, recognizes those who have made substantial effort and change in light pollution abatement education.

The presentation was witnessed by a crowd of 100 people from the International Astronomical Union’s special session on light pollution. At the same event, a planetarium Public Service Announcement “sneak preview” on light pollution, created by Loch Ness Productions for IDA, made its world debut.

Full Story: http://www.noao.edu/news/2012/pr1202.php

Top physicists gather in Jerusalem to mark 40 years Since Jacob Bekenstein’s Famous Essay On The Entropy Of Black Holes

September 3, 2012 Leave a comment

As the scientific community marks 40 years since the publication of Prof. Jacob Bekenstein’s famous paper on black hole entropy, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s Institute for Advanced Studies is celebrating the occasion by hosting an international conference featuring the world’s top theoretical physicists. The Sep. 3-7 conference, Forty Years of Black Hole Thermodynamics, is presented in cooperation with the Israel Science Foundation and will focus on recent ramifications of black hole thermodynamics and prospects for the future.

Bekenstein’s groundbreaking proposals about black holes, entropy and thermodynamics were originally contested by renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who later admitted that Bekenstein was correct and affirmed Bekenstein’s ideas with his famous proposal for the existence of Hawking radiation.

Full Story: http://www.huji.ac.il/cgi-bin/dovrut/dovrut_search_eng.pl?mesge134666067605872560

NASA’S SOFIA To Embark On New Cycle Of Science Observations

August 31, 2012 1 comment

Cabin View In Flight

The Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, or SOFIA, a joint program between NASA and the German Aerospace Center DLR, is set to begin its first full cycle of science flights starting in November 2012 and extending through December 2013. SOFIA’s Science Mission Operations Director Erick Young today announced the list of researchers who have been awarded time to study the universe with this unique infrared observatory.

SOFIA is a heavily modified 747SP aircraft that carries a telescope with an effective diameter of 100 inches (2.5 meters) to altitudes above 39,000 feet (12 km), beyond the obscuring layer of water vapor in Earth’s atmosphere.

In announcing the observing time awards, Young noted, “More than 1,000 hours of observing time were requested, five times the amount available, evidence of SOFIA’s desirability to astronomers. The approved projects make good use of the observatory’s capabilities to study objects ranging from Earth’s solar system neighbors to galaxies hundreds of millions of light years away.”

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/SOFIA/12-24.html

Stanford Physicist Wins $3 Million Fundamental Physics Prize


Stanford physics Professor Andrei Linde has been named an inaugural winner of the $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize. The award recognizes Linde’s work developing cosmic inflation theory, a modification on big bang theory that generates a more accurate description of the birth of the universe.

Andrei Linde freely admits that when he began developing theories of cosmic inflation in the early 1980s, the concept seemed like pure science fiction. But, as experimental data has verified his work, inflationary theory has been accepted as a cosmologic paradigm. In recognition, Stanford physics Professor Linde was named an inaugural recipient of the $3 million Fundamental Physics Prize.

Full Story: http://news.stanford.edu/pr/2012/pr-physicist-linde-award-073112.html

RIT Leads Development Of Next-generation Infrared Detectors


Cheaper, larger and better infrared detectors grown on silicon wafers could give more scientists access to infrared astronomy and further spur the hunt for exoplanets and the study of the universe’s acceleration. Closer to home, the same technology could also advance remote sensing and medical imaging.

The National Science Foundation has awarded Rochester Institute of Technology $1.2 million to develop, fabricate and test a new family of detectors grown on silicon wafer substrates by Raytheon Visions Systems.

“If this is successful, the astronomy community will have a ready supply of affordable detectors that could be deployed on a wider range of facilities,” says Don Figer, director of the Center for Detectors at RIT and lead scientist on the project. “Right now infrared detectors are so expensive that there are only a few on the world’s biggest telescopes—Keck, Gemini, the Very Large Telescope. Those are the only facilities that can afford them, and then they can only afford a few. They have big telescopes with big focal planes and tiny detectors in the middle.”

Full Story: http://www.rit.edu/news/release.php?id=49252

Private Foundations Fund New Astronomy Tool


The W. M. Keck Observatory has been awarded two major grants to help build a $4 million laser system as the next leap forward in a technology which already enables ground-based telescopes to exceed the observational power of telescopes in space. The new laser, when installed on the current adaptive optics system on the Keck II telescope, will improve the performance of the system and advance future technology initiatives.

“Ever since Galileo, astronomers have been building bigger telescopes to collect more light to be able to observe more distant objects,” said Peter Wizinowich, who leads the adaptive optics developments at Keck Observatory. “In theory, the larger the telescope the more detail you can see. However, because of the blurring caused by Earth’s atmosphere, a 10-inch or a 10-meter telescope see about the same amount of detail.”

There are two solutions to this problem, Wizinowich said: put a telescope in space or use adaptive optics technology to cancel out the distortions of the atmosphere. W. M. Keck Observatory helped pioneer the astronomical use of adaptive optics in the 1990’s, and now delivers images three to four times sharper than the Hubble Space Telescope.

Full Story: http://keckobservatory.org/news/1.5_million_for_next_generation_laser

NASA Space Tech Program Selects Technologies For Development And Demonstration On Suborbital Flights


NASA’S Space Technology Program has selected 14 technologies for development and demonstration on commercial reusable suborbital launch vehicles.

The selected proposals offer innovative cutting-edge ideas and approaches for technology in areas including active thermal management, advanced avionics, pinpoint landing and advanced in-space propulsion. They also address many of the high-priority technology needs identified in the recent National Research Council’s Space Technology Roadmaps and Priorities report. These payloads will help NASA advance technology development needed to enable NASA’s current and future missions in exploration, science and space operations.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/jul/HQ_12-221_Suborbital_Payloads_Selected.html

NASA Hosts First Multi-Center Social Media Event for Mars Landing

June 26, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA is inviting its social media followers to the first ever multi-center NASA Social on Aug. 3, 2012, to preview the landing of the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover on Aug. 5 PDT. NASA Socials are in-person meetings with people who engage with the agency through Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and other social networks.
Events will be held simultaneously at six NASA field centers, including Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland; Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md.; Johnson Space Center in Houston; and, Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va. Each center will be connected via a multi-center NASA Television simulcast with NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, Calif., during its NASA Social, which was previously announced. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission for NASA.Participants will learn about the Mars Science Laboratory mission and their respective NASA field center host. They are encouraged to share their experience with others through their favorite social networks. Along with discussing MSL and Mars, participants will get a unique behind-the-scenes look at the center and the diverse work of the agency through tours and presentations by scientists, engineers and managers. The events also will provide guests the opportunity to interact with fellow social media users, space enthusiasts and members of NASA’s social media team.

Full Story:  http://www.nasa.gov/centers/ames/news/releases/2012/12-47AR.html