If you've forgotten just how inspiring the Curiosity Rover and those responsible for her journey are, take 5 minutes to watch this lovely piece created by director/photojournalist Dan Winters, editor John Aldrich and sound designer/composer Shervin Shaeri. With narration from key members of the MSL team, including Adam Steltzner, Miguel San Martin, Ann Devereaux and Allen Chen detailing their personal feelings about the rover, it's a lovely, visual journey through the life of Curiosity thus far.
Here's my favorite quote from the piece, which encapsulates the sense of connection between the engineers and scientists who birthed Curiosity, but now only get the occasional phone call or pic from their kiddo far, far away:
"We get to see her in images that she takes of herself, but we won't ever touch again and we won't ever be able to fix her again."
NEIGHBORHOOD WATCH FOR SPACE?
NASA has a little problem...there are about 500,000 pieces of hazardous space junk orbiting the earth, and there's no trash collector scheduled for the route anytime in the near future! This debris includes spent rocket stages, defunct satellites and fragments from other spacecraft that are the result of erosion, explosion and collision, and it threatens current peacekeeping and combat satellites, as a collision between a piece of the space trash and a satellite could release more than 20,000 times the energy of a head-on auto collision at 65 mph.
So what's a government agency to do?
DARPA has created SpaceView, "a space debris tracking project that provides amateur astronomers with the means to make a difference....The vision behind the SpaceView program is to provide more diverse data to the Space Surveillance Network (SSN), a U.S. Air Force program charged with cataloguing and observing space objects to identify potential near-term collisions. SpaceView hopes to achieve that goal by engaging U.S. amateur astronomers by purchasing remote access to an already in-use telescope or by providing a telescope to selected astronomers. When a telescope that is provided by the program is not in use by the SpaceView program, DARPA will provide its use for astronomy and astrophotography."
So in other words, if you're located where they need you to be, you might get to time-share some equipment, qualify for some fancy upgraded hardware or even receive some minor financial compensation. And of course, there's that satisfying undercover-superhero-feeling that comes from quietly saving the Earth!
Interested astronomers may learn more about the program and sign up at www.spaceviewnetwork.com. Participants will be selected based on geographic location and access to a permanent site for a telescope, among other criteria.
COLBERT'S INTELLECTUAL HYDROPLANE: BECOMING MASSIVE!
Theoretical physicist Sean Carroll hungout with Stephen Colbert last week while promoting his new book THE PARTICLE AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE: How the Hunt for Higgs Boson Leads us to the Edge of a New World.
In between Colbert's jokes about jetpacks and teleportation, Carroll attempts to explain what exactly the Higgs Boson is and why it's important.
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