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An NASA observatory, a Nobel Prize, and an asteroid named after him. Quite a guy!

Looking into Google’s celebration of the birthday of astrophysicist Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, I was fascinated by the man’s career that spanned from home schooling in Madras, to Cambridge, to Chicago.

Carl Sagan was his student! His uncle also had won a Nobel!

Chandrasekhar’s propensity for research was unstoppable – he apparently investigated a fresh field of study each decade!  His Nobel Prize for Physics came in 1983.

As for the observatory, the Chandra X-Ray Observatory is the third of NASA’s ‘great observatories’ –after Hubble and the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory.

 

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Posted by on October 19, 2017 in STEM

 

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Plans afoot for Space Day 2017

Just announced plans for Space Day at Salt River Elementary – our 6th year!

  • This year’s focus is on the Moon, rockery and spacesuits.
  • The student competition is to design a future spacesuit 
  • Each class in every grade level will experience one facet of space science
  • When: Oct. 26th, 2017    Time: 8:30 am – 3:00 pm

As the event grows bigger each year, my thanks to those who will be supporting it:

  • Orbital ATK, Arizona
  • Jet Propulsion Lab, California
  • Autonomous Collective Systems Lab, at ASU
  • SpaceTRex, University of Arizona
  • Challenger Space Center, Arizona

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 


 

 

Space science is a fascinating field, and gives us who focus on STEM an ability to widen the lens. Consider some of the recent developments

 

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2017 in Ed-Tech, Education, Events, STEM

 

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Thanks, Cassini for all your work. And catching our ‘wave’

Cassini, the robotic spacecraft that traveled for nineteen years (and some 948,149,234 miles), came to a sad end today, as it flew into Saturn. It’s demise was planned, however for good reasons.

It was one ambitious mission in 1997. A knowledge excursion to parts of our solar system that were previously beyond our reach. Through Cassini, we learned about and discovered more of Saturn’s moons, we got to see the make up of its spectacular rings, and learned that the gas planet does have its own hurricanes. It carried a probe, which it landed on one of Saturns’ moons using a parachute. It beamed back data through NASA’s Deep Space Network, and as you’d expect from any celebrity now, Cassini had its own Twitter handle, @CassiniSaturn.

Cassini’s full name is Cassini–Huygens, being born of a project collaboration between three space agencies from the US, Italy, and Europe.

Cassini was used for interesting aerial photo-op. It took place on July 19, 2013. The folks who programmed Cassini turned the spacecraft back toward Earth to take a picture of earthlings waving at it. The images were then beamed back and stitched together in a huge mosaic of the Saturn system, itself! More about that event, here.

 

 
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Posted by on September 16, 2017 in STEM, Technology

 

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Two flavors of ‘Ice Cream’ to the Space Station!

The Dragon capsule delivered several technologies and experiments (6,4000 pounds of it) to the International Space Station. But it also delivered ice cream to the astronauts on board. So what’s a few scoops, for those folks who travel at 17,000 miles an hour for several months!

Also, in a geeky twist, it is also delivering another flavor, so to speak: ‘ISS-CREAM‘ – the acronym for ISS Cosmic Ray Energetics And Mass. It is a balloon-borne instrument that “measures the charges of cosmic rays ranging from hydrogen up through iron nuclei, over a broad energy range.” Clear as mud. (a balloon carrying ISS-CREAM) But very cool, huh?

As for the docking, as I mentioned in a previous post about the robotic arm and the maneuver, it is pretty cool! Humans need robots – and some ice cream now and then.

 
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Posted by on August 17, 2017 in Social Media

 

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Farewell to our quintessential Rocket Man, John Glenn

John Glenn was quite a guy. You don’t find many role models like him these days. The ones you could hold up for kids as examples of someone pushing the boundaries of science. He was the first American to orbit the Earth. To me he stood out as someone who put in the grunt work most people miss.

It’s easy to forget that before he climbed aboard ‘Friendship 7′ spacecraft on Feb 20th 1962 for his short (4 hrs, 55 mins, and 23 secs) flight, John Glenn was a fighter pilot.*

The story not often told is that before re-entry, NASA’s Mission Control told Glenn “not to jettison the retro-rocket package after firing” in order to better hold the heat shield in place. In other words, “Wait and see – you are part of the experiment!”

At the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, standing beside Friendship 7, one marvels at the courage it took to climb into this over-sized tin-can in the interest of science, not knowing what might happen when being hurled into an orbit around the Earth at 17,000 mph.

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John Glenn passed away today. He was 95.

* He flew missions in World War II, Guam, and Korea, and later served his country as a senator for 25 years. He even got back to space, briefly for a flight on the Space Shuttle.

 
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Posted by on December 8, 2016 in Education, STEM

 

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SPACE DAY – Our 5th year of ‘slipping the surly bonds of earth’

In 2012, when I put together Mars Day at our school, I could tell there was a huge appetite for all things space-related. After all, the Mars rover ‘Curiosity’ had landed on the red planet a few months before.

space-dayThis year, our 5th year, we are broadening our lens, so to speak. We are calling it SPACE DAY. It is on Oct. 19th at Salt River Elementary.

I am so fortunate to have so many groups supporting me. From a NASA scientist, to Orbital ATK (formerly Orbital Science), and several groups from the School of Earth and Space at Arizona State University. Also a team who keeps bringing back StarLab, the inflatable planetarium. But wait, there’s more – a surprise guest from the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL), the NASA group prepping for Mars.

There are several break-out sessions, some that will happen concurrently. We may even have a few real rocket launches outside! This year two of my colleagues will  conduct hands-on sessions that add art and design to the mix. My goal has always been to add more of the ‘A’ to the S.T.E.A.M programs.

Almost every week it’s hard to escape news of audacious new programs pertaining to vehicular designs, space colonies, cosmonauts, or discoveries about comets, asteroids, and planets –the ones we know, and those that are still to be named.

One day of the year just scratches the surface, don’t you think?

 
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Posted by on October 6, 2016 in Ed-Tech, Education, STEM, Technology

 

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Earth to Scott Kelly: Welcome home!

Watching Scott Kelly, and his ongoing work on the International Space Station for the past year has been like following a live-action science-and-technology class.

Many of the NASA-related activities in our school this past year (talking with an engineer at JPL, and the crew of a Mars mission simulation etc) have directly or indirectly addressed to the big question “What will it be like to live on Mars?” Astro-twins Scott and Mark Kelly, have become the human faces of astronomy, aerospace, and space exploration.

Students keep asking questions such as:

What kind of ‘work’ do engineers and astronauts do, besides floating around doing ‘space gardening’ and 3D mapping? Some amazing work is described here. We watched some incredible views taken by GoPro cameras aboard the ISS, including one involving inserting the GoPro into a water bubble.

On the fun side, I’ve even used Scott’s Time Magazine cover photo to teach a class on Photoshop (replacing Kelly with a 6th grade teacher who’s got a similar look.)

Here’s hoping we see more of Kelly brothers, and get to hear from Scott. Perhaps in a future Mars Day!

He should be back on earth tonight – NASA says touchdown is scheduled for 11:27 pm Eastern Time. As he put it in 140 characters before he left the ISS, “the journey isn’t over.”

 

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