Archive for the ‘space’ tag

NASA Wants You to Share Your Out-of-this-World Creativity

By October 16th, 2012 at 8:54 am | Comment

NASA JPL wants your out-of-this-world creativity!

Remember those old diagrams in your grade school science text books?  I used to flip through each chapter trying to find the coolest images, but was continually disappointed when I was forced to squint at tiny illustrations. As I continued through school, however, I found myself drawn to large illustrations that conveyed information effectively and in plain language. I read The Way Things Work every night before bed. The blend of science, art, design, and communication, was intriguing, and I suppose part of why I entered the field of GIS and mapping.

From subway maps to government information pamphlets and all across digital and print media, illustrations are an engaging way to convey information.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) agrees, and their new citizen science project, JPL Infographics, calls on you to be the scientist-artist in charge of communicating their cutting edge science. NASA provides a huge library of amazing high-resolution space images, 3-D models, and lists of interesting facts for you to piece together into your very own Infographic. You can browse other user submissions for inspiration and then upload your finished image easily online.

Head to the JPL Infographics project to learn more. It is free to join, and registration is easy! This is a really fun and challenging project, and your work will be used to educate and inform others about cutting-edge space exploration.

Fire up both sides of your brain and create some educational space art!

Be sure to check out JPL on Facebook and follow them on twitter @NASAJPL.

Photo: NASA JPL

You can discover the next comet…from your couch!

By October 18th, 2011 at 5:39 pm | Comment

SOHO’s 2000th comet, spotted by a Polish astronomy student on December 26, 2010. (Photo: NRL)

SOHO’s 2000th comet, spotted by a Polish astronomy student on December 26, 2010. (Photo: NASA/NRL)

In December 2010, as people on Earth celebrated the holidays and prepared to ring in the New Year, a European Space Agency (ESA)/NASA spacecraft quietly reached its own milestone: on December 26, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) discovered its 2000th comet.

Drawing on help from citizen scientists around the world, SOHO has become the single greatest comet finder of all time. This is all the more impressive since SOHO was not designed to find comets, but to monitor the Sun.

“Since it launched on December 2, 1995, to observe the Sun, SOHO has more than doubled the number of comets for which orbits have been determined over the last three hundred years,” says Joe Gurman, the U.S. project scientist for SOHO at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

Of course, it is not SOHO itself that discovers the comets — that is the province of the dozens of amateur astronomer volunteers who daily pore over the images produced by SOHO’s LASCO (or Large Angle and Spectrometric Coronagraph) cameras. More than 70 people representing 18 different countries have helped spot comets over the last 15 years by searching through the publicly available SOHO/LASCO images online. The 1999th and 2000th comets were both discovered by an astronomy student at the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland.

“There’s an ever-growing community of amateur astronomers who contribute to this project,” says Karl Battams, who has been in charge of running the SOHO comet-sighting web site since 2003 for the Naval Research Laboratory, where he does software development, data processing, and visualization work for NRL’s solar physics missions. “These volunteers are absolutely fundamental to the success of this program. Without them, most of this tremendously valuable astronomical data would never see the light of day.”

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Amateur Astronomers Discover Massive Fireball on Jupiter

By June 4th, 2010 at 4:42 pm | Comment

Amateur Astronomers Sport Giant Fireball on Jupiter

Photo: Anthony Wesley, Broken Hill, Australia

Not that we’re competing, but stargazers Anthony Wesley and Christopher Go have now spotted one more giant fireball on Jupiter than me, according to several news reports.

Wesley apparently caught the impact event on camera from Australia, and Go simultaneously captured video of the resulting blast of light from the Philipines. Pretty amazing stuff.

If you’re an amateur astronomer, we’d love to see some your favorite images. Check out our Member Blog section and share your work with the rest of our citizen science community.

You can also search through our Project Finder to find potential astronomy projects that may need your help. If you know of a neat project that isn’t in the database, add it!