Archive

Archive for April, 2011

SDO first-light anniversary webtastic mashup: Here (again!) are all the images and videos in one place

April 21, 2011 4 comments

sdo image mosaic

Here is a one-stop-shopping collection of our efforts this week to celebrate the one-year “first light” anniversary of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Check out this “best of” compilation of video stunners from SDO’s first year at work and vote for your favorite. Voting is open until May 5. Pick the best SDO video of the year




They’re talking about us in Wales! At a meeting of the Royal Astronomical Society, researchers announced some new insights into what unleashed the powerful 2011 “Valentine’s Day” solar flare — with help from SDO.




Feast your eyes on this Flickr slideshow of SDO beauty shots.


flickr_image_475

And while you’re at it, see the past year of Solar Dynamics Observatory “pick of the week” beauty shots.




Did you miss the “Ask SDO” Twitter Q&A event on Tuesday? No problem: Experience the whole thing here on a Storify feature created by Goddard science writer Liz Zubritsky.


storify_image_475

A year ago, NASA scientists gathered to announce the first crop of amazing SDO images to the world. But you can still watch the press conference.


sdo_press_conf_475

Last but not least, browse the original SDO first-light image releases a year ago on the Goddard SDO website.


sdo_website_image_475
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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.


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Cream of the crop: See the past year of Solar Dynamics Observatory "pick of the week" beauty shots and vote for the best video of the year


screen shot from pick of the week site

The website for NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory here at Goddard has a really cool feature called Pick of the Week. Starting on May 21 last year, shortly after SDO saw first light, the curators of Pick of the Week have chosen an image to feature, whether for its scientific interest of sheer drama or beauty. Here is a slide show of the pick-of-the-week images from SDO’s first year.

Steele Hill, SOHO/STEREO/SDO Media Specialist here at Goddard, chooses the pick-of-the-week images, researches the science, writes the captions, and posts the content online. These images are often displayed at science centers and museums across the country.





AND DON”T FORGET to pick your favorite video for the SDO First Light Anniversary Video Contest. Choose from 10 different videos released over the past year.



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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.


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You gotta love this: new insights from SDO about what set off the record-breaking "Valentine's Day" flare of 2011

April 20, 2011 2 comments


valentine_flare_diagram

Here is the sun at 1.50am on 15th February 2011 using composite data of the Sun’s surface from two of SDO’s instruments. The cutout region shows (bottom right) the five rotating sunspots of the active region (AR 11158), and (top right) the bright release of light from the X class flare.

Back around February 14, you might have seen some images and movie clips from NASA about the massive “Valentine’s Day” solar flare. Today, researchers at the University of Central Lancashire are presenting new observations of that giant flare that they made using NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory.

Their conclusion: the flare was spawned by interactions between five rotating sunspots, according to research presented today at the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) National Astronomy Meeting in Llandudno, Wales.

A press release from the RAS explains it this way:

“Sunspots are features where magnetic field generated in the Sun’s interior pushes through the surface and into the atmosphere,” said Dr Brown. “Twisting the Sun’s magnetic field is like twisting an elastic band. At first you store energy in the elastic, but if you twist too much the elastic band snaps, releasing the stored energy. Similarly, rotating sunspots store energy in the Sun’s atmospheric magnetic field. If they twist too much, the magnetic field breaks releasing energy in a flash of light and heat which makes up the solar flare.”




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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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Phil Evans' Swift Universe: It's official — NASA's Swift satellite reveals a galaxy eating a star!

April 20, 2011 1 comment

Here is another guest post from Swift X-ray astronomer Phil Evans, “our man in the Midlands.” This time it’s an update about the galaxy that ate a star. — gogblog


Hungry? Fancy a snack? How about eating a star?

That, it seems, is what happened at lunchtime (in the UK) on March 28th. Here is an image of the burst from the Swift X-ray Telescope:


swift_grb_image_600

The Swift satellite detected what was at first thought to be a long Gamma Ray Burst (GRB), much like the 90-odd we detect every year although a bit on the long side. But then it “went off” again.

GRBs don’t do that. As it happens, I had just left to play football (alright, soccer if you insist) so I missed this second outburst, and I should point out that, although as your friendly blogger I’m telling this tale, it’s not my tale and I can’t claim any of the credit (alas!).

In fact, the first indication to me that this was a special event came that evening when, as I was replacing the grease filter in my cooker, my mobile phone rang. After degreasing myself enough to answer it I found that Dave Burrows, head of the Swift X-ray telescope team, asking if I could double-check some of the automatic results my code produces, because this object appeared to be weird.

(By the way, my twitter followers @swift_phil were among the first to learn that Swift had found something exciting and new!)

Weird it was. Gamma Ray Bursts get fainter over time. This didn’t, and hasn’t. Swift triggered on outbursts from it 4 times in 48 hours, and in the X-rays it remains bright today. (Back on April 7, NASA issued a press release about the event by science writer Francis Reddy.)

So what is it? Many astronomers have trained their telescopes on it in the past few weeks, taking data and reporting it quickly. Andrew Levan from Warwick University (UK) and collaborators used the Gemini telescope and found that the object was about 5 billion light years away! Further observations with infra-red and radio telescopes showed it to be right at the centre of it’s host galaxy.

Although only three weeks have passed since the event, papers are already appearing online. The consensus which is forming suggests that what Swift saw was a star straying too close to the super-massive black hole at the centre of its galaxy. The unfortunate star was torn apart and the pieces are now being gobbled up by the hungry black hole!

We’ve seen evidence for these events before — after the event — but Swift has captured yet another first: actually catching the black-hole perpetrating its massacre red-handed!

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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The never-ending parade of wow: Celebrating a year of amazing views from the NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory

sdo image of magnetic filaments on the sun

Did someone say wow? SDO captured this portrait of magnetic filaments on the sun on May 18, 2010.

Practically every week, space and astronomy bloggers get on their bony knees and thank the satellite gods for Solar Dynamics Observatory — or maybe they should. After all, since April 21 last year, little SDO has reliably produced mind-blowing beauty shots of our restless star in HD. This blog has posted about a dozen updates based on SDO material, which you can now surf on a special SDO archive page on Geeked On Goddard.

Just for good measure, here is a “best of” collection of SDO beauty shots on the Goddard Flickr page. What’s your favorite?






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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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Goddard Symposium Moments: Woodrow Whitlow and the "Moon Lady"

goddard symposium web art
Last week, March 30-31, I had the pleasure of helping to document the proceedings of the 49th annual Goddard Symposium. The event is sponsored by the American Astronautical Society with support from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Each year, the symposium celebrates the ideas and accomplishments of American rocketry pioneer Robert H. Goddard.

Imagine packing a bunch of rocket scientists and rocket entrepreneurs into the same room for two days to talk shop. It was a blast (no pun intended). Until July 1, you can see all the talks and panel discussions, and many of the speakers’ presentation slides, at a website hosted by the NASA Goddard Sciences and Exploration Directorate.

The most interesting part of the symposium, for me personally, was hearing talks and presentations by the senior NASA officials who are attempting to chart a new course for the agency — one that could include significant changes in how we explore the solar system.

I admit I expected the senior management types from NASA to play things pretty straight. And they did, of course, when it came to policy issues. But I also heard a lot of candid discussion, and a lot of humor, which was refreshing.

One of the high-ranking officials who participated, NASA Associate Administrator for Mission Support Woodrow Whitlow, Jr., told a funny story about the day he (literally) got the call from NASA to come and work for the agency. The caller was the famous Harriett G. Jenkins, Assistant Administrator for Equal Opportunity Programs at NASA from 1974 to 1992. Among other things, Jenkins recruited minority job candidates.

In 1979, Whitlow was finishing his Ph.D. at MIT in aeronautics and astronautics. Jenkins called at 5:30 a.m. to ask him to come and work for NASA. Here’s the rest of the story:


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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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Meet Hat Cam Guy, the video-streaming cyborg superhero!

HatCam Man Joel Glickman livestreams video from a tweet up at NASA Kennedy Space Center in November 2010.

Hat Cam Guy Joel Glickman livestreams video of his space-suited girlfriend, Phylise Banner, at a tweet-up at NASA Kennedy Space Center in November 2010.



You’ve heard of Superman, Batman, and Spiderman, of course. But how about Hat Cam Guy?

I met him March 19, in the flesh, at the tweetup held at NASA Goddard to mark Sun-Earth Day 2011 (#sed2011). Our brief encounter occurred one morning in the Goddard Visitor Center, as you can see in the short video below.

But there was much more to Hat Cam Guy (a.k.a., Joel Glickman) than met the eye of my camcorder.

Hat Cam Guy! Strange visitor from Albany, New York, who came to the Sun-Earth Day tweet up with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men — namely, an iPhone attached to his head that streamed the event live to a Justin.tv channel!

Hat Cam Guy! Who, disguised as mild-mannered Joel Glickman, a math professor at Hudson Valley Community College, fights a never ending battle for streaming video, social media, and the NASA way!

HatCam Man Joel Glickman at the NASA Goddard tweet up on March 19, 2011.

HatCam Man Joel Glickman at the NASA Goddard tweet up on March 19, 2011.

Glickman’s alter ego as a human camcorder began last year when he and his girlfriend, Phylise Banner, got invited to a NASA tweet up for the launch of the STS-133 mission in Florida (#sts133). As Glickman later explained to Blip.tv, he wanted to share the experience with as many people as possible. “I also wanted to take my #nasatweetup experiences back to my students and others to interest them in careers in math and the sciences,” Glickman explains.

The best way, he decided, was streaming video. But how? He was just a mortal man, not a camera. Then he found the solution: Mount his iPhone to a hat, and use the device to livestream the video free to all inhabitants of planet Earth.

Luckily, Phylise has a friend with metal fabrication skills: Paul Dwyer of Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. Dwyer, like James Bond’s gadget master “Q,” turned out to be the diabolical digital tinkerer Glickman needed to bestow his superpowers. A metal framework joined to a baseball cap transformed Glickman into a video-streaming cyborg superhero.



Download a transcript of this video as a PDF file.

The Kennedy Space Center tweetup was a success for Glickman and the other 150 lucky tweeps. The shuttle launch was postponed, but NASA invited the group back for the next attempt. They witnessed the launch in February.

Glickman’s broadcasts for STS-133 and the Sun-Earth Day tweet ups have drawn more than 20,000 views. One of the coolest things about Hat Cam technology is that viewers can message Glickman live during broadcasts. Occasionally he pulls the camera off his head to respond. “People will often walk by and say, hey, you have a message on your head,” he explains.

We have certainly not seen the last of him. In fact, he plans to HatCamcast live from the final launch of the space shuttle, STS-135, later this year. And you can follow his exploits at justin.tv/nasatweetup.


http://www.justin.tv/widgets/archive_embed_player.swf
Watch live video from nasatweetup on Justin.tv


http://blip.tv/play/gsxngo7ZdQI

Blip.tv: “For NASA, social media is now as important to the agency’s mission as print, radio, and television outlets. NASA recently invited 150 of its Twitter followers for a “tweetup” event ahead of Space Shuttle Discovery’s launch. This group will reach over 1.8 million people online.”



http://eplayer.clipsyndicate.com/cs_api/get_swf/3/&wpid=0&page_count=5&windows=1&va_id=2236902&show_title=0&auto_start=0&auto_next=0

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OH AND DID I MENTION? All opinions and opinionlike objects in this blog are mine alone and NOT those of NASA or Goddard Space Flight Center. And while we’re at it, links to websites posted on this blog do not imply endorsement of those websites by NASA.

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