Dinosaurs: The Original Citizen Scientists! November 25, 2013

Show notes for episode 176
Hosts: Paul, Rob B., Ryan, Pat
Title: Dinosaurs: The Original Citizen Scientists!

The anniversary of the first Australian satellite is approaching, which makes our resident Australian smile. Comet ISON is continuing to stay in the headlines (first it outbursts, now it might be fragmenting). Ryan and Rob were at the Science Teachers Association of Ontario (STAO) conference; they fill us in on everything from critical thinking to Steve Spangler. Asteroids, comets, and dinosaurs (the original citizen scientists)…we could talk about this stuff for hours (but don’t worry…we don’t). Thanks for tuning in, podcast and show notes below.

This week in space/astronomy history:
1. November 29, 1803 – Christian Doppler (died March 17, 1853) was an Austrian mathematician and physicist. Famous for developing the understanding of the Doppler effect.
2. November 27, 1885 – The first known image of a meteor shower is taken by Ladislaus Weinek. The image was taken in Prague at the Klementium Observatory, during a very intense meteor shower, at several thousand meteors/hour (Suggested Reading: Andromedids, Catchers of the Light by Dr. Stephan Hughes).
3. November 29, 1967 – Australia launches its first satellite. (Suggested Reading: WREsat)
4. November 26, 2011 – Mars Science Laboratory launches from Kennedy Space Centre.


1. UrtheCast platform being launched on Progress M21-M today, heading to ISS. Two HD cameras to be installed on the ISS to take near-real-time (within a few hours) video and imagery. The cameras will capture 40 km swaths at 5m resolution between 51 degrees N and S. (Flashmob anyone?)  Urthecast is based out of Vancouver, Canada (Suggested Reading: Universe Today article, Urthecast Website, Spaceflight 101 Progress M21-M Updates, SpaceRef article).

 2. IceCube detects high-energy neutrinos. High Energy Neutrino Flux and sourcing are the goals of the IceCube mission in Antarctica, co-owned by UW Madison, who for the first time obtained a statistically significant (>4 sigma) measurement of a neutrino from beyond the solar system. Energies measured were on order of 50 TeV, a million times greater on average than the neutrino burst detected in 1987, precluding the galactic supernova 1987a (Suggested Reading: PhysOrg article, IceCube Wikipedia, UWMad website, SNOLab).

3. Citizen Science! NASA to crowd-source Asteroid detection in survey data. In partnership with the company Planetary Resources, NASA hopes to recruit citizens to improve our ability to detect and map the orbits of near-Earth asteroids, whose orbits bring them near the Earth from time to time. This is part of NASA’s Asteroid Grand Challenge, which aims not just to identify potentially dangerous asteroids, but also to identify asteroids that we might be able to redirect to stable orbits near the moon as a destination for exploration or even mining by astronauts. The PBS show NOVA ran a recent episode focusing in part on Planetary Resources’ long-term goal of mining billions of dollars worth of iron, nickel, platinum and other rare elements from asteroids moved into orbits near the Moon. So there’s more than one reason to find near-Earth asteroids. As part of this citizen science program, the website Zooniverse, of Galaxy Zoo fame, is developing an Asteroid Zoo platform where you will likely be able to help software figure out what’s an asteroid and what isn’t. NASA will also be looking for savvy computer programmers who can help tune the software. Help watch the skies! (Suggested Reading: NASA Press Release, PBS Doomsday or Payday, Universe Today article)

4. The launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 pushed to Thursday November 28, 2013. Today SpaceX attempted to launch its SES 8 telecommunications satellite aboard a Falcon 9 into geostationary transfer orbit (80 000 km from Earth). Unfortunately, SpaceX was forced to delay due to issues with the first stage (Suggested Reading: SpaceX Launch Update, America Space article).

6. ISON has been busy over the last week. It is now too close to the Sun for early morning viewers to see. The next few days are critical in finding out if the comet can survive the close pass to the Sun and become the comet we’ve all been hoping for. November 28th, 2013 is perihelion, or the time at which the comet is closest to the Sun. News out of the Comet ISON Observing Campaign indicates that the comet may have fragmented, however, this can only be known once the comet comes out the other side of the Sun (Suggested Reading: NASA ISON website, NASA ISON vs. the Solar System, ISON Observing Campaign, Bad Astronomy Article, Upcoming NASA Press Conference).

Major Topics Discussed:

1. STAO Conference recap
Rob & Ryan review some issues, topics, and resources in science education. Astronomy related content: Ryan’s Astronomy in Action, Starry Night, RASC, Perimeter Institute, CSA represented. Featured Speakers included CSA astronaut Jeremy Hansen & Science demonstrator extraordinaire Steve Spangler. SCAO Meeting – Science Curriculum writers association meeting the day prior to STAO – Focus of Education in Canada is S.T.E.M. – Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, and their integration into specific courses.  Also inquiry based learning is pushing forward ( Suggested Reading: STAO homepage).

Thanks for listening!
-YorkUniverse Team
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