Asteroids are all the rage in the news and at NASA these days. Whether it is lassoing, wrangling, imaging or detecting, asteroids are the new fad in space science and innovation. Most recently, NASA has teamed up with Planetary Resources Inc. to develop a crowd-sourced software that better detects near-Earth objects. Using NASA-funded sky survey data, contestants will create algorithms that the agency will utilize to enhance existing surveys. The increased accuracy in detecting near-Earth asteroids has two major benefits, the obvious being avoiding Armageddon (because nobody wants to be stuck on an asteroid with Bill Bob Thornton) and the second is identifying possible candidates for asteroid wrangling and exploration.
NASA and Education
On November 20th, NASA launched 11 small cubesat research satellites into low-Earth orbit. These cubesats are a part of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanaosatellite, meant to get a younger generation involved with space exploration and spaceflight engineering. The program is a low-cost way for students to gain experience in developing flight hardware. Of the 11 cubesats, nine were from universities, one from a NASA center and, for the first time, one came from a high school.
Oh Chandra, how I love thee! Before I wax poetic, let me tell you why I love Chandra. Some of the most amazing images from space were taken by this telescope working in tandem with any number of others. Recently, Chandra helped detect a jet of high-energy particles coming from the supermassive black hole at the center of our galaxy, Sagittarius A. Detection of the jet is essential in determining the spin-axis of the black hole and history of its growth. A fun fact, this black hole is about 4 millions times the mass of our sun.
Now take a look at this beauty below, this is Cassiopeia A as seen by Chandra. The Smithsonian Institute unveiled a new three-dimensional viewer that allows people to interact with the exploded remains of the ancient star as a 3D model. Cas A will be the only astronomical 3D model as there will be models of fossil whales from Chile, the Wright brothers plane, a super old stone Buddha and a gun boat from the Revolutionary War.