We’ll soon have some excitement when the ISIM (the structure that will hold the James Webb Space Telescope’s instruments) gets put on the giant centrifuge here at NASA Goddard! Read the release to find out more about why they going to spin the ISIM on a centrifuge!
Credit: NASA/Chris Gunn
Here’s what the centrifuge looks like spinning. Geeked on Goddard has a whole feature written about it and this exclusive footage:
It’s been very cold and windy here in Maryland lately – but not quite THIS cold. I guess the upside to extreme temperatures is that you can do experiments like this one, done at Mount Washington Observatory when it was nearly -35 degrees F. Do you know what happens when you throw boiling water in the air when it’s that cold? Watch the video to find out!
In one of last week’s contests, we asked our readers/followers/listeners (whatever you guys are – we love you!) to tell us about the things they’d like to see covered here on Blueshift. And we got tons of interesting ideas that’ll fuel a bunch of our weekly brainstorming sessions! One of the suggested topics that came up more than once was what we often call “citizen science,” or opportunities for anyone, anywhere to get involved with a big scientific effort.
Over a decade ago, I remember using SETI@home as my screensaver. I ran their software and donated my computing power (and my university’s bandwidth) to analyze radio data for signs of extraterrestrial life. I’d come back to my computer and watch the data being crunched (it was often more interesting than whatever I was about to use the computer for), wondering if something unusual would be found. I felt connected, even involved, in this scientific effort. SETI@home is on the edges of citizen science, as it’s more about harnessing computer power than human power. Citizen science is all about the citizens!
Another milestone for the James Webb Space Telescope – the first primary mirror segment to be coated in gold (it’s a flight spare and engineering design unit) is undergoing cryo testing! Isn’t it pretty? I can’t wait to see what the whole mirror assembly will look like once it’s all coated in gold!
My house started rumbling at 5:04 this morning. I was instantly awake. Was it thunder? A low-flying jet? It lasted a little too long for either of those scenarios – and it was really a sensation, not a noise. I was pretty sure we’d just experienced an earthquake here in the Washington, DC, suburbs.
Yes, a quake! They’re unusual on this coast, and it’s easy to forget that there are fault lines everywhere – both active and inactive. The last earthquake I recall was in 2003, and the trailer I was working in here at Goddard shuddered exactly like it did whenever the garbage truck rolled by. I didn’t think anything of it until someone mentioned that there had been an earthquake in central Virginia.
This morning, I knew exactly what to do. In our link round-up on June 28th, we’d shared a U.S. Geological Survey citizen science project called Did You Feel It? – and I’d definitely felt it! So I ran to the computer and told the USGS what I’d felt. So did hundreds of other DC area folks who were up at 5AM and wondering what was going on. Our data created a real-time map: