Its PI Day!

If you are mathematical geek like me, today is a special day.   March, 14th of every year, 3-14, or 3.14, or fully expanded below..

Pi actually goes on for quite a while, infintity actually.  It has no discovered repeating pattern.

Pi is the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter.

reflections-on-pi

Pi has many different properties, as shown in the Robert Deupree Jr. design above.  Who knew that math (or maths if you are English) could make you hungry?

congress

In 2009, Congress officially recognized 3.14 as National Pi Day to encourage math and science in schools.

You can even find your birthday in pi here, or have pie for your birthday.  Both will work!  My birthday position in pi starts at 5301.

The official Pi Day website (www.piday.org) has all sorts of fun filled activities related to pi for you.  If you like math or are just intrigued by this number, you should check it out.

As for me, I started a Pi(e) day event at work.  Tasty and educational.  The recipe for the dessert pi above can be found here.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Looking Up For A Change.

High-altitude scientific balloons have been used for years by scientists for a variety of studies including hauling telescopes to near space for observations.  However, planetary scientists haven’t been able to use them. That’s because they needed a highly stable system to accurately point their instruments and track planetary targets as they move.

Now NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va., has designed a new pointing system — the Wallops Arc Second Pointer (WASP) — that can point balloon-borne scientific instruments at targets with sub arc-second accuracy and stability. A full scale test is scheduled later this year.


“Arc-second pointing is unbelievably precise,” said David Stuchlik, the WASP project manager. “Some compare it to the ability to find and track an object that is the diameter of a dime from two miles away.”


WASP is designed to be a highly flexible, standardized system capable of supporting many science payloads and frees scientists from having to develop their own pointing systems. Now, they can focus on creating the instruments.
– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Herschel Finds Water On Ceres.

Scientists using the Herschel space telescope have made the first definitive detection of water vapor on Ceres.

Ceres is the largest and roundest object in the asteroid belt and is classified as a dwarf planet, a solar system body bigger than an asteroid and smaller than a planet.

Photo : CNRS

Scientists think that plumes of water vapor shoot up from Ceres when parts of its surface are warmed by the Sun.

 

In 2015 the Dawn spacecraft will be able to provide more information, hopefully confirming and expanding the data, when it arrives at Ceres next year.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Commercial Space Programs Expand.

It comes as no surprise that commercial space programs are expanding at an ever increasing pace.  Now the government and NASA are putting unused space program assets to use helping these enterprises along.

NASA will turn over one of its unused space-shuttle launch pads to Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) so that they can set up a second site in Florida.

SpaceX current sends routine re-supply missions to the ISS using its Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX won out over protests from rival space company Blue Origin, founded by Amazon’s  Jeff Bezos.

The Government Accountability Office dismissed Blue Origin’s protest.  However, the GAO said NASA could consider renting the launch pad under exclusive or multi-use arrangements for the launch pad.

NASA spends around $100,000 a month to maintain the site, so this agreement will help both NASA and SpaceX.

SpaceX is already launching its Falcon rockets from a leased launch pad at Cape Canaveral and it has a launch pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

SpaceX’s locations are a little different from other commercial space enterprises that are basing their operations out of the New Mexico spaceport.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Mother Earth Rising.

The European Space Agency launched the Gaia satellite last week.

Gaia is the personification of Earth in Greek mythology.

But this Gaia, is designed to map the Milky Way in 3D.  Which should look really good on my 3D TV when the movie comes out.

From it vantage point at the L2 Lagrange point, Gaia will measure the motions of the stars in the galaxy orbiting  around the super-massive black hole at the center .

Like the original Star Trek television series, Gaia’s five year mission is to measure light curves and position information over time for all the stars in the galaxy.  This highly accurate information over time will determine distances for each star that will be used to make a more accurate 3D model of the galaxy.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Exomoons?

If you have seen the movie Avatar (if you are reading this blog I will assume that you have), then you know the mythical planet of Pandora seems to be orbiting a large gas giant planet.

Although the orbit doesn’t make a whole lot of scientific sense, the model is sound.  Exomoons, by definition, orbit an exoplanet.  However, just like the movie and perhaps our own Solar system, some of these moons may be capable of sustaining life where their parent planet cannot.

Saturn’s moon Titan is believed to be able to sustain life since we have found oceans of water underneath the frozen surface.

So the prospect of an exomoon harboring life is also plausible.

But how do you find an exomoon orbiting around an exoplanet parsecs away?  Teams of scientists are currently working one methods to detect exomoons using the science developed hunting for exoplanets and data already gathered from Kepler.

So perhaps Pandora does exist, but I wouldn’t hold by breath of finding unobtainium anywhere in the Universe.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

There are those who believe…that life out there began here.

Conversely to the famous Battlestar Galactica television series statement, scientists now believe that any life found in the Solar system may have started here.  But how could that happen?

Most people know that the KPg impact caused by a 6 mile wide asteroid hitting Earth killed up to 90% of all life on the planet and ended the era of the dinosaurs and began the rise of mammals.

http://cdn0.cosmosmagazine.com/wp-content/uploads/20110324_meteor_hr.jpg

This impressive event also had additional side affects.  Ejecta from the impact actually left the planet.  If you knew where to look, you would find material on the Moon that came from that event.

However, a new study posits that life spread from Earth to other planets and moons during and earlier era of asteroid impacts, about 4 billion years ago.  These multiple impacts could have carried life here back to the heavens.

But is this likely?   Given the fact that of the 53,000 meteorites found on Earth, 105 have been identified as coming from Mars it is extremely possible that reverse has happened as well.

The technical term for this is lithopanspermia: the idea that basic life forms can be distributed throughout the solar system via rock fragments cast forth by meteoroid impacts.  So it may have happened that comets brought life to Earth and then asteroid and comet impacts took it from here to the rest of the planets and moons.

Patrick Macnee in Lobster man from Mars.jpg

So with extra-planetary life possible in our own neighborhood the words spoken by Patrick Macnee at the start of a classic TV show:

“There are those who believe…that life here began out there, far across the Universe…with tribes of humans…who may have been the forefathers of the Egyptians…or the Toltecs…or the Mayans…that they may have been the architects of the Great Pyramids…or the lost civilizations of Lemuria…or Atlantis.

Some believe that there may yet be brothers of man…who even now fight to survive—somewhere beyond the heavens!

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Oh, The Places We’ve Been (https://plus.google.com/+KevinGill/posts/bGA7kwn48f5)

I found this amazing graphic (below) that shows where humans have ventured from the planet.

Kevin Gill used his very own creation, the Orbit Viewer WebGL, and data from the NASA/JPL Horizons ephemeris.

First, the program is very impressive itself (props to Kevin) and the graphics are incredible.

If you would like to play with Kevin’s program you can check it out here.  It is really amazing.

You can find the original article here.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

China Lands On The Moon

Sunday night, China’s Chang’e-3 lunar lander and rover successfully landed on the Moon.

Yutu rover emblazoned with Chinese Flag as seen by the Chang'e 3 lander on the moon on Dec. 15, 2013.  Credit: China Space

China is only the 3rd country in the world to successfully land a spacecraft on the Moon (India and the E.U. have crashed probes on the Moon, but not landed).

Although the United States is still the only country to have successfully sent people to the Moon and back, China is working hard to repeat that feat.  Ironically, the Chinese spacecraft landed on the same day that America’s Apollo 17 mission left the Moon for their return trip 41 years ago.  It has been that long since anyone on Earth tried to land their again.

So congratulations to the Chinese Space Agency for a job well done.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman

Curiosity Turns 1!

It seems like yesterday the Curiosity was a bouncing….well free falling…baby spacecraft waiting to hatch, er…be dropped stork-like on to surface of Mars.

 

Although not as old as its bouncing, literally, cousins Spirit and Opportunity, Curiosity has not been idle.

Curiosity, which is the size of a car, has traveled 764 yards (699 meters) in the past four weeks after finishing experiments at one location for the past six months.

Curiosity is heading to the base of Mount Sharp, to perform more experiments before heading up the mountain (about 3 mile or 5.5 km high).  It is expected to take the better part of a year to get to the final point of the scheduled mission.

However, if Curiosity is anything like its cousins, data collection will continue well beyond the original program (with sufficient budget of course).  I mean really, after traveling millions of miles, and basically being dropped off, this rover should last for a long time.

– Ex astris, scientia –

I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine.  As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +

Norman