James Webb Space Telescope on Chopping Block

URGENT from Heidi Hammel: “The House Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations Subcommittee has proposed termination of the James Webb Space Telescope. Now is the time to contact your representatives in Washington, as well as members of the Appropriations Subcommittees, if you support JWST.”

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Track Kepler’s Candidate Exoplanets with a new app

I’m not an app person, but when I got an e-mail from Hanno Rein of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University suggesting that I look at a new iPhone/iPad app called “Kepler” to track the ever-increasing list of candidate exoplanets from the Kepler satellite, I decided to check it out.

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Searching for Martian DNA

I recently began giving a school visit talk called “The Truth About Space Aliens: What We Know and What We Don’t Know About Life on Other Worlds based on Astrobiology book covermy “Cool Science” book, Astrobiology.

This news release will certainly give me more to talk about. We will soon have instruments looking for Martian RNA or DNA, say scientists from MIT and Harvard. If we find it, we will be able to compare it to similar genetic material from Earth.

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Jim Elliot, discoverer of rings of Uranus, 1943-2011

One of the themes in my writing for young readers has been that a scientist’s achievements flow from the richness of his or her life, that s/he is more than his/her discoveries. So I share this obituary of Jim Elliot, who was planetary astronomer Heidi Hammel’s mentor. I never met him, but his kindness was apparent through e-mails exchanged during and after my writing of Heidi’s biography in the Women’s Adventures in Science series.

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Europa serves as guide star for Keck adaptive optics view of Jupiter

One of my greatest writing pleasures has been getting to know Heidi Hammel when I wrote her biography, Beyond Jupiter for the Joseph Henry Press “Women’s Adventures in Science” series. Among the many things we have discussed is the advance in imaging made possible by adaptive optics, which enables the Keck telescope (and others) to correct for atmospheric distortions.

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Anti-matter beaming out into space from Earth

Sometimes the news releases that cross my desk astonish me. This was one of them. It comes from NASA’s Fermi Gamma Ray Telescope.

Fermi was launched in 2008, replacing the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory (CGRO) that was deorbited in 2000. I write about CGRO in the chapter on The Great Observatories in my new book 7WSpaceTech Book CoverSeven Wonders of Space Technology

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