Amateur Space Weekly - October 3

ULA wants to send your 3D-printed design into space, British teens studying a supernova, and undergraduates running research projects in orbit are just some of the week’s headlines from around the world about the growing number of people who take space exploration in their own hands.

  • Featured News: A high school teacher does research with Nasa, light pollution research through citizen science, make your own images of Jupiter, and more. 
  • Space Makers: Your 3D printed design could go into space, British lunar rover contest, and an Indian university’s cubesat.
  • Amateurs in Space: Colorado undergrads run experiments in space and a New Hampshire high school making Nasa hardware.
  • Exploring Earth: Nasa’s favorite clouds crowdsourced.
  • Exploring Deep Space: Using Nasa archives to make space images, British teens make supernova observations.
  • Outreach, Tourism, and Other News: Distributed computing search for gravitational waves, fostering diversity throughout the STEM pipeline, and more.

Featured News

Space Makers

Credit: United Launch Alliance

United Launch Alliance kicked off a 3D printing contest that will send a maker’s design into space. Internal boattail support brackets are used to hold up work platforms around the Atlas V rocket’s payload fairing during ground processing. ULA’s technicians remove the platforms when the Atlas V is moved to the launch pad, but not the brackets which ride on the Atlas V all the way into space. The 3-2-1 Liftoff ULA Rocket Hardware Challenge gives makers around the world a chance to see their bracket design ride on a future rocket launch.

The United Kingdom’s Students for the Exploration and Development of Space launched a lunar rover competition. Student teams will design small rovers that can drive into a crater, collect geological samples, and return to a lunar lander. The finalists will drive their rovers across a Moon yard at RALSpace.

The India Institute of Technology Bombay's student-designed Pratham CubeSat hitched a ride on an ISRO space launch, DNA India reported.

Amateurs in Space

The University of Colorado Boulder featured a program that lets undergraduates work on space projects. The university’s engineering school runs BioServe Space Technologies, a company that conducts research on the International Space Station. Undergraduates “play an important role in designing, building and testing spaceflight payloads,” BioServe director Louis Stodieck told CU Today, “activities that can give them a significant advantage when they move on to careers in the aerospace industry.”

High schools United with Nasa for the Creation of Hardware (Hunch) is part of Nasa's efforts to foster America's modern manufacturing industry by bringing shop classes back to secondary schools. But this isn't your grandfather's shop class. Students learn how to use modern manufacturing tools from computer aided design to 3D printing. Along the way they build spare parts for the International Space Station. New Hampshire officials recognized Kennet High School’s four-year participation in Hunch, the Conway Daily Sun reports.

Exploring Earth

Globe Explorer is a Nasa citizen science project. Users of its smartphone app snap pictures of cloud cover to help the space agency validate data from its remote sensing satellites. Last week the program distributed a slideshow of its favorite shots.

Exploring Deep Space

Bad Astronomer Phil Plait highlighted amateur astronomer Judy Schmidt’s high resolution image of Cygnus X. Schmidt used data from Nasa’s space telescope archives to create the image.

British students used the Las Cumbres Observatory Global Telescope network to observe a supernova. The supernova was first spotted by the European Space Agency’s Gaia space telescope. An automated system of Gaia Alerts lets astronomers, professional and amateur alike, know when a star explodes.

Outreach, Tourism, and Other News

Distributed computing project Einstein@Home will publish results of its gravitational wave search. (arXiv: 1608.07589) They used data from the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory to search for ripples in space-time from the black hole at the Milky Way's center. The research, to be published in Physical Review D, did not find a signal but set an upper bound on any waves that do exist.

Astronomy in Color interviewed UCLA scientist Aomawa Shields about her journey to astronomy. She also discussed her research into exoplanet habitability and her efforts to foster inclusiveness throughout the STEM pipeline.

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