Archive for 2013
Being a Mars Rover: What It’s Like on the Surface of Mars
Dr. Lori Fenton (SETI Institute)
Listen (mp3 file, 25.1 MB)
The complex, yet flawless landing of the rover Curiosity on Mars in August 2012 led to worldwide acclaim. What has NASA’s youngest robot been up to since then, and what has it discovered? Where on Mars did it land and why was that site chosen above all others? Dr. Fenton gives an overview of the rover’s capabilities, accomplishments, and plans on Mars, and describes what it’s really like on the surface of the red planet.
The ASP’s Statement Regarding the Obama Administration’s GFY14 Budget Proposal Relating to NASA SMD EPO Funding
The Astronomical Society of the Pacific (ASP), speaking from the perspective of 124 years of advancing science and science education, expresses its profound concern over the Obama Administration’s fiscal year 2014 Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) education restructuring proposal. More »
Free-floating Planets: When You’re Just Too Small to be a Star
Dr. Gibor Basri (University of California, Berkeley)
Listen (mp3 file, 34.4 MB)
The least massive star is six times heavier than the most massive known planet. In between is the realm of the mysterious “brown dwarfs.” The first of these was discovered only in 1995, the same year astronomers found the first planet beyond our solar system. Since then we have found hundreds of each, and new techniques are giving us even more power to probe the properties of these enigmatic bodies. Dr. Basri, one of the discoverers of brown dwarfs, summarizes the progress we have made in understanding the domain of cosmic objects that don’t qualify as stars.
2012 ASP Annual Report
2012 Annual Report (pdf, 1.8 MB)
Astronomy from the Stratosphere: NASA’s SOFIA Mission
Dr. Dana Backman (Director of Education & Public Outreach, SOFIA Project, NASA Ames Research Center)
Listen (mp3 file, 28.1 MB)
Why did NASA buy a used passenger airliner, cut a 10′ x 10′ hole in the fuselage, add a roll-back door, and install a 17-ton telescope inside? Dr. Backman introduces us to the engineering marvel called SOFIA — the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy. This remarkable airborne telescope began scientific research flights in 2010 and is already returning exciting discoveries about the birth of stars, interstellar chemistry, the atmospheres of giant planets, the environment around supermassive black holes, and other branches of astronomy.
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2013 Board of Directors Nominations
The Nominations Committees of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific have announced the candidates for election to the ASP Board of Directors. More »
Abstracts Now Being Accepted for 2013 Annual Meeting
The ASP is now accepting abstract proposals for its 2013 Annual Meeting, “Ensuring STEM Literacy.” More »
How Galaxies were Cooked from the Primordial Soup
Dr. Sandra Faber (University of California, Santa Cruz and University of California Observatories)
Listen (mp3 file, 29.5 MB)
The lumpiness of today’s universe of galaxies is a fundamental characteristic that took billions of years to grow. Dr. Faber reviews the prevailing “Cold Dark Matter” theory for galaxy formation (which she helped create) and compares its predictions to present-day observations. It’s a remarkable saga involving invisible dark energy and matter, the properties of the Universe an instant after it was born, and the creation of structure from quantum fluctuations. (Just a few days before giving this talk, Dr. Faber received the 2013 National Medal of Science from President Obama, and she shares an anecdote from that ceremony.)