Monday, September 23, 2013

Get your ARC Science fix! The Physics/Astronomy lecture lunch series is back

The ARC Physics/Astronomy Lunch Lecture Series is back in session, and the first speaker was Astronomy Prof. Paulo Afonso, who described his work last summer with NASA's GAVRT (Goldstone Apple Valley Radio Telescope). GAVRT is one of several radio antennas in the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex (GDSCC).

 Source: GAVRT images

The Lewis Center for Educational Research (LCER) provides professional development for educators so that their students can remotely operate the GAVRT 34 meter radio antenna and learn how to analyze the astronomical data stream. GAVRT has been used to investigate planets, such as Jupiter and Uranus, and distant space objects, such as quasars and pulsars. Educators and students get the opportunity to do hands-on, authentic science!

Paulo mentioned Jupiter Quest, one of the long-lived curriculum campaigns by GAVRT, in which students investigate the radio antenna data from Jupiter to learn more about this large mysterious planet. 

A current Jupiter Quest curriculum project involves student collaboration with the NASA Juno spacecraft, scheduled to arrive at Jupiter in 2016.

Another program involving GAVRT is SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence), in which the radio telescope scans for extraterrestrial radio signals. GAVRT provides an overview of the SETI project and lessons on how to use GAVRT for detecting radio signals that may be of extraterrestrial origin.

Paulo described another radio astronomy project done on a global scope, Hands-On Universe, which engages teachers and students with hands-on operation of radio telescopes and analysis of radio antenna data.

Don't miss the lunchtime science fun! You can view the Physics/Astronomy lecture schedule - Wednesdays at noon in Room 307.

Other notes:

1. Paulo also mentioned the larger 70 meter Goldstone radio antenna in the GDSCC that has served as the workhorse for important space missions, including Voyager and Mars Curiosity.

The Goldstone antenna also tracked the asteroid 1998 QE2, which passed by close to earth this past May. 

2. W00t! FOOD IS WELCOME in the Physics classroom during lecture :)

By contrast, Biology classrooms have "NO FOOD ALLOWED" signs :(

Here's another picture of Paulo Afonso w/ some members of the Biology Gang. Thanks, Paulo!

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