Friday, November 21, 2014

NASA sound library

NASA is now on Soundcloud. More than 60 sound files that were previously only available on NASA's website can now be heard and downloaded from Soundcloud for FREE.

They include mostly voice communications between mission control and astronauts but you can also find sounds of interstellar plasma, President John F. Kennedy, and Sputnik's "beep." The iconic words from the Apollo 11 moon landing are there as well as voices from the Mercury and space shuttle (STS) missions.

With a NASA app, you can set these sounds as ringtones on your smartphone. They are available as MP3s from both sites and M4Rs (for iPhone) as well from the original NASA site.

How do you set these sounds as ringtones? Instructions from the NASA site:
"Android (MP3 format) - We recommend downloading the most recent version of the NASA App for Android for previewing and installing these ringtones. The ringtones option is found on the main screen of NASA App for Android by hitting the menu button on your phone.

iPhone (M4R format) - Please visit our iPhone directions for downloading and installing M4R ringtones page.

Other (MP3 format) - Most smartphones can play MP3 files as ringtones. The process for downloading and installing ringtones to a smartphone may vary greatly based on phone, operating system, and service provider. Check your phone’s user manual or your provider’s website. Some providers may limit your access to ringtones not sold through their site. You can still enjoy the MP3 files on your computer."

NASA on Soundcloud:

NASA's "Download NASA Sounds":

NASA app:

Monday, November 10, 2014

Landing on a comet: ESA's Rosetta mission

the surface of comet 67P
Mission: Rosetta
Comet: 67P/Churymov-Gerashimenko ("comet 67P" for short)
Lander: Philae
Landing site: Agilkia
Date/Time: 12 November 2014, lander deploy at 2:35am EST, landing confirmation 11:03am EST


-or- Google Hangout:

Some people say it looks like a rubber duck.

This rubber duck is the size of a small mountain at 25 cubic kilometers (for comparison, the Dead Sea is 147 cubic kilometers, Mt. Everest is 2,413 cubic kilometers, or about 10.25 million Olympic swimming pools) and is actually composed of ice and dust and rocks. In other words, it's a comet.

It's taken 10 years for the ESA's (European Space Agency) Rosetta probe to reach this colossal duck in space. Launched in 2004, the spacecraft slingshotted around Earth three times and Mars once to reach its 84,000 mph cruising speed needed to orbit the comet. Along the way, it assisted in other missions such as the Tempel-1 asteroid impact in 2005 and Mars during gravity assist maneuver in 2007. On 12 November 2014, Rosetta will release a lander called Philae -named after an Egyptian obelisk that helped decipher hieroglyphs like the Rosetta stone- to attempt the very first controlled or soft landing on a comet in history.

From NASA:
"After touchdown on Nov. 12, the Philae lander will obtain the first images ever taken from a comet's surface. It will also drill into the surface to study the composition, and witness close up how a comet changes as its exposure to the sun varies. Philae can remain active on the surface for about two-and-a-half days. Its mothership, the Rosetta spacecraft, will remain in orbit around the comet through 2015. The orbiter will continue detailed studies of the comet as it approaches the sun and then moves away."

More information...

ESA Rosetta mission overview
ESA Rosetta and Philae landing timeline (PDF)
JPL/NASA on the Rosetta mssion:
Images from Rosetta:
Planetary Society's landing preview including details on Philae's instruments
More on Rosetta's and Philae's instrumentation

"What is a comet?" from JPL
"Comets: Formation, discovery, and exploration" from
"Solar System Exploration: Comets" from NASA

Look in the stacks around QB720 for books on comets. Here's an example:
Comet science: the study of remnants from the birth of the solar system
QB721 .C7613 2000 (4th floor east, range 43)

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Seeing stars: the Ball State University planetarium

TV screens for announcements, live NASA feed, seating, etc.
The new Charles W. Brown Planetarium has its grand opening on Saturday, 08 November 2014.

Charles W. Brown PlanetariumIndiana's largest and 10th largest in the U.S., the planetarium is state-of-the-art boasting a 52-foot dome, seating for 152, and a GOTO Chronos II planetarium projector system (PDF). This system uses LEDs to simultaneously project over 8500 stars at 6.5 magnification, can dim/brighten individual stars (over 10 million), and even project 3D images and video. According to a Daily News article from October 2013, "the projector will be so detailed that visitors will be able to bring binoculars to see more stars and star clusters."

Four free and open-to-the-public shows (PDF) are scheduled for Saturday the 8th at 1:00pm, 2:30pm, 5:00pm, and 6:30pm. Make sure to arrive early because seats will fill up quickly on this Grand Opening weekend and are on a first come, first served basis, no reserveations or tickets are needed.

For information about location, parking, and general policies, go to the Planetarium's Visitor Information page.

More information on...

Constellations & Stargazing
Sky & Telescope
Astronomy Magazine online
Astronomy Now (UK) magazine online
NASA APOD (Astronomy Picture of the Day) photo archive
ESA (European Space Agency)
Apps (mostly FREE) for smart phones and tablets (links below are to Android versions):
For books on observational astronomy (ie stargazing) look in call number ranges QB64-65 in Bracken Library and Science-Health Science and in the 520s in Educational Technology Resources Collection

Ball State Astronomy Resources
Dept. of Physics & Astronomy
LibGuide: Physics & Astronomy

Friday, August 15, 2014

"where is CN67?" - Navigating Cooper Science

For some reason, the classroom that is hardest to find in Cooper Science Complex is CN67. When someone asks "Where is CN67?" I will often reply (while smiling) "Right where it should be" and then explain exactly how to get to it: from the SHSL entrance, turn left and then left again. Go straight and you'll walk into it.

Finding your way around Cooper Science Complex can seem complex to those new to the building. It consists of three different building codes -CL, CN, and CP- but the room numbers are consecutive and non-repeating (ie there is only one room 267 despite there being three different buildings).

CL = Cooper Life (Geography, Physiology & Health Science, and Biology reside therein)

CN = Cooper Nursing (School of Nursing and the Science-Health Science Library)

CP = Cooper Physical (Chemistry and Physics & Astronomy)

The simple solution to finding your way around Cooper is to stop by the Science-Health Science Library (SHSL) ask the staff where your classroom is and pick up a copy of enhanced floorplans.

OR you can visit the SHSL website and download the floorplans (PDF) for yourself:

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

that hole in Siberia: Pingos and periglacial geomorphology

80m hole in Siberia
Lots of excitement has been seen online surrounding the appearance of this hole in Siberia on 15 July 2014.

~Was it a meteorite? An explosion from underground due to secret Russian experiments? The rupture of a tunnel leading to the inside of our Hollow Earth? UFOs?~

Most likely, this was the eruption of an unusually large "pingo."

Pingos (aka hyrdolaccoliths or cryolaccoliths) are formed in periglacial regions where permafrost exists and can be thought of as a slow, cold geyser not unlike Old Faithful in Yellowstone. Instead of geothermal processes, pingos
image from the British Society for Geomorphology
form through frost heaving upward through glacial till and other materials to form bubbles on the surface which look like hills. When they rupture, the ice that was at its core is revealed and sometimes a small lake even forms.

The crater in Siberia matches this criteria perfectly: there is even a lake of ice water at the bottom of the shaft under the crater that is about 230 meters deep. This is consistent with the definition of a pingo.

Closed-system pingos are ones that have not yet ruptured and appear as a mound or hill on the surface. Open-system pingos are ones that appear as craters or lakes inside of craters. The Siberian hole seems to be an extremely large pingo 80 meters across that did not form a lake but opened to reveal the cylinder hollowed out by groundwater and the lake of ice water at the bottom.

It's an unusual and strange landform to those of us in more equitorial climes but they are fairly well-known in northern latitudes and far more interesting than those explanations listed above.

Want to know more?
--Online sources--
Tuktoyaktuk Pingos (Atlas Obscura):

Periglacial geomorphology, Geography 323 (University of Regina):

Periglacial geomorphology (PDF) (University of Victoria):

Periglacial processes and landforms (

Siberia's giant hole just became less mysterious (Nature World News):

--Books at Ball State Libraries--
Cryospheric systems : glaciers and permafrost GB581 .C79 2005 (GEN-COLL)

Glacial and periglacial geomorphology GB581 .E452 1975 V.1-2 (GEN-COLL)
Glacial geomorphology : [proceedings] GB581 .G46 1974 (GEN-COLL)   

Glacial landsystems GB581 .G533 2003 (GEN-COLL)   

Glacial processes past and present GB2401.2 .G53 1999 (GEN-COLL)   

Living ice : understanding glaciers and glaciation GB2403.2 .S5 1988 (GEN-COLL)   

The periglacial environment GB461 .F73 (GEN-COLL)

The periglacial environment: Past and present GB641 .P37 (GEN-COLL)

Surface processes and landforms GB401.5 .E26 1999 (GEN-COLL)

Monday, March 03, 2014

Daylight Saving Time 2014

 from WikiMedia Commons

So, when exactly do we reset our clocks? And is it forward or backward one hour?

Daylight Saving Time can be very confusing. Read below to help end your confusion! [The chart on the left plots the times of sunrise and sunset (with DST adjustment as separate lines) in Greenwich, GB for 2007.]

Short answer
For the Spring- On Sunday, 09 March, 2014 at 2:00am, you should set your clock forward one hour to 3:00am.

For the Fall- On Sunday, 02 November, 2014 at 2:00am, you should set your clock backward one hour to 1:00am. (Remember "spring forward, fall back...").

Easy answer: Most people who go to bed earlier than the wee hours of the morning simply set their clocks back/forward one hour before they go to bed on Saturday.

Detailed answer: Go HERE.

For more information...
Daylight Saving Time from WebExhibits

World Clock for Indianapolis DST

National Geographic on DST

US Naval Observatory on DST

Figure out what time it is in the United States at