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