Astronomy/Space Exploration

Articles about astronomy and space exploration.

Proxima d

Third planet discovered orbiting Proxima Centauri

In October 2012, I shared how astronomers had announced the discovery of an Earth-sized planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the star closest to our Sun. Now a decade later, the planet count in Proxima Centauri system potentially has been raised to three with the discovery of what appears to be another smaller planet. …

Physicist Michio Kaku at Boswell Book Company

Michio Kaku explores the future of the mind

Michio Kaku speaks at Boswell Book Company.
Image Source: Kevin A. Barnes

On Wednesday, February 26, 2014 — one day after the release of his new book, The Future of the Mind — theoretical physicist Michio Kaku1 spoke to a standing room only audience at Milwaukee’s Boswell Book Company about the future of the human mind. …

  1. Dr. Michio Kaku is a professor of theoretical physics at the City College and City University of New York. He is one of the cofounders of string field theory and has written seven popular science books, including the New York Times Best Sellers Physics of the Impossible (2008) and Physics of the Future (2011). []
SOFIA with telescope door open

Two Milwaukee educators chosen as NASA Astronomy Ambassadors

Jean Creighton (left) and Kathy Gustavson
Jean Creighton (left) and Kathy Gustavson

Milwaukee area educators Jean Creighton (Director of the Manfred Olson Planetarium at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee) and Kathy Gustavson (science teacher at Nicolet High School, Glendale) have been selected by NASA as one of 12 Airborne Astronomy Ambassador teams for 2014.

NIAC 2014 Symposium

NASA symposium looks ahead

The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) Symposium took place this past Tuesday through Thursday (February 4–6, 2014) at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.

NIAC seeks innovative, technically credible advanced concepts that could one day change what is possible in aeronautics and space. The organization grants fellowships to individuals who are developing such concepts — NIAC Fellows represent academia, the private sector and government research labs.

The 2014 symposium featured progress presentations from current and new NIAC Fellows. Their updates addressed such diverse research as revolutionary approaches to exploration, novel methods of propulsion and ways to support humans in extreme environments. …

The Drake Equation

The Drake Equation

Radio telescopeAre humans alone in the universe?

The Drake Equation is an attempt to summarize the factors that determine humans’ ability to communicate with an extraterrestrial civilization. This is accomplished by providing a simple formula to calculate the number of civilizations in our Milky Way galaxy from which we potentially could receive a signal.

Shortly after humanity’s first search for an extraterrestrial radio signal (conducted in 1960 at Green Bank, West Virginia — a search known as “Project Ozma“1 ), the very first scientific conference on searching for extraterrestrial intelligence took place. Astronomer Frank Drake (who was behind Project Ozma) came up with a simple equation — now called “the Drake Equation” — to frame the agenda of that 1961 conference. …

  1. Project Ozma used the National Radio Observatory’s radio telescope at Green Bank, West Virginia to search for artificial radio signals (near the 21 cm wavelength, the wavelength of radiation emitted naturally by interstellar hydrogen and thus believed to be a universal frequency for communications from other intelligent civilizations) from the nearby Sun-like stars Tau Ceti and Epsilon Eridani. []