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Volume 23 – July 26, 2010


Space Junk, Revisited

As it had been featured in Volume 7 of this newsletter, cautious of the potential dangers, scientists have been monitoring the space for the man-made debris in orbit. After last year's collision between Cosmos-2251 and Iridium-33, and this year's mid-June's dangerous proximity of debris to ISS, to avoid any future catastrophe, the US airforce  and Boeing will launch a new satellite in just a few weeks.

This new satellite will be the first Space-Based Space Surveillance Satellite designed to capture detailed views of the 500,000 pieces of orbiting debris.  To read volume 7 of this newsletter and to learn more about other intended uses of  this satellite, please visit these links:


The Problem with Solar Weather

The sun and Earth are separated by 93 million miles of space. Think we are safe?  Well, 98 million miles relative to the vastness of space isn't so far! Observations have shown that Earth is actually located in the sun's outer atmosphere, affected by its storm. Moreover, the two bodies are connected by invisible threads of magnetism.

For a few years now, scientists have been concentrating more and more on the new emerging science of heliophysics. The scope and implications of this new science are so great that is now being addressed by an international group of scientists and space agencies. This collaborative space initiative called International Living with  a Star (ILWS) has been launched to stimulate, strengthen, and coordinate space research in heliophysics, with the scientific goal to increase the understanding of how solar changes affect Earth. ILWS plans to assemble a large fleet of spacecraft to conduct different missions and studies.

"The problem is solar storms -figuring out how to predict them and stay safe from their effects." says ILWS chairperson Lika Guhathakurta of NASA headquarters.  If forecasts are correct, the solar cycle will peak during the years around 2013. And while it probably won't be the biggest peak on record, Earth has never been more vulnerable. Everything from communications to weather forecasting to financial services depend on satellites and high-tech electronics.  According to a 2008 report by the National Academy of sciences, a century-class storm could cause billions in economic damage.

To read more about the recent ILWS meeting in Germany and to learn more about ILWS and their different missions, please visit:

Make the Next Martian Discovery from Home!

According to NASA's press release, NASA and Microsoft Research are bringing Mars to life with new features in the WorldWide Telescope software that provide viewers with a high-resolution 3-D map of Mars.

Microsoft's online virtual telescope explores the universe using images NASA spacecraft return from other worlds. Teams at NASA's Ames Research Center and Microsoft jointly developed the software necessary to make NASA's planetary data available in WorldWide Telescope.

The fully-interactive images and new NASA data will allow viewers to virtually explore Mars and make their own scientific discoveries. New features include the highest resolution fully interactive map of Mars ever created, realistic 3-D renderings of the surface of the planet and video tours with two NASA scientists.

To learn more, to download the WWT, and to experience Mars, please visit:  http://www.worldwidetelescope.org/

NASA's Lunar Adventure for Gamers

As stated in their news release, NASA is giving gamers a taste of lunar adventure with release of Moonbase Alpha, an exciting new, free online video game.

The game has single and multiplayer options that allow participants to step into the role of an exploration team member in a futuristic 3-D lunar settlement. Players must work to restore critical systems and oxygen flow after a meteor strike cripples a solar array and life support equipment. Available resources include an interactive command center, lunar rover, mobile robotic repair units and a fully-stocked equipment shed.

The game is a proof of concept to show how NASA content can be combined with a cutting-edge engine to inspire, engage and educate students about agency technologies, job opportunities and the future of space exploration. Moonbase Alpha is rated "E" for everyone.

Moonbase Alpha is a precursor to a planned NASA-based massively, multiplayer online game project. The project is being designed to have content and missions that require players to gain and demonstrate STEM knowledge to succeed.

For more information and to play the game, please visit:

LHC inspired books for Everyone
It is not unexpected to see new LHC-related books published. .However there are two interesting books that could interest a wider range of readers.

The first is a pop-up book called Voyage to the Heart of Matter by Emma Sanders. It took 2 years, the assistance of the pop-up expert, Anton Radevsky, and the technical guidance of about 40 physicists to accomplish this task. The result is a to-the-scale particle detector that readers put together as they read the book. The book is to be released on August 16, 2010.

To see the book and how the mini particle detector would be put together, please follow the links below:


The second book is a comic created by no other than LeVar Burton, Reading Rainbow host and Star Trek Actor, and Mark Wolfe, with illustrations by David Hahn. The comic called Con-CERNed follows physicist Simon Barstow who acquires some strange and new abilities while working at the LHC.

To learn more and read some of the story, please visit: 



Anousheh's Favorite Quote:

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

   Nelson Mandela