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Volume 26 – October 29, 2010


Eureqa Science

While astronomers are looking forward to use more and more automated telescopes and software to be able to dedicate their time to analyze the automatically gathered data rather than manipulating telescopes to personally gather the data, Eureqa might take that chance away. According to its website, part of Cornell Computational Synthesis Laboratory, "Eureqa (pronounced "eureka") is a software tool for detecting equations and hidden mathematical relationships in your data. Its goal is to identify the simplest mathematical formulas which could describe the underlying mechanisms that produced the data."

In other words, Eureqa is designed to automatically analyze the data gathered by the automated telescopes. Although the software has been proven to be very successful in different branches of science, it does not render the scientists in general and astronomers in particular obsolete. 

While Eureqa will discover relationships in data that might prove difficult for human mind to extract, the astronomers as well as scientists are needed to understand the meaning of the new-found relations. With the more frequent use of this software, one can expect a very high rate of discoveries made by Eureqa. Much higher than scientists might be able to keep up.

You can test Eureqa with a body of your data, downloading the software at their site. The site includes many reference materials, video tutorial and complete instructions.

To learn more, please visit: http://ccsl.mae.cornell.edu/eureqa

To read more on how Eureqa self-discovers the laws of science, and similar stories, please visit: http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/04/newtonai/


NASA has developed a new video contest to raise students' awareness of technology transfer efforts and how NASA technologies contribute to our everyday lives.  In collaboration with Hasbro using OPTIMUS PRIME, the leader of the popular brand TRANSFORMERS, NASA aims to help students understand how the space technology "transforms" into things that are used daily, including but not limited to water purifiers, medical imaging software, or fabric that protects against UV rays.

The competition open to third to eighth graders requires the submission of a 3- to 5-minute video on a NASA spinoff technology listed in the 2009 Spinoff publication.   The videos will be judged in two grade groups (third-fifth and sixth-eighth) and will be judged on youtube by public for the first round. The final round will be judged by a NASA panel.

To learn more about the competition, registration, and deadlines please visit:

A Small Satellite

Soon NASA  will send a new crew into space. The crew of NASA's newest  satellite is a crew of organic molecules and microbes orbiting Earth for 6 months in the shoebox-sized O/OREOS (Organism/ORganic Exposure to Orbital Stresses)  satellite.

O/OREOS will host two separate experiments simultaneously. One will include samples of various organic molecules positioned outside the satellite to be exposed to solar radiation.  The other experiment will carry 4 strains of dormant, dried microbes inside the satellite to be revived at 1 week, 3 months, and 6 months with a dousing of their favorite medium.

The former experiment will attempt to see if comets could have express-delivered some of life's precursors to our planet and other worlds while the latter will check to see how microbes hold up to long duration space flight.

To learn more about the application of these experiments in future space exploration, please visit:


Countdown to Comet Flyby

NASA's EPOXI mission continues to close in on its target, comet Hartley 2 and on November 4, at about 10:01am EDT the spacecraft will make its closest approach to the comet. Science observations of comet Hartley 2 began on September 5, 2010. The imaging campaign will provide EPOXI's science team the best extended view of a comet in history during its pass through the inner solar system.

EPOXI was launched on January 12, 2005 with the name Deep Impact to encounter comet Tempel 1. In December 2007, Deep Impact was re-christened EPOXI.

The comet Hartley 2 has been visible on Earth for some days. Backyard stargazers with a telescope or binoculars and a clear night's sky can inspect the comet .

To stay updated on the progress of EPOXI, please visit: http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/epoxi/index.html

To read more on the upcoming encounter and see a brief video on comets, please visit:

My Dream of Stars

My Dream of Stars: From Daughter of Iran to Space Pioneer: a book by Anousheh Ansari and Homer Hickam.

In her memoir, Anousheh recalls her long path to success and to achieving her dream.  To learn more about the book, please visit:  http://www.anoushehansari.com/book/

To find a book signing, please check the upcoming appearances section of this newsletter.

To obtain a copy please visit:



Anousheh's Favorite Quote:

"Dread not the trials and tribulations of Time,
They are not lasting, do not fear them.
Live this present moment full of joy,
Think not of the past and tremble not at the future."

-Omar Khayyam - Iranian Scholar and poet