space

CoralBeat Wins First NASA App Challenge in Hawaii

The threat that climate change and human activity poses to the world’s coral reefs was the focus of the winning entry in Hawaii’s first NASA Space Apps Challenge event. CoralBeat won “Best Overall App” at the Honolulu competition, which was held at the Manoa Innovation Center from April 22-24. The diverse team included coders, scientists and science enthusiasts, and subject matter experts from NOAA and the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology. CoralBeat is an app focused on coral bleaching in Hawaii, with an interactive map that displays years of NASA satellite data depicting sea surface temperatures observed over the entire globe. An animation in the app shows how the ocean has warmed during the most recent El Niño event. [...]

KeckWatch App Fuels Fans of Astronomy

Today, W. M. Keck Observatory launched a new smartphone app to stoke the curiosity and wonder of astronomy. KeckWatch offers mankind’s collected knowledge of the cosmos on the screen of your iOS device. In addition to being able to easily identify stars and planets with both conventional and Hawaiian names, it offers a unique glimpse through the gigantic eyes of the Keck I and Keck II telescopes, the two largest and most scientifically productive telescope on Earth. The app was built by First Light Design, the makers of category-defining app Distant Suns, and can be can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store today. “Our work studying the cosmos these past two decades has led to remarkable understandings of our Universe and has placed Hawaii as the premiere location on Earth for astronomical research,” said Hilton Lewis, director of Keck Observatory. [...]

Astronomers Discover Three Earth-Like Planets

Extrasolar planets are being discovered by the hundreds, but are any of these newfound worlds really like Earth? A planetary system recently discovered by the Kepler spacecraft will help resolve this question. The system of three planets, each just larger than Earth, orbits a nearby star called EPIC 201367065. The three planets are 1.5-2 times the size of Earth, and the outermost planet orbits on the edge of the so-called “habitable zone,” where the temperature may be just right for liquid water, believed necessary to support life, on the planet’s surface. “We’ve learned in the past year that planets the size and temperature of Earth are common in our Milky Way galaxy,” explains University of Hawaii astronomer Andrew Howard. “We also discovered some Earth-size planets that appear to be made of the same materials as our Earth, mostly rock and iron.” [...]

Thirty Meter Telescope groundbreaking set

A groundbreaking and blessing ceremony for the next-generation Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, launching a multi-national $1.4 billion project near the summit of Mauna Kea, Hawaii. Although access to the TMT construction site will be limited due to the area’s sensitive environment and harsh physical conditions, the ceremony will be fully accessible via a live-stream webcast. George Takei, noted actor, director and author, known for his role in the television series Star Trek, will present pre-recorded science segments during the live webcast. Dr. Robert Hurt, researcher, science podcaster and lecturer, will host the webcast. [...]

Latest crew set for 8-month simulated Mars mission

The six astronaut-like crew members of the next Hawai‘i Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) mission starting October 15 will be isolated in their dome habitat for eight months. This mission is twice as long as any previously completed at the Hawaiʻi site, and second only to Russia’s Mars500 experiment in total duration. Also, for the first time, HI-SEAS will have a female commander. In NASA history, only two women have ever commanded the spaceship: astronauts Eileen Collins in July 1999, and Pamela Melroy in November 2007. For true space flight, the commander role requires previous astronaut experience as well as at least 1,000 hours experience piloting a jet aircraft. For HI-SEAS, Commander Martha Lenio was selected based on feedback from fellow crew members and from instructors of the National Outdoor Leadership Skills course that both NASA and HI-SEAS require of their teams in training. [...]

Three UH scientists selected for Mars rover teams

NASA has announced the selection of seven science instruments to be included on the Mars 2020 rover. Three scientists from the University of Hawaii at Mānoa School of Ocean and Earth Science and Technology (SOEST) — Sarah Fagents, Shiv Sharma and Anupam Misra — will be members on the instrument teams to conduct unprecedented science and exploration technology investigations on the Red Planet. The new rover will carry sophisticated hardware and instruments to perform geological assessments of the rover’s landing site, determine the potential habitability of the environment, and directly search for signs of ancient Martian life. [...]