Observational Astronomy

Studying our Atmosphere at 500 kph: The AJAX Project at NASA Ames

ajax from nasaThe Alpha Jet Atmospheric Experiment (AJAX) project at NASA Ames Research Center measures in-situ carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and ozone (O3) concentrations in our atmosphere several times each month.  Our project goals are to study local photochemical smog production, provide data for long-term studies of trans-Pacific transport of pollution, and support the observ

Deciphering year-to-year wiggles on the Keeling Curve

mauna loa observatoryThe concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere was 315 parts per million by volume (ppm) when Charles Keeling started his measurement at the Mauna Loa Observatory, Hawaii, in 1958. It surpassed 400 ppm on May 9, 2013 for the first time in the 55-year continuous record of measurements.

The Colossus Project: Designing an optical/IR instrument to detect life outside the solar system

colossusThis talk describes an effort  to detect life, and even conduct a planetary census, in our cosmic neighborhood. I'll describe some results from the Colossus group, an interdisciplinary science and engineering team, working to show how telescopes  much larger than the TMT or EELT could be built today by relaxing some of the astronomical requirements of current "world's largest telescope" projects.

The Once and Future Kepler

keplerDr. Jon Jenkins, head of the Data Analysis team on the Kepler Mission, will discuss the current status of the Kepler mission and the ailing spacecraft, and will also discuss the recently selected TESS Mission, which will follow on from Kepler in detecting planets by observing the dimming of starlight as planets pass in front of the parent star. 

Large Synoptic Survey Telescope: Entering the Era of Petascale Optical Astronomy

lsst site

Large Synoptic Survey Telescope: Entering the Era of Petascale Optical Astronomy

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST;http://lsst.org) is a planned, large-aperture, wide-field, ground-based telescope that will survey half the sky every few nights in six optical bands from 320 to 1050 nm. It will explore a wide range of astrophysical questions, ranging from discovering “killer” asteroids, to examining the nature of dark energy.

Breaking the Seeing Barrier for Planetary Astronomy

planets When Galileo Galilei pointed his telescope toward Jupiter in 1609 and discovered what we now call the Galilean moons, he did not realized that he had just established a new research field in astronomy.

On the road to extragalactic transient discoveries

Surveys for radio pulsars serve as excellent historical records of the Galactic and extragalactic radio sky on sub-second time scales.

Adventures of a Vatican Astronomer

No scientist is a Spock-like android; a scientist's work is as intuitive, and just as full of human foibles, as a painting, a symphony, or a prayer. But most of us don't have the opportunity (or training) to reflect on the human dimensions of our work. Br.

Optics tricks to image and study habitable exoplanets

exoplanetsDirectly imaging exoplanets is both scientifically exciting but notoriously challenging. Scientifically, obtaining images of rocky planets in the habitable zones of stars is key to finding if and how life developed outside the solar system.


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