SETI Institute in the news July 12 - July 18, 2018

SETI Institute in the news July 12 - July 18, 2018

New Girl Scout Badges which include badges in Space Exploration, Mechanical Engineering, and Robotics.
Girls Take Charge, Reach for the Stars: New Badges Announced by Girl Scouts of the USA

The Girl Scouts of the USA has long been committed to encouraging leadership and excellence in girls, and now has announced 30 new badges to help girls develop skills in fields such as computer science, engineering, robotics, and space sciences. Reaching for the Stars: NASA Science for Girl Scouts, funded by NASA and led by the SETI Institute, enables girls to learn about astronomy and provides a path for girls to follow their passion for learning about the cosmos.

Recently, a group of Girl Scouts had an opportunity for a hands-on STEM experience at Pine Mountain Observatory in Central Oregon, where they camped under the stars and learned to operate telescopes and engage in observations.

Image of the planet Jupiter against black backgroundDiscovery of 12 New Moons of Jupiter Announced

Seemingly by happenstance 12 moons were discovered circling Jupiter. Researchers were looking for the purported “Planet Nine”, a planet much larger than Earth that is theorized to exist beyond Pluto, disrupting the paths of asteroids at the edge of our solar system. But Jupiter was in the field of view where they were searching, allowing them to observe the previously undiscovered moons and bringing Jupiter’s total moon count up to 79.

Finding moons around distant planets is challenging, and it’s not the first time they’ve been spotted by scientists looking for something else, as Curiosity reports:

Three years earlier, the SETI Institute's Mark Showalter said his team found a new moon around Neptune while looking at archival data from the Hubble Space Telescope (taken between 2004 and 2009). Showalter was actually looking at faint rings around Neptune when, "on a whim," as a press release from NASA says, he glanced far away from the rings and spotted a white dot.

Mark Showalter has discovered six moons and three planetary rings and is co-investigator on the New Horizons mission to Pluto. You can read more about Dr. Showalter’s career and discoveries on our website, SETI.org.

Image of the SETI Institute Allen Telescope Array“Larger than Ourselves”: the Hope in SETI Research

David Grinspoon sits the SETI Institutes Science Advisory Board and is an author, astrobiologist, and Senior Scientist at the Planetary Science Institute. Grinspoon recently wrote a piece for Sky & Telescope on the future and promise of SETI research. He remarked on his experience at a recent “Decoding Alien Intelligence” workshop he attended at the SETI Institute:

In March I attended a SETI Institute workshop, where a multidisciplinary group of astronomers, neuroscientists, anthropologists, philosophers, and historians pondered new approaches to expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence. Discussions ranged from the physics of planet formation, through the origin and evolution of life and the prospects for complex life and intelligence, to coming hunts for both biosignatures and “technosignatures” on exoplanets.

Grinspoon touched on the challenges researchers face staying engaged in an uncertain field, and yet one which might yet have a profound impact on all of humanity. Nonetheless, Grinspoon remains optimistic when he reflects on the dedication of Jill Tarter, Chair Emeritus for SETI Research at the SETI Institute as well as its co-founder, and Frank Drake, the “father” of modern SETI research, creator of the famous Drake Equation, and Chair Emeritus of the SETI Institute’s Board of Trustees. As Grinspoon remarked:

At the workshop, you couldn’t help but notice that among the most engaged and positive participants were the now “retired” SETI pioneers Frank Drake and Jill Tarter. Their enthusiasm doesn’t depend upon immediate gratification. Both clearly believe, as do I, that we are not alone, that these efforts will ultimately pay off, and that whether we live to see it or not, we’re contributing to something extremely important and larger than ourselves.

Big Picture Science

In last week’s episode, Seth and Molly discuss the importance of ice to life on our world, and the growing concern about it disappearing across the globe, in an encore of On Thin Ice. Our previous week’s episode we learn how to recycle nearly everything in an encore of What Goes Around.

Facebook Live

Last week on Facebook Live, find out what “space weather” is and meet the Frontier Development Lab research team members, with SETI Institute Trustee and FDL Exploration and Ideation Director Jonathan Knowles. On our previous episode of Facebook Live, Knowles was joined by scientists Jon Jenkins and Doug Caldwell to talk about NASA's TESS mission and exoplanet detection. Videos of all past Facebook Live events can be found on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/SETIInstitute/

Events
  • SETI – The Promise & Peril of the Ultimate Question: July 29, Berkeley, CA Jill Tarter to present
  • In Saturn’s Rings: August 5, Seattle, WA A new film exploring Saturn’s rings is being shown at the Museum of Flight. Nathalie Cabrol, Senior Research Scientist and Director of the Carl Sagan Center is an executive producer of the film.
  • Novato Space Festival: August 5, Novato, CA Jill Tarter book signing
  • SETI Talks: August 14, Menlo Park, CA Inspiring the Next Generation of Explorers – Education Programs at the SETI Institute
  • WorldCon 76: August 16-20, San Jose, CA Franck Marchis to participate in a panel discussion
  • International Astronomical Union: August 20-31, Vienna, Austria Franck Marchis, SETI Institute Senior Scientist will speak about adaptive optics and the Unistellar eVscope
  • Astronomy Night: Searching for Aliens, Finding Ourselves: September 15, Mill Valley, CA Jill Tarter is the featured speaker
  • The World Above the Tetons Science Speaker Series: September 29, Teton Village, WY Jill Tarter will present Communicating Beyond Earth