Saturday, October 19, 2013

Space news from campuses on the campaign trail

I opened and closed NASA videos from just before the shutdown with reference to the government shutdown.
It's time for one last comprehensive space summary until the shutdown is over.
And that's it from NASA on YouTube until the end of the U.S. government shutdown.  May it be over soon.  Otherwise, this could be the next step in the classic tragic science fiction plot of a civilization losing its ability to go to space.
The shutdown wasn't over soon, but it is over.  As I wrote in an aside inside Eclipse and asteroid DOOM, "I want to express my relief that the shutdown is over and that NASA is up and running again."

To show how relieved and gratified I am about NASA being fully operational again, I present the two space stories I was able to collect from campuses on the campaign trail during the past month.

First, from the University of Alabama, Citizens Help Astronomers Classify 300,000 Galaxies, UA Researcher Co-Authors Description dated Sep 25, 2013, which I included in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (IPCC report released).
More than 83,000 volunteer citizen scientists partnered with professional astronomers to examine more than 300,000 galaxies in an online project that would have taken approximately 30 years of full-time work by one researcher to complete, according to a paper co-authored by a University of Alabama researcher.

The project, named Galaxy Zoo 2, is the second phase of a crowdsourcing effort to categorize galaxies in the universe.

“Once again, I am stunned at not only the breadth but the depth of public interest in the Galaxy Zoo project,” said Dr. William Keel, University of Alabama professor of astronomy who co-authored a paper detailing the project that published Sept. 23 in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.
Next, from Louisiana State University,  LSU Researchers Discover How Microbes Survive in Freezing Conditions by Paige Brown, dated October 10, 2013, which was the sole space story in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (2013 Nobel Prizes).
Most microbial researchers grow their cells in petri-dishes to study how they respond to stress and damaging conditions. But, with the support of funding from NASA, researchers in LSU’s Department of Biological Sciences tried something almost unheard of: studying microbial survival in ice to understand how microorganisms could survive in ancient permafrost, or perhaps even buried in ice on Mars.

Brent Christner, associate professor of biological sciences, and colleagues at LSU including postdoctoral researcher Markus Dieser and Mary Lou Applewhite Professor John Battista, recently had results on DNA repair in ice-entrapped microbes accepted in the journal of Applied and Environmental Microbiology. To understand how microbes survive in frozen conditions, Christner and colleagues focused on analysis of DNA, the hereditary molecule that encodes the genetic instructions used in the development and function of all organisms.

“Microbes are made up of macromolecules that, even if frozen, are subject to decay,” Christner said. “We know of a range of spontaneous reactions that result in damage to DNA.”
This barely qualifies as a space story.

As you can see, there were only two space articles in three weeks.  That's slim pickings.  I had no idea how true my expectations  in Voyager confirmed in interstellar space and other space news would turn out to be.
It may be a while before I post another digest like this, as my editorial emphasis will be on campuses on the campaign trail for the next two months.  It turns out that most of the instititions in jurisdictions having elections this year don't produce a lot of space research...
No kidding.  It makes me appreciate NASA all that much more.

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