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Archives – May, 2011

Mars Rover Spirit Is Officially Dead

After exploring surface of Mars for about 7 years, Spirit has been officially declared dead for all scientific purposes. Spirit started it’s Martian journey on Jan 2004 to carry out it’s scientific mission which was supposed to last for 90 days. But Spirit surpassed all the expectations and continued exploring Mars for another seven years. It stopped communicating on Mar 2010 and attempts were being made by NASA to communicate with the rover. Finally, NASA concluded it’s attempts of contacting Spirit today.

“We’re now transitioning assets to support the November launch of our next generation Mars rover, Curiosity,” said Dave Lavery, NASA’s program executive for solar system exploration. “However, while we no longer believe there is a realistic probability of hearing from Spirit, the Deep Space Network may occasionally listen for any faint signals when the schedule permits.” [NASA]

Great job Spirit!  Here is xkcd’s take on spirited Martian journey of our beloved scientific instrument:

Image credit: 1) Artist concept of Mars rover| NASA/JPL/Cornell Univ 2)Xkcd

Leave a Comment May 25, 2011

Pictures From Grímsvötn Volcano

Here are a couple of new images from Grimsvotn volcano in Iceland. The volcanic eruption has already caused cancellation of various flights and closure of various airports in Britain, Ireland and Germany while warning has been issued to Denmark and Sweden airports. Volcanic ash also led to changes in president Obama’s travel plans as he had to shorten his Ireland trip and leave for Britain earlier to avoid the volcanic ash which is heading towards Britain’s air space.

Image credit: Boston.com/Bigpicture 1) Olafur Sigurjonsson/Reuters 2) STR/AFP/Getty Images

Leave a Comment May 25, 2011

Endeavour Blooms Inside The Clouds

I am a bit late posting this amazing picture of space shuttle Endeavour disappearing in the clouds. In case you missed the image, here you go. This beautiful image of Endeavour’s final trip to space was taken by Trey Ratcliff @www.stuckincustoms.com on May 17th.

Leave a Comment May 24, 2011

Chase Community Giving Program: Vote For “Asha for Education”

Asha for Education is participating in ongoing Chase Community Giving Program. Your one click can help Asha for Education in winning $500,000 which will be used for education of underprivileged community in India. Voting ends tomorrow, May 25th. Do Vote!

Chase Community Giving
Here is the BigIdea about How Asha will use funds if it wins $500,000:

Asha For Education is dedicated to driving socio-economic change in India through education of the underprivileged. With over 270 million illiterates and over 370 million below the poverty line, a large section of the population reaps very little benefit from the ongoing economic boom. We believe that education is a critical first step towards bringing the underprivileged into mainstream. Over 20 years, we have served tens of thousands of children in the lowest socio-economic strata of society through 400 project partners and 73 worldwide chapters. We would use $250K to start a “rural entrepreneurship” initiative that would help 750 people in rural India start and operate small businesses through a customized “mini-MBA” program. We would use the other $250K to start a “Vocational education” initiative that complements our formal education efforts. We will help 3,000 graduates find skilled jobs through career guidance and training in computer skills and spoken English.

Leave a Comment May 24, 2011

Zombie Marie Curie

Marie Curie is one of the finest women scientists whose achievements were well recognized by the scientific community, although the recognition did not come easy. She won two Noble prizes, first one for understanding the  phenomena of radiation which was shared with her husband while the second one she won solo for discovery of elements radium and polonium. When she won the second Noble prize, the Nobel committee which comprised mostly of men made attempts so that she could not attend the award ceremony, but she did attend the ceremony anyway. But besides her which other famous women scientists  we know of that era. Not many! Did you know about Lise Meitner or Emmy Noether? Lise Meitner was part of the team which worked on nuclear fission project. While Otto Hahn won the Nobel prize working on the project, she was conveniently neglected by the Nobel committee. As a consolation prize, an element Meitnerium was named after her. Zombie Marie Curie wants us to know that there were many other women scientists who made groundbreaking contributions to the field of science but were neglected due to gender bias.

Comicstrip credit: xkcd

Leave a Comment May 24, 2011

Another Icelandic Volcano Erupts

After a gap of 14 months, another Icelandic volcano has erupted. This time the name of the volcano (Grímsvötn) is less of a tongue twister as compared to last time (Eyjafjallajökull). Grímsvötn has erupted after an inactive period of seven years. On May 21, it started spewing out ashes and steam as high as 20 km above sea level. In the picture you can see ashes covering the snow and turning it brownish in color. Volcanic eruption led to closure of largest airport in Iceland. While initially it was predicted that this time the eruption won’t affect much of the air traffic in Europe, but as of recent updates it appears that air traffic in Ireland and UK will be affected. If you are flying that part of Europe then you might be cursing this untimely volcanic eruption, but for rest of us it gives a great opportunity to enjoy amazing pictures and videos which will be posted in coming days. Here’s one of the first videos of this volcano. Volcanic plumes usually produce lightning and Grímsvötn plume resulted in immense lightning activity, about 1000 times stronger than those produced by Eyjafjallajökull volcano. Enjoy the video! More updates later.

Image credit: NASA EarthObservatory

Video credit: Jon Gustafsson

Leave a Comment May 24, 2011


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