6/5/2016: Green Bank Observatory sets sights on new generation of spuds

Gazette_Spuds_2016Better known for probing deep space to study the nature of gravitational waves, discover the presence of molecules that could potentially support life, and search for the presence of extraterrestrial intelligence, the Green Bank Observatory has added a more down-to-earth research role to its repertoire: potato production.

On Thursday, the last of six five-acre plots on a stretch of level land between the Observatory’s headquarters building and its iconic 100-meter Green Bank Telescope was seeded with potatoes. The work, done by six teams of Pocahontas County farmers using a state-owned planting machine, is part of an effort by the West Virginia Department of Agriculture to encourage growers to consider the lowly potato, which once had a much higher profile across the state, as a new cash crop.

Records show that in 1927, West Virginia’s best year for agricultural production, about 53,000 acres were devoted to potato production statewide, compared with less than 1,000 acres today.

Published by The Charleston Gazette.  See more at: http://www.wvgazettemail.com/news/20160605/green-bank-observatory-sets-sights-on-a-new-generation-of-spuds#sthash.zDTCAV2S.dpuf

5/26/2016: SETI Gets an Upgrade

Siemion_Air_and_Space_2016Dan Werthimer doesn’t mean to be rude, but he’s getting ready to eavesdrop on the neighbors.

For decades, astronomers have been listening for messages sent to us—a “Hello, is anyone out there?” signal from intelligent aliens. But now Werthimer is about to get nosier; his team at the University of California at Berkeley is conducting the first search for communities on other worlds that are speaking to one another—between planets and even across star systems. And to do it, he has two of the world’s largest radio telescopes and support from a planet‑hunting optical telescope.

Thanks to a new initiative announced last July, Werthimer’s team will begin searching for extraterrestrial civilizations, using instruments with greater sensitivity and scanning across a wider range of frequencies than any SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence) project to date. Called Breakthrough Listen, it began earlier this year and will continue for a decade at a price tag of $100 million. “It’s a lot of money, a lot of telescope time,” says Werthimer. “We’ll be able to look at a hundred billion radio channels simultaneously. A big problem in SETI is we don’t know on what frequency ET might be transmitting, so the more channels you can listen to, the better chance you have of finding” a communication.

Published by Air & Space.  Read more: http://www.airspacemag.com/space/new-seti-search-180959126/#G7SLUp3kU2JLvsc2.99

6/1/2016: The Galaxy Is Under Pressure To Make Stars

Sapce_Daily_press_06_2016A new study led by Canadian astronomers provides unprecedented insights into the birth of stars. Using observations from the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Hawaii-based James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in the United States, astronomers from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) have discovered that star formation is more regulated by pressure from their surroundings than previously thought.

The birth of stars occurs deep within dense concentrations of interstellar gas and dust – known as cores – when their internal support structure becomes overwhelmed. These cores typically contain several times the mass of the Sun over a region about 10,000 times the size of the solar system. Cores are deeply embedded within molecular gas clouds which are located throughout our Milky Way Galaxy…

Published by Space DailyThe Galaxy Is Under Pressure to Make Stars

 

05/30/2016: National Research Council study reveals the galaxy is under pressure to make stars

Press_2016_MayA new study led by Canadian astronomers provides unprecedented insights into the birth of stars. Using observations from the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the Hawaii-based James Clerk Maxwell Telescope in the United States, astronomers from the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) have discovered that star formation is more regulated by pressure from their surroundings than previously thought.

The birth of stars occurs deep within dense concentrations of interstellar gas and dust—known as cores— when their internal support structure becomes overwhelmed. These cores typically contain several times the mass of the Sun over a region about 10,000 times the size of the Solar System. Cores are deeply embedded within molecular gas clouds which are located throughout our Milky Way Galaxy.

Published by T.  See more at: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/business/cnw/release.html?rkey=20160531C6172&filter=5599

05/23/2016: Science: Nurturing Success From Failure

300ft_after_hi-1200x807On a calm November evening in 1988, the 300 foot radio telescope at Green Bank Observatory collapsed. While the collapse was a huge blow to radio astronomy, it is somewhat surprising that it lasted as long as it did. The radio telescope was proposed in 1960 as a way to fill the observational gap between earlier radio telescopes and telescope arrays such as the VLA, and was intended to operate for about five years. In a way it was meant to nurture success out of failure.

 At the time, the major radio telescope under construction was Green Bank’s 140 foot telescope. This telescope was polar-aligned, and had a tracking mechanism that could follow objects as they moved across the sky. This would allow for high-precision observations of radio objects such as pulsars. Unfortunately the gearing necessary to move such a large telescope was plagued with flaws, and the construction of the telescope faced increasing delays and costs. While the 300-foot telescope was larger, it was also lighter and had limited mobility, making it cheaper and easier to build. It depended upon the rotation of the Earth to bring objects into its view for about 40 seconds before drifting out of range, but that was enough to make good observations of things like pulsar remnants. It was also able to make a survey of the radio sky at a higher precision than ever before. When the 140 foot telescope was finally completed in 1965, it was able to further these discoveries, and even made radio observations of complex molecules in space, opening the door to astrochemistry.

Published by .  See more at: http://www.forbes.com/sites/briankoberlein/2016/05/23/science-nurturing-success-from-failure/#466513113157