Tagged: Caltech Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • richardmitnick 12:17 pm on June 20, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Caltech, , Lunar Trailblazer,   

    From Caltech: “NASA Selects Caltech-Led Lunar Mission as a Finalist” 

    Caltech Logo

    From Caltech

    June 20, 2019

    NASA has selected a Caltech-led mission to send a small satellite to quantify and study water on the Moon. The project is one of three finalists selected from more than a dozen proposals for small satellite missions – at least one of which is expected to move to final selection and flight.

    1
    Lunar Trailblazer follows up on a key discovery by NASA’s Moon Mineralogy Mapper (M3) on the Indian Chandrayaan-1 mission: small amounts of water and hydroxyl (in blue and violet) across the surface of the moon, especially near the poles. Credit: ISRO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Brown Univ./USGS

    3
    Left side of the Moon Mineralogy Mapper that was located on the Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter.

    3
    Chandrayaan-1

    The Lunar Trailblazer would follow up on one of the most surprising discoveries of the late 2000s: the detection of water on the Moon’s surface, long thought impossible because of its exposure to the vacuum of space. Trailblazer would map the tiny amounts of water and of hydroxyl (a compound of hydrogen and oxygen) on the sunlit side of the Moon, determining whether they change with time. Trailblazer would also peer into shadowed craters to map ice deposits, glimpses of which were observed on prior missions.

    The mission proposal is led by Bethany Ehlmann, professor of planetary science at Caltech and research scientist at JPL, which Caltech manages for NASA. “Our team is excited to move forward to map water on the Moon. The water cycle of airless bodies is one of the solar system’s most surprising occurrences and is important for the support of future human lunar exploration,” Ehlmann says.

    The relatively tiny Trailblazer satellite, which would measure just 5 meters in length with its solar panels fully deployed, would spend a year orbiting the Moon at a height of 100 kilometers, scanning it with two key instruments: a shortwave imaging spectrometer built by JPL and a multispectral thermal imager built by the University of Oxford.

    The spectrometer would image the surface in multiple wavelengths in the infrared, searching for the signature of water—either in the form of ice or bound to minerals. Meanwhile, the thermal imager would map the temperature, physical properties, and composition of regions where the spectrometer detects water.

    The end result would be a high-resolution map—at 100 meters per pixel—that charts the form, abundance, and distribution of water while also collecting information about the environments where that water exists. The mission’s leaders hope that such information could not only fill in the gaps of our understanding of the Moon but also chart a course for future human exploration.

    The mission was proposed as part of NASA’s Small Innovative Missions for Planetary Exploration (SIMPLEx) Program for low-budget missions that are capable of major planetary surveys. “We’re eager to lead the way in science and discovery using this new small-satellite NASA mission class. The opportunities are huge,” Ehlmann says.

    The mission will now receive funding for up to one year followed by a NASA preliminary design review. At that time, NASA will determine when and if it will be selected for a flight. The satellite could launch within two to four years, Ehlmann says. Caltech would be responsible for managing the project and for the scientific leadership, with support from JPL. Ball Aerospace in Boulder, Colorado, would build the spacecraft.

    Once launched, the spacecraft would be operated by teams from Caltech and neighboring Pasadena City College. The teams would include students who will be supported by experienced Caltech and JPL personnel. The project’s science team includes researchers from Caltech, JPL, the UK Space Agency, the University of Oxford, Pasadena City College, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Brown University, and Northern Arizona University.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus

     
  • richardmitnick 7:27 am on June 6, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Caltech, nEDM-neutron Electric Dipole Moment experiment,   

    From Caltech: “How a Giant ‘Thermos Bottle’ Will Help in Understanding Antimatter” 

    Caltech Logo

    From Caltech

    June 05, 2019

    Whitney Clavin
    (626) 395‑1856
    wclavin@caltech.edu

    1
    Members of the nEDM team stand in front of their magnetic cryovessel experimental apparatus in the Synchrotron Building at Caltech. From left to right: Wei Wanchun, research engineer; Marie Blatnick, graduate student, and Brad Filippone, the Francis L. Moseley Professor of Physics and Spokesperson for the nEDM experiment.

    One of the big questions physicists are trying to answer is what happened to all the antimatter in our universe. The universe was born out of a hot soup of both matter and antimatter particles (for example, the antiparticle to an electron is a positron). But something happened billions of years ago to tip the balance to matter, and antimatter disappeared. In fact, if this had not happened, we humans would not be here: when antimatter and matter particles collide, they transform into pure energy.

    To address this mystery, researchers at Caltech are taking part in an ambitious multi-institutional project called the neutron Electric Dipole Moment experiment, or nEDM, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and the National Science Foundation. The project will culminate in an experiment at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee in about three years. The idea is to look for what is called an electric dipole moment in neutrons—a phenomenon in which the charges within a neutron are such that one side of the neutron is a tad more negative than the other. This distortion, if large enough, could signal a breakdown in a type of symmetry in physics called charge parity, or CP, that is needed to explain the absence of antimatter in the universe.

    Caltech is building a crucial part of the experiment—a giant cryovessel, pictured above, as well as magnetic shielding and coils to produce magnetic fields. The experiment inside the cryovessel, which can be thought of as a giant thermos bottle, will be chilled to temperatures as low as just one-half a degree above absolute zero, or 0.5 Kelvin (-459 degrees Fahrenheit). The idea is to spin ultracold neutrons in a magnetic field inside the chamber, in the same way that MRI machines spin protons in our bodies. An electric field would then be applied, and the researchers would look for very tiny changes in the way the neutrons are spinning—an indication of an electric dipole moment. The sensitivity of the nEDM experiment is equivalent to measuring a distortion in Earth’s diameter of less than one one-hundredth the thickness of a human hair.

    The Caltech team expects to deliver the cryovessel, with its magnetic shielding and magnetic field coils, to Oak Ridge in about a year and a half.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus

     
  • richardmitnick 8:18 am on May 11, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Beta-lactam; gamma-lactam: and delta-lactam molecules, , Caltech, , In the ongoing arms race with humans and their antibiotics on one side and bacteria with their ability to evolve defenses to antibiotics on the other humans have enlisted a new ally: other bacteria.   

    From Caltech: “Directed Evolution Opens Door to New Antibiotics” 

    Caltech Logo

    From Caltech

    May 09, 2019
    Emily Velasco
    626‑395‑6487
    evelasco@caltech.edu

    1
    Caltech

    In the ongoing arms race with humans and their antibiotics on one side, and bacteria with their ability to evolve defenses to antibiotics on the other, humans have enlisted a new ally—other bacteria.

    Many common antibiotics, including the most famous antibiotic, penicillin, are based around a molecular structure known as a beta-lactam ring. These drugs, aptly named beta-lactam antibiotics, interfere with a bacterium’s ability to build its cell wall.

    2
    Penicillin. Credit: Caltech

    As bacteria develop resistance to existing antibiotics, researchers and pharmaceutical companies work to create new ones. That means a lot of work is done creating new kinds of beta-lactams, and that is where Frances Arnold’s lab enters the picture.

    6
    Frances H. Arnold

    The paramount challenge is to control precisely where along the molecule the reaction takes place. With traditional synthetic chemistry, chemists have to tack extra pieces onto molecules that they want to turn into beta-lactams. Without those extra pieces, the knots will end up tied in inconsistent spots, resulting in some loops that are large and some that are small. That’s undesirable for someone trying to manufacture a consistent batch of antibiotics. But the addition of those extra pieces makes the synthesis more complicated because additional steps are required to add them and still more steps to remove them after the looping is complete.

    3
    Caltech
    Beta-lactams are made by taking a chainlike molecule and looping it, kind of like taking one end of a string and tying it in a knot to the middle of the string.

    Graduate student Inha Cho and postdoctoral scholar Zhi-Jun Jia, both from Arnold’s lab, have developed something simpler by using directed evolution, a technique developed by Arnold, the Linus Pauling Professor of Chemical Engineering, Bioengineering and Biochemistry, and director of the Donna and Benjamin M. Rosen Bioengineering Center. In directed evolution, which Arnold developed in the 1990s and for which she received the 2018 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, enzymes are evolved in a lab until they behave in a desired way. The genetic code of a useful enzyme is transferred into bacteria like Escherichia coli. As the bacteria grow, divide, and go about their lives, they churn out the enzyme.

    In this case, Cho and Jia took an enzyme known as cytochrome P450, which has been a versatile workhorse in the Arnold lab, and evolved it to produce beta-lactams. Two other versions of enzymes were also created to construct other ring sizes of lactams. One version creates a gamma-lactam, a loop of four carbon atoms and one nitrogen atom. And the other version creates a delta-lactam, a loop of five carbon atoms and one nitrogen atom.

    6
    The enzyme developed in Arnold’s lab can create beta-lactam, gamma-lactam, and delta-lactam molecules. Credit: Caltech

    “We’re developing new enzymes with activity that cannot be found in nature,” says Cho. “Lactams can be found in many different drugs, but especially in antibiotics, and we’re always needing new ones.”

    Jia points out that the enzymes they have created are also incredibly efficient, with each molecule of enzyme capable of producing up to one million beta-lactam molecules. “They represent the most efficient enzymes created in our lab, and are ready for industrial applications,” Jia says.

    The paper, titled “Site-selective enzymatic C-H amidation for synthesis of diverse lactams” and co-authored by Arnold, appears in the May 10 issue of Science.

    Support for the research was provided by the National Science Foundation, the Joseph J. Jacobs Institute for Molecular Engineering for Medicine, and Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus

     
  • richardmitnick 1:14 pm on May 9, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Caltech, Earth is not thought to have always had an oxygenated atmosphere and deep ocean., , Geochemistry of island arc magmas, Geoscientists at Caltech and UC Berkeley have identified a chemical signature in igneous rocks., Island arcs are formed when one oceanic tectonic plate slides beneath another in a process called subduction., The emergence of oxygen—and with it the ability for the planet to sustain aerobic life—occurred in two steps., The most abundant magmatic or igneous rocks are basalts—dark-colored and fine-grained rocks commonly found in lava flows., The signaure records the onset of oxygenation of Earth's deep oceans., This signature managed to survive the furnace of the mantle.   

    From Caltech: “How Life on Earth Affected its Inner Workings” 

    Caltech Logo

    From Caltech

    May 09, 2019
    Robert Perkins
    (626) 395‑1862
    rperkins@caltech.edu

    1

    It is well known that life on Earth and the geology of the planet are intertwined, but a new study provides fresh evidence for just how deep—literally—that connection goes. Geoscientists at Caltech and UC Berkeley have identified a chemical signature in igneous rocks recording the onset of oxygenation of Earth’s deep oceans—a signal that managed to survive the furnace of the mantle. This oxygenation is of great interest, as it ushered in the modern era of high atmospheric and oceanic oxygen levels, and is believed to have allowed the diversification of life in the sea.

    Their findings, which were published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science on April 11, support a leading theory about the geochemistry of island arc magmas and offer a rare example of biological processes on the planet’s surface affecting the inner Earth.

    Island arcs are formed when one oceanic tectonic plate slides beneath another in a process called subduction. The subducting plate descends and releases water-rich fluids into the overlying mantle, causing it to melt and produce magmas that ultimately ascend to the surface of the earth. This process builds island arc volcanoes like those found today in the Japanese islands and elsewhere in the Pacific Ring of Fire. Eventually, through plate tectonics, island arcs collide with and are incorporated into continents, preserving them in the rock record over geological time.

    The most abundant magmatic, or igneous, rocks are basalts—dark-colored and fine-grained rocks commonly found in lava flows. Most basalts on the earth today do not form at island arcs but rather at mid-ocean ridges deep underwater. A well-known difference between the two is that island arc basalts are more oxidized than those found at mid-ocean ridges.

    A leading but debated hypothesis for this difference is that oceanic crust is oxidized by oxygen and sulfate in the deep ocean before it is subducted into the mantle, delivering oxidized material to the mantle source of island arcs above the subduction zone.

    But Earth is not thought to have always had an oxygenated atmosphere and deep ocean. Rather, scientists believe, the emergence of oxygen—and with it the ability for the planet to sustain aerobic life—occurred in two steps. The first event, which took place between about 2.3 and 2.4 billion years ago, resulted in a greater than 100,000-fold increase in atmospheric O2 in the atmosphere, to about 1 percent of modern levels.

    Although it was dramatically higher than it had previously been, the atmospheric O2 concentration at this time still was too low to oxygenate the deep ocean, which is thought to have remained anoxic until around 400 to 800 million years ago. Around that time, atmospheric O2 concentrations are thought to have increased to 10 to 50 percent of modern levels. That second jump has been proposed to have allowed oxygen to circulate into the deep ocean.

    “If the reason why modern island arcs are fairly oxidized is due the presence of dissolved oxygen and sulfate in the deep ocean, then it sets up an interesting potential prediction,” says Daniel Stolper (Caltech PhD ’14), one of the authors of the paper and an assistant professor of Earth and Planetary Science at UC Berkeley. “We know roughly when the deep oceans became oxygenated and thus, if this idea is right, one might see a change in how oxidized ancient island arc rocks were before versus after this oxygenation.”

    To search for the signal of this oxygenation event in island arc igneous rocks, Stolper teamed up with Caltech assistant professor of geology Claire Bucholz, who studies modern and ancient arc magmatic rocks. Stolper and Bucholz combed through published records of ancient island arcs and compiled geochemical measurements that revealed the oxidation state of arc rocks that erupted tens of millions to billions of years ago. Their idea was simple: if oxidized material from the surface is subducted and oxidizes the mantle regions that source island arc rocks, then ancient island arc rocks should be less oxidized (and thus more “reduced”) than their modern counterparts.

    “It’s not as common anymore, but scientists used to routinely quantify the oxidation state of iron in their rock samples,” Bucholz says. “So there was a wealth of data just waiting to be reexamined.”

    Their analysis revealed a distinct signature: a detectable increase in oxidized iron in bulk-rock samples between 800 and 400 million years ago, the same time interval that independent studies proposed the oxygenation of the deep ocean occurred. To be thorough, the researchers also explored other possible explanations for the signal. For example, it is commonly assumed that the oxidation state of iron in bulk rocks can be compromised by metamorphic processes—the heating and compaction of rocks—or by processes that alter them at or near the surface of the earth. Bucholz and Stolper constructed a variety of tests to determine whether such processes had affected the record. Some alteration almost certainly occurred, Bucholz says, but the changes are consistent everywhere that samples were taken. “The amount of oxidized iron in the samples may have been shifted after cooling and solidification, but it appears to have been shifted in a similar way across all samples,” she says.

    Stolper and Bucholz additionally compiled another proxy also thought to reflect the oxidation state of the mantle source of arc magmas. Reassuringly, this independent record yielded similar results to the iron-oxidation-state record. Based on this, the researchers propose that the oxygenation of the deep ocean impacted not only on the earth’s surface and oceans but also changed the geochemistry of a major class of igneous rocks.

    This work complements earlier research by Bucholz that examines changes in the oxidation signatures of minerals in igneous rocks associated with the first oxygenation event 2.3 billion years ago. She collected sedimentary-type, or S-type, granites, which are formed during the burial and heating of sediments during the collision of two landmasses—for example, in the Himalayas, where the Indian subcontinent is colliding with Asia.

    “The granites represent melted sediments that were deposited at the surface of Earth. I wanted to test the idea that sediments might still record the first rise of oxygen on Earth, despite having been heated up and melted to create granite,” she says. “And indeed, it does.”

    Both studies speak to the strong connection between the geology of Earth and the life that flourishes on it, she says. “The evolution of the planet and of the life on it are intertwined. We can’t understand one without understanding the other,” says Bucholz.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus

     
  • richardmitnick 7:42 am on May 3, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , Caltech, , Jamie Bock, Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer, SPHEREx mssion   

    From Caltech: “2,700 Pages Later, a Space Mission Is Born” 

    Caltech Logo

    From Caltech

    April 23, 2019

    Whitney Clavin
    (626) 395‑1856
    wclavin@caltech.edu

    1
    2,700 Pages Later, a Space Mission Is Born. Jamie Bock Credit: Caltech.

    On February 13, 2019, Caltech’s James (Jamie) Bock sat down with NASA’s Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, to receive some good news: NASA had selected the space mission proposal he had been working on laboriously for more than six years.

    “I was elated to hear the news,” says Bock, a professor of physics at Caltech and senior research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), which is managed by Caltech for NASA. “My team and I are thrilled to finally move from writing proposals to the design and building stage.”

    When it begins science operations in 2023, the mission, called SPHEREx (for Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer), will be the first to take near-infrared spectra everywhere over the entire sky.

    NASA’s SPHEREx Spectro-Photometer for the History of the Universe, Epoch of Reionization and Ices Explorer depiction

    Its goal is to answer questions about the birth of our universe, the role of water and organic ices in the formation of planetary systems, and the cosmic history of galaxy formation.

    The mission belongs to NASA’s Explorer Program, in which researchers compete to be selected as a new mission. The Explorer Program consists of two mission classes that differ by cost: the Small Explorers (SMEX) are not to exceed $145 million, and the Medium-Class Explorers (MIDEX) are not to exceed $250 million. SPHEREx was first proposed under the SMEX classification but did not get selected, so Bock and his team re-proposed the mission as a MIDEX and ultimately succeeded.

    We sat down with Bock to ask about this proposal process as well as the next steps for SPHEREx.

    What gave you the idea to propose this mission as a SMEX?

    There were actually three different mission concepts being discussed back in 2012. I was involved with one idea to study the inflationary birth of the universe; another group wanted to study interstellar ices; and a third was looking at galaxy evolution. We decided to join forces and propose one mission, SPHEREx. These diverse science themes come together by taking spectra over the full sky, or what astronomers refer to as the celestial sphere, hence the name of the mission. Fusing these three concepts was initially a challenge, because of their differing requirements for spectroscopy and sensitivity. But, in the end, we came away with a very strong and compelling science case, going from the solar system to the birth of the universe, all carried out by a small telescope.

    Can you tell us more about how the proposal process works?

    NASA will put out an “Announcement of Opportunity (AO)” for a SMEX or MIDEX mission. The AOs target either astrophysics or heliophysics science. [Planetary scientists propose missions under a different system—NASA’s Discovery and New Frontiers programs.] When the AO comes out for a mission, you have 90 days until the proposal is due. That’s way too late to come up with new ideas—really you need to be winding up the proposal writing at that stage. Thanks to NASA, we generally know when the AOs are coming, and SPHEREx got off to an early start.

    During the first proposal round, the review panel looks at all aspects of the mission but emphasizes science potential. From typically a dozen proposals, NASA selects three mission concepts for a further “phase A” study. The phase A studies culminate in each team submitting a written report, which NASA evaluates through a panel of experts, an all-day site visit, and a final presentation given to Thomas Zurbuchen.

    So you went through this whole process twice, once for the SMEX and once for the MIDEX proposal?

    That’s right. We originally developed SPHEREx to be a SMEX mission, but there was a MIDEX proposal due near the very end of the SMEX process. We weren’t sure we were going to get the SMEX mission—and ultimately we didn’t—so a group of us took the 1,100-page report we completed for the SMEX study and boiled it down to 200 pages for the first round of the MIDEX call. In total, the team wrote about 2,700 proposal pages for this mission, including both SMEX and MIDEX proposals and study reports.

    Crunch time comes when finishing the reports. That always comes down to the wire. We would meet every day and on weekends in what is referred to as the “war room.” It would be filled with snacks, and we covered the walls with pages of the proposal. I quickly learned that it’s impossible for a single person to oversee all the sections going into the proposal. You succeed or fail based on your team.

    What is your favorite part of the proposal process?

    I really enjoy the writing. It’s a craft, and I spent a lot of time on the prose, polishing draft after draft to make it as clear as possible. There’s a psychology to the writing as well. You want to hit the highlights for a general reviewer so they get the basics and can move on. But you also want to leave a full description for subject expert reviewers who want depth. So, for example, in our data-plan section, we started with a summary for generalists, but then the experts can find chapters going in greater detail about how we handle the challenges of systematic errors. That’s a complex and messy topic, but it was critical not to gloss over.

    And your least favorite part?

    One of the most stressful aspects of this process are the site visits, when the panel of about 30 reviewers come to JPL for the day and fire questions at us. Naturally, most of their questions focused on that complex topic of systematic errors. This is kind of exciting, too. You have to say things clearly in the fewest words possible. But I confess I did not enjoy the practice reviews with a “mock” review board. Their job is to give us a worst-case site visit experience—they are good at their jobs. We did four all-day practices for this visit, the last one being a dress rehearsal in a suit and tie. We did the same thing when we proposed this mission as a SMEX. Altogether, I’ve been through 10 full days of site visits!

    Are there benefits to this proposal process?

    Ultimately, the process forces us to be as efficient as we can be in our mission plan. You propose what you need and nothing more.

    As the principal investigator of the mission, what is your primary role?

    The job of the PI is to ensure that the instrument performs scientifically—that we meet our science requirements.

    What are the next steps?

    We are just getting started and have lots to do. We have to finish filling out our team and hiring new people. We also have to make preparations for the pipeline being developed at IPAC [an astronomy data and science center at Caltech], which will automate the data analysis since the data will come pouring in once we are in orbit. The volume of the data is so great that you can’t even look at the entire set with human eyes and keep up. Ball Aerospace will build the spacecraft, which is the main body of the space mission. JPL and Caltech will work closely together in building the payload, which is the telescope, detectors, and cooling system that sits above the spacecraft. Together, the spacecraft and its payload will be launched into space on a rocket, but we will have to wait for NASA to select the launch site and procure the vehicle.

    At Caltech, we will start designing and building the telescope, detector, and readout system, which will be tested in the basement labs at the Cahill building. We’re excited to get busy and roll up our sleeves.

    Major partners of the SPHEREx mission include Caltech, JPL, NASA and IPAC; Ball Aerospace provides the spacecraft; and the Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute will provide support for instrument calibration and testing. Scientists from across the U.S. and in South Korea will participate in the science analysis of SPHEREx data.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus

     
  • richardmitnick 1:43 pm on May 2, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Caltech, Surface chemistry   

    From Caltech: “Hydrogen Sticks to Graphene More Than Expected and Now We Know Why” 

    Caltech Logo

    From Caltech

    April 25, 2019
    Emily Velasco
    626‑395‑6487
    evelasco@caltech.edu

    1
    New research explores how hydrogen atoms get stuck in graphene’s lattice structure, not unlike a tennis ball stuck in a chain-link fence.

    For all its complexity, chemistry amounts to just two things: making and breaking bonds between atoms. Understanding how those bonds are formed and destroyed has been a running goal for many chemists, including Caltech’s Tom Miller.

    In a new paper published in the journal Science, Miller, professor of chemistry, reveals findings that he says fundamentally change our understanding of what is going on behind the scenes in some chemical reactions.

    The work focuses on what is known as surface chemistry—the chemical reactions that occur at the boundary between two phases of matter: either a gas reacting with a solid, a solid reacting to a liquid, or a liquid reacting with a gas.

    In this latest research, Miller and his collaborators looked at how graphene, a sheet-like form of carbon, interacts with hydrogen atoms.

    To picture their experimental setup, imagine propping a trampoline up against the wall of your house. Now, start throwing softballs at the trampoline as hard as you can. That is essentially what Miller and his team were doing, except instead of a trampoline, they had graphene, and instead of softballs, they had hydrogen atoms.

    If graphene indeed behaved like a trampoline, as previously thought, then the vast majority of balls would come bouncing back at you without sticking, and pretty fast. It would be like playing a solo game of dodgeball.

    However, this is not what Miller’s team observed when they collided hydrogen atoms into graphene. While some bounced back at high speed, others bounced back only weakly, and a large fraction did not come back at all. This discrepancy suggested that something was amiss in the understanding of how the hydrogen and graphene were interacting. The weakly bouncing hydrogen atoms had a lot of energy before they hit the graphene but not much afterward. That energy had to be going somewhere.

    “This unexpected stickiness and this unexpected population of slow bouncers was intriguing and surprising,” Miller says. “The hydrogen atoms were doing something that was dumping a lot of kinetic energy and allowing them to stick to the surface. That’s very different than what we expected to happen.”

    Miller wanted to know where all of that energy was going. To find out, he developed quantum simulation methods that revealed the mechanism by which the hydrogen atoms were interacting with graphene during the collisions.

    Miller draws an analogy between the insights from the current work and that of the late Caltech professor Ahmed Zewail, who used ultrafast laser pulses to characterize the motion of the atoms during chemical bond breaking and formation. Zewail won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999 for pioneering this field of research.

    “Zewail did that using femtosecond—one quadrillionth of a second—lasers,” Miller says. “Our current work uses a combination of scattering experiments and quantum simulations to learn about the same femtoscecond timescales but in a surface-chemistry context.”

    In observing the collisions between hydrogen atoms and the graphene in this way, Miller’s team was able to see why graphene was stickier than expected and why many of the hydrogens atoms were bouncing off with so little energy.

    Their assumption that the graphene would act like a trampoline was wrong, Miller says.

    When hydrogen atoms are shot at graphene, most bounce off, but some actually form a covalent bond with one of the carbon atoms. When they do that, the hydrogen atoms change the arrangement of bonds in the graphene surface. By causing this widespread change in the graphene bonding pattern, the hydrogen atoms efficiently transfer much of their kinetic energy to the graphene. Sometimes, the hydrogen stays stuck to the graphene, but at other times, it only forms a temporary bond. Those temporary bonds account for the slow bouncers. The slow bouncers make a bond with the graphene, but before it can break, most of their energy has dissipated through the graphene’s structure.

    Rather than a trampoline, the graphene is acting more like a pane of safety glass being cracked by rocks thrown at it, Miller says. The glass absorbs the energy of the rocks, and the rocks either get embedded in it or bounce off weakly.

    Miller says that this finding has potential implications in many fields of study, including interstellar chemistry, atmospheric chemistry, and the development of catalysts and sensors.

    “It’s a very simple and fundamental collision process,” he says. “And it’s beautiful to see transient chemical bond formation giving rise to such a pronounced effect in this completely unexpected scenario.”

    Miller’s co-authors include Hongyan Jiang, Yvonne Dorenkamp, and Marvin Kammler and Alec Wodtke of the Georg-August University of Göttingen and the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry; Feizhi Ding of Caltech; Frederick R. Manby of the University of Bristol; Alexander Kandratsenka of the Max Planck Institute for Biophysical Chemistry; and Oliver Bünermann of the Georg-August University of Göttingen.

    Funding was provided by the German Research Foundation, the Ministry of Culture and Science of North Rhine-Westphalia, and the Volkswagen Foundation. Miller was supported by the Department of Energy, including support from the Caltech Joint Center for Artificial Photosynthesis program.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus

     
  • richardmitnick 2:01 pm on April 4, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , Caltech, The mathematical universe, , Yeorgia Kafkoulis   

    From Caltech: Women in STEM -“A Mathematical Universe” Yeorgia Kafkoulis 

    Caltech Logo

    From Caltech

    4.4.19

    1

    Even our most reliable ideas about how the universe works break down in certain domains. They can’t account for the weirdness of quantum mechanics or the recursive chaos of fractals. Hungry for answers, many researchers—including one Caltech undergraduate and her faculty mentor—aim to come up with a better explanation.

    Contributing to a grand unified theory ought to be a daunting task. But true to the Caltech spirit, mathematics scholar Yeorgia Kafkoulis thrills at the challenge.

    “The fact that there are so many open questions means that there’s more to explore, more to learn about, and more to question,” says Kafkoulis, a member of the class of 2019.

    Each summer, she joins up with the research team led by Caltech mathematics professor Matilde Marcolli. Kafkoulis’s task is part of an ambitious project: exploring the Swiss-cheese model of cosmology, a recalculation of the fundamental laws of nature.

    Just as a Gantvoort Scholarship has helped underwrite her classroom education, her opportunities as a burgeoning investigator come courtesy of donor funding, in the form of the Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships (SURF) program.

    ___________________________________________________

    “I came to Caltech to learn, but I also came to do research. SURF has opened my eyes to this world of mathematical physics in particular, and also to research in general. It’s a little sneak peek into my future.”

    • Yeorgia Kafkoulis

    __________________________________________________

    Big Cheese

    As Marcolli, Kafkoulis, and colleagues seek to reconcile Einstein’s general relativity with more exotic phenomena, they double-down by questioning Newton’s assumptions.

    His cosmological principle depended upon two things. One, that the rules of physics work the same way anywhere in the universe. Two, that on a large scale, the distribution of matter is about the same everywhere.

    The Swiss-cheese model presents a concept of gravity that removes one of those assumptions. What if matter is not evenly distributed in the universe?

    In this model, you might expect to see a cosmos made of denser stretches and pockets of emptiness—not unlike that holey Alpine cheese. You also might see the beginnings of explanations for the quantum strangeness and fractal chaos that defy the models of Einstein and Newton.

    Marcolli’s team tries out new ideas in this framework and examines the effects of a modified gravity model as the universe expands over time. Elaborating on the notion of a block of cheese, this conception describes spacetime as shaped like a many-dimensioned set of bubbles.

    Kafkoulis is looking for patterns in how those bubbles pack together. The arrangement seems to resemble swirling multifractals.

    “Fractal-like behavior isn’t explained by the standard model,” Kafkoulis explains. “At times, the universe behaves like a fractal—in supernovae, in clusters of stars and galaxies, even in the composition of stars. To describe the universe accurately, you need to explain that fracticality.”

    Awe, Excitement, and Pizza

    Kafkoulis connected with her mentor early, in the first term of her freshman year. The setting was Math 20, a seminar that serves up lectures from different professors and pizza for lunch. Marcolli’s “pizza course” presentation made a big impression.

    “I heard ‘Swiss-cheese model of cosmology,’ and my spider-sense started tingling,” Kafkoulis says. “As I started to get a sense for what Professor Marcolli was talking about, I was like, ‘This is awesome!’ And I mean that in the strict sense of the word. ‘This inspires awe.’”

    By the next week, Kafkoulis was leaving Marcolli’s office with reading materials in hand and a newly forged SURF match that would enrich her Caltech career.

    In the summers, Kafkoulis diligently proves theorems, reads countless papers, and meets with Marcolli each week to compare notes, both one-on-one and as part of her team. Her mentor’s enthusiasm for exploring Kafkoulis’s ideas has stoked her confidence.

    “Professor Marcolli has helped me become a better mathematician and a better scientist,” Kafkoulis says. “She inspires me to jump forward in whatever I’m doing—just dive headfirst into the deep waters. She is, I tell people, what I want to be when I grow up.”

    A Lifelong Fascination

    Kafkoulis remembers her passion for understanding the universe first igniting when she was 5 years old. A public television series about string theory held her transfixed.

    “I would run to my parents and explain what I had seen—even though I didn’t really understand it,” she laughs.

    Academics themselves, her parents encouraged her love of science. And her father, a Caltech PhD, had one suggestion in particular for her future path, leading her far from their home in Miami.

    “What he said made Caltech seem like this utopia, even when I was 5,” she says. “He described it as welcoming and intellectually stimulating. He kept saying: ‘Caltech is not the only place. But it might make a pretty good place for you.’”

    Her eagerness to take on the biggest kinds of research questions suggests that the elder Kafkoulis might have been onto something.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus

     
  • richardmitnick 12:52 pm on March 7, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Caltech, Kip Thorne   

    From Caltech: “VIDEO: Kip Thorne’s Watson Lecture” 

    Caltech Logo

    From Caltech

    1
    VIDEO: Kip Thorne’s Watson Lecture


    1:15

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus


    Caltech campus

     
  • richardmitnick 3:56 pm on March 5, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Caltech, , Earthquake hazards, Geophysicists at Caltech have created a new method for determining earthquake hazards by measuring how fast energy is building up on faults in a specific region and then comparing that to how much is , , , , The method also allows for an assessment of the likelihood of smaller earthquakes. If one excludes aftershocks the probability that a magnitude 6.0 or greater earthquake will occur in central LA over , They applied the new method to the faults underneath central Los Angeles and found that on the long-term average the strongest earthquake that is likely to occur along those faults is between magnitud, They find that the crust beneath Los Angeles does not seem to be being squeezed from south to north fast enough to make such an earthquake quite as likely, When one tectonic plate pushes against another elastic strain is built up along the boundary between the two plates. The strain increases until one plate either creeps slowly past the other or it jerk   

    From Caltech: “Fast, Simple New Assessment of Earthquake Hazard” 

    Caltech Logo

    From Caltech

    1
    Credit: Juan Vargas, Jean-Philippe Avouac, Chris Rollins / Caltech

    March 04, 2019

    Contact
    Robert Perkins
    (626) 395‑1862
    rperkins@caltech.edu

    Geophysicists at Caltech have created a new method for determining earthquake hazards by measuring how fast energy is building up on faults in a specific region, and then comparing that to how much is being released through fault creep and earthquakes.

    They applied the new method to the faults underneath central Los Angeles, and found that on the long-term average, the strongest earthquake that is likely to occur along those faults is between magnitude 6.8 and 7.1, and that a magnitude 6.8—about 50 percent stronger than the 1994 Northridge earthquake—could occur roughly every 300 years on average.

    That is not to say that a larger earthquake beneath central L.A. is impossible, the researchers say; rather, they find that the crust beneath Los Angeles does not seem to be being squeezed from south to north fast enough to make such an earthquake quite as likely.

    The method also allows for an assessment of the likelihood of smaller earthquakes. If one excludes aftershocks, the probability that a magnitude 6.0 or greater earthquake will occur in central LA over any given 10-year period is about 9 percent, while the chance of a magnitude 6.5 or greater earthquake is about 2 percent.

    A paper describing these findings was published by Geophysical Research Letters on February 27.

    These levels of seismic hazard are somewhat lower but do not differ significantly from what has already been predicted by the Working Group on California Earthquake Probabilities. But that is actually the point, the Caltech scientists say.

    Current state-of-the-art methods for assessing the seismic hazard of an area involve generating a detailed assessment of the kinds of earthquake ruptures that can be expected along each fault, a complicated process that relies on supercomputers to generate a final model. By contrast, the new method—developed by Caltech graduate student Chris Rollins and Jean-Philippe Avouac, Earle C. Anthony Professor of Geology and Mechanical and Civil Engineering—is much simpler, relying on the strain budget and the overall earthquake statistics in a region.

    “We basically ask, ‘Given that central L.A. is being squeezed from north to south at a few millimeters per year, what can we say about how often earthquakes of various magnitudes might occur in the area, and how large earthquakes might get?'” Rollins says.

    When one tectonic plate pushes against another, elastic strain is built up along the boundary between the two plates. The strain increases until one plate either creeps slowly past the other, or it jerks violently. The violent jerks are felt as earthquakes.

    Fortunately, the gradual bending of the crust between earthquakes can be measured at the surface by studying how the earth’s surface deforms. In a previous study [JGR Solid Earth] (done in collaboration with Caltech research software engineer Walter Landry; Don Argus of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed by Caltech for NASA; and Sylvain Barbot of USC), Avouac and Rollins measured ground displacement using permanent global positioning system (GPS) stations that are part of the Plate Boundary Observatory network, supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and NASA. The GPS measurements revealed how fast the land beneath L.A. is being bent. From that, the researchers calculated how much strain was being released by creep and how much was being stored as elastic strain available to drive earthquakes.

    This research was supported by a NASA Earth and Space Science Fellowship.

    See the full article here .

    Earthquake Alert

    1

    Earthquake Alert

    Earthquake Network projectEarthquake Network is a research project which aims at developing and maintaining a crowdsourced smartphone-based earthquake warning system at a global level. Smartphones made available by the population are used to detect the earthquake waves using the on-board accelerometers. When an earthquake is detected, an earthquake warning is issued in order to alert the population not yet reached by the damaging waves of the earthquake.

    The project started on January 1, 2013 with the release of the homonymous Android application Earthquake Network. The author of the research project and developer of the smartphone application is Francesco Finazzi of the University of Bergamo, Italy.

    Get the app in the Google Play store.

    3
    Smartphone network spatial distribution (green and red dots) on December 4, 2015

    Meet The Quake-Catcher Network

    QCN bloc

    Quake-Catcher Network

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a collaborative initiative for developing the world’s largest, low-cost strong-motion seismic network by utilizing sensors in and attached to internet-connected computers. With your help, the Quake-Catcher Network can provide better understanding of earthquakes, give early warning to schools, emergency response systems, and others. The Quake-Catcher Network also provides educational software designed to help teach about earthquakes and earthquake hazards.

    After almost eight years at Stanford, and a year at CalTech, the QCN project is moving to the University of Southern California Dept. of Earth Sciences. QCN will be sponsored by the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS) and the Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC).

    The Quake-Catcher Network is a distributed computing network that links volunteer hosted computers into a real-time motion sensing network. QCN is one of many scientific computing projects that runs on the world-renowned distributed computing platform Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC).

    The volunteer computers monitor vibrational sensors called MEMS accelerometers, and digitally transmit “triggers” to QCN’s servers whenever strong new motions are observed. QCN’s servers sift through these signals, and determine which ones represent earthquakes, and which ones represent cultural noise (like doors slamming, or trucks driving by).

    There are two categories of sensors used by QCN: 1) internal mobile device sensors, and 2) external USB sensors.

    Mobile Devices: MEMS sensors are often included in laptops, games, cell phones, and other electronic devices for hardware protection, navigation, and game control. When these devices are still and connected to QCN, QCN software monitors the internal accelerometer for strong new shaking. Unfortunately, these devices are rarely secured to the floor, so they may bounce around when a large earthquake occurs. While this is less than ideal for characterizing the regional ground shaking, many such sensors can still provide useful information about earthquake locations and magnitudes.

    USB Sensors: MEMS sensors can be mounted to the floor and connected to a desktop computer via a USB cable. These sensors have several advantages over mobile device sensors. 1) By mounting them to the floor, they measure more reliable shaking than mobile devices. 2) These sensors typically have lower noise and better resolution of 3D motion. 3) Desktops are often left on and do not move. 4) The USB sensor is physically removed from the game, phone, or laptop, so human interaction with the device doesn’t reduce the sensors’ performance. 5) USB sensors can be aligned to North, so we know what direction the horizontal “X” and “Y” axes correspond to.

    If you are a science teacher at a K-12 school, please apply for a free USB sensor and accompanying QCN software. QCN has been able to purchase sensors to donate to schools in need. If you are interested in donating to the program or requesting a sensor, click here.

    BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing, developed at UC Berkeley.

    Earthquake safety is a responsibility shared by billions worldwide. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) provides software so that individuals can join together to improve earthquake monitoring, earthquake awareness, and the science of earthquakes. The Quake-Catcher Network (QCN) links existing networked laptops and desktops in hopes to form the worlds largest strong-motion seismic network.

    Below, the QCN Quake Catcher Network map
    QCN Quake Catcher Network map

    ShakeAlert: An Earthquake Early Warning System for the West Coast of the United States

    The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) along with a coalition of State and university partners is developing and testing an earthquake early warning (EEW) system called ShakeAlert for the west coast of the United States. Long term funding must be secured before the system can begin sending general public notifications, however, some limited pilot projects are active and more are being developed. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018.

    Watch a video describing how ShakeAlert works in English or Spanish.

    The primary project partners include:

    United States Geological Survey
    California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services (CalOES)
    California Geological Survey
    California Institute of Technology
    University of California Berkeley
    University of Washington
    University of Oregon
    Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation

    The Earthquake Threat

    Earthquakes pose a national challenge because more than 143 million Americans live in areas of significant seismic risk across 39 states. Most of our Nation’s earthquake risk is concentrated on the West Coast of the United States. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has estimated the average annualized loss from earthquakes, nationwide, to be $5.3 billion, with 77 percent of that figure ($4.1 billion) coming from California, Washington, and Oregon, and 66 percent ($3.5 billion) from California alone. In the next 30 years, California has a 99.7 percent chance of a magnitude 6.7 or larger earthquake and the Pacific Northwest has a 10 percent chance of a magnitude 8 to 9 megathrust earthquake on the Cascadia subduction zone.

    Part of the Solution

    Today, the technology exists to detect earthquakes, so quickly, that an alert can reach some areas before strong shaking arrives. The purpose of the ShakeAlert system is to identify and characterize an earthquake a few seconds after it begins, calculate the likely intensity of ground shaking that will result, and deliver warnings to people and infrastructure in harm’s way. This can be done by detecting the first energy to radiate from an earthquake, the P-wave energy, which rarely causes damage. Using P-wave information, we first estimate the location and the magnitude of the earthquake. Then, the anticipated ground shaking across the region to be affected is estimated and a warning is provided to local populations. The method can provide warning before the S-wave arrives, bringing the strong shaking that usually causes most of the damage.

    Studies of earthquake early warning methods in California have shown that the warning time would range from a few seconds to a few tens of seconds. ShakeAlert can give enough time to slow trains and taxiing planes, to prevent cars from entering bridges and tunnels, to move away from dangerous machines or chemicals in work environments and to take cover under a desk, or to automatically shut down and isolate industrial systems. Taking such actions before shaking starts can reduce damage and casualties during an earthquake. It can also prevent cascading failures in the aftermath of an event. For example, isolating utilities before shaking starts can reduce the number of fire initiations.

    System Goal

    The USGS will issue public warnings of potentially damaging earthquakes and provide warning parameter data to government agencies and private users on a region-by-region basis, as soon as the ShakeAlert system, its products, and its parametric data meet minimum quality and reliability standards in those geographic regions. The USGS has set the goal of beginning limited public notifications in 2018. Product availability will expand geographically via ANSS regional seismic networks, such that ShakeAlert products and warnings become available for all regions with dense seismic instrumentation.

    Current Status

    The West Coast ShakeAlert system is being developed by expanding and upgrading the infrastructure of regional seismic networks that are part of the Advanced National Seismic System (ANSS); the California Integrated Seismic Network (CISN) is made up of the Southern California Seismic Network, SCSN) and the Northern California Seismic System, NCSS and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network (PNSN). This enables the USGS and ANSS to leverage their substantial investment in sensor networks, data telemetry systems, data processing centers, and software for earthquake monitoring activities residing in these network centers. The ShakeAlert system has been sending live alerts to “beta” users in California since January of 2012 and in the Pacific Northwest since February of 2015.

    In February of 2016 the USGS, along with its partners, rolled-out the next-generation ShakeAlert early warning test system in California joined by Oregon and Washington in April 2017. This West Coast-wide “production prototype” has been designed for redundant, reliable operations. The system includes geographically distributed servers, and allows for automatic fail-over if connection is lost.

    This next-generation system will not yet support public warnings but does allow selected early adopters to develop and deploy pilot implementations that take protective actions triggered by the ShakeAlert notifications in areas with sufficient sensor coverage.

    Authorities

    The USGS will develop and operate the ShakeAlert system, and issue public notifications under collaborative authorities with FEMA, as part of the National Earthquake Hazard Reduction Program, as enacted by the Earthquake Hazards Reduction Act of 1977, 42 U.S.C. §§ 7704 SEC. 2.

    For More Information

    Robert de Groot, ShakeAlert National Coordinator for Communication, Education, and Outreach
    rdegroot@usgs.gov
    626-583-7225

    Learn more about EEW Research

    ShakeAlert Fact Sheet

    ShakeAlert Implementation Plan


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus


    Caltech campus

     
  • richardmitnick 9:48 am on February 28, 2019 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "More Support for Planet Nine", , , , Caltech, , Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin   

    From Caltech and U Michigan: “More Support for Planet Nine” 

    U Michigan bloc

    University of Michigan

    Caltech Logo

    From Caltech

    February 27, 2019
    Robert Perkins
    (626) 395‑1862
    rperkins@caltech.edu

    1
    Credit: James Tuttle Keane/Caltech

    2
    This illustration depicts orbits of distant Kuiper Belt objects and Planet Nine. Orbits rendered in purple are primarily controlled by Planet Nine’s gravity and exhibit tight orbital clustering. Green orbits, on the other hand, are strongly coupled to Neptune, and exhibit a broader orbital dispersion. Credit: James Tuttle Keane/Caltech

    Three years after hypothesizing its existence, the researchers behind the theory present further arguments in favor of a ninth planet in the solar system.

    Corresponding with the three-year anniversary of their announcement hypothesizing the existence of a ninth planet in the solar system, Caltech’s Mike Brown and Konstantin Batygin are publishing a pair of papers analyzing the evidence for Planet Nine’s existence.

    The papers offer new details about the suspected nature and location of the planet, which has been the subject of an intense international search ever since Batygin and Brown’s 2016 announcement.

    The first, titled “Orbital Clustering in the Distant Solar System,” was published in The Astronomical Journal on January 22. The Planet Nine hypothesis is founded on evidence suggesting that the clustering of objects in the Kuiper Belt, a field of icy bodies that lies beyond Neptune, is influenced by the gravitational tugs of an unseen planet.It has been an open question as to whether that clustering is indeed occurring, or whether it is an artifact resulting from bias in how and where Kuiper Belt objects are observed.

    Kuiper Belt. Minor Planet Center

    To assess whether observational bias is behind the apparent clustering, Brown and Batygin developed a method to quantify the amount of bias in each individual observation, then calculated the probability that the clustering is spurious. That probability, they found, is around one in 500.

    “Though this analysis does not say anything directly about whether Planet Nine is there, it does indicate that the hypothesis rests upon a solid foundation,” says Brown, the Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor of Planetary Astronomy.

    The second paper is titled “The Planet Nine Hypothesis,” and is an invited review that will be published in the next issue of Physics Reports. The paper provides thousands of new computer models of the dynamical evolution of the distant solar system and offers updated insight into the nature of Planet Nine, including an estimate that it is smaller and closer to the sun than previously suspected. Based on the new models, Batygin and Brown—together with Fred Adams and Juliette Becker (BS ’14) of the University of Michigan—concluded that Planet Nine has a mass of about five times that of the earth and has an orbital semimajor axis in the neighborhood of 400 astronomical units (AU), making it smaller and closer to the sun than previously suspected—and potentially brighter. Each astronomical unit is equivalent to the distance between the center of Earth and the center of the sun, or about 149.6 million kilometers.

    “At five Earth masses, Planet Nine is likely to be very reminiscent of a typical extrasolar super-Earth,” says Batygin, an assistant professor of planetary science and Van Nuys Page Scholar. Super-Earths are planets with a mass greater than Earth’s, but substantially less than that of a gas giant. “It is the solar system’s missing link of planet formation. Over the last decade, surveys of extrasolar planets have revealed that similar-sized planets are very common around other sun-like stars. Planet Nine is going to be the closest thing we will find to a window into the properties of a typical planet of our galaxy.”

    Batygin and Brown presented the first evidence that there might be a giant planet tracing a bizarre, highly elongated orbit through the outer solar system on January 20, 2016. That June, Brown and Batygin followed up with more details, including observational constraints [The Astrophysical Journal] on the planet’s location along its orbit.

    Over the next two years, they developed theoretical models of the planet that explained other known phenomena, such as why some Kuiper Belt objects have a perpendicular orbit [The Astrophysical Journal] with respect to the plane of the solar system. The resulting models increased their confidence in Planet Nine’s existence.

    After the initial announcement, astronomers around the world, including Brown and Batygin, began searching for observational evidence of the new planet. Although Brown and Batygin have always accepted the possibility that Planet Nine might not exist, they say that the more they examine the orbital dynamics of the solar system, the stronger the evidence supporting it seems.

    “My favorite characteristic of the Planet Nine hypothesis is that it is observationally testable,” Batygin says. “The prospect of one day seeing real images of Planet Nine is absolutely electrifying. Although finding Planet Nine astronomically is a great challenge, I’m very optimistic that we will image it within the next decade.”

    The work was supported by the David and Lucile Packard Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

    See the full Caltech article here .

    See the full U Michigan article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings
    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.


    Stem Education Coalition

    The California Institute of Technology (commonly referred to as Caltech) is a private research university located in Pasadena, California, United States. Caltech has six academic divisions with strong emphases on science and engineering. Its 124-acre (50 ha) primary campus is located approximately 11 mi (18 km) northeast of downtown Los Angeles. “The mission of the California Institute of Technology is to expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education. We investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.”

    Caltech campus


    Caltech campus

     
c
Compose new post
j
Next post/Next comment
k
Previous post/Previous comment
r
Reply
e
Edit
o
Show/Hide comments
t
Go to top
l
Go to login
h
Show/Hide help
shift + esc
Cancel
%d bloggers like this: