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  • richardmitnick 8:52 pm on May 4, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Physics grad student awarded DOE support for research at national lab", UC Santa Cruz   

    From UC Santa Cruz : “Physics grad student awarded DOE support for research at national lab” 

    From UC Santa Cruz

    May 03, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    1
    Eli Nygren.

    Eli Nygren, a graduate student in physics at UC Santa Cruz, is among 78 outstanding U.S. graduate students to receive support from the Department of Energy’s Office of Science Graduate Student Research (SCGSR) Program.

    The SCGSR Program provides supplemental funds for graduate awardees to conduct part of their thesis research at a DOE national laboratory.

    Nygren works in the laboratory of Sue Carter, professor of physics, and will use the award to conduct part of his research at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. His research project involves generating hydrogen gas from water as a renewable and carbon-free fuel source for vehicles and electricity generation.

    “It is possible to generate hydrogen gas by superheating water in the presence of a catalytic material, and the heat can be provided by concentrated sunlight, making for an entirely carbon-free process,” Nygren explained. “At NREL, I will be investigating a promising candidate for the catalytic material, Barium-Cerium/Manganese-Oxide (BCM).”

    SCGSR awardees work on research projects of significant importance to the Office of Science (SC) mission and that address societal challenges at national and international scale. The research projects are expected to advance the graduate awardees’ overall doctoral research and training while providing access to the expertise, resources, and capabilities available at the DOE laboratories. Awardees were selected from a diverse pool of graduate applicants from institutions around the country. Selection was based on merit peer review by external scientific experts.

    “Now more than ever we need to invest in a diverse, talented pipeline of scientists, engineers, and entrepreneurs who can continue this legacy of excellence,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “I’m thrilled that these outstanding students will help us tackle mission-critical research at our labs, and I can’t wait to see what their futures hold.”

    More information on SCGSR can be found online at http://www.science.osti.gov/wdts/scgsr.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    UC Santa Cruz (US)campus.

    The University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    [caption id="attachment_98425" align="alignnone" width="632"] UCO Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow
    [caption id="attachment_66230" align="alignnone" width="612"] The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch)

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    UC Santa Cruz (US) alumna Shelley Wright, now an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US), discusses the dichroic filter of the NIROSETI instrument, developed at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) and brought to UCSD and installed at the UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Nickel Telescope (Photo by Laurie Hatch).

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by UC Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will be fully operational by early summer and will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

    The NIROSETI team also includes Geoffrey Marcy and Andrew Siemion from UC Berkeley; Patrick Dorval, a Dunlap undergraduate, and Elliot Meyer, a Dunlap graduate student; and Richard Treffers of Starman Systems. Funding for the project comes from the generous support of Bill and Susan Bloomfield.

     
  • richardmitnick 7:32 pm on April 15, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Baked meteorites yield clues to planetary atmospheres", , , The three meteorites analyzed for this study were the Murchison chondrite: Australia 1969; Jbilet Winselwan: Western Sahara 2013; Aguas Zarcas: Costa Rica 2019., UC Santa Cruz   

    From UC Santa Cruz : “Baked meteorites yield clues to planetary atmospheres” 

    From UC Santa Cruz

    April 15, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    1
    The early atmospheres of rocky planets are thought to form mostly from gases released from the surface of the planet as a result of the intense heating during the accretion of planetary building blocks and later volcanic activity early in the planet’s development. (Illustration by Dan Durda/ Southwest Research Institute (US))

    In a novel laboratory investigation of the initial atmospheres of Earth-like rocky planets, researchers at UC Santa Cruz heated pristine meteorite samples in a high-temperature furnace and analyzed the gases released.

    Their results, published April 15 in Nature Astronomy, suggest that the initial atmospheres of terrestrial planets may differ significantly from many of the common assumptions used in theoretical models of planetary atmospheres.

    2
    Samples from three carbonaceous chondrite meteorites—Murchison, Jbilet Winselwan, and Aguas Zarcas—were analyzed in the outgassing experiments. Credit: M. Thompson)

    “This information will be important when we start being able to observe exoplanet atmospheres with new telescopes and advanced instrumentation,” said first author Maggie Thompson, a graduate student in astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz.

    The early atmospheres of rocky planets are thought to form mostly from gases released from the surface of the planet as a result of the intense heating during the accretion of planetary building blocks and later volcanic activity early in the planet’s development.

    “When the building blocks of a planet are coming together, the material is heated and gases are produced, and if the planet is large enough the gases will be retained as an atmosphere,” explained coauthor Myriam Telus, assistant professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz. “We’re trying to simulate in the laboratory this very early process when a planet’s atmosphere is forming so we can put some experimental constraints on that story.”

    The researchers analyzed three meteorites of a type known as CM-type carbonaceous chondrites, which have a composition considered representative of the material from which the sun and planets formed.

    “These meteorites are left over materials from the building blocks that went into forming the planets in our solar system,” Thompson said. “Chondrites are different from other types of meteorites in that they didn’t get hot enough to melt, so they have held onto some of the more primitive components that can tell us about the composition of the solar system around the time of planet formation.”

    Working with materials scientists in the physics department, the researchers set up a furnace connected to a mass spectrometer and a vacuum system. As the meteorite samples were heated to 1200 degrees Celsius, the system analyzed the volatile gases produced from the minerals in the sample. Water vapor was the dominant gas, with significant amounts of carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, and smaller amounts of hydrogen and hydrogen sulfide gases also released.

    According to Telus, models of planetary atmospheres often assume solar abundances—that is, a composition similar to the sun and therefore dominated by hydrogen and helium.

    “Based on outgassing from meteorites, however, you would expect water vapor to be the dominant gas, followed by carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide,” she said. “Using solar abundances is fine for large, Jupiter-size planets that acquire their atmospheres from the solar nebula, but smaller planets are thought to get their atmospheres more from outgassing.”

    The researchers compared their results with the predictions from chemical equilibrium models based on the composition of the meteorites. “Qualitatively, we get pretty similar results to what the chemical equilibrium models predict should be outgassed, but there are also some differences,” Thompson said. “You need experiments to see what actually happens in practice. We want to do this for a wide variety of meteorites to provide better constraints for the theoretical models of exoplanetary atmospheres.”

    Other researchers have done heating experiments with meteorites, but those studies were for other purposes and used different methods. “A lot of people are interested in what happens when meteorites enter Earth’s atmosphere, so those kinds of studies were not done with this framework in mind to understand outgassing,” Thompson said.

    The three meteorites analyzed for this study were the Murchison chondrite which fell in Australia in 1969; Jbilet Winselwan, collected in Western Sahara in 2013; and Aguas Zarcas, which fell in Costa Rica in 2019.

    “It may seem arbitrary to use meteorites from our solar system to understand exoplanets around other stars, but studies of other stars are finding that this type of material is actually pretty common around other stars,” Telus noted.

    The investigation brought together researchers from three departments at UCSC: Astronomy and Astrophysics, Earth and Planetary Sciences, and Physics. In addition to Thompson and Telus, the coauthors of the paper include astrophysicist Jonathan Fortney and physicists Toyanath Joshi and David Lederman at UC Santa Cruz, and Laura Schaefer at Stanford University (US). This research was supported by National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US) and the ARCS Foundation.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory | Since 1888, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    The University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory‘s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow

    The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch)

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    UC Santa Cruz (US) alumna Shelley Wright, now an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US), discusses the dichroic filter of the NIROSETI instrument, developed at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) and brought to UCSD and installed at the UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Nickel Telescope (Photo by Laurie Hatch).

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by UC Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will be fully operational by early summer and will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

    The NIROSETI team also includes Geoffrey Marcy and Andrew Siemion from UC Berkeley; Patrick Dorval, a Dunlap undergraduate, and Elliot Meyer, a Dunlap graduate student; and Richard Treffers of Starman Systems. Funding for the project comes from the generous support of Bill and Susan Bloomfield.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:35 am on April 13, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Study warns of ‘oxygen false positives’ in search for signs of life on other planets", UC Santa Cruz   

    From UC Santa Cruz : “Study warns of ‘oxygen false positives’ in search for signs of life on other planets” 


    From UC Santa Cruz

    April 13, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    Oxygen in the atmosphere may not be an entirely reliable ‘biosignature,’ but there are ways to distinguish false positives from signs of life, scientists say.

    1
    By varying the initial inventory of volatile elements in a model of the geochemical evolution of rocky planets, researchers obtained a wide range of outcomes, including several scenarios in which a lifeless rocky planet around a sun-like star could evolve to have oxygen in its atmosphere. Credit: J. Krissansen-Totton.

    In the search for life on other planets, the presence of oxygen in a planet’s atmosphere is one potential sign of biological activity that might be detected by future telescopes. A new study, however, describes several scenarios in which a lifeless rocky planet around a sun-like star could evolve to have oxygen in its atmosphere.

    The new findings, published April 13 in AGU Advances, highlight the need for next-generation telescopes that are capable of characterizing planetary environments and searching for multiple lines of evidence for life in addition to detecting oxygen.

    “This is useful because it shows there are ways to get oxygen in the atmosphere without life, but there are other observations you can make to help distinguish these false positives from the real deal,” said first author Joshua Krissansen-Totton, a Sagan Fellow in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “For each scenario, we try to say what your telescope would need to be able to do to distinguish this from biological oxygen.”

    In the coming decades, perhaps by the late 2030s, astronomers hope to have a telescope capable of taking images and spectra of potentially Earth-like planets around sun-like stars. Coauthor Jonathan Fortney, professor of astronomy and astrophysics and director of UCSC’s Other Worlds Laboratory, said the idea would be to target planets similar enough to Earth that life might have emerged on them and characterize their atmospheres.

    “There has a been a lot of discussion about whether detection of oxygen is ‘enough’ of a sign of life,” he said. “This work really argues for needing to know the context of your detection. What other molecules are found in addition to oxygen, or not found, and what does that tell you about the planet’s evolution?”

    This means astronomers will want a telescope that is sensitive to a broad range of wavelengths in order to detect different types of molecules in a planet’s atmosphere.

    Rocky planet evolution

    The researchers based their findings on a detailed, end-to-end computational model of the evolution of rocky planets, starting from their molten origins and extending through billions of years of cooling and geochemical cycling. By varying the initial inventory of volatile elements in their model planets, the researchers obtained a surprisingly wide range of outcomes.

    Oxygen can start to build up in a planet’s atmosphere when high-energy ultraviolet light splits water molecules in the upper atmosphere into hydrogen and oxygen. The lightweight hydrogen preferentially escapes into space, leaving the oxygen behind. Other processes can remove oxygen from the atmosphere. Carbon monoxide and hydrogen released by outgassing from molten rock, for example, will react with oxygen, and weathering of rock also mops up oxygen. These are just a few of the processes the researchers incorporated into their model of the geochemical evolution of a rocky planet.

    “If you run the model for Earth, with what we think was the initial inventory of volatiles, you reliably get the same outcome every time—without life you don’t get oxygen in the atmosphere,” Krissansen-Totton said. “But we also found multiple scenarios where you can get oxygen without life.”

    For example, a planet that is otherwise like Earth but starts off with more water will end up with very deep oceans, putting immense pressure on the crust. This effectively shuts down geological activity, including all of the processes such as melting or weathering of rocks that would remove oxygen from the atmosphere.

    In the opposite case, where the planet starts off with a relatively small amount of water, the magma surface of the initially molten planet can freeze quickly while the water remains in the atmosphere. This “steam atmosphere” puts enough water in the upper atmosphere to allow accumulation of oxygen as the water breaks up and hydrogen escapes.

    “The typical sequence is that the magma surface solidifies simultaneously with water condensing out into oceans on the surface,” Krissansen-Totton said. “On Earth, once water condensed on the surface, escape rates were low. But if you retain a steam atmosphere after the molten surface has solidified, there’s a window of about a million years when oxygen can build up because there are high water concentrations in the upper atmosphere and no molten surface to consume the oxygen produced by hydrogen escape.”

    A third scenario that can lead to oxygen in the atmosphere involves a planet that is otherwise like Earth but starts off with a higher ratio of carbon dioxide to water. This leads to a runaway greenhouse effect, making it too hot for water to ever condense out of the atmosphere onto the surface of the planet.

    “In this Venus-like scenario, all the volatiles start off in the atmosphere and few are left behind in the mantle to be outgassed and mop up oxygen,” Krissansen-Totton said.

    He noted that previous studies have focused on atmospheric processes, whereas the model used in this study explores the geochemical and thermal evolution of the planet’s mantle and crust, as well as the interactions between the crust and atmosphere.

    “It’s not computationally intensive, but there are a lot of moving parts and interconnected processes,” he said.

    In addition to Krissansen-Totton and Fortney, the coauthors include Francis Nimmo, professor of Earth and planetary sciences at UC Santa Cruz, and Nicholas Wogan at the University of Washington (US), Seattle. This research was supported by NASA.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory | Since 1888, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    The University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCO Lick Observatory‘s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow

    The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch)

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    UC Santa Cruz (US) alumna Shelley Wright, now an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US), discusses the dichroic filter of the NIROSETI instrument, developed at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA) and brought to UCSD and installed at the UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory Nickel Telescope (Photo by Laurie Hatch).

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego (US) who led the development of the new instrument while at the U Toronto Dunlap Institute for Astronomy and Astrophysics (CA).

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by UC Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    Frank Drake with his Drake Equation. Credit Frank Drake.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will be fully operational by early summer and will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

    The NIROSETI team also includes Geoffrey Marcy and Andrew Siemion from UC Berkeley; Patrick Dorval, a Dunlap undergraduate, and Elliot Meyer, a Dunlap graduate student; and Richard Treffers of Starman Systems. Funding for the project comes from the generous support of Bill and Susan Bloomfield.

     
  • richardmitnick 11:30 am on April 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "NASA selects two UCSC scientists to join Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter mission", UC Santa Cruz   

    From UC Santa Cruz : “NASA selects two UCSC scientists to join Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter mission” 

    From UC Santa Cruz

    April 08, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    Ian Garrick-Bethell and Mikhail Kreslavsky are among the nine participating scientists who will join the KPLO science team.

    1
    Ian Garrick-Bethell

    2
    Mikhail Kreslavsky

    National Aeronautics and Space Administration(US) has selected nine scientists to join the upcoming Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter (KPLO) mission, including two planetary scientists at UC Santa Cruz. Assistant Professor Ian Garrick-Bethell and associate researcher Mikhail Kreslavsky, both in the Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences at UCSC, are among the participating scientists who will join the KPLO science team.

    Set to launch in August 2022 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 and orbit the moon for about a year, KPLO is the first space exploration mission of the Republic of Korea (ROK) that will travel beyond Earth orbit.

    “The KPLO Participating Scientist Program is an example of how international collaborations can leverage the talents of two space agencies to achieve greater science and exploration success than individual missions,” said KPLO Project Manager Sang-Ryool Lee. “It’s fantastic that the Korea Aerospace Research Institute lunar mission has NASA as a partner in space exploration—we’re excited to see the new knowledge and opportunities that will arise from the KPLO mission as well as from future joint KARI–NASA activities.”

    Each of the nine participating scientists will join the KPLO science team for at least one of the five KPLO instruments beginning later this year and will be funded for three years. Kreslavsky will take part in the study of lunar polarimetric anomalies using PolCam, a wide-angle polarimetric camera. Garrick-Bethell will be studying the lithospheric magnetic field of the moon using the KPLO magnetometer, KMAG.

    “It is still a mystery how a body as small as the Moon could have once supported a magnetic dynamo in its tiny liquid iron core. The magnetometer on KPLO will provide important new measurements to address this mystery,” Garrick-Bethell said.

    The three overarching goals of the KPLO mission are realizing the first space exploration mission by ROK, developing and verifying space technologies suitable for deep-space exploration on future missions, and investigating the physical characteristics of the lunar surface to aid future robotic landing missions to the moon.

    To meet these objectives, the spacecraft will carry a payload of five scientific instruments to include three cameras, a magnetometer, and a gamma-ray spectrometer. NASA is contributing one of the cameras, known as ShadowCam, which will be used to obtain optical images at high resolution of the permanently shadowed regions at the lunar poles of the moon that are thought to contain ice.

    “It is important that the participating scientists are fully embedded in the existing KARI and NASA teams well before the mission is due to launch,” said Shoshana Weider from NASA’s Planetary Science Division, who leads the KPLO Participating Scientist Program. “This means they will have plenty of time to collaborate with their KARI colleagues during the pre-launch mission-planning phase, which will help ensure that the science return of their projects, and the mission as a whole, is maximized.”

    The moon will be the focus of many robotic and human exploration missions in the coming years, including those under NASA’s Artemis program. Beginning later this year, NASA will send science instruments and technology experiments on two separate robotic landers to the lunar surface. The KPLO lunar mission will provide scientific data to better understand the lunar poles and assist planning for some Artemis activities.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UC Santa Cruz (US) Lick Observatory | Since 1888, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    UC Santa Cruz campus
    The University of California, Santa Cruz opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCO Lick Observatory‘s 36-inch Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

     
  • richardmitnick 2:16 pm on April 2, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Postdoctoral fellowships support planetary science research", 51 Pegasi b Fellowships, , UC Santa Cruz   

    From UC Santa Cruz : “Postdoctoral fellowships support planetary science research” 


    From UC Santa Cruz

    March 31, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    The Heising-Simons Foundation has awarded 51 Pegasi b Fellowships to Emily Martin and Melodie Kao to support their postdoctoral research in astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz starting in fall 2021.

    1
    Emily Martin

    2
    Melodie Kao

    Established in 2017, the Heising-Simons Foundation 51 Pegasi b Fellowship is named for the first exoplanet discovered orbiting a sun-like star. The growing field of planetary astronomy studies objects both within and beyond our solar system, bridging planetary science and astronomy. From improving our understanding of planetary system formation and evolution, to advancing new technologies for detecting other worlds, 51 Pegasi b Fellows make a unique contribution to the field.

    In her fellowship, Emily Martin will pioneer a method to directly compare solar system planets to exoplanets using a novel instrument she developed for Lick Observatory, called PEAS (The Planet as Exoplanet Analog Spectrograph). She said she looks forward to creating new technology that assists her peers in pursuing new scientific avenues.

    “I love the cooperative spirit behind instrumentation, and that it enables all different kinds of science,” Martin said. “It feels so impactful to contribute to multiple parts of the planetary science field.”

    Martin spent six years contributing to the upgrade of the Near Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSPEC), which operates out of the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii. This workhorse instrument gathers broad-ranging data on astrophysical objects including comets, exoplanets, newly forming stars, and some of the most distant galaxies.

    “I’ll always value my time spent collaborating with a team to upgrade NIRSPEC. It felt so gratifying to see it all come together after working so hard for so long,” Martin said. She earned her Ph.D. in astronomy at UCLA in 2018 and has since been pursuing postdoctoral research at UC Santa Cruz.

    Melodie Kao is developing new strategies to assess the engines that generate the magnetic processes and environments of planet-like objects, and to interpret exoplanet radio detections. As a graduate student, she used radio observations to show that powerful displays of aurora can occur on brown dwarfs—failed stars with magnetic behaviors akin to exoplanets.

    “When I first analyzed what became the telltale smudge of an aurora on a free-floating planetary mass object, there was a peculiar experience that became harder and harder to ignore—almost like the reality of what we found was oozing into my consciousness,” she said.

    In her fellowship, Kao will further develop radio observations to illuminate the engines that generate magnetic processes in both brown dwarfs and exoplanets. In conjunction, she will investigate their aurorae, as well as the physics occurring in their magnetospheres (the region of space influenced by an object’s magnetic field). Understanding such magnetic behaviors will provide a key missing ingredient for fully characterizing exoplanetary systems.

    “When I do science, it’s like tending to a garden,” Kao said. “You nurture the question that alighted in your brain until, one day, the data you’ve collected blooms and offers its secret to you. It always feels like a big responsibility to introduce this knowledge to the world.”

    Kao received a Ph.D. in astrophysics from the California Institute of Technology in 2017 and is currently a NASA Hubble Postdoctoral Fellow at Arizona State University. She will begin her 51 Pegasi b Fellowship appointment at UCSC in fall 2021.

    The 51 Pegasi b Fellowship provides exceptional postdoctoral scientists with the opportunity to conduct theoretical, observational, and experimental research in planetary astronomy. The fellowship award provides:

    Up to $375,000 of support for independent research over three years.
    Time and space to establish distinction and leadership in the field.
    Mentorship by an established faculty member at the host institution.
    An annual summit to develop professional networks, exchange information and ideas, and foster collaboration.

    The Heising-Simons Foundation is a family foundation based in Los Altos and San Francisco, California.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UCSC Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    UC Observatories Lick Autmated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    UC Santa Cruz campus.

    The University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.


    Lick Observatory’s Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

    Search for extraterrestrial intelligence expands at Lick Observatory
    New instrument scans the sky for pulses of infrared light
    March 23, 2015
    By Hilary Lebow

    The NIROSETI instrument saw first light on the Nickel 1-meter Telescope at Lick Observatory on March 15, 2015. (Photo by Laurie Hatch).

    Astronomers are expanding the search for extraterrestrial intelligence into a new realm with detectors tuned to infrared light at UC’s Lick Observatory. A new instrument, called NIROSETI, will soon scour the sky for messages from other worlds.

    UCSC alumna Shelley Wright, now an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego, discusses the dichroic filter of the NIROSETI instrument, developed at the Dunlap Institute, U Toronto and brought to UCSD and installed at the Nickel telescope at UCSC (Photo by Laurie Hatch).

    “Infrared light would be an excellent means of interstellar communication,” said Shelley Wright, an assistant professor of physics at UC San Diego who led the development of the new instrument while at the University of Toronto’s Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    Shelley Wright of UC San Diego, with NIROSETI, developed at Dunlap Institute U Toronto, at the 1-meter Nickel Telescope at Lick Observatory at UC Santa Cruz.

    Wright worked on an earlier SETI project at Lick Observatory as a UC Santa Cruz undergraduate, when she built an optical instrument designed by UC Berkeley researchers. The infrared project takes advantage of new technology not available for that first optical search.

    Infrared light would be a good way for extraterrestrials to get our attention here on Earth, since pulses from a powerful infrared laser could outshine a star, if only for a billionth of a second. Interstellar gas and dust is almost transparent to near infrared, so these signals can be seen from great distances. It also takes less energy to send information using infrared signals than with visible light.

    Frank Drake, professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz and director emeritus of the SETI Institute, said there are several additional advantages to a search in the infrared realm.

    “The signals are so strong that we only need a small telescope to receive them. Smaller telescopes can offer more observational time, and that is good because we need to search many stars for a chance of success,” said Drake.

    The only downside is that extraterrestrials would need to be transmitting their signals in our direction, Drake said, though he sees this as a positive side to that limitation. “If we get a signal from someone who’s aiming for us, it could mean there’s altruism in the universe. I like that idea. If they want to be friendly, that’s who we will find.”

    Scientists have searched the skies for radio signals for more than 50 years and expanded their search into the optical realm more than a decade ago. The idea of searching in the infrared is not a new one, but instruments capable of capturing pulses of infrared light only recently became available.

    “We had to wait,” Wright said. “I spent eight years waiting and watching as new technology emerged.”

    Now that technology has caught up, the search will extend to stars thousands of light years away, rather than just hundreds. NIROSETI, or Near-Infrared Optical Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, could also uncover new information about the physical universe.

    “This is the first time Earthlings have looked at the universe at infrared wavelengths with nanosecond time scales,” said Dan Werthimer, UC Berkeley SETI Project Director. “The instrument could discover new astrophysical phenomena, or perhaps answer the question of whether we are alone.”

    NIROSETI will also gather more information than previous optical detectors by recording levels of light over time so that patterns can be analyzed for potential signs of other civilizations.

    “Searching for intelligent life in the universe is both thrilling and somewhat unorthodox,” said Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. “Lick Observatory has already been the site of several previous SETI searches, so this is a very exciting addition to the current research taking place.”

    NIROSETI will be fully operational by early summer and will scan the skies several times a week on the Nickel 1-meter telescope at Lick Observatory, located on Mt. Hamilton east of San Jose.

    The NIROSETI team also includes Geoffrey Marcy and Andrew Siemion from UC Berkeley; Patrick Dorval, a Dunlap undergraduate, and Elliot Meyer, a Dunlap graduate student; and Richard Treffers of Starman Systems. Funding for the project comes from the generous support of Bill and Susan Bloomfield.

     
  • richardmitnick 10:16 pm on March 22, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Two UCSC research teams recognized for outstanding papers in PNAS", , UC Santa Cruz   

    From UC Santa Cruz: “Two UCSC research teams recognized for outstanding papers in PNAS” 

    From UC Santa Cruz

    March 22, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    1

    Papers by two teams of scientists at UC Santa Cruz are among the six winners and six finalists of the 2020 Cozzarelli Prize, selected by the editorial board of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) to recognize outstanding contributions to the scientific disciplines represented by the National Academy of Sciences.

    Papers were chosen from the more than 3,600 research articles that appeared in the journal last year in six broadly defined categories. The annual Cozzarelli Prize acknowledges papers that reflect scientific excellence and originality.

    The winner in the category of Applied Biological, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences was a paper on the behavior of coral reef fish, Fast behavioral feedbacks make ecosystems sensitive to pace and not just magnitude of anthropogenic environmental change, by Michael A. Gil, Marissa L. Baskett, Stephan B. Munch, and Andrew M. Hein.

    Gil, the first author, was a postdoctoral scholar in the Institute of Marine Sciences (IMS) at UCSC when he completed the work and is currently at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Munch is an associate adjunct professor of ecology and evolutionary biology (EEB) at UCSC and is also affiliated with the IMS and with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) fisheries program. Hein also has a joint affiliation with IMS, EEB, and NOAA. The IMS Fisheries Collaborative Program brings together UCSC and NOAA scientists to conduct research for the conservation and management of marine resources.

    In the category of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, the finalist was a paper on the role of the amyloid beta protein in Alzheimer’s disease, Evidence for aggregation-independent, PrPC-mediated Aβ cellular internalization, by Alejandro R. Foley, Graham P. Roseman, Ka Chan, Amanda Smart, Thomas S. Finn, Kevin Yang, R. Scott Lokey, Glenn L. Millhauser, and Jevgenij A. Raskatov.

    All of the authors are in UCSC’s Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Graduate student Alejandro Foley (now at Genentech) and postdoctoral researcher Graham Roseman (now at Yale University School of Medicine) are co-first authors, and the corresponding authors are Jevgenij Raskatov, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Glenn Millhauser, distinguished professor of chemistry and biochemistry. For more information about this study, see Novel technique spotlights neuronal uptake of amyloid beta in Alzheimer’s disease.

    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 University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    UC Santa Cruz campus.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

     
  • richardmitnick 12:09 pm on February 10, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Astronomer J. Xavier Prochaska honored for top research paper in 'Science'", AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, , , , , UC Santa Cruz   

    From UC Santa Cruz: “Astronomer J. Xavier Prochaska honored for top research paper in ‘Science'” 

    From UC Santa Cruz

    February 09, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    1
    J. Xavier Prochaska.

    J. Xavier Prochaska, distinguished professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, and his coauthors of a landmark paper describing a fast radio burst from a massive galaxy have been chosen to receive the prestigious Newcomb Cleveland Prize from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). The prize is given annually to the authors of an outstanding paper published in the association’s journal Science.

    UCSC graduate student Sunil Simha is also a coauthor of the paper and made substantial contributions. Prochaska and Simha were part of an international team that determined the precise location of a fast radio burst, a powerful burst of cosmic radio waves, for the first time ever from a single pulse.

    Prochaska coordinated the team’s follow-up observations of the galaxy from which the burst originated, using three of the world’s largest optical telescopes. The observations revealed that these mysterious signals originate in massive galaxies like our own Milky Way.

    The prize-winning paper, “A single fast radio burst localized to a massive galaxy at cosmological distance,” was published in Science online on June 27, 2019, and in print on August 9, 2019. It was one of several high-impact papers on fast radio bursts published by Prochaska and his colleagues in 2019 and 2020.

    Prochaska’s research sheds light on early cosmology and structure formation in the universe, including the formation and evolution of galaxies. Three times in the previous decade (2011, 2014, and 2015), his discoveries have been recognized by the editors of Physics World, Science, or Astronomy as among the top scientific breakthroughs of the year. He received the Outstanding Faculty Award from the Division of Physical and Biological Sciences in 2017.

    Every year hundreds of ground-breaking research papers are published in the journal Science, but only one is selected for the prestigious AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize, the association’s oldest award. The best paper is chosen based on the impact in its field and its wider, interdisciplinary significance.

    The authors of the winning study will receive the award in a virtual ceremony on February 10 during the 2021 AAAS Annual Meeting.

    See the full article here .


    five-ways-keep-your-child-safe-school-shootings

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    Stem Education Coalition

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    UCSC Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    .

    UC Observatories Lick Autmated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft)

    UC Santa Cruz campus
    The University of California, Santa Cruz opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCO UCSC Lick Observatory’s Great Lick 91-centimeter (36-inch) telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building

     
  • richardmitnick 12:58 pm on January 9, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Two UCSC geophysicists honored by Royal Astronomical Society", , , Emily Brodsky-The Price Medal for single investigations or a series of closely linked investigations of outstanding merit., , Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) medals awarded to two UCSC scentists., Thorne Lay-Gold Medal for Geophysics., UC Santa Cruz   

    From UC Santa Cruz: “Two UCSC geophysicists honored by Royal Astronomical Society” 

    From UC Santa Cruz

    January 08, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) is honoring two seismologists at UC Santa Cruz for their research contributions in geophysics.

    Thorne Lay, distinguished professor of Earth and planetary sciences, was awarded the Gold Medal for Geophysics “in recognition of his outstanding work in seismological analysis, which has had an exceptional impact on our perceptions of the structure and dynamics of the Earth.”

    1
    Thorne Lay

    Emily Brodsky, professor of Earth and planetary sciences, was awarded the Price Medal “in recognition of her outstanding multi-disciplinary contributions to earthquake mechanics, frictional behavior, and rock-fluid interactions.”

    2
    Emily Brodsky

    The Gold Medal is the RAS’s highest honor and is often awarded as recognition of a lifetime’s work. Lay’s achievements began with his Ph.D. studies of the structure of the deep mantle, which revealed a discontinuity a few hundred kilometers above the core-mantle boundary, implying great structural complexity with profound geodynamic consequences. This pioneering work has been the cornerstone for a diverse creative range of interdisciplinary studies in which he has been a leader, from mineral physics to the fate of subducted slabs and the potential genesis of mantle plumes.

    Lay’s research has also provided new insights into the rupture processes of the world’s most devastating earthquakes and the generation of tsunamis. He has published hundreds of papers, inspiring generations of graduate students, post-docs, and researchers all over the world. As a leader of the seismological community, he was critical to the success of the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), which archives and distributes the world’s earthquake data. He was elected chair of IRIS’s Board of Directors, has served on panels on Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Research, and was president of the International Association of Seismology and Physics of the Earth’s Interior (IASPEI).

    The Price Medal is awarded for single investigations or a series of closely linked investigations of outstanding merit into the formation and composition of the Earth or planets. Brodsky is an internationally acknowledged leader in quantifying processes involved in generating and propagating earthquake ruptures. Her primary recent research targets have included observational approaches to measuring stress on faults, analysis of human-induced earthquakes, experimental work on granular flows at high slip rates, and analysis of aftershock distributions relative to fault ruptures and volcanic processes.

    Using novel combinations of field measurements, laboratory experiments, observational seismology, and theoretical modeling, Brodsky’s research often provides comprehensive insights into the problems she is tackling. To test models for fault friction at the field scale, she argued that the ruptured fault should be drilled as soon as possible after an earthquake. The JFAST rapid response drilling into the seafloor disrupted by the magnitude 9 Tohoku earthquake provided the required data. Her work showed that dynamic weakening in already weak clay material on the plate boundary occurred for the Tohoku rupture. Using down-hole thermal observatories, she has also detected fluid pressure redistributions in the damage zone around the main boundary faults. In announcing the Price Medal, the RAS noted that the novelty of her approaches and the importance of her work sets Brodsky apart.

    The RAS announced the 2021 awards at the Ordinary Meeting of the Society held on Friday, January 8. The winners will be invited to collect their awards at the RAS National Astronomy Meeting in July.

    “I’m delighted that we can recognize the wealth of talent in astronomy and geophysics through our prestigious awards and medals,” said RAS President Professor Emma Bunce. “In the midst of a challenging time, we should not lose sight of the achievements of the stars of our science community, inspiring us by answering the deep questions about the Earth beneath our feet and the Universe around us. My congratulations to all the winners!”

    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 University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    UC Santa Cruz campus.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

     
  • richardmitnick 1:48 pm on January 6, 2021 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "Friends of Lick Observatory helps fund wildfire recovery efforts", FoLO is encouraging people to make donations to the UCO Director’s Discretionary Fund by offering a free FoLO membership for donations of $50 or more., Immediate support for wildfire relief efforts at Lick Observatory is now being provided by the Friends of Lick Observatory (FoLO)., SCU Lightning Complex Fire, The Calfire people worked hard to keep the fire away from the telescopes and it really paid off., The observatory remains closed to visitors but astronomers have been able to resume telescope operations thanks to the extraordinary efforts of firefighters., The University of California’s Lick Observatory is facing major expenses associated with repairing damaged infrastructure., There are 27 people who live on the mountain and we need them to be safe and comfortable in their homes because we are nothing without our employees., UC Santa Cruz   

    From UC Santa Cruz: “Friends of Lick Observatory helps fund wildfire recovery efforts” 

    From UC Santa Cruz

    January 05, 2021
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    The group has designated $75,000 for the emergency support of wildfire relief efforts at Lick Observatory, where telescopes were saved but infrastructure was damaged.

    1
    Firefighters were able to save most of the buildings on Mt. Hamilton, including the residences of Lick Observatory employees, but there was extensive damage to peripheral buildings and infrastructure. Credit: Lick Observatory.

    2
    Repairing windows that cracked from the heat of the fire is a top priority for the observatory.

    In the aftermath of the SCU Lightning Complex Fire, which swept across Mt. Hamilton in August, the University of California’s Lick Observatory is facing major expenses associated with repairing damaged infrastructure. Although firefighters were able to save the major structures of the observatory, including all of the telescope domes, damage to peripheral buildings and infrastructure was extensive and recovery efforts are ongoing.

    Immediate support for wildfire relief efforts at Lick Observatory is now being provided by the Friends of Lick Observatory (FoLO), which has designated $75,000 for this purpose. FoLO is a membership-based organization dedicated to supporting the observatory and has long played a crucial role in providing funding and volunteers for community outreach programs and events.

    Andrew Fraknoi, chair of the Board of Directors of FoLO and emeritus chair of the astronomy department at Foothill College, said the designation of funds was prompted by an urgent need to start doing emergency repairs.

    “The total amount of damage is still being assessed, but in the meantime, there are things that really need to be repaired as soon as possible,” Fraknoi said.

    Claire Max, director of UC Observatories and the Bachmann professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz, said practically every window was cracked in the houses of the small community of observatory employees who live on Mt. Hamilton. Aside from cracked windows, most of the residences had minimal damage, but two homes need more extensive repairs, she said.

    “There are 27 people who live on the mountain, and we need them to be safe and comfortable in their homes, because we are nothing without our employees,” Max said. “The windows are all taped or boarded up now, but our worry is that winter storms could create real problems.”

    Winter storms could also cause serious erosion and slides on the burned hillsides, so another priority is replacing wooden retaining walls that burned, cleaning culverts, and other erosion-control efforts to keep the hillsides intact. Two peripheral structures burned in the fire, an older residence that was not being used and a storage structure, and those require demolition and debris removal.

    “The brick walls of the Barnard House are still standing, and the first strong winds blew down the chimney, so taking that down to the ground and removing the material is high on the list,” Max said.

    The total cost of the damage caused by the wildfire won’t be known until after contractors submit their bids, but it is likely to be in the millions of dollars, Max said.

    In addition to designating its own funds, FoLO is encouraging people to make donations to the UCO Director’s Discretionary Fund by offering a free FoLO membership for donations of $50 or more. Members receive advance notice of Lick Observatory events, discounts at the gift store, and other benefits.

    “There is less awareness of the need now that the fire is out of the news, and many people only heard that the observatory was saved—they didn’t hear about the damage to some of the buildings and infrastructure,” Fraknoi said.

    The observatory remains closed to visitors, but astronomers have been able to resume telescope operations, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of firefighters, Max said.

    “The Calfire people worked hard to keep the fire away from the telescopes, and it really paid off,” she said. “They were wonderful, and the core of the observatory wasn’t damaged, but there are a lot of repairs to do on the surrounding infrastructure.”

    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 University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    UC Santa Cruz campus.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

     
  • richardmitnick 9:25 pm on December 15, 2020 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: "New cryo-electron microscopy facility a boon for UCSC structural biologists", , UC Santa Cruz, Understanding the molecular machinery that operates in the cells of our bodies and underlies human health and disease.,   

    From UC Santa Cruz: “New cryo-electron microscopy facility a boon for UCSC structural biologists” 

    From UC Santa Cruz

    December 14, 2020
    Tim Stephens
    stephens@ucsc.edu

    1
    Melissa Jurica, Harry Noller, and Sarah Loerch are among the users of UCSC’s new cryo-EM facility. Credit: C. Lagattuta.

    A new cryo-electron microscopy facility is nearing completion at UC Santa Cruz, giving researchers powerful tools for studying the structures and functions of complex molecules involved in human health and disease.

    Grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded the acquisition of a new electron microscope and camera needed to perform cryogenic electron microscopy (cryo-EM), a revolutionary technique for determining the 3-dimensional shapes of large proteins and nucleic acids and the complex assemblies of those molecules that drive the vital functions of living cells.

    “A growing community of structural biologists at UCSC is excited to exploit the potential of this technology,” said Melissa Jurica, professor of molecular, cell, and developmental (MCD) biology at UC Santa Cruz.

    Structural biologists in several departments at UCSC are doing important work to understand the molecular machinery that operates in the cells of our bodies and underlies human health and disease. This includes research on structures such as the ribosome, spliceosome, cell-cycle regulators, circadian clocks, immune response regulators, childhood viruses, and more.

    High-end instruments

    Jurica set up UCSC’s first electron microscope with cryogenic capabilities when she joined the faculty in 2003. Cryo-EM technology has improved greatly since then, and in recent years, UCSC researchers have had to go to other institutions to use the latest high-end instruments. Now, they can do the work here and train their students to use state-of-the-art equipment.

    “Cryo-EM has gone through a revolution in the past five years or so, made possible by improvements in the technology of the microscopes and the cameras,” Jurica said. “UCSC has a very strong group of structural biologists who need this technology. We all worked together to build this facility.”

    Jurica led the application for the $1.6 million NIH High-End Instrumentation grant that funded the purchase of the new cryo-electron microscope, which includes an “autoloader” device that loads the samples and vastly increases both through-put and stability of the instrument.

    Seth Rubin, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Harry Noller, professor emeritus of MCD biology, got a separate NIH grant to purchase the specialized camera, a direct electron detector, which is a critical component for achieving high-resolution images of molecular structures. The campus administration, meanwhile, funded renovations for the new facility in the Sinsheimer Laboratories building.

    “We’re now in a position to do a lot of really good work,” Jurica said.

    Users of the facility will include nearly a dozen faculty members in the Departments of Chemistry and Biochemistry, MCD Biology, Biomolecular Engineering, and Microbiology and Environmental Toxicology. The new facility was crucial to the hiring of a new faculty member, Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry Sarah Loerch, who uses cutting-edge cryo-EM methods to study the structure and function of RNA-protein complexes. Focusing on specialized ribosomal complexes, the Loerch lab is working to understand how a cell instructs ribosomes to make the right protein at the right time and in the right place.

    Crystallography

    Traditionally, the preferred technique for determining the structures of complex biomolecules has been x-ray crystallography. This was the method used by Noller and others to determine the structure of the ribosome, a molecular machine composed of multiple proteins and RNAs that performs protein synthesis in all cells. But x-ray crystallography requires crystallizing the structures first, an extremely challenging step for many biological molecules.

    Cryo-EM doesn’t require crystals, and its use has grown dramatically as the methods and equipment have improved. The technique involves flash-freezing samples to capture flexible and dynamic biological molecules in static poses. “With cryo-EM, we can now get direct, high-resolution images of molecules that were not possible to crystallize,” Jurica said.

    Noller plans to use cryo-EM images of a ribosome at different steps of protein synthesis to create a molecular movie of the process. With x-ray crystallography, this would require many months of trying to get a crystal for each frame of the movie, but cryo-EM makes it much faster and easier to do. Loerch plans to take the technology one step further and actually image ribosomes while they are inside a neuron to determine how the ribosomes are instructed to make proteins in response to a synapse firing.

    Jurica’s lab will be looking at the splicing machinery that edits the RNAs copied from genes; Rebecca Dubois, associate professor of biomolecular engineering, will be looking at the structure of viruses to aid in vaccine development; and Carrie Partch, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, will be using cryo-EM to look at how all the parts of the circadian clock work together to maintain the daily rhythms of our cells.

    All of these molecules are large and change their shapes constantly as they do their cellular jobs, which means crystallography would take decades, and might never work. “Cryo-EM lets us take a short-cut straight to the molecules,” Jurica said.

    Support from multiple departments and divisions, as well as from campus administration, enabled UCSC to build the new cryo-EM facility, she said. The new facility will open in the new year.

    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 University of California, Santa Cruz, opened in 1965 and grew, one college at a time, to its current (2008-09) enrollment of more than 16,000 students. Undergraduates pursue more than 60 majors supervised by divisional deans of humanities, physical & biological sciences, social sciences, and arts. Graduate students work toward graduate certificates, master’s degrees, or doctoral degrees in more than 30 academic fields under the supervision of the divisional and graduate deans. The dean of the Jack Baskin School of Engineering oversees the campus’s undergraduate and graduate engineering programs.

    UCSC Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    UC Observatories Lick Automated Planet Finder, fully robotic 2.4-meter optical telescope at Lick Observatory, situated on the summit of Mount Hamilton, east of San Jose, California, USA.

    The UCO Lick C. Donald Shane telescope is a 120-inch (3.0-meter) reflecting telescope located at the Lick Observatory, Mt Hamilton, in San Jose, California, Altitude 1,283 m (4,209 ft).

    UC Santa Cruz campus.

    UCSC is the home base for the Lick Observatory.

    Lick Observatory’s 36-inch Great Great Refractor telescope housed in the South (large) Dome of main building.

     
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