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SETI Institute
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Our mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe, and to apply the knowledge gained to inspire and guide present and future generations.
Our mission is to explore, understand, and explain the origin and nature of life in the universe, and to apply the knowledge gained to inspire and guide present and future generations.

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Job Opening: The SETI Institute is seeking an Executive Assistant to provide high level administrative support to the President/CEO and Senior Management team. For details and to apply: https://buff.ly/2JJsVn2
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SETI Institute Activity Report April – June 2018

Significant Highlights and Events:

* A new book, From Habitability to Life on Mars, edited by Nathalie Cabrol and Edmond Grin explores what we know about the environment on Mars, how it has evolved, and whether it can, or once could support life. In addition to Nathalie and Edmund, contributors include several SETI Institute researchers including Janice Bishop, J.R. Skok, Virginia Gulick, Pablo Sobron, David Summers and Kimberley Warren-Rhodes.

* J.R. Skok launched a crowdfunding campaign for EARTH: An immersive AR/AI Experience & Model of Our Planet as Science Advisor for AstroReality.

* Margaret Race was honored by the city of Menlo Park, CA with its Community Appreciation Award for her service as Library Commissioner.

Download the full report: https://buff.ly/2L8mGOV
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Neptune from the VLT and Hubble

The image of the planet Neptune on the left was obtained during the testing of the Narrow-Field adaptive optics mode of the MUSE instrument on ESO’s Very Large Telescope. The image on the right is a comparable image from the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. Note that the two images were not taken at the same time so do not show identical surface features.

Credit: ESO/P. Weilbacher (AIP)/NASA, ESA, and M.H. Wong and J. Tollefson (UC Berkeley)

Larger image: https://buff.ly/2L8jcMl
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The first exoplanets were all found using the radial velocity method of measuring the “wobble” of a star — movement caused by the gravitational pull of an orbiting planet.

Radial velocity has been great for detecting large exoplanets relatively close to our solar system, for assessing their mass and for finding out how long it takes for the planet to orbit its host star.

But so far the technique has not been able to identify and confirm many Earth-sized planets, a primary goal of much planet hunting. The wobble caused by the presence of a planet that size has been too faint to be detected by current radial velocity instruments and techniques.

However, a new generation of instruments is coming on line with the goal of bringing the radial velocity technique into the small planet search. To do that, the new instruments, together with their telescopes. must be able to detect a sun wobble of 10 to 20 centimeters per second. That’s quite an improvement on the current detection limit of about one meter per second.

Read more: https://buff.ly/2JFsQjY
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Thanks to the Girl Scouts of the USA, your kindergartner can now earn a badge in cybersecurity. This is because the beloved scouting organization has just unveiled 30 new badges for girls ages 5–18, each designed to help young women learn about the world we live in–as well as the world we could live in.

Now, Girl Scouts of all ages can earn badges in fields like environmental advocacy, mechanical engineering, robotics, computer science, and space exploration. With these new skills, Girl Scouts can better learn how to make the world a better place, all the while acquiring a few useful life skills.

The new badges are targeted toward specific age groups. Younger Girl Scouts–from kindergarten to 5th grade–are able to learn about Space Science (the program is funded by NASA’s Science Mission Directorate and led by the SETI Institute), Cybersecurity (funded by Palo Alto Networks), Mechanical Engineering, and other skills too.

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Moon, Mars, Station

This image was taken by ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst from the International Space Station on 30 June 2018 when the Moon and Mars were at its closest so far during his six-month Horizons mission.

For illustration purposes, Mars has been highlighted and enlarged twenty times: the ‘Red Planet’ has a radius of 3389 km but at the time was roughly 67 million km from Earth while the Moon has a radius of 1737 km and was at a distance of around 411 000 km.

The distance from Mars to Earth varies as both planets orbit the Sun and it is at its closest in these weeks, appearing brighter than Jupiter in the night sky. The night of 27 July offers another periodic spectacle during the lunar eclipse when Earth casts its shadow over the Moon causing our satellite to appear red.

Credit: ESA

More info: https://buff.ly/2L7h5ID
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REMINDER: Today's #SpaceBookLive is at 2PM PDT (about 30 minutes). NASA FDL Exploration and Ideation Director Jonathan Knowles will talk about what Space Weather is, why you should care about it, and how the challenges are being approached, with the research teams. They’ll be joined by Esperanza Lopez Aguilera from our recently announced partner, Kx.

Kx partnership announcement: https://buff.ly/2Jw9RIR

Stay tuned!
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From David Grinspoon:

For the future of SETI, the practical questions are, regrettably, as vexing as the intellectual ones. Few would deny how far-reaching success would be, but how do you maintain funding and scientific interest in a field where the payoff in any given year (or even decade) is so uncertain?

Not long ago, many deemed exobiology, along with SETI, as a fringe field, which “serious” researchers must keep at arm’s length. In the 1990s, anti-intellectual budget cutters in Congress discontinued all federal government support for SETI. In 1998, attitudes changed. This came about largely due to the discovery of possible microfossils in a meteorite from Mars and the subsequent flurry of scientific and public excitement. It turned out to be a false alarm, but exobiology was rechristened as “astrobiology” and suddenly became acceptable, well-funded, and even thought central to NASA’s mission.

In terms of government backing, however, SETI remains out in the cold. Maybe it needs its own highly credible false alarm! In the meantime, how do SETI researchers, year in and year out, remain engaged and positive?

Read more: https://buff.ly/2zL1FEY
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You’re looking at the centre of our galactic home, the Milky Way, as imaged by 64 radio telescopes in the South African wilderness.

Scientists released this image to inaugurate the completed MeerKAT radio telescope. But these scopes form part of an even more ambitious project: The Square Kilometre Array, a joint effort to build the world’s largest telescope, spanning the continents of Africa and Australia.

This image shows filaments of particles, structures that seem to exist in alignment with the galaxy’s central black hole.

It’s unclear what causes these filaments. Maybe they are particles ejected by the spinning black hole; maybe they are hypothesised “cosmic strings”; and maybe they’re not unique, and there are other, similar structures waiting to be found, according to a 2017 release from Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

“This image from MeerKAT is awesome to me because the fine filaments seen in the radio image are excellent tracers of the galactic magnetic field, something we don’t get to see in most optical and infrared data,” Erin Ryan, principal investigator at the SETI Institute, told Gizmodo.

Read more: https://buff.ly/2NlNPKR
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#SpaceBookLive this week will be tomorrow, 18 July, at 2PM PDT. Trustee Jonathan Knowles will be talking to the NASA FDL Space Weather teams about the challenges they’re working on this summer. We’ll be joined by Esperanza Lopez Aguilera from our recently announced partner, Kx.

Kx partnership announcement: https://buff.ly/2Jw9RIR

Stay tuned!
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