Friday, April 8, 2016

Baby at the Science Fair

For the third year, I was honored to return to my undergraduate alma mater, Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, to judge the space sciences senior projects. Some of these students have been working on their research for just a semester, while others have been learning and refining their project over the course of their undergraduate career. I love meeting the students and learning about their research, which does change from year to year!

I was really rushed in recording my vlog at the event, so I want to summarize the projects here. The nine that I learned about from the students' mouths today were (in the numerical order they were assigned):

The Small Extreme-Contrast Ratio Imaging Telescope which uses the charge injection device (CID) technology that I learned about when evaluating International Space Station science proposals. (A CID was approved to fly on ISS, currently scheduled for June.)

A look at the closest and brightest quasar's quirky jet as seen from the Hubble Space Telescope in optical and X-ray.

A look at why cosmic rays hitting Earth aren't isotropic but instead concentrated in one area of the sky, as seen by two neutrino detectors.

A model to understand the planetary orbital resonances of exoplanets observed by Kepler.

A model to understand the spectroscopy (energy emitted) of regolith (dirt) on planetary bodies without atmospheres, including asteroids, with a particular look at porosity (how densely packed or how many holes there are in the grains). This is one of the many steps in a project I've been assisting with.

An examination of protein fiber growth that returned from flying on the ISS, another project I learned about when I did ISS research evaluation. It was nice to learn about the results of that experiment!

A look at the magnetic field of a massive O-type star as seen from a telescope in Hawaii.

Scale testing of the mirror deployment of the James Webb Space Telescope which should launch in 2018. Got to make sure those mirrors deploy perfectly in space!

A model to understand three-body resonances in exoplanetary systems as observed by Kepler.

My co-judge, baby Josephine, was with me this year. This would be her third time on Florida Tech's campus. We attended the Showcase reception together last night. She was also on the campus of the University of Central Florida in Orlando with me yesterday. We visited the Center for Microgravity Research, my former lab, the group responsible for the payload that flew on Blue Origin recently. Baby Josephine will continue her university tour later this month when we visit Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach.

Josephine and I at UCF visiting my former lab - April 7, 2016

Josephine and I posing with the panther at FIT - April 7, 2016

My co-judge squirming out of her wrap at the Science & Engineering Showcase at FIT - April 8, 2016

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