Bad Astronomy Newsletter #17
June 11, 2018 Issue #17
|Phil Plait||Jun 11, 2018|
Subscribing to this newsletter will give you powers to predict the future at least as well as astrology!
Yeah, but not too personal
As you read this — assuming it’s not later than June 16, 2018, in which case, hi, the future! — I am in the mountains of Colorado with 30 or so science aficionados exploring the geology, riding horses, and watching the skies as part of Science Getaways. Expect lots of fun pix and brilliant puns on my Instagram and Twitter feeds.
What I’ve recently written on the blog, ICYMI
Monday, June 4, 2018: Get ready: A star will pass pretty close to the Sun in just 1.3 million years
Tuesday, June 5, 2018: Looking for other Earths: Are we being too picky?
Wednesday, June 5, 2018: Vela X-1 is plowing its way through the galaxy
Thursday, June 5, 2018: A Pac-Man crater on Mars
Friday, June 5, 2018: The spectacular Sunflower Galaxy M63
Is it hot in here, or is it just anthropogenic global warming?
Climate change is real, y’all
Last week, the NOAA announced that May 2018 was the hottest on record (going back over a century) in the contiguous United States.
Oh wait, no I’m not.
I’ll note that the US is only about 2% of the surface area of the planet, but the other 98% is heating up too, as scientists have been telling everyone for decades.
But the brain trust that makes up the majority of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology are still at their game of deny-the-obvious. The same day the NOAA report came out, the Committee had the gall to tweet this:
1/2 This is why I call the WSJ the Mos Eisley tavern of climate change denial. https://t.co/7Iw2aaixNpJune 6, 2018
Follow o’ the Letter
Someone you should follow on social media
I recently met Sam Yammine at a symposium we were both attending, and wow, was I impressed by her! She’s a PhD candidate in stem cell biology, and is also doing a great job promoting science on her Instagram and Twitter feeds, where she talks about her research and is a role model for young women interested in science.
I was sitting at the table next to her at the symposium when we were going around introducing ourselves, and I think I actually exclaimed out loud when I realized who she was: Literally a few weeks before she was the subject of a very poorly conceived article about women in science that was published as an OpEd in a major science journal. When it came out, I tweeted this:
I very much agree with this thread, and the thread linked therein. The Science article is… problematic. Along with everything else mentioned in the threads, changing people’s perceptions of women scientists is very important and will help the issues mentioned in the article. https://t.co/JG00NFyN5HMarch 15, 2018
If you’re interested in biology, or you just want some affirmation that the future still has a chance because young science researchers are kicking butt, then follow her.
[Credit: Phil Plait]
A brief synopsis of some interesting astronomy/science news that may be too short for the blog, too long for Twitter, but just right (and cool enough to talk about) for here.
On the blog I recently wrote about a pair of CubeSats on their way to Mars, hitchhiking on the launch of Mars InSight. These are part of a very cool test to see if tiny spacecraft can relay information back from interplanetary space. Well, NASA and JPL just announced the pair successfully made a planned course correction to put them on the right trajectory for Mars!
[Drawing of the two CubeSats on their way to Mars. Credit: NASA]
One of them is having some issues with a leaky thruster, so it’s in need of more correction, but engineers seem to think they’ll be able to compensate for it. Given that this is JPL, I’m inclined to trust them.
The pair, plus InSight, will reach Mars in November. They’ll receive info from InSight and relay it back to Earth as a test, as well as acting as a backup for the direct transmission from InSight itself. I’m not sure what this’ll mean if it all works — these satellites can sit in your lap, they’re so small — but a lot of clever people are working on this, and one thing I know about spaceflight is that if a new way of doing things works, people will find uses for it.
You can email me at email@example.com (though replies can take a while), and all my social media outlets are gathered together at about.me. Also, if you don’t already, please subscribe to this newsletter! And feel free to tell a friend or nine, too. Thanks!