Tag: Names

Here’s How To Send Your Name Hurtling Into The Sun This Year

If you’ve ever wanted to send a part of you hurtling into the Sun, this is your lucky day. NASA is offering you the chance to send your name rocketing towards our favorite ball of gas aboard the Parker Solar Probe.

The $1.5-billion mission will be the first-ever probe to “touch” the Sun, traveling directly into its atmosphere later this year.

The mission will go seven times closer to the Sun than any other man-made object, in order to study its atmosphere.

It’ll go hurtling towards the center of our solar system at speeds of 700,000 kilometers per hour. “That’s fast enough to get from Philadelphia to Washington, DC, in one second,” NASA wrote.

Your name, if you fancy it, will be included on a memory card within the probe’s payload, traveling at speeds previously unknown to any of your nametags.

The mission will study how energy and heat move through the solar corona. By studying the Sun – the only star available for us to study up close – scientists also hope to learn more about stars throughout the Universe.

The probe will seek to discover what accelerates solar wind and solar energetic particles, which NASA says it has sought answers to for over 60 years.

Now with thermal engineering advances, NASA is finally able to send a probe that can withstand the immense heat.

At its closest approach, the probe will face temperatures of 1,370°C (2,500°F), but the probe’s solar shields will astonishingly keep the payload at around room temperature.

So your name will stay cool, don’t worry. Unless it’s something like “Nigel”, which has never been cool in the first place.

The initiative of sending your name along for the ride, dubbed “Hot Ticket“, was launched this week by Star Trek actor and musical legend William Shatner.

The first-ever spacecraft to the Sun, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe, will launch this year on a course to orbit through the heat of our star’s corona, where temperatures are greater than 1 million degrees,” Shatner said in a video launching the project.

The spacecraft will also carry my name to the Sun, and your name, and the names of everyone who wants to join this voyage of extreme exploration.

In order to get your name aboard the probe, it really is as simple as applying. Just go to NASA’s Parker Solar Probe website and enter your details before April 27, 2018.

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An Alphabet Soup Of Absurd Astronomy Acronyms

Astronomy loves acronyms. Some of them are evocative, charming, and memorable. Others are more laboured in their execution. This is an ode unusual acronyms, from the cleverly complex to the eye-rolling fail.

Acronyms are prevalent when talking about astronomy and space science.

In the past few months I’ve covered JPL, JAXA, OCO2, ISEE-3, SDO, IRIS, DSN, GRBs and UXOs, a whole host of CubeSats, DTMs, IRNSS-1B, GPM, DOVES, MRO, LADEE, SPHERES, and far, far too many other jumbles of letters to easily remember.

For the most part, they make handy tags for finding related articles later, but aren’t particularly memorable or meaningful to anyone outside the field.

I’ve always had a soft spot for the main competing theories for dark matter: MAssive Compact Halo Objects (MACHOs) and Weakly Interacting Massive Particles (WIMPs).

They thematically work, they have a bit of sass, and despite not being a practicing astrophysicist, I remember exactly what they stand for every time the topic comes up.

Best of all, I remember them as a linked set of concepts, a pair of theories related to the same mysterious phenomena. As far as acronyms go, that’s pretty much a perfect set of features.

Meanwhile, a few of the amazing instruments selected for the 2020 Mars rover have overly-laboured acronym-names, or, stranger still, awkward acronym-names that don’t actually match up with the extended phrases.

All my love to MOXIE, but it’s never a good sign when your acronym contains a nested acronym.

Then again, I once earnestly worked on BOOST, a component of BEAST as part of an alliterative investigation of the CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background), so I can’t tease too hard.

Astronomer and computer engineer Glen Petitpas at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics has been collecting the other sort of acronyms.

You know the ones, where the acronym clearly came first and the name was awkwardly forced around it to fit, or are so thematically off-base that you don’t even know how scientists can write serious academic papers involving them without snickering.

Here’s a few of my so-bad-they’re-good favourites:

  • 5MUSES: 5 MegaJansky Unbiased Spitzer Extragalactic Survey is an instrument observing program for the Spitzer Space Telescope that picks up light somewhere between nearby spiral galaxies and Ultra Luminous Infrared Galaxies (ULIRGs, for a bonus acronym).
  • AMBER: Astronomical MultiBEam Recombiner is an instrument on the Very Large Telescope Interferometer used to blend beams from several telescopes into one signal. It’s also a cheater of an acronym for shamelessly plucks letters from the middle of words.
  • CANGAROO: Collaboration between Australian and Nippon for a Gamma Ray Observatory in the Outback, an international collaboration to look for gamma ray bursts that is just too cute for words.
  • FASTSOUND: FMOS Ankoku Shindou Tansa Subaru Observation Understanding Nature of Dark energy may be the definition of trying to hard with multilingual nested acronyms.
  • ARISTOTELES: Applications and Research Involving Space Technologies Observing the Earth’s field from Low Earth orbiting Satellite is not so much a name, as an entire sentence packed into a single word, cherry-picking whichever lead-letters fit the theme.
  • GADZOOKS! Gadolinium Antineutrino Detector Zealously Outperforming Old Kamiokande, Super! is a proposed/under-construction dedicated test facility near the Kamioka mine and Super Kamiokande detector. Yes, it has an exclamation point.

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