Monday, 26 November 2018

Science feature 26-11-2018 with @smrolfe - #InSight #MarsLanding today, £50 note scientist and night sky including total lunar eclipse! #BloodMoon

Radio Verulam Science Feature 26-11-2018

Invading Mars
A new mission called InSight will land on Mars tonight at 8 pm (GMT), with coverage starting at the end of the West Herts Drivetime show at 7 pm on NASA TV, for links see below. The mission is a lander, a stationary laboratory rather than a rover, as being stationary is actually key to the science goals.

InSight is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport and it’s science goals are: “The first is to examine the interior — what it is made of, and what processes occur. The lander will provide information on the size and composition of the Martian core, crust and mantle. It also will show "how warm the interior is and how much heat is still flowing through," NASA said. The second goal is to learn if Mars is tectonically active (including where seismic activity is located), and how frequently meteorites slam into its surface.”

“Nasa expects Mars to have a metal core, a dense mantle, and a lighter crust, but they are not sure precisely where the boundaries of these layers will be found.”

Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech

For links to watching landing commentary see:

Other sources:

£50 note to have a scientist

Nominations are still open until 14th December but a list has been released today of the nominations so far.

To be considered, the individual must be real, deceased and have contributed to the field of science in the UK.

Scientists who have inspired Sam:

Caroline Hershel (1750 – 1848) Born in Hanover, Germany in 1750, Caroline was only permitted a rudimentary education, prepared for a life in service. However, after her father’s death she moved to Bath, England to be with her brother William. Both of them initially pursued careers in music, but astronomy became a night-time hobby, and after a series of unsuccessful musical performances they took up astronomy full time. Working closely to support her brother, including developing better astronomical instruments, she became a successful astronomer in her own right. She discovered eight new comets, and contributed around 500 deep sky objects to what became the New General Catalogue, a classification system that is still used today. Caroline was the first woman in England be appointed to an official government position, and first woman to receive a salary for her scientific work (a sum of £50 per year!). She was also the first woman to be awarded Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Hertha Ayrton (1854 – 1923) had a rebellious personality, which was noticed by her teachers and classmates. Her cousins introduced her to science and maths. She studied at Cambridge, where she was successful in gaining a patent for a sphygmomanometer (s-fig-mo-man-ometer), a blood pressure meter. She led the choral society, founded the all-women Girton College fire brigade and co-founded a mathematical club. During her life, she registered 26 patents. She also worked in embroidery and teaching. Hertha won the Hughes Medal by the Royal Society for her work on electric arcs. She also conducted research about the formation of ripples in sand and water. Furthermore, she helped found the International Federation of University Women and the National Union of Scientific Workers.

Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin (1900 – 1979) was an English-American astronomer and proved in her 1925 doctoral thesis that Hydrogen is the principal component of stars, using data collected by Annie Jump Cannon. This work was considered at the time to be the most brilliant thesis ever written in astronomy. However, despite the evidence she had found, her work was reviewed by Henry Russell and he dissuaded her from her original conclusion as it went against the ideas of the time. He is often credited with the discovery when he came to the same conclusion after getting repeat results by a different method which he published four years later. Cecilia was an inspired seamstress, an inventive knitter, and a voracious reader as well as the first woman to be promoted to professor at Harvard University and, later, the first female Chair of the Department of Astronomy.

Night Sky This Month(s), December and January

“The Geminids is the king of the meteor showers. It is considered by many to be the best shower in the heavens, producing up to 120 multicolored meteors per hour at its peak. It is produced by debris left behind by an asteroid known as 3200 Phaethon, which was discovered in 1982. The shower runs annually from December 7-17. It peaks this year on the night of the 13th and morning of the 14th. The first quarter moon will set shortly after midnight leaving dark skies for what should be an excellent early morning show. Best viewing will be from a dark location after midnight. Meteors will radiate from the constellation Gemini, but can appear anywhere in the sky.”

Venus will be in the morning sky and Mars will be in the evening sky.

Total Eclipse of the Moon “Blood Moon”
 21st January 2019
Starts at 02:36, ends 07:48, with greatest eclipse at 05:12 (approx. half an hour either side in Total Eclipse).

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