Throughout Sunday night’s excitement, JPL’s Allen Chen calmly announced each stage of Curiosity’s entry, descent and landing from mission control. As Flight Dynamics and Operations Lead for the Mars Science Laboratory Entry, Descent, and Landing team, it was Allen’s job to remain cool, calm and collected throughout. Listen to hear what he had to say to Warren and myself:
The Allen Telescope Array (ATA), located near Hat Creek, California, isn’t only used by the SETI Institute to seek out signals from extraterrestrial civilizations. The 42 6.1-meter antennae form an interferometer that can be used for a variety of astronomical studies — in reality, this is the main focus of the project. SETI studies “piggyback” the active astronomical research, passively collecting data.
Due to the radio interferometer’s wide field of view, one surprising use of the ATA is solar astronomy — at radio frequencies. The ATA can be used to simultaneously observe the whole of the solar disk at a range of frequencies rarely studied. As outlined in a recent arXiv publication, a University of California, Berkeley, team of astronomers headed by Pascal Saint-Hilaire have carried out the first ATA solar study, producing images of the sun in a light we rarely see it in (shown above).
According to the paper, active regions were observed at radio and microwave frequencies, spotting the emissions associated with bremsstrahlung — electromagnetic radiation generated by accelerated charged particles caught in intense magnetic fields, a feature typical inside solar active regions. Also, coronal interactions, or gyroresonance, between solar plasma and plasma waves (propagating along magnetic field lines) was detected.
Captain Jack at Badlands Radio (formerly Paranormal Radio) has been evacuated from the WPRT studios in Central Texas as tornadoes are sweeping through the area. His show is being covered by me until he can return, so be sure to tune in to find out more!
Last thing I heard was that Jack was in Brownwood (in what appears to be some pretty terrible conditions, looking at the radar picture above), attempting to return to the studio…
UPDATE: After 5 hours on the air, I get news from Jack that he and Selene are doing fine and returning to the studios. Be sure to check out the Badlands Radio for Jack’s eyewitness account of the tornado that caused so many problems in Central Texas.