Cassini’s Final Plunge

By photosearth / September 16, 2017

Crowds at JPL and Caltech watch as the Cassini spacecraft ends its 20-year mission with a dive into Saturn
News Writer: 
Robert Perkins


With this view, Cassini captured one of its last looks at Saturn and its main rings from a distance.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute

It ended with a bang and with a whisper. Closing out a chapter of the study of Saturn and its moons and rings, NASA’s Cassini spacecraft plunged into the atmosphere of Saturn on September 15, burning up as it streaked across Saturn’s sky—while back on Earth, the explosive event was observed as a telemetry feed that simply went silent.

Crowds of scientists and engineers—some of whom have been with the project since its beginning in the 1980s—gathered both at JPL and on Caltech’s campus before the break of dawn to witness the end of the mission, watching as the spacecraft sped up to over 75,000 miles per hour while its altitude above the cloud tops ticked down to 0.

“For 13 years we’ve been running a marathon of scientific discovery. And we’re on the last lap,” said Linda Spilker, Cassini project scientist, in the hour leading up to the end.

At JPL, a cluster of Cassini science team members wearing purple shirts emblazoned with a team logo watched a live feed of Mission Control from the Theodore von Kármán Auditorium. Andy Ingersoll, professor of planetary science at Caltech, was among that purple-shirted family. “Cassini was a great mission,” he said. “The technicians who built it and the engineers who kept it running were all terrific. Even the scientists, with their different interests and objectives, got along. We all are lucky to be alive during this period of solar system exploration.”

As Cassini plunged into Saturn’s atmosphere, its ion and neutral mass spectrometer sampled the atmosphere as the spacecraft’s small jets fought against the tugging of the atmosphere to keep its antenna pointed at Earth to beam data back in real time (albeit with an 83-minute transmission delay).

On screen in the auditorium, the signal from Cassini appeared as a spike in the middle of the X and S band radio frequencies (in the microwave region of the electromagnetic spectrum). As some of the Cassini science team members held their breath and others cheered it on—”Give me just a few more minutes of data!” one said—the spike abruptly flat-lined; first on the X band and then on the S band. The spacecraft was declared officially silent at 4:55 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time, and was estimated to have broken up completely by about a minute later.

It was a bittersweet moment to end a mission that accomplished so much, with boxes of tissues passed around amid proud smiles and handshakes.

“Cassini made amazing discoveries and inspired a whole generation of young—and old—explorers. It is a tribute to the magic that Caltech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory brings to all of humanity,” said Charles Elachi, professor of electrical engineering and planetary science, emeritus. Elachi (MS ’69, PhD ’71) served as director of JPL from 2001 to 2016, overseeing the lion’s share of the Cassini mission, and is the team leader of the Cassini Radar Science Team.

Designed in the 1980s and ’90s, and launched in 1997, Cassini passed by Jupiter in 2000 and reached Saturn in 2004, where it has orbited ever since. During the past 13 years, the spacecraft has made many dramatic discoveries, including a global ocean within the moon Enceladus and liquid methane seas on Saturn’s largest moon, Titan.

“One unsung hero is Saturn itself. All parts of the Saturn system came through with surprises and discoveries that blew our minds,” said Ingersoll. “I am honored to have been part of Cassini from the start.” Ingersoll, a Cassini imaging scientist, used data from the probe to study vortices on Jupiter and the unique six-sided jet stream, known as the hexagon, around Saturn’s north pole.

As the spacecraft’s fuel supply dwindled, the decision was made to crash it into Saturn rather than let it drift through space, where it might accidentally collide with one of the planet’s icy moons. The goal was to avoid the risk of contaminating those moons with terrestrial microbes that might still be clinging to Cassini’s body.

In the months before the end, the spacecraft performed a series of 22 dives through Saturn’s rings. During the dives Cassini collected a host of valuable information that was too risky to obtain earlier in the mission. “The data we are seeing from Cassini’s Grand Finale are every bit as exciting as we hoped, although we are still deep in the process of working out what they are telling us about Saturn and its rings,” Spilker said in July.

Now that the mission has concluded, the Cassini team will teach future explorers what they have learned. “There are still data that we’ve got to keep working on. But we also have the job of passing on our experience to the next generation. We have an obligation to say, ‘Here are the mistakes we made, and here’s what we did right,'” Ingersoll said.

The Cassini mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency, and the Italian Space Agency. NASA’s JPL, a division of Caltech, manages the mission for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. JPL designed, developed, and assembled the Cassini orbiter.

Caltech News tagged with “GPS”

The Massively Big Picture

By photosearth / September 1, 2017

Mark Simons is part of a movement to add precise and panoramic perspectives to previously limited geographic observations.

Mark Simons

Mark Simons

The 2011 Japanese earthquake was a defining moment for Mark Simons. The devastating 9.0-magnitude quake and its subsequent tsunami, which took nearly 16,000 lives, spurred efforts around the globe that will shape how nations predict and prepare for future natural disasters and motivated new approaches to basic earthquake science that are applicable to seismic events large and small.

Read more on the Break Through campaign website.

Caltech News tagged with “earthquakes”

How Friction Evolves During an Earthquake

By photosearth / August 16, 2017

By simulating quakes in a lab, engineers study the way that friction changes along a fault during a seismic event
News Writer: 
Robert Perkins

Wind Tunnel

The “seismological wind tunnel” at Caltech. The white square block in the center is a plastic known as homalite that acts as an analogue for rock. It contains a miniature fault that is triggered via a nickel-chromium wire fuse to produce a tiny simulated earthquake.
Credit: Courtesy of Vito Rubino

By simulating earthquakes in a lab, engineers at Caltech have documented the evolution of friction during an earthquake—measuring what could once only be inferred, and shedding light on one of the biggest unknowns in earthquake modeling.

Before an earthquake, static friction helps hold the two sides of a fault immobile and pressed against each other. During the passage of an earthquake rupture, that friction becomes dynamic as the two sides of the fault grind past one another. Dynamic friction evolves throughout an earthquake, affecting how much and how fast the ground will shake and thus, most importantly, the destructiveness of the earthquake.

“Friction plays a key role in how ruptures unzip faults in the earth’s crust,” says Vito Rubino, research scientist at Caltech’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science (EAS). “Assumptions about dynamic friction affect a wide range of earthquake science predictions, including how fast ruptures will occur, the nature of ground shaking, and residual stress levels on faults. Yet the precise nature of dynamic friction remains one of the biggest unknowns in earthquake science.”

Previously, it commonly had been believed that the evolution of dynamic friction was mainly governed by how far the fault slipped at each point as a rupture went by—that is, by the relative distance one side of a fault slides past the other during dynamic sliding. Analyzing earthquakes that were simulated in a lab, the team instead found that sliding history is important but the key long-term factor is actually the slip velocity—not just how far the fault slips, but how fast.

Rubino is the lead author on a paper on the team’s findings that was published in Nature Communications on June 29. He collaborated with Caltech’s Ares Rosakis, the Theodore von Kármán Professor of Aeronautics and Mechanical Engineering at EAS, and Nadia Lapusta, professor of mechanical engineering and geophysics, who has joint appointments with EAS and the Caltech Division of Geological and Planetary Sciences.

The team conducted the research at a Caltech facility, directed by Rosakis, that has been unofficially dubbed the “seismological wind tunnel.” At the facility, researchers use advanced high-speed optical diagnostics and other techniques to study how earthquake ruptures occur.

“Our unique facility allows us to study dynamic friction laws by following individual, fast-moving shear ruptures and recording friction along their sliding faces in real time,” Rosakis says. “This allows us for the first time to study friction point-wise and without having to assume that sliding occurs uniformly, as is done in classical friction studies,” Rosakis adds.

To simulate an earthquake in the lab, the researchers first cut in half a transparent block of a type of plastic known as homalite, which has similar mechanical properties to rock. They then put the two pieces together under pressure, simulating the static friction that builds up along a fault line. Next, they placed a small nickel-chromium wire fuse at the location where they wanted the epicenter of the quake to be. Triggering the fuse produced a local pressure release, which reduced friction at that location, and allowed a very fast rupture to propagate up the miniature fault.

In this study, the team recorded these simulated earthquakes using a new diagnostic method that combines high-speed photography (at 2 million frames per second) with a technique called digital image correlation, in which individual frames are compared and contrasted with one another and changes between those images—indicating motion—are tracked with sub-pixel accuracy.

“Some numerical models of earthquake rupture, including the ones developed in my group at Caltech, have used friction laws with slip-velocity dependence, based on a collection of rock mechanics experiments and theories. It is gratifying to see those formulations validated by the spontaneous mini-earthquake ruptures in our study, ” Lapusta says.

In future work, the team plans to use its observations to improve the existing mathematical models about the nature of dynamic friction and to help create new ones that better represent the experimental observations; such new models would improve computer earthquake simulations.

The study is titled “Understanding dynamic friction through spontaneously evolving laboratory earthquakes.” This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the Southern California Earthquake Center.

Caltech News tagged with “GPS”

Key to Speeding Up Carbon Sequestration Discovered

By photosearth / July 17, 2017

Scientists at Caltech and USC identify how to encourage the chemical reaction by which carbon dioxide is locked away in the ocean
News Writer: 
Robert Perkins


Scanning electron microscope image of calcite.
Credit: Adam Subhas/Caltech

Scientists at Caltech and USC have discovered a way to speed up the slow part of the chemical reaction that ultimately helps the earth to safely lock away, or sequester, carbon dioxide into the ocean. Simply adding a common enzyme to the mix, the researchers have found, can make that rate-limiting part of the process go 500 times faster. 

A paper about the work appears online the week of July 17 ahead of publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

“While the new paper is about a basic chemical mechanism, the implication is that we might better mimic the natural process that stores carbon dioxide in the ocean,” says lead author Adam Subhas, a Caltech graduate student and Resnick Sustainability Fellow.

The research is a collaboration between the labs of Jess Adkins from Caltech and Will Berelson of USC. The team used isotopic labeling and two methods for measuring isotope ratios in solutions and solids to study calcite—a form of calcium carbonate—dissolving in seawater and measure how fast it occurs at a molecular level.

It all started with a very simple, very basic problem: measuring how long it takes for calcite to dissolve in seawater. “Although a seemingly straightforward problem, the kinetics of the reaction is poorly understood,” says Berelson, professor of earth sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

Calcite is a mineral made of calcium, carbon, and oxygen that is more commonly known as the sedimentary precursor to limestone and marble. In the ocean, calcite is a sediment formed from the shells of organisms, like plankton, that have died and sunk to the seafloor. Calcium carbonate is also the material that makes up coral reefs—the exoskeleton of the coral polyp.

As atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have risen past 400 parts per million—a symbolic benchmark for climate scientists confirming that the effects of the greenhouse gas in the atmosphere will be felt for generations to come—the surface oceans have absorbed more and more of that carbon dioxide. This is part of a natural buffering process—the oceans act as a major reservoir of carbon dioxide. At the present time, they hold roughly 50 times as much of the greenhouse gas as the atmosphere.

However, there is a second, slower, buffering process that removes carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide is an acid in seawater, just as it is in carbonated sodas (which is part of why they eat away at your tooth enamel). The acidified surface ocean waters will eventually circulate to the deep where they can react with the dead calcium carbonate shells on the sea floor and neutralize the added carbon dioxide. However, this process will take tens of thousands of years to complete and meanwhile, the ever-more acidic surface waters eat away at coral reefs. But how quickly will the coral dissolve?

“We decided to tackle this problem because it’s kind of embarrassing, the state of knowledge expressed in the literature,” says Adkins, Smits Family Professor of Geochemistry and Global Environmental Science at Caltech. “We can’t tell you how quickly the coral is going to dissolve.”

Earlier methods relied on measuring the change in pH in the seawater as calcium carbonate dissolved, and inferring dissolution rates from that. (As calcium carbonate dissolves, it raises the pH of water, making it less acidic.) Subhas and Adkins instead opted to use isotopic labeling.

Carbon atoms exist in two stable forms in nature. About 98.9 percent of it is carbon-12, which has six protons and six neutrons. About 1.1 percent is carbon-13, with one extra neutron.

Subhas and Adkins engineered a sample of calcite made entirely of the rare carbon-13, and then dissolved it in seawater. By measuring the change in the ratio of carbon-12 to carbon-13 in the seawater over time, they were able to quantify the dissolution at a molecular level. Their method proved to be about 200 times more sensitive than comparable techniques for studying the process.

On paper, the reaction is fairly straightforward: Water plus carbon dioxide plus calcium carbonate equals dissolved calcium and bicarbonate ions in water. In practice, it is complex. “Somehow, calcium carbonate decides to spontaneously slice itself in half. But what is the actual chemical path that reaction takes?” Adkins says.

Studying the process with a secondary ion mass spectrometer (which analyzes the surface of a solid by bombarding it with a beam of ions) and a cavity ringdown spectrometer (which analyzes the 13C/12C ratio in solution), Subhas discovered that the slow part of the reaction is the conversion of carbon dioxide and water to carbonic acid.

“This reaction has been overlooked,” Subhas says. “The slow step is making and breaking carbon-oxygen bonds. They don’t like to break; they’re stable forms.”

Armed with this knowledge, the team added the enzyme carbonic anhydrase—which helps maintain the pH balance of blood in humans and other animals—and were able to speed up the reaction by orders of magnitude.

“This is one of those rare moments in the arc of one’s career where you just go, ‘I just discovered something no one ever knew,'” Adkins says.

The paper is titled “Catalysis and Chemical Mechanisms of Calcite Dissolution in Seawater.” Coauthors include John Naviaux, graduate student at Caltech; William Berelson and Nick Rollins of USC; and Jonathan Erez of Hebrew University of Jerusalem. This research was supported by the National Science Foundation, the Resnick Sustainability Institute at Caltech, the Rothenberg Innovation Initiative (RI2), and the Linde Center for Global Environmental Science.  

Caltech News tagged with “GPS”

NASA’s Juno Spacecraft Completes Flyby over Jupiter’s Great Red Spot

By photosearth / July 12, 2017


Jupiter's Great Red Spot Swallows EarthJuno Over Jupiter's South Pole (Illustration) Juno and the Great Red Spot (Illustration) This illustration depicts NASA's Juno spacecraft soaring over Jupiter's south pole.
Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Stony Brook University

NASA’s Juno mission completed a close flyby of Jupiter and its Great Red Spot on July 10, during its sixth science orbit.

All of Juno’s science instruments and the spacecraft’s JunoCam were operating during the flyby, collecting data that are now being returned to Earth. Juno’s next close flyby of Jupiter will occur on Sept. 1.

Raw images from the spacecraft’s latest flyby will be posted in coming days.

“For generations people from all over the world and all walks of life have marveled over the Great Red Spot,” said Scott Bolton, principal investigator of Juno from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio. “Now we are finally going to see what this storm looks like up close and personal.”

The Great Red Spot is a 10,000-mile-wide (16,000-kilometer-wide) storm that has been monitored since 1830 and has possibly existed for more than 350 years. In modern times, the Great Red Spot has appeared to be shrinking. 

Juno reached perijove (the point at which an orbit comes closest to Jupiter’s center) on July 10 at 6:55 p.m. PDT (9:55 p.m. EDT). At the time of perijove, Juno was about 2,200 miles (3,500 kilometers) above the planet’s cloud tops. Eleven minutes and 33 seconds later, Juno had covered another 24,713 miles (39,771 kilometers), and was passing directly above the coiling crimson cloud tops of the Great Red Spot. The spacecraft passed about 5,600 miles (9,000 kilometers) above the clouds of this iconic feature.

On July 4 at 7:30 p.m. PDT (10:30 p.m. EDT), Juno logged exactly one year in Jupiter orbit, marking 71 million miles (114.5 million kilometers) of travel around the giant planet.

Juno launched on Aug. 5, 2011, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. During its mission of exploration, Juno soars low over the planet’s cloud tops — as close as about 2,100 miles (3,400 kilometers). During these flybys, Juno is probing beneath the obscuring cloud cover of Jupiter and studying its auroras to learn more about the planet’s origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere.

Early science results from NASA’s Juno mission portray the largest planet in our solar system as a turbulent world, with an intriguingly complex interior structure, energetic polar aurora, and huge polar cyclones.

JPL manages the Juno mission for the principal investigator, Scott Bolton, of Southwest Research Institute. The Juno mission is part of the New Frontiers Program managed by NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, for the Science Mission Directorate. Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, built the spacecraft. JPL is a division of Caltech in Pasadena.

This story was originally published on JPL News

Caltech News tagged with “GPS”

Exhibition may solve Franklins lost expedition

By photosearth / July 3, 2017

Map of the probable routes taken by HMS Erebus and HMS Terror during Franklin’s lost expedition. Legend Disko Bay (5) to Beechey Island (just off the southwest corner of Devon Island, to the east of 1), in 1845. Around Cornwallis Island (1), in 1845. Beechey Island down Peel Sound between Prince of Wales Island (2), to the west, and Somerset Island (3) and the Boothia Peninsula (4) to the east, to an unknown point off the northwest corner of King William Island, in 1846. Disko Bay (5) is about 3,200 kilometres (2,000 mi) from the mouth of the Mackenzie River (6). Map by Finetooth, Kennonv, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency .

From 14 July, the National Maritime Museum (NMM) will host a major exhibition, developed by the Canadian Museum of History (CMH) in partnership with the NMM and Parks Canada, and in collaboration with the Government of Nunavut and the Inuit Heritage Trust, exploring the mysterious fate of Sir John Franklin and his crew on their final expedition – a mystery that still remains unsolved today.


After 165 years under icy seas, the lost secrets of Sir John Franklins doomed British Arctic expedition in search of the North-West Passage are to form the centrepiece of a major London exhibition, Death in the Ice. But who really owns these salvaged artefacts?

This weekend it has emerged that the historic items painstakingly retrieved from the wreck of HMS Erebus, one of Franklins two lost expeditionary vessels, were taken without permission from waters now owned by the Inuit people in Canada.

In 2014 the sunken wreck of the Erebus was found lying in a part of the Arctic Ocean that belongs to Canadas vast northernmost territory, Nunavut. A document made public in Canada in the past fortnight reveals that the premier of Nunavut has since protested directly to Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, about the actions of scientists working with the curators of the exhibition, which opens at the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich, south London, on 14 July.

In his formal letter of complaint, released at the request of a Canadian journalist, the premier, Peter Taptuna, argues that the contents of the Erebus are rightfully owned by his region and by the Inuit Heritage Trust. The letter alleges that Parks Canada, a government agency, ignored the fact the ship was submerged in Nunavuts internal waters when it removed the artefacts. This was unfortunate and inconsistent with past practice, it adds.


‘Erebus’ and the ‘Terror’ in New Zealand, August 1841, by John Wilson Carmichael.

The ships were last seen entering Baffin Bay in August 1845. The disappearance of the Franklin
expedition set off a massive search effort in the Arctic. The broad circumstances of the expedition’s
fate were first revealed when Hudson’s Bay Company doctor John Rae collected artifacts and testimony from local Inuit in 1853. Later expeditions up to 1866 confirmed these reports.

Both ships had become icebound and had been abandoned by their crews, totaling about 130 men,
all of whom died from a variety of causes, including hypothermia, scurvy, and starvation while
trying to trek overland to the south. Subsequent expeditions until the late 1980s, including
autopsies of crew members, also revealed that their shoddily canned rations may have been
tainted by both lead and botulism. Oral reports by local Inuit that some of the crew members
resorted to cannibalism were at least somewhat supported by forensic evidence of cut marks
on the skeletal remains of crew members found on King William Island during the late 20th century.

David Tirrell Named Caltech Provost

By photosearth / July 1, 2017

News Writer: 
Shayna Chabner McKinney

David Tirrell

David Tirrell, Caltech's tenth provost
Credit: Caltech

David Tirrell, the Ross McCollum-William H. Corcoran Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering and the director of the Beckman Institute, will become Caltech’s tenth provost, President Thomas F. Rosenbaum announced today. His appointment will take effect October 1, 2017.

Tirrell, who will succeed Edward M. Stolper in this role, has been a faculty member at the Institute since 1998. He served as chair of the Division of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering from 1999 to 2009 and since 2012 has been the director of Caltech’s Beckman Institute, an interdisciplinary research hub that develops methods, instrumentation, and materials for fundamental research in chemistry and biology.

An accomplished researcher, Tirrell is known for working across the disciplines of chemistry, biology, and materials science. He focuses on the genetic code and how modifying the molecular machinery of the cell might lead to new approaches in macromolecular design, protein evolution, biological imaging, and proteome-wide analysis of cellular processes. In recognition of his significant contributions in these areas, Tirrell has received numerous accolades from professional societies and universities around the world. He is one of only 19 individuals elected to all three National Academies: Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.

Tirrell earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from MIT and a PhD in polymer science and engineering from the University of Massachusetts.

“David Tirrell marshals insights across the intellectual spectrum in his view of Caltech and in his own research,” says Rosenbaum, the Sonja and William Davidow Presidential Chair and professor of physics. “David’s broad approach to science and engineering, dedication to teaching, vision, and consultative leadership style are sure to advance the Institute during his tenure as provost. I am grateful to the provost search committee, chaired by Barbara Wold, Bren Professor of Biology, for their helpful recommendations and hard work in garnering opinions from Caltech faculty, students, and staff.”

The position of provost, the Institute’s chief academic officer, was first established at Caltech in 1962. The provost advances the academic agenda of the Institute through faculty recruitment, retention, and promotions, and via budget prioritization. The provost works closely with the division chairs on programmatic initiatives, serves as coordinator for curriculum development, and aids in development initiatives. Tirrell’s appointment will be pursuant to approval from the Board of Trustees in July.

“I feel privileged to have been part of the Caltech community for the past two decades,” says Tirrell. “I welcome the opportunity to contribute in a different way to promoting the important intellectual and educational missions of the Institute and to supporting the work of all of our extraordinary students, postdoctoral scholars, faculty, and staff.”

Earlier this year, Rosenbaum announced that the Institute was embarking on a search for Stolper’s successor as provost. Stolper, the William E. Leonhard Professor of Geology and the Carl and Shirley Larson Provostial Chair, has served as Caltech’s provost since 2007. An acclaimed researcher, he received the Roebling Medal in 2017, the highest honor given by the Mineralogical Society of America. In 2012, he received the V. M. Goldschmidt Award from the Geochemical Society, the highest award of the international geochemical community. This spring, a new mineral, stolperite, was named in recognition of his “fundamental contributions to petrology and meteorite research.”

Stolper plans to return to the faculty full time to pursue his studies of the origin and evolution of igneous rocks on the earth and other planets using experiment, theory, and field studies. He will continue to maintain a strong relationship with JPL and NASA, which includes his participation on the science team of the Mars Science Laboratory mission, for which he is past project scientist.

“During his decade of service as provost, Ed worked tirelessly with division chairs to appoint, cultivate, and retain the best faculty, scrupulously managed the Institute’s budget, and engaged wholeheartedly in the launch and conduct of the current Caltech campaign,” Rosenbaum says. “Throughout his career at Caltech, he has demonstrated his unflinching commitment to research and education and his resounding dedication to the Institute and its values. I look forward to continuing to work with him as an invaluable member of our faculty.”

Caltech News tagged with “GPS”

ASCIT and GSC Honor Excellence in Teaching

By photosearth / June 30, 2017

The annual awards celebrate outstanding professors and TAs

Rob Phillips giving a Bi 1 lecture.

Rob Phillips giving a Bi 1 lecture.
Credit: Caltech

The Associated Students of Caltech (ASCIT) and Caltech’s Graduate Student Council (GSC) on June 14 announced the honorees of their annual teaching awards, celebrating professors, TAs, and mentors for outstanding teaching in the 2016–17 academic year.

Based on voting by undergraduates, the ASCIT Teaching Awards honored professors Paul Asimow (MS ’93, PhD ’97), the Eleanor and John R. McMillan Professor of Geology and Geochemistry; Rob Phillips, the Fred and Nancy Morris Professor of Biophysics and Biology; Adam Wierman, professor of computing and mathematical sciences; and Evan Kirby, assistant professor of astronomy. The TAs honored were Chinmay Nirkhe (BS ’17) and graduate students Dylan Freas (CCE), Eugene Tang (PMA), and Todd Norton (PMA).

The GSC’s Teaching and Mentoring Awards, which honor those who have “made an extraordinary impact on graduate students,” went to a professor, a TA, and a mentor; two honorable mentions were named as well.

Xie Chen, assistant professor of theoretical physics, won the teaching award; Michael Wong (MS ’14), a graduate student in GPS, won the TA award; and Beverley McKeon, the Theodore von Karman Professor of Aeronautics, won the mentoring award. The two honorable mentions went to Heather Knutson, professor of planetary science; and Laura Flower Kim, associate director of International Student Programs.

Caltech News tagged with “GPS”

Trumps Tripadvisor Reviews About Middle East Are Going Viral, And People Are Seriously Confused

By photosearth / June 28, 2017

Trump’s Tripadvisor Reviews About Middle East Are Going Viral, And People Are Seriously Confused

President Trump called his first trip abroad a ‘Home Run’ and we can’t argue with that. He touched “The Orb” in Global Center for Combating Extremism In Riyadh, Saudia Arabia and later visited Pope Francis (who was of course not happy about the evil orb).

Mashable decided to post Trump’s TripAdvisor reviews, and now people can’t tell whether they’re real or not. “Is this for real? …Does he think he is a travel advisor?” – asked their reader Maria. “This is entirely within the realm of possibility for Trump,” – wrote Sarah.

While most people realized that it’s just a satire, a lot of the readers were concerned about the article. “People are going to believe it and share it as truth,” – wrote Sarah. “What’s insane is…I actually had to read the reviews. And even then I had to check the comments to make sure this was 100% satire,” – added Aaron.

What about you? Would you fall for that?

Read more:



NASA’s newest photo of Jupiter will blow your mind

By photosearth / June 28, 2017

Lately, NASA’s Cassini orbiter has been delivering some stunning photos from its trips around Saturn, but that’s not the only fancy camera floating around a nearby planet. The agency’s Juno spacecraft has been hanging out around Jupiter for nearly a year now, and it just delivered one of the most jaw-dropping glimpses of the gas giant that we’ve ever seen.

This is Jupiter’s south pole, and like most of the rest of the planet, it’s absolutely covered in massive storms, electricity, and swirling masses of clouds that stretch for hundreds and hundreds of miles. The image is absolutely stunning, and it took and incredible amount of work to make it happen.

What you’re seeing is actually a composite of several different photos taken at different times so that the entirety of the south pole was illuminated by daylight. The photos used to make the image were collected during three separate orbits of Juno, each of which takes nearly two months to complete.

Juno has already revealed a great deal about Jupiter in its short time in orbit, and some of the information it is telling scientists is leaving them both surprised and amazed. The colossal, Earth-sized storms on its poles are one of the more shocking features that researchers are still trying to figure out.

Read more:



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