#### We Need Your Help to Find STEVE

15 Mar, 2018

###### We Need Your Help to Find STEVE

Glowing in mostly purple and

green colors, a newly discovered celestial phenomenon is sparking the interest of scientists, photographers

and astronauts. The display was initially discovered by a group of citizen

scientists who took pictures of the unusual lights and playfully named them “Steve.”

When scientists got involved

and learned more about these purples and greens, they wanted to keep the name

as an homage to its initial name and citizen science discoverers. Now it is

STEVE, short for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement.

^{Credit: ©Megan Hoffman}

STEVE occurs closer to the equator than where most aurora appear – for

example, Southern Canada – in areas known as the

sub-auroral zone. Because

auroral activity in this zone is not well researched, studying STEVE will help

scientists learn about the chemical and physical processes

going on there. This helps us

paint a better picture of how Earth’s magnetic fields function and interact with

charged particles in space.

Ultimately, scientists can use this information to better

understand the space weather near Earth, which can interfere with satellites

and communications signals.

Want to become a

citizen scientist and help us learn more about STEVE? You can

submit your photos to a citizen science project called Aurorasaurus, funded by

NASA and the National Science Foundation. Aurorasaurus

tracks appearances of auroras – and now STEVE – around the world through

reports and photographs submitted via a mobile app and on aurorasaurus.org.

**Here are six tips**

from what we have learned so far to help you spot STEVE:

from what we have learned so far to help you spot STEVE:

**1.** STEVE is a very narrow arc, aligned

East-West, and extends for hundreds or thousands of miles.

^{Credit: ©Megan Hoffman}

**2.** STEVE mostly emits light in

purple hues. Sometimes the phenomenon is accompanied by a short-lived, rapidly

evolving green picket fence structure (example below).

^{Credit: ©Megan Hoffman}

**3. **STEVE can last 20 minutes to an

hour.

**4. **STEVE appears closer to the

equator than where normal – often green – auroras appear. It appears

approximately 5-10° further south in the Northern hemisphere. This means it

could appear overhead at latitudes similar to Calgary, Canada. The phenomenon

has been reported from the United Kingdom, Canada, Alaska, northern US states,

and New Zealand.

**5.** STEVE has only been spotted so far in

the presence of an aurora (but auroras often occur without STEVE). Scientists

are investigating to learn more about how the two phenomena are connected.

**6.** STEVE may only appear in

certain seasons. It was not observed from October 2016 to February 2017. It

also was not seen from October 2017 to February 2018.

^{Credit: ©Megan Hoffman}

STEVE (and aurora) sightings can be reported at www.aurorasaurus.org

or with the Aurorasaurus free mobile apps on Android and iOS. Anyone can sign up, receive alerts, and

submit reports for free.

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Source: NASA

Posted in NASA and tagged Space by cnkguy with no comments yet.

#### It’s Planting Season on the International Space Station :…

14 Mar, 2018

###### It’s Planting Season on the International Space Station :…

It’s Planting Season on the International Space Station : It’s planting season on the International Space Station! NASA astronaut Joe Acaba prepared the Veggie facility for three different kinds of lettuce seeds as part of the VEG-03-D investigation. This is the first time seeds from multiple kinds of plants are being grown in the facility all at the same time. (via NASA)

Source: Just Space

Posted in Just Space and tagged Space by cnkguy with no comments yet.

#### 10 Ways to Celebrate Pi Day with Us on March 14

14 Mar, 2018

###### 10 Ways to Celebrate Pi Day with Us on March 14

On March 14, we will join people across the U.S. as they celebrate an icon of nerd culture: the number pi.

So well known and beloved is pi, also written π or 3.14, that it has a national holiday named in its honor. And it’s not just for mathematicians and rocket scientists. National Pi Day is widely celebrated among students, teachers and science fans, too. Read on to find out what makes pi so special, how it’s used to explore space and how you can join the celebration with resources from our collection.

**1—Remind me, what is pi?**

Pi, also written π, is the Swiss Army knife of numbers. No matter how big or small a circle – from the size of our universe all the way down to an atom or smaller – the ratio of a circle’s circumference (the distance around it) to its diameter (the distance across it) is always equal to pi. Most commonly, pi is used to answer questions about anything circular or spherical, so it comes in handy especially when you’re dealing with space exploration.

**2—How much pi do you need?**

For simplicity, pi is often rounded to 3.14, but its digits go on forever and don’t appear to have any repeating patterns. While people have made it a challenge to memorize record-breaking digits of pi or create computer programs to calculate them, you really don’t need that many digits for most calculations – even at NASA. Here’s one of our engineers on how many decimals of pi you need.

**3**—**Officially official.**

Pi pops up in everything from rocket-science-level math to the stuff you learn in elementary school, so it’s gained a sort of cult following. On March 14 (or 3/14 in U.S. date format) in 1988, a physicist at the San Francisco Exploratorium held what is thought to be the first official Pi Day celebration, which smartly included the consumption of fruit pies. Math teachers quickly realized the potential benefits of teaching students about pi while they ate pie, and it all caught on so much that in 2009, the U.S. Congress officially declared March 14 National Pi Day. Here’s how to turn your celebration into a teachable moment.

**4**—**Pi helps us explore space**!

Space is full of circular and spherical features, and to explore them, engineers at NASA build spacecraft that make elliptical orbits and guzzle fuel from cylindrical fuel tanks, and measure distances on circular wheels. Beyond measurements and space travel, pi is used to find out what planets are made of and how deep alien oceans are, and to study newly discovered worlds. In other words, pi goes a long way at NASA.

**5**—**Not just for rocket scientists.**

No Pi Day is complete without a little problem solving. Even the math-averse will find something to love about this illustrated math challenge that features real questions scientists and engineers must answer to explore and study space – like how to determine the size of a distant planet you can’t actually see. Four new problems are added to the challenge each year and answers are released the day after Pi Day.

**6—Teachers rejoice.**

For teachers, the question is not *whether* to celebrate Pi Day, but *how* to celebrate it. (And how much pie is too much? Answer: The limit does not exist.) Luckily, our Education Office has an online catalog for teachers with all 20 of its “Pi in the Sky” math challenge questions for grades 4-12. Each lesson includes a description of the real-world science and engineering behind the problem, an illustrated handout and answer key, and a list of applicable Common Core Math and Next Generation Science Standards.

**7—How Do We celebrate?**

In a way, we celebrate Pi Day every day by using pi to explore space. But in our free time, we’ve been known to make and eat space-themed pies, too! Share your own nerdy celebrations with us here.

**8—A pop-culture icon.**

The fascination with pi, as well its popularity and accessibility have made it a go-to math reference in books, movies and television. Ellie, the protagonist in Carl Sagan’s book “Contact,” finds a hidden message from aliens in the digits of pi. In the original “Star Trek” series, Spock commanded an alien entity that had taken over the computer to compute pi to the last digit – an impossible task given that the digits of pi are infinite. And writers of “The Simpsons,” a show known for referencing math, created an episode in which Apu claims to know pi to 40,000 digits and proves it by stating that the 40,000th digit is 1.

**9—A numbers game.**

Calculating record digits of pi has been a pastime of mathematicians for millennia. Until the 1900s, these calculations were done by hand and reached records in the 500s. Once computers came onto the scene, that number jumped into the thousands, millions and now trillions. Scientist and pi enthusiast Peter Trueb holds the current record – 22,459,157,718,361 digits – which took his homemade computer 105 days of around-the-clock number crunching to achieve. The record for the other favorite pastime of pi enthusiasts, *memorizing* digits of pi, stands at 70,030.

**10—Time to throw in the tau?**

As passionate as people are about pi, there are some who believe things would be a whole lot better if we replaced pi with a number called tau, which is equal to 2π or 6.28. Because many formulas call for 2π, tau-enthusiasts say tau would provide a more elegant and efficient way to express those formulas. Every year on Pi Day, a small debate ensues. While we won’t take sides, we will say that pi is more widely used at NASA because it has applications far beyond geometry, where 2π is found most often. Perhaps most important, though, for pi- and pie-lovers alike is there’s no delicious homonym for tau.

Enjoy the full version of this article HERE.

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Source: NASA

Posted in NASA and tagged Space by cnkguy with no comments yet.