Robots: Doing What We Can’t in Space
by Jim Keller
Today, the farthest humans can go into space is the International Space Station, two hundred and forty miles above the surface of Earth. Humans have never ventured farther than the Moon, roughly 230,000 miles from home.
Today, robotic explorers are crawling on the surface of another planet, chasing asteroids, and even voyaging out beyond the edge of our solar system over, 13 billion miles away. Why are robots doing all the cool, science-fiction stuff?
There are a lot of good reasons to use robots in space instead of humans. First of all, we’re kind of squishy. Robots can be built to withstand the deadly environments in space, anything from extreme heat to extreme cold, vacuum, high-radiation, and more, without getting killed. Robots can also be built with sensors we don’t have, like magnetometers, spectrometers, and the ability to see ultraviolet and infrared light. In short, robots are doing things we can’t.
Even if it’s something we hope humans will do eventually, it’s important to send robots first. NASA landed seven Surveyor robots on the Moon before… Continue reading in the Fall 2019 issue.
Lancaster – Palmdale
by Jim Keller
Lancaster and Palmdale form a metropolitan area with deep roots in Aerospace in the Mojave Desert in northern Los Angeles County. Known for summer heat and Joshua trees, the area is renowned for its desert beauty.
In some years, a springtime bloom of wildflowers paints the desert green, orange, yellow, and purple.
Nearby–using California’s skewed definition of nearby–is Edwards Air Force Base, where Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier and the space shuttle used to land. The specially modified 747 used to transport space shuttles is on display at the Palmdale’s Joe Davies Heritage Airpark, an aircraft museum featuring about 20 planes… Continue reading in the Fall 2019 issue.
by Elliot Thorpe
Those of you who are musicians are fully aware of the relation of the pitch of a musical note and the length of the string that produces it.
The discovery of this relationship was attributed to Pythagoras some 2,500 years ago. He subsequently proposed that our Sun, the Earth’s moon, and all the planets (then discovered) all emitted their own hum, uniquely based on their orbital revolution. He also suggested that quality of life on Earth itself reflected the pitch of said hum. Plato furthered this notion by saying that astronomy and music were naturally twinned together because of the mathematical knowledge required to understand them. Aristotle came by and basically said all that was rubbish, that Pythagoras was being beard-stroking, overly poetic, and if there was such a hum created by the planets, it’d be so loud as to outdo the largest most ferocious thunderstorm, and we’d all be deaf by tea time.
Anyway, this Pythagorean concept was named musica universalis, literally translated as ‘universal music’ or as it’s more commonly known, Music of the Spheres. … continue reading the Fall 2019 issue of SEARCH.
Author Spotlight on Jim Keller
Location: Los Angeles County
What made you interested in writing for this issue of SEARCH magazine? A friend of mine used to be on the SEARCH staff. She introduced me to the magazine, and I enjoyed the all-ages format. When she told me about the spacethemed issue, I was like, “Wait! Space science is what I write. I think I’m morally obligated to pitch something…”
What was your favorite thing to do as a child? Harassing my siblings. Isn’t that the favorite pastime of every child with siblings? 🙂
Do you have a hot tip for us? You won’t believe this, … continue reading in the Fall 2019 issue of SEARCH.
Once a Space Cadet, Always a Space Cadet
by Tim Reynolds
“Hello. My name is Tim, and I’m a Space Cadet.”
You laugh, but I am a Space Cadet, or better, a Space Fanatic. I always have been. I was born just before Yuri Gagarin went into orbit, and my childhood was spent watching the Space Race from the rug in the rec room right along with Dad, a former Navy pilot. Clutched tightly in one hand was my Major Matt Mason action figure because the whole idea of man landing on the moon fascinated me. The Moon! That waxing, waning white-grey shiny thingy hanging in the sky above the house!
I even built a monstrous (for me) plastic model of Saturn V rocket with removable Command and Lunar Modules. But a model, an action figure, and an old black and white television were all so abstract. They got me excited, but it wasn’t until the Ontario Science Centre opened in September 1969 (two months after Neil and Buzz stepped foot onto luna firma) that my love of space reached escape velocity. In that wondrous building were housed a real NASA spacesuit, a mock-up of the Command Module that I could actually sit in and flick switches and a Lunar Module Eagle simulator!
I spent hours trying to land that sucker on the “moon” and imagined that NASA themselves would pick the next crop of astronauts from the kids who could successfully land that Eagle onto that Sea of Tranquility. Sadly, I was never able to master the skill, and today I’m sure that’s why … Read more in the Fall 2019 issue
DIY Solar System
by Suzanne Madron
Remember those solar system science projects from grade school? This solar system gets an upgrade while also being a fun kid-friendly project.
Van Gogh’s Starry Night influenced the solar system in this project, using swirls of bright colors, but it is just as easily adapted for a more realistic looking solar system as well.
- Foam balls of varying sizes for the planets. It is recommended to have a few extra if you plan to make the moon, etc. it is definitely a good plan to have extras in case of painting mishaps.
- Wooden or metal skewer rods
- Board canvas large and enough to hold your solar system, or several if you plan to stretch the system over multiple canvases for effect
- Acrylic paint (a typical set which includes the colors of the rainbow, plus black, brown, and white)
- Paint brushes of various sizes
A New Frontier for the National Solar Observatory, New Mexico
by Michele Roger
In 2016 and 2017, the National Solar Observatory was drowning amidst scandal and neglect. It was yet another nationally science based tourist site falling into ruin. Telescopes were no longer in working order, staff nowhere to be found, and entire sections closed to the public.
It was presumed by many that the entire facility would be shut down for good by summer of 2017. Then, despite a sea of bad news, a helping hand became a new chapter in the space observatory.
Thankfully, New Mexico State University breathed life back into the site in the late summer of 2017. Students became docents, giving tours filled with enthusiasm. Funding from the university trickled in and slowly repairs to equipment were made and features of the building restored. The result? Tourism is beginning to flood the area once more. The National Solar Observatory is becoming a place where people of all ages are falling in love with the stars, space, and the skies above, once again … continue reading the Fall 2019 issue
Fall Editor’s Letter
The intrigue of space is undeniable. Whether it is the romantic glow of the moon, questions about our place in the universe, or pure scientific wonder that drives our imagination, we long to know more. The vast night sky demands that we raise our eyes from our everyday problems and recognize a different perspective.
Perhaps one day mankind will travel beyond our small sphere. Until then, we must celebrate the successes of our robots as they visit Mars and travel beyond the edge of our solar system, gathering knowledge to improve our lives and expand our understanding of what is possible. They can explore much more inexpensively and without risking an astronaut’s life.
While we perfect our science and consider options, we study images from far away, reap the benefits of material and engineering innovations, and speculate on what is still to be discovered. We may not travel in style, like Elon Musk’s red Tesla, but humans are curious and driven. So, enjoy a star-shaped cookie, paint a planet diorama, and consider what the future may bring to the exploration of space.
Heather Roulo/Editorial Director
We’re Going to the Zoo, Zoo, Zoo
by Michele Roger
The roars, the crowds and well, the smells; it’s all part of the excitement that accompanies a trip to the zoo. For some patrons on the autism spectrum, it’s some of these same aspects of a day at the zoo that can make it a challenge.
Zoos from around the world have come to appreciate that everyone experiences the zoo in their own way and have set up programs to help everyone enjoy the beauty and splendor of the animals.
Established in 1826, the London Zoo sits at the north edge of Regent’s Park between West Minster and Camden. The London Zoo is known for being the first zoo to open a reptile house in 1849, as well as the first children’s zoo in 1938.
In keeping with its pioneering tradition, London was one of the first zoos to create a digital package for autistic students attending with their school. The interactive, digital tour and printable pack is meant to be used ahead of the visit. The online tour goes through … continue reading the Summer 2019 issue.
by Donna Medina
Summer is approaching, and with it comes a lot of opportunities to get moving in the outdoors. While you might not wish to give up your studio and gym workouts totally, you might wish to consider squeezing in some of these activities whenever you can. We’ve pulled together some of the most typical outdoor activities you can do to get you ready for outdoors this coming summer.
WALKING This is one of the easiest ways to get fit outdoors. Brisk walking regularly can enhance the health of your lungs, heart, and circulatory system. According to CDC, ten minutes of brisk walking, three times per day for five days a week is enough to strengthen your aerobic health.
RUNNING Like walking, running helps enhance your cardiovascular fitness. … Continue reading in the Summer 2019 issue.