Author: @milkywaykiwi

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News from the Solar System

In New Zealand, Space Starts with Sheep; a new season is about to open for exoplanets as scientists discover an efficient method to predict microlensing; Earth’s Moon to be used as a giant radio telescope; “Hello, Andromeda calling”, gravitational waves might be used to carry information; 1500 km long water cloud appears on Mars after the planet-wide storm from last month, while InSider probe has only one month left hurling through space, and will land on Mars in November; scientists narrow down the landing sites for Mars 2020 rover;  change of plans, why not land among the clouds of Venus? Hubble and Chandra telescopes have been repaired, mostly by switching them on and off and stay tuned for the position of Uranus in the sky.

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News from the Solar System

Riding on Elon Musk’s muscle power earthlings are preparing to invade the Moon again. There they will find that some of its craters have been renamed to honour the Apollo 8 mission, the first to orbit our natural satellite 50 years ago. Venus is hailed by the Parker Solar probe that swings by it, Jupiter’s Moon Europa has 15 meters ice spikes on the surface and Saturn’s rings are not just water nor all the lost airline luggage. Mars has to resign to the idea that earthlings have figured out how to grow plants on it. Not even perchlorates can stop them. And last but not least, New Horizons is unstoppable going towards Ultima Thule.

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My internship at NASA Ames – What is NASA

Last month, the New Zealand Government – The New Zealand Space Agency together with the US Embassy have announced four scholarships at NASA Ames, the same place I have been in 2014. There were media outlets in New Zealand that publicised this as an astronaut training opportunity, but this internship is no astronaut training school although it might lead to becoming one. This, and the knowledge that you don’t need to be an astronaut to work in the space industry, prompted me to want to share from my experience at NASA and give an overview of what to realistically expect from these internships.

Life on and off Earth, from Rotorua

Ever wanted to work for NASA? Or learn about astrobiology from New Zealand? Join us to find out what’s an astrobiologist, why should one visit New Zealand, how the hot springs here in Rotorua are putting it on the astrobiology map, what are NASA plans for sending people on Mars and what you need to do to work there at NASA, jobs of the future, Twizel and artificial intelligence.

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The sky of February – only the brightest!

Getting to know the southern sky is for ever a wonderfully strange experience. In any new place that I visit I always feel grateful for landmarks. On Earth, I am looking for trees and buildings and mountains, in the sky I always look for the brightest stars. Here in New Zealand, there are places and times when the light of the individual stars is lost in the haze of the Milky Way as if a blanket of tiny lights is covering the Earth at night.

Moon stuff…

A silver metallic Moon has shown up at my bedroom’s window.

Its hidden through a veil of grey thin clouds, which seem to be pressing against the jagged mountain line in straight horizontal banding. She, who used to be a huge and round disk of bright light, is now smudged in all directions, with charcoal of darkness.

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The sky of June – The Rising of the Galaxy

Out I went and nothing prepared me for what I saw that night. On the pitch dark sky of Wairarapa, with luscious hills that hold the horizon in sweet curves that rest the eye, a luminous whirlpool of stars was erupting from the east. Silver river of stars, one of its arms was meandering the eastern horizon in oval arched loops like an octopus’s arm that passed a Southern Cross marking the 12 o’clock position on the celestial time keeper of the south. The galactic arm was thinning down towards the western horizon and righteously so as the further we go from Scorpius and Sagittarius, we are actually looking towards the outskirts of our galaxy, where fewer stars venture. I stood there in silence watching the slow rising of the Galaxy and I realised that it was for the first time in my life when I was truly seeing it with my eyes.