Monday, 7 November 2011

Space, space, and ever more space

So there is this thing called space, and apparently its huge. Unbelievably, mind numbingly huge. And the amount of work devoted to understanding just a small part of it is overwhelming. Well, it is kind of what I signed up for. Currently, I finished up a class called theoretical astrophysics, which I definitely recommend for the first year master students. Mostly because everything in that class is the basis for other classes that you will take.

But that is in the past, let's move to the present...SPACE!! As from late last year, I began a project working on NASA's MMS. Well a small part of it. Just a small project doing quality testing for some Langmuir probes built by the university. Now that project is still underway, but due to some newly discovered heating issues, it has lodged onto a small snag and will be continuing shortly.

Also, I have begun two new classes, SMDP and ObsAstro II. SMDP stands for Space Mission Design Project and it is exactly that. You design a space mission from idea all the way through the feasibility study. It is designed to give students a real world perspective on how "insert random description here" it is in reality (the random description can be any word that is synonymous with hard, fun, frustrating, and rewarding...depending on how you look at it). We have decided to build MATE, which is a set of three scientific satellites designed to study Mars. As the details are highly classified, I cannot go into specifics. :) As for Observational Astrophysics II, we are preparing for a assignment where we get to use the NOT (Nordic Optical Telescope) to view stars and then do data reduction to create what should be some interesting bright circles. Circles may not mean much to you, but if you are like me, and you know that the light from this circle is more than likely many times older than I, then it does indeed become something exciting.

On the thesis front, my project has been determined. I will be doing analysis of Cassini Huygens data from the lower ionosphere of Titan. Titan should be a fairly common word to most readers, but I will indulge those that may need a small reminder. Titan is Saturn's largest moon. It just so happens that this moon has a pretty dense atmosphere filled with organic molecules...hmmm? Life, you may ask? Let's not get ahead of ourselves, For now we will just study the properties of the ions and leave the question of life for another point in time.

Well now it is time to get back to work. It has to be done, someone has to do it, and that someone is me. Hopefully now that things have settled I can keep the updates rolling in more regularly because I am almost to the home stretch and this is the time when things start getting really interesting.

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