Master’s Project: Gravity Probe B

Well, here it is — the 15th and FINAL poster for my Digital Media Studies Master’s Project. Gravity Probe B was launched in 2004 to test two predictions from Einstein’s theory of general relativity. It was led by the physics department at Stanford, and I actually remember hearing about it when I was a grad student there in 2001-2002. The spacecraft had a telescope which sighted a star in Pegasus as a reference, and precisely measured tiny changes in the direction of spin of four gyroscopes. 

Fun facts: The gyros themselves were (at the time) the most nearly spherical objects ever made — perfectly round to within 40 atoms (yes, atoms). Because of the precise orbit required by the mission, the launch window was only 1 second long. And (spoiler alert!) the data gathered by Gravity Probe B over a 12-month period confirmed Einstein’s predictions. That dude was pretty smart, in case you haven’t heard.

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And thus, my project is done. Yesterday I turned in my final binder with my entire narrative that will be printed, bound, and stored in the UHCL library until the end of time…or for a while, anyway. Ironically, the final product doesn’t actually include full-size prints of my posters — only reduced files printed on normal 8.5 x 11″ paper. It’s hopefully undergoing review by my advisor and the dean’s office right now.

The logistics involved in getting the whole thing submitted have been a disaster, but I’m going to forego public ranting on that topic for now.

Overall, I am happy with how my project turned out, and I am even happier to be done. As you can imagine, I’m pretty burned out on making posters of space missions at the moment, but if I ever decide to revisit this series there are several missions still on my list — Deep Impact, Stardust, Dawn, Pioneer, Luna, and Genesis to name several. Heck, I could do a whole series of Mars missions alone — Viking, Pathfinder, MGS, MRO, Spirit, Opportunity, Phoenix…well, you get the idea.

(Previously: CuriositySputnikNew HorizonsVeneraSOHOCassiniVoyagerHubble,GalileoRosettaMESSENGERHayabusaChang’e, Kepler)

Easter in Corpus

We took a quick trip down to Corpus Christi to celebrate Easter with Jose’s family. It was a fun get-together as usual, and Emma had a great time running around (in her new dress!) and smashing cascarones for the first time. The weather was great and both Jose and I ended up sunburned (but not Emma thankfully). There was food and fun and more food and more fun.

Without further ado, some photos from our day:

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Emma’s preferred cascarone-smashing method was to poke her finger through the tissue paper on the end and then shake all the confetti out. She went through at least a couple dozen in this manner, which was pretty cute.

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Jose on a random pink scooter.

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Family volleyball game! Let’s just say none of us should attempt to join a volleyball team anytime soon.

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Naptime for Emma. One of the other kids was particularly enamored of her, and let her borrow his Kirby doll when she was cranky from being tired. It was really sweet, and Emma was pretty appreciative.

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The park where we spent the day was not exactly ripe with good egg-hiding spots, so they ended up just strewn across the grass for what ended up being a mad dash by the kids to grab as many as they could. I “hid” at least a couple in more challenging places like in the weeds by the creek and stuck in the volleyball net.

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We left the park a little before 4 and went back to Jose’s mom’s house long enough to grab our stuff. From there we hit the road and finally got back around 10:30. Having Emma has turned what was a 4-hour drive into nearly 5 hours since we now have to stop and sit down somewhere for meals.

Master’s Project: Kepler

Here’s #14 of my Digital Media Studies Master’s Project. Kepler is an orbital observatory sort of like Hubble, but with a very specific purpose — it’s a planet hunter. It trails behind us orbiting the sun and never wavers from looking at the same spot in the sky. There are thousands of stars in its field of view, and Kepler can detect minute changes in brightness caused by planets passing in front of some of those stars. Just last week it found the first Earth-sized planet located in the “habitable” zone around another star!

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Fun fact: I always pictured Kepler in my head as something around the same size as Hubble, or around the size of the space shuttle’s payload bay. Turns out it’s a lot smaller! The main sensor is less than 1 meter in diameter, and the whole thing is only ~16 feet in length. Small but powerful!

(Previously: CuriositySputnikNew HorizonsVeneraSOHOCassiniVoyagerHubble, GalileoRosetta, MESSENGER, Hayabusa, Chang’e)