Cosmic Diary Blog hosted at the SETI Institute
An important update for our readers. You may have noticed a lack of activity over the few days on this blog and a significant change in the speed access of this blog. The Cosmic Diary web site is now hosted at the SETI Institute. We will make a few changes in the design which should improve its reliability. More in a few days, please be patient. Thanks to the IT department of the SETI Institute for their help with this new project. F. read more ❯
I am "SETI-less" but not for long.
Last Friday (Aug. 27) I took a picture of my office located at the SETI Institute, Whismann Rd in Mountain View which is attached below. Obviously there is something wrong here, since I am not very known for having an aseptic office. My office is a reflection of my personality and my research. You will find several layers of articles that I "was about to/have to/should" read/revise/finalize/correct, various opened books that I am using on a regular basis, and zillion of hand-writing notes which are important, but understandable only by... read more ❯
SETI REU students 2010 - "This is the end..."
Three weeks ago was the final week of the SETI REU students. It was a busy time for all of us since they had to wrap-up their work, write their report, and give their final presentations. Keaton Burns from UC Berkeley and Bill Freeman from LSU, who worked under my supervision in this program, did a fantastic work over this 10-week internship. Since SETI Institute is a non-profit organization, it is not easy for the SETI researchers to find, attract... read more ❯
Keck AO Observations: Io Volcanism - "Mornes plaines"
It has been a while I did not write anything on this blog. As usual I am late on reporting some news in the world of astronomy. Today I decided to write a short post on observations that we did using the Keck telescope and its AO system about Io. Like last year, my summer is busy with the REU students of the SETI Institute. I will write a specific post on two students who are working with me and their project in a few days. I obtained telescope time at the end of June 2010 with the W.M. Keck II telescope... read more ❯
SETICon in the Bay Area, California (Aug 13-15 2010)
The SETI Institute announced recently that the first SETICon will be held on August 13-15 2010 at Santa Clara in California. This event is dedicated to the general public and will give the possibility to meet the SETI Institute scientists and their colleagues and learn about our research and goals. To celebrate science and exploration, to learn about the SETI research and to meet the main players of this project, the SETICon will take place at the Hyatt Regency of Santa Clara, CA, USA. The goal is to reach all kind of public from 5th graders interested in science to enthusiasts... read more ❯
SETI 25th Anniversary 3/6: life – what, where, how, when?
This is definitely the banner for which I am the least qualified to write about since I am not a biologist. It is, however a very important part of the SETI Institute research that needs to be fully acknowledged and fully described. Astrobiologists from the SETI Institute dedicate their effort to response to these simples. What is life? When did life appear? Where is it coming from? How did life evolve? In their lab they analyze samples of organisms such as extremophile, which are known to live at the edge of what normal organisms could tolerate. These “super-organisms” are found in... read more ❯
SETI Institute Anniversary 1/6: The Milky Way Galaxy
It is getting more and more difficult to find a dark place, without night pollution and far from the smog of the cities, to be able to realize that we are part of a large barred spiral galaxy called the "Milky Way Galaxy". Seen from Earth, our galaxy will appear as a fuzzy arc in the sky commonly called the Milky Way and composed of 200-400 billion stars. This picture taken by Tony Hallas, a mosaic of 24 frames taken in north of California, was shown in APOD on December 25 2009. Our Galaxy is old with an estimated age of... read more ❯
Foggy day & Foggy mind - SETI Anniversary Colloquium
Today I was not sure I will find my office at UC-Berkeley. As you can see on this picture it was not an easy task and I had to rely on my instincts and my phone GPS to find it. 🙂 Anyway, here I am thinking about what should be my priorities in the list of important tasks that I have to do today. Somehow this picture is depicting a bit how I feel about my work today. I mentioned that my priorities for these first 2 months of 2010 were to... read more ❯
Five exoplanets discovered by Kepler - a discussion and a movie
I mentioned on this blog on several occasions (see "the first light") the Kepler mission which aims at detecting exoplanets through the transit method (a.k.a the small attenuation of light due to the passage of the exoplanet between us and the host star). Last week, during the AAS (say "double 'A' 'S'") conference, the Kepler team announced the discovery of the first 5 exoplanets.You may remember that shortly after its first light, the Kepler team published an exquisite lightcurve of a known exoplanet transit called HAT-P-7b. This exoplanet was discovered from the ground by the HATnet survey and was reported by... read more ❯
An update about the LCROSS mission
Last June, I mentioned the LCROSS mission which was aimed at impacting the surface of the Moon. 113 days after its journey, this event indeed happened on October 9 2009. At 04:31 UT the Centaur upper stage rocket hit the surface, followed by LCROSS itself at 04:39 UT. It was recorded by several telescopes located at Hawaii and in the US (where it was visible) and by another NASA spacecraft called Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) in orbit around the moon. The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) was a mission specifically designed for active sensing through impact. The scientists hoped to reveal the... read more ❯
Undergraduate students, our research needs you!
If you are an under-graduate student at UC-berkeley or in the area, and if you have interest in astronomy, you should know that a lot of professors and researchers are looking for motivated students to help them in their research. Very recently, the department of Astronomy at UC-Berkeley opened a web page which list all available research opportunities. There are 15 projects so far in diverse field such as planetary science, galactic and extra-galactic sciences, cosmology which propose to use tools such as data processing, observations or theory. Whatever you like you will find a project that fits you. I have... read more ❯
Summer 2009 - new students and projects
Hello, In one of my first posts I described the group of students who were working with me. Since the end of the semester (beginning of June) my group has changed considerably. I am going to give you an update since I think it is important to acknowledge my students without whom my research could not be done.Brent Macomber who worked with me since September 2006 as a UC-Berkeley under-graduate student, left at the end of May 2009. Over these past 3 years, he has been involved in... read more ❯
Celebrating Science at SETI Institute
Hello, I will be in my Institute at SETI on Saturday with other scientists to be part of the Celebrating Science event. If you live nearby and you want to meet scientists, learn about our institute and our projects, feel free to come.You can find the details (direction, map, time, activities) on the following link. I will most likely talk about the telescope and instrument projects and my research in the field of planetary science. See you there Franck M. PS: back to ESO proposals - 20 more to go. read more ❯
Videos of talks
A post about videos of talk today... Last week, I mentioned that I gave a talk at SETI Institute, my host institution on my research about my research in the field of multiple asteroid systems. The talk was recorded and it can be seen on line on the SETI website or directly here. You can subscribe to the lecture video channel (and know when a new video is available) via iTunes or RSS. With my colleagues at UC-Berkeley, we are organizing a monthly colloquium series under the auspice of the Year of Astronomy 2009. On January 17, Geoff Marcy gave a talk... read more ❯
Talk at SETI today - Tomorrow at UC-Berkeley
Hello, I have just given my talk at SETI Institute. I don't know why it is more stressful to give a talk in your host institution than somewhere else. 🙂 Anyway it went quite well since I talked about my recent work for the study of multiple asteroid systems. This is one of the most interesting works I have done over the last 6 years. I am glad I found a way to summarize it in a concise and logical way. In a few days, the video of my talk will be available on the SETI web site. All our scientific lectures... read more ❯