Brownies in the UK have a new space badge thanks to a partnership between the Royal Astronomical Society, the UK Space Agency and Girlguiding UK. For girls age 7-10, the badge “aims to spark girls’ curiosity to explore the universe around them by providing opportunities to develop the skills and confidence to engage in astronomy, planetary and space science,” according to a statement from the organizations. “Badge activities include stargazing with the challenge of identifying constellations on a clear night, creating a sunspot viewer and plotting a sunspot map, and designing an astronaut training programme.”
Once you have bagged your space badge, you could celebrate by taking a selfie that is out of this world using the NASA Selfies app. This puts you in a spacesuit with a selection of back drop images acquired by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. Also new from NASA is the Exoplanet Excursions virtual reality app, which will send you on a tour of the Trappist-1 system of seven exoplanets. Both apps have been released to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the launch of Spitzer.
Moving from infrared astronomy to the detection of gravitational waves, Nikhil Mukund of India’s Inter-University Centre for Astronomy and Astrophysics has created an app called Hey LIGO. Inspired by digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri, Hey LIGO combs through LIGO logbook entries to see if solutions have already been found for specific problems with the huge detectors – something that could save operators a great deal of debugging time.
“If you ask some questions about the interferometer, [Hey LIGO] could intelligently come up with some answers that could help someone in debugging an issue or in knowing more about the detector,” explains Mukund. You can read more about it in Symmetry.