Institute for Astronomy - 2

From: Laura Bashlor <>
Subject: Institute for Astronomy - 2
Date: Mon, 16 Sep 1996 18:12:33 -0400

Here is another interesting message from Jim Harwood.  It sounds like
our Advocates from Hawaii could have a wonderful contact in Jim.


Hi, Laura Lou-

        Thanks for the update on the Passport to Knowledge project.  I
guess Hawaii has a couple of representatives in the project.  Earlier this
year, there was a national NASA program (maybe the same one you are involved
in) whereby school kids on the Mainland could participate in astronomy
research on Mauna Kea through a computer/sattelite link.  As it happens, there
was a major volcanic outbreak on Jupiter's moon Io during the observing
session, right before the students' eyes on their screens.  (Of course, it isn't
as plain as a volcano on Earth; just a varying hot spot in the IR.) 
Anyway, I'll bet the most interesting thing for the students was watching how
the astronomers went non-linear, rather than the blob on the screen changing
in intensity.
        Yes, feel free to use those URL's.  They are from public funded
sources.  Hope they are useful.  And send along the URL of your
Advocates project.  Looks fascinating!  We need to counter the current trend
towards scientific illiteracy.
        Mars is my planet.  One of my first jobs was building an
instrument to measure the relative depth of the Martian atmosphere (from Earth of
course; this was the late '60's.)  The instrument, which was very
sensitive to CO2, would scan the image of Mars and read out the depth of the
atmosphere at each point; this would give a contour map of the planet's
surface, and show major mountains and valleys.  An astronomer and I did
the experiment at Flagstaff Observatory.  (The telescopes on Mauna Kea were
under construction.)  Unfortunately, we had the dynamic range set wrong
and so missed the great volcanoes and chasms; the instrument was sensitive
enough to have detected them, 10 years before Viking.  That's one that
got away.  Science is full of such stories.

        Jim Harwood
        Institute for Astronomy, U.H.