April 19, 2005Pristine Sedna
Isolation has its benefits. Sedna, the most distant known object orbiting the Sun, appears to have avoided significant collisions with other bodies for millions of years. Recent spectroscopic infrared light studies of the strange planetoid's surface indicate Sedna has dodged significant bullets. The data also shows Sedna may lack large amounts of water or methane ice.
Astronomers at Gemini Observatory and CalTech observed Sedna using the Near Infrared Imager (NIRI) at Gemini North, atop Mauna Kea, Hawaii. The NIRI data lacked strong spectral lines that would indicate the existence of ice. Further, deeper studies of the planetoid may show limited existence of ice. — Jeremy McGovernBots to battle in northern California this Saturday
Robotic teams operated by California middle and high school students will square off this Saturday at Santa Clara University in the Northern California Botball Robotics Tournament.
Botball is an international program sponsored by NASA that encourages engineering, math, science, and technology education. Participating students are given seven weeks to design, build, and program two microcontrolled robots constructed of LEGOs.
Participants compete against each other on a 4-foot by 8-foot playing field in non-destructive matches. Robots are student-built and computer-programmed to maneuver on the game board. Once the game starts, students step back and the robots must start, stop, and play the game by themselves without being guided by remote control.
Upcoming Botball tournaments will be held in New York, Pittsburgh, and Doha, Qatar.
For more information, visit the Botball web site
. — Jeremy McGovern