Top 5 “out of this world” U of M events of 2014
In 2014 U of M people explored the far reaches of space from the comforts of Winnipeg.
A team of amateur astronomers at the Glenlea Astronomical Observatory south of Winnipeg managed to capture a video image of an asteroid passing in front of a star. The astronomical event, called an occultation, is rare and difficult to observe, and the astronomers’ ability to observe it required a great deal of skill — so much skill that an international astronomy magazine profiled their work online.
Neil deGrasse Tyson, acclaimed astrophysicist and television personality, gave his first lecture at a Canadian university — the University of Manitoba — on March 13 to more than 3,000, rather raucous, people. The cheering when he came out on stage was similar to what you’d hear at a rock concert. Science is indeed cool.
Tuesday, July 15 was an exciting afternoon at the 2014 Space Adventure Camp at the University of Manitoba as participants took to the skies with rockets and drones. Earlier in the week the Space Campers constructed model rockets which were sent soaring hundreds of meters into the air (with the assistance of a little rocket fuel).
The Honourable Michelle Rempel, Minister of State for Western Economic Diversification has announced $2.4 million in support to the University of Manitoba towards establishing a world class satellite integration facility. The Magellan Aerospace / University of Manitoba Advanced Satellite Integration Facility (ASIF) will be used for research, development and the construction and testing of satellite components.
“The timing is excellent, because NASA has begun work on a satellite that will take global soil moisture readings, and they’ve asked for my collaboration. Their satellite can only sense a few inches below the surface but I’ll take deeper readings for them to create a more complete picture.”
Our resident astronomy expert, Chris Rutkowski, has also collected some of the most incredible stories of space exploration of 2014. The final frontier was a fascinating place this past year.
A lot of hope and expectation has been placed on the commercialization of space. When SpaceX was to send its first payload to the International Space Station, this would have heralded the new era of space exploration and development. What will this mean to private spaceflight?
New Horizons spacecraft now nearing Pluto
This spacecraft was sent to Pluto when it was still considered a planet! It’s been ten years en route and will in a matter of about eight months give our first good look at what was once our most distant (but still not an exoplanet) Solar System companion.
Orion spacecraft successful test flight
NASA’s replacement heavy-lifting body finally completed its first test flight. After the Space Shuttle program wound down, NASA needed something for our next step into the universe. This is the spacecraft that will be used when humans head for Mars in about 15 to 20 years.
Rosetta’s Philae Lander touches down on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko
When Rosetta landed on a comet, it marked a significant milestone in that it was the first landing on an astronomical body that wasn’t a planet or moon. Sure, it bounced and ended up tucked underneath an overhanging rock so that its batteries died two days after it got there, but it was still a remarkable feat of engineering.
Two astronomy-related films nominated for Golden Globes (Interstellar and Theory of Everything)
For Hollywood to have two astronomy-films in theatres in time for the major awards (including the Oscars) is pretty rare. Interstellar is about humans’ eventual destiny in space, whereas The Theory of Everything is the biopic of Stephen Hawking, the guy who imagined the universe.
Chris Rutkowski is a Canadian science writer and educator with a background in astronomy who’s been studying reports of UFOs and writing about his investigations and research since the mid-1970s.
>> See more Best of 2014 lists here.