Weekend guide: Fusion Fridays, open house at JPL, and freebie day at Museums of the Arroyo

Friday, May 14
  • Fusion Fridays at Pacific Asia Museum
Premiering Friday is Pacific Asia Museum’s dynamic summertime mix of art, conversation, music, dance, drinks and food — from your favorite mobile gourmet food like The Sweets Truck and Frysmith. Cocktail attire or Asian-fusion dress encouraged. This month’s event, held in the courtyard and throughout the museum complex, highlights the art of India and Pakistan through Bhangra DJ music, dance performances, mehndi body art and a miniature art project celebrating current PacAsia Museum exhibits.
$10 admission; free for members. Friday, 7:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m., 46 N. Los Robles Ave., pacificasiamuseum.org
(File photos)
More after the jump.

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Week in science: Oil spill threat spreads | James Cameron helping to bring 3-D to Mars | A monster jellyfish of the deep

Image: Dr. Erica Miller, left, and Danene Birtell with Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research work Friday to help a Northern Gannet bird, normally white when full grown, which is covered in oil from a massive spill in the Gulf of Mexico, at a facility in Fort Jackson, La. (AP Image)

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    The still-spreading Gult Coast oil spill is threatening to become a full-fledged environmental disaster that may eclipse Exxon Valdez in cost and impact. [WaPo]

    • Today, the Obama administration put pressure on BP America to do more to stop the leak and clean up its aftermath. [NYT]
      • Experts and volunteers are scrambling to aid the wildlife affected by the spill. [Discovery News]

        Image: This satellite photo provided by NASA shows the oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico as it closes in on the Pass a Loutre area of Plaquemines Parish, La. (NASA photo)

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        Week in science: Hubble telescope celebrates 20 years | Spitzer ‘tastes’ a methane-free planetary puzzler | Adoptive parents bring biases to process


          The Hubble Space Telescope is celebrating its 20th anniversary. In the spirit of the occasion, the famous telescope has captured this phantasmagorical image deep within the Carina Nebula. Not too shabby for a telescope with two decades under its belt. NASA and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team describe it best: “This craggy fantasy mountaintop enshrouded by wispy clouds looks like a bizarre landscape from Tolkien’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’ or a Dr. Seuss book, depending on your imagination. The NASA Hubble Space Telescope image, which is even more dramatic than fiction, captures the chaotic activity atop a three-light-year-tall pillar of gas and dust that is being eaten away by the brilliant light from nearby bright stars. The pillar is also being assaulted from within, as infant stars buried inside it fire off jets of gas that can be seen streaming from towering peaks.” [NASA and Discovery News]

        Image: Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 observed the pillar of gas and dust within the Carina Nebula, 7,500 light-years away in the southern constellation Carina. (NASA, ESA, and M. Livio and the Hubble 20th Anniversary Team)

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        Week in science: Donner Party cannibalism in question | JPL satellites eye Iceland volcano chain | Striking images from Saturn


        • A bone to pick: Was the Donner Party’s legendary cannibalism just a myth? A new study of the bones found at the Donner’s campsite in California’s Sierra Nevadas suggests the snowbound pioneers may not have eaten each other after all. [DISCOVERY NEWS]
        Image: James F. Reed and his wife, Margret W. Keyes Reed, seen in this file photo taken in the 1850s, were survivors of the tragic Donner Party. (AP Photo)

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        The week in science: Space station rendezvous, a WISE-eyed beauty and bullets of sound


        • Space shuttle Discovery docked at the International Space Station early Wednesday, after a rare antenna breakdown that knocked out radar tracking. Today, a pair of astronauts completed a spacewalk to disconnect an old, empty ammonia tank outside the station, and they prepared a new one to replace it. [Star-News]

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        Role-playing at JPL: Send your name to Mars and build your own space mission without leaving home


        As part of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program, you can now send your name on a microchip to Mars. That’s right: This is your (probably only) chance to go to Mars, even if only in name.
        The Mars Science Laboratory rover, which will be exploring the red planet to determine if its environment is habitable, heads to Mars in 2011. Your name could be there, or be … not on Mars.
        Less real, but with even more interactive fun for you and the kidlets: Build your own space mission on the JPL Web site.
        You get to:
        • Design your Mii-like scientist/engineer
        • Equip your laboratory with data-capturing devices
        • Choose an orbiter or rover as your spacecraft
        • Outfit it with more information-gathering instruments
        • Select a destination like Mars, Saturn, its moon Titan or Earth
        • Launch your rocket — with a countdown and everything
        • Study your destination and collect data and samples to send back to Earth
        And, at the end of it all, NASA always requests that you build a new mission! How’s that for positive reinforcement? (And, no, I have not played it three times already today.)
        That’s me, below, in my casual-Friday look. I actually use two of those three instruments in my real-life job.
        37339-RBLOG-MII-SCIENCE.jpg(Photos via JPL/NASA)

        A sky-high bonus for BCS fans — and anyone who cares to look up



        A fun tip from the Twitter feed run by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory: The International Space Station will make a visible pass from 5:23 p.m. to 5:28 p.m. tonight, heading from southwest to northeast.

        It’s just a stellar “added bonus for those attending tonite’s BCS game.”

        If you can stand to look away from the early action on the field, definitely glance toward the sky during those five minutes for some extra excitement.

        How will you know what to look for? Here are some guidelines from the Hayden Planetarium in New York:

        “Because of its size and configuration of highly reflective solar
        panels, the space station is now, by far, the brightest man-made object
        currently in orbit around the Earth. On favorable passes, it can appear
        as bright as the planet Venus …”

        While the ISS looks like a moving star to the unaided eye, those who
        have been able to train a telescope on it have actually been able to
        detect its T-shape as it has whizzed across their field of view. Some
        have actually been able to track the ISS with their scope by moving it
        along the projected path. Those who have gotten a good glimpse describe
        the body of the Space Station as a brilliant white, while the solar
        panels appear a coppery red.
        For evening passes, the ISS will usually start out rather dim and then
        tend to grow in brightness as it moves across the sky.”

        Want to know when other spacecraft will be flying overhead? There’s an app(let) for that.

        (Getty Images)

        That’s genius: ‘E.T., e-mail home’ and other adventures in deep-space Internet with JPL’s Scott Burleigh



        Scott Burleigh of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory is one among a consortium of scientists and computer programmers working to turn interplanetary Internet from science fiction to reality.

        The deep-space Internet, which had to be specially designed to withstand the tumult of extraterrestrial existence, has already been tested by NASA and may be up and running for practical use on real missions in the blink of a Space Eye.

        The new networking protocols that make up this Internet are delay-tolerant, so as to protect and pass on data even amid the regular transmission glitches that happen, for example, when a spacecraft moves behind a celestial body or a solar storm flares up.

        The interplanetary Internet even has potential terrestrial applications that could benefit life here on Earth. Read more about them — and Burleigh — in Rose Magazine, below.

        At top, an artist’s concept of interplanetary internet, courtesy of NASA/JPL. Portrait by Walt Mancini/Staff.