SETI SuperStar Award

This blog has won February’s SETI SuperAward, but, somehow I didn’t know it until today…maybe I wasn’t pointing in the proper direction to pick up the signal so far…

As stated on the site, the “SETI SuperStar Award carries with it no cash honorarium or any other consideration. Appropriate recognition is the sole prize.” but for me represents a lot, represents above all that people are enjoying the work done here.

And what does this mean?
That we should work harder!

Let’s not keep the pace, let’s improve it!

An heartfelt O-B-R-I-G-A-D-O! to the fantastic crew of collaborators.

Rui Borges



On June 16th, Scientific American posted a quite amazing, quite historic story on its web site that went largely unnoticed by the Outside World. Outside the astronomy community that is; more specifically, outside the residents of the Wisteria Lane of the astronomy community that is interested in the hunt for and study of exo-planets – planets that circle other stars Out There in the Great Black.

The SciAm story was announcing that KEPLER, the planet-hunting telescope, has identified more than 700 candidate planets in orbit around faraway, alien suns. That on its own made the story exciting. But tucked away in the report was one line, one quote, that when I read it literally made the hairs on the back of my neck stand on end…

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Classification of Interstellar Radio Messages

During the preparation and transmission of any interstellar radio messages (IRMs), some scientific and technological issues need to be addressed. The paper «Messaging to Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence» (METI) [1] lists nine of such issues. We propose to rank planned and already sent IRMs depending on how well three basic METI’s issues are resolved in them. These basic issues are the following: (1) choice of the target stars, (2) energy required per bit of the information, and (3) availability of a special digital or analog key to allow Aliens to decode our message, [2]. In order to rank IRMs, it is necessary to find out whether there are serious concerns regarding of how these three issues were addressed.

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The gods of the Earth will wait for us in the distance

An always tricky subject has been the naming of exoplanets, with their number quickly rising it will not be far in the future that we will reach the first thousand of planets discovered beyond the Solar System.

Will we keep naming them as catalog entries or will we move towards another direction? One that can capture the imagination of the world’s people?

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Spirit. Your quest, our quest.

How can words fail you and emotion take over when you speak about a machine?
How can metal and wires give you a knot on your throat, make your eyes go teary and your heart to squeeze?
You become part of my life, everyday during these last 6 years, during its ups and downs, there you were, there we were, side by side in our hardships and glories, entangled in our far apart existences, I, from here, enticing you to go Onward! Always Onward…only to find myself amazed by listening to you, from the cold, harsh distance of Mars, whispering to me that everything is possible. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G.

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Behind the scenes @ Cassini – A guided tour with Sarah Milkovich

I have a multiplanetary working life.  It’s gotten rather complicated.

Half of my time, I am a science planning engineer on Cassini, and the other half of my time I am the Investigation Scientist for the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.  (Sometimes it seems like the hardest part of operating spacecraft is getting the work done in between all the meetings.)

Today I’m going to talk to you a little bit about some of my work for Cassini.  I hope you’ve been following along with us last year as we observed the Saturn equinox (check out all our great images on the Astronomy Photo of the Day archives!) and had some fabulous moon flybys.

Cassini is a hugely complicated spacecraft to operate, and there are a large number of people who work behind the scenes to get the stunning data that you see online.  I want to give you a taste of the amount of effort, and the many decisions, that get made by a lot of people who you rarely ever hear about in the press releases.

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Editor’s quicknote

These words have as single objective, to congratulate one of Beyond the Cradle collaborators for her latest success.

Sarah Milkovich has become, officially, the HiRISE investigation scientist.

In a recent exchange of words, Sarah expressed her hapiness for being back “on” Mars and the window for new stories back here at BtC is now open after a time where…well…time wasn’t abundant.

So,  dear Sarah, here I am, waiting by the mailbox, waiting for you, your Mars, your HiRISE, your writing, and for that cold to go away fast.

Knowing how happy you are with the recent news and how long  the battle has been let me just tell you how proud I am to count with you, to learn with you, onboard this vessel of adventure, discovery and knowledge.