Among its many effects, the U. What is the National Space Council and what will it do?
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A look back through history provides some possible answers. A proposal released earlier this month calls for a giant orbiting space telescope that may revolutionize astronomy. Are we really doing enough to find asteroids, especially the smaller ones that could destroy a city?
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A private initiative urges a rapid ramp-up of the search effort — but not everyone agrees. Despite funding pushback in the House of Representatives, NASA is full steam ahead in plans for its asteroid retrieval mission. Thanks to a detector carried across interplanetary space aboard NASA's Curiosity rover, researchers now have a much clearer idea of radiation exposure that future astronauts will endure when traveling to and from Mars.
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From international travel to interplanetary probes, the U. Not content to let private companies have all the fun in asteroid exploration and exploitation, NASA managers have proposed a high-flying mission that would capture a small asteroid and dispatch astronauts to study it — all within the next decade. It worked because they loved what they were learning. Astronomy techniques are also used across sectors from conservation to medical imaging.
It has ten regional and language centers. Three are in Africa, in Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia.
What We Study
The global coordinating office is situated in South Africa. Our challenge as astronomers is not only to grow the discipline in Africa.
The funding we disburse has been used to run a number of programs aimed at developing skills among school and university students. One of these was the Madagascar Astronomy Python Workshop in It focused on practical coding in the Python programming language for university students and lecturers. The aim was to build on astronomy tools that participants can develop for their own research and teaching, not necessarily in the field of astronomy.
This not only dealt with education. It also tackled the large gender disparity in science, technology, engineering and maths fields, which can be a complex, socio-cultural issue in many regions. Students must learn science in a way that allows them to build their repertoire of transferable skills.
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These workshops focus on direct transfer of specific skills in an informal but intense learning environment. To support this need and bridge the data science and astronomy communities, the Office of Astronomy for Development hosts a repository for data science resources and code examples.
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One of our projects, Accessible Citizen Science for the Developing World , has married health issues with astronomy skills through running a proof-of-concept type intervention. Retinal defects are common, but curable. Peek Vision , a social enterprise that works to bring better vision and health to everyone, developed a retinal imaging device that can be easily used, even in rural Kenya, with an Android phone.
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