Benjamin Burress has been a staff astronomer at Chabot Space & Science Center since July 1999. He graduated from Sonoma State University in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in physics (and minor in astronomy), after which he signed on for a two-year stint in the Peace Corps, where he taught physics and mathematics in the African nation of Cameroon. From 1989-96 he served on the crew of NASA’s Kuiper Airborne Observatory at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. From 1996-99, he was Head Observer at the Naval Prototype Optical Interferometer program at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.
Ben Burress's Latest Posts
The European Space Agency's Planck mission has generated a map of the infant universe that refines our understanding of what it's all made of and has upped its age by 100 million years.
As a space-faring culture, we have now left our marks across the solar system, on planets, moons, asteroids, and in the empty space between them. Some of these “marks” are yet-functioning robotic spacecraft. Some are litter, scattered about the place like so many discarded soda cans, plastic grocery bags, depleted batteries, and defunct electronic devices. Are we trashing our solar system?
Since the first extra-solar planet was found in 1992, we've made some decent progress in exploring other worlds out there, and may even be zeroing in on that "other Earth."
The comparison between Earth-side mountain exploration and the planned expedition by the Mars rover Curiosity came to my mind as I read a book my family got me over the holidays: Last Climb, the story of the legendary Mount Everest expeditions of George Leigh Mallory.
NASA is preparing to make a big announcement concerning Mars and a recent discovery by the SAM instrument on board the rover Curiosity, though has qualified the nature of the announcement to scientifically interesting, and not "earth-shaking" as the blogosphere has hyped it in speculation.
As bizarre as black holes have been depicted in science fiction, the reality of black holes as described by science is far stranger.
Space exploration has caught up with science fiction (again): we have deployed laser-armed nuclear-powered robot on Mars, and nearly two weeks after landing, NASA's Mars Science Laboratory, the rover Curiosity, has fired that weapon on a Martian rock.
Last Sunday, NASA scored a long-distance touchdown…on Mars! The Mars Science Laboratory, nicknamed "Curiosity" is the largest, most complex spacecraft ever to have set down on the Red Planet.