Sunday, October 19, 2014

Satellite Blogging

Probably the most amazing Twitter account I have ever seen is the account of an inanimate object - a space satellite, to be specific. This satellite (and its companion satellite) tweets its exploits on a daily basis. The satellite belongs to the European Space Agency (ESA), which itself has quite a sophisticated web presence (their blog is here), and it has been in space for a decade.
The Rosetta spacecraft was designed to intercept a comet. It has spent almost all of the decade traveling out to the comet and lining itself up to join the comet in its journey toward the Sun. As I write it is in orbit around the comet and preparing to launch a small lander that will hopefully not bounce off the comet or crash into it, but instead spear itself into the surface and begin doing its science.

It's a very cute Twitter account, written as if the spacecraft itself was writing the tweets, and linking to a host of online resources - Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, websites, and webcasts. I've been an astronomy buff since I was 10 years old, so when Rosetta caught up with the comet finally this summer, I was quite excited. I'm always looking for a way to add astronomy to my physics classes.

Whenever I have a free 5 minutes or so in class, I put the Twitter feed up on the Smartboard so we can all have a look. The students feel my enthusiasm, and get pretty caught up in the excitement. They also think it's cool that I'm using Twitter and YouTube in the class. I've been doing this since the first week of school.

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