Blue Dot’s Astronomy Research Project is the original work which launched our organization. There may be no other human endeavor which quite captures people’s imagination, regardless of age or background, quite like astronomy. It is fully inclusive and a celebration of human discovery. Whether you are eighty years old or eight, we have found that looking up at the stars in the night sky is a wondrous experience which leads to fundamental questions about why we are here, where we came from and where we are going.
The Astronomy Research Project has several facets including visual observation, photography and astronomical research in the form of published papers. Blue Dot has access to several telescopes including two eight inch newtonian reflectors and a fourteen inch research grade scope. We are currently working closely with the San Diego Astronomy Association in order to get a permanent, robotic observatory built east of San Diego. Blue Dot offers courses for students and adults in wide field, deep field and planetary astrophotography. We also are available to do star parties for schools and private organization.
We also offer courses in astronomy up to and can support students in publishing research on binary star motion.
Blue Dot’s Rocketry Research Project is to build vehicles of human exploration.
The decision to build and launch rockets as a science endeavor is easy. Building rockets is an inspiring and engaging means for students to learn Physics, Chemistry and Engineering. Through alignment of our organizational goal to push the boundaries of what we can do with students and perform authentic work at the frontiers of human achievement, we’ve made a decision – We will launch rockets!
Our Rocketry Research Program is grounded in the effort to construct the most sophisticated vehicles humans have ever conceived. Our research builds upon itself through ongoing and sequential projects as we progress towards our ultimate goal of designing, constructing, and successfully launching a rocket into Earth’s orbit. As projects complete, they serve to augment our offerings for student space and science initiatives.
We began this effort in 2014 building air rockets, a suitable access point for those with little to no experience with rocketry. Gathering basic knowledge of construction and design, this moved quickly into developing water rockets, and subsequently Estes model rockets. It was around this time that we then began creating our own scratch builds to be used with Estes motors, which turned out to be a fun and successful project.
Our latest effort was to research motor design and construction. In this project, we worked with students to prepare and characterize solid propellant fuel types, design and test motors, and gather data to analyze their performance. In the end, we created safety and procedural protocols for constructing, testing, and using our own rocket motors for future efforts.
Weather Balloon Science
Blue Dot’s The Weather Balloon project grew out of Brian Delgado’s desire to begin building a more robust space science program within his class at HTH. Delgado was already working with students on light astronomy projects. However, most of the work was entirely too passive. While reading a short article on a group of British students who sent a GoPro to the stratosphere, Delgado immediately realized the potential in teaching science and engineering through this project.
As of June 2016, the team at Blue Dot Education has sent six weather balloons to the stratosphere, successfully recovering five of the packages. A seventh launch is already planned. Several experiments have been put on the packages including an attempt to measure sound intensity and an attempt to measure altitude. A live sourdough bread yeast was also put on one of the packages and successfully re-animated after landing.
The goal of the weather balloon research is twofold. First, Blue Dot will use this project as a means of teaching many fundamental science concepts from the fields of physics, chemistry, geology, and biology as well as concepts from engineering and mathematics in an integrated, project based manner. Second, Blue Dot will use the balloons as a way to do research in atmospheric and planetary science.
Some of the proposed projects include but are not limited to the following:
Measuring radiation in the upper atmosphere as a means of studying the magnetosphere
Attempting to reach the highest possible altitudes with the balloons
Attempting to keep the balloons up for long periods of time and tracking their movement
Completing experiments with microbial life in the upper atmosphere
Measuring atmospheric conditions from the ground to the flight apex
Developing a communications system with the balloon in order to send data and images in real time back to a ground station
Developing a means of doing astronomical imaging and data collection from the balloons in the upper atmosphere
Developing a platform from which a Rocoon could be launched
Earth and Ocean Sciences
Blue Dot’s Earth and Ocean Science Research project focuses on gaining a better understanding of the inner workings of spaceship earth. Our home base in San Diego, CA situates us perfectly to carry out studies of wildly different earth environments. We have access to a large cross-border urban environment, a nearby desert and mountain ecosystem, the Sea of Cortez, the lower Colorado River and the Colorado River Delta, and the Sierra Nevada range.
Blue Dot will act as a storehouse of data that we collect out in the field. The data will be open source with suggested curriculum available to teachers at elementary and secondary schools worldwide.
Our work initially focuses on two area: the water systems near to San Diego and the juxtaposition of a dense urban space with the surrounding natural environment. Water and access to it is an ongoing issue in the large population centers of southern California. Blue Dot teams will learn more about this issue and provide data for further study. Additionally, we offer support to local park management teams in an effort to help best support the natural spaces.
Outside of the San Diego region, our initial focus is on understanding everything we can about the Sierra Nevada Range and the health of the mountain environment. We are focused on doing exploration based science outings with Blue Dot team members and students.