Hexbyte Glen Cove Designing a science program for sky-monitoring telescope based on the moon

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Projected L-CAM1 field of view from Schrodinger Basin on April 14, 2024. Credit: AstronetX

The SETI Institute teamed up with Louisiana State University (LSU) and Mississippi State University (MSU) to help students design the science program for AstronetX PBC’s first lunar-based camera (L-CAM 1). The scientific program planning is funded by a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation grant to AstronetX. Additional funding for student participation is provided by the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergrads (REU) program at LSU.

L-CAM1 will capture images for research in astrophysics, and planetary defense. Dr. Franck Marchis, a senior planetary astronomer at the SETI Institute, leads the SETI Institute’s involvement. In addition to Marchis, Dr. Tabetha Boyjian (LSU) leads the team with Dr. Matthew Penny (LSU) and Dr. Angelle Tanner (MSU).

“To develop the best plan, our student team first needed to create simulations of the portion of lunar sky L-CAM1 will see during the mission’s multiple lunar days as a way of determining visible astrophysical and astronomical targets. One of the unique benefits L-CAM1 will provide is the duration of uninterrupted time individual subjects can be observed,” said Marchis. “A next step for the solar system portion of the L-CAM1 science program was determining the asteroid population in the main belt that will cross our field of view.”

The students developed two science cases for the observing program, based on understanding the benefits and limitations of a lunar observatory:

  • Improving the characterization of previously known exoplanets: Space-based observations allow high-precision measurements of parent star brightness changes when an orbiting exoplanet briefly passes in front of the star. The brightness changes can be a few percent for large exoplanets, down to less than 100 parts per million for rocky exoplanets similar in size to the Earth. Working continuously during a lunar day (~14 Earth days), L-CAM1 data will have long, uninterrupted observing sequences of exoplanet transit events. These long observing sequences will allow scientists to target specific systems and capture new data that can be used to determine properties of both the exoplanets and their host stars.
  • Asteroid observation and characterization: Approximately 200 asteroids will be observable by L-CAM1 during a multi-lunar day mission, including approximately one near-Earth asteroid (NEA) per month. The combination of lunar day length and the stable platform the lunar surface provides will enable precise astrometric (position) and photometric (brightness) observations for determining the physical properties and orbits of these small solar system bodies.

“Giving early-career students the chance to design a frontier, space-based science program that will operate on the lunar surface is a wonderful and unique opportunity to support the progression of tomorrow’s leading astronomers and astrophysicists,” said Boyajian, LSU Assistant Professor of Physics & Astronomy. “Planning a science program from scratch also presents a number of challenges that students often don’t get exposure to this early in their careers.”

Student Experience

Rendering of AstronetX L-CAM 1 Telescope. Credit: AstronetX

“Some of the specific data analysis was classifying targets by type and observability, including opportunities to continuously observe the light curves of near-Earth asteroids so we can characterize them in new ways,” said Peter Santana, L-CAM1 Student Science Team member who worked at the SETI Institute as part of their REU program. “Where we’re really limited by time, weather and other conditions when observing from Earth, we anticipate being able to observe some targets for up to 100 continuous hours. This is something that ground-based and low-Earth orbiting telescopes generally cannot do.”

“Working on L-CAM has been a dream come true for me. I’ve been an astronomer since I was 13, and now I’m developing the science program for a lunar surface telescope,” said Farzaneh Zohrabi, L-CAM1 student science team member studying at LSU. “A unique thing that we’re planning to do with L-CAM makes precise measurements of nearby bright stars and their exoplanets. This is something that cannot easily be done using ground-based telescopes on Earth because of the atmosphere and saturation limits.”

The long-duration and precise light curves of stars and asteroids may enable the detection of exomoons orbiting the exoplanets or moons orbiting their host asteroids. The light curves of transiting exoplanets captured by L-CAM can also detect a phenomenon called “transit timing variations,” which occur due to the gravitational tug of additional objects orbiting the host star being observed. Scientists using L-CAM1 will similarly be able to study the light curves of near-Earth asteroids over longer durations to better characterize orbital parameters and rotational spin, contribute to advanced 3-D modeling and identify transiting asteroid moons.

“Because of my data science background, the initial challenge presented to me was to think about how we can map all the known exoplanets and their hosts in order to identify what will be observable from L-CAM1’s landing site,” said Carol Miu, L-CAM1 student science team member studying at Collin College. “I wrote a script that uses the Stellarium planetarium (stellarium.org) to determine what stars and known exoplanets will be in our planned field of view at specific times, and matched the results against NASA’s exoplanet archive data to determine orbital periods and our list of candidate targets.”

“My focus began with determining where we should be looking by using the Stellarium planetarium and other software to model the night sky. This enabled us to put together a list of candidate host stars and exoplanets for observation,” said Connor Langevin, L-CAM1 student science team member studying at LSU. “More recently, I’ve started to identify the observability of near-Earth asteroids. This involves determining L-CAM’s field of view at specific times and matching that with specific asteroids that will be viewable.”

After selecting initial science targets, the team considered alternate mission schedule and landing locations for L-CAM1, requiring additional analysis to modify the list of targets. The team was able to step back and consider how programmatic changes or a multi-mission program can be efficiently designed while minimizing rework. The student team also had to develop a data acquisition strategy constrained by transmission limitations from the Moon to Earth for analysis.

“L-CAM has several advantages. The lack of atmosphere on the lunar surface, compared to ground-based telescopes for deep space science, will provide a higher level of precision, there will be longer continuous observation windows due to the two-week-long lunar day, and we will be able to observe areas closer to the sun than we can from Earth,” said Dr. Jonas Klüter, L-CAM1 student science team member studying at LSU. “However, our observing and data strategy posed a challenge. Because data transmission from L-CAM to Earth is limited, we needed to determine how much data we require on stars and asteroids in order to fully characterize them. This includes exposure time, magnitude limits, and how many pixels are required to conduct the science.”



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Hexbyte Glen Cove Augmented reality in retail and its impact on sales thumbnail

Hexbyte Glen Cove Augmented reality in retail and its impact on sales

Hexbyte Glen Cove

Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Augmented reality (AR) is a technology that superimposes virtual objects onto a live view of physical environments, helping users visualize how these objects fit into their physical world. Researchers from City University of Hong Kong and Singapore Management University published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing that identifies four broad uses of AR in retail settings and examines the impact of AR on retail sales.

The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing, is titled “Augmented Reality in Retail and Its Impact on Sales” and is authored by Yong-Chin Tan, Sandeep Chandukala, and Srinivas Reddy. The researchers discuss the following uses of AR in retail settings:

* To entertain customers. AR transforms static objects into interactive, animated , helping marketers create fresh experiences that captivate and entertain customers. Marketers can use AR-enabled experiences to drive traffic to their physical locations. For example, Walmart collaborated with DC Comics and Marvel to place special thematic displays with exclusive superhero-themed AR experiences in its stores. In addition to creating novel and engaging experiences for customers, the displays also encouraged customers to explore different areas in the stores.

* To educate customers. Due to its interactive and immersive format, AR is also an effective medium to deliver content and information to customers. To help customers better appreciate their new car models, Toyota and Hyundai have utilized AR to demonstrate key features and innovative technologies in a vivid and visually appealing manner. AR can also be used to provide in-store wayfinding and product support. Walgreens and Lowe’s have developed in-store navigation apps that overlay directional signals onto a live view of the path in front of users to guide them to product locations and notify them if there are special promotions along the way.

* To facilitate product evaluation. By retaining the physical environment as a backdrop for virtual elements, AR also helps users visualize how products would appear in their actual consumption contexts to assess product fit more accurately prior to purchase. For example, Ikea’s Place app uses AR to overlay true-to-scale, three-dimensional models of furniture onto a live view of customers’ rooms. Customers can easily determine if the products fit in a space without taking any measurements. Uniqlo and Topshop have also deployed the same technology in their physical stores, offering customers greater convenience by reducing the need to change in and out of different outfits. An added advantage of AR is its ability to accommodate a wide assortment of products. This capability is particularly useful for made-to-order or bulky products. BMW and Audi have used AR to provide customers with true-to-scale, three-dimensional visual representations of car models based on customized features such as paint color, wheel design, and interior aesthetics.

* To enhance the post-purchase consumption experience. Lastly, AR can be used to enhance and redefine the way products are experienced or consumed after they have been purchased. For example, Lego recently launched several specially designed brick sets that combine physical and virtual gameplay. Through the companion AR app, animated Lego characters spring to life and interact with the physical Lego sets, creating a whole new playing experience. In a bid to address skepticism about the quality of its food ingredients, McDonald’s has also used AR to let customers discover the origins of ingredients in the food they purchased via story-telling and three-dimensional animations.

The research also focuses on the promising application of AR to facilitate product evaluation prior to purchase and examine how it impacts sales in online retail. For example:

* The availability and usage of AR has a positive impact on sales. The overall impact appears to be small, but certain products are more likely to benefit from the technology than others.

* The impact of AR is stronger for products and brands that are less popular. Thus, retailers carrying wide product assortments can use AR to stimulate demand for niche products at the long tail of the sales distribution. AR may also help to level the playing field for less-popular brands. With the launch of AR-enabled display ads on advertising platforms such as Facebook and YouTube, less-established brands could consider investing in this new ad format because they stand to benefit most from this technology.

* The impact of AR is also greater for products that are more expensive, indicating that AR could increase overall revenues for retailers. Retailers selling premium products may also leverage AR to improve decision comfort and reduce customers’ hesitation in the purchase process.

* Customers who are new to the online channel or product category are more likely to purchase after using AR, suggesting that AR has the potential to promote online channel adoption and category expansion. As prior research has shown that multichannel customers are more profitable, omni-channel retailers can use AR to encourage their offline customers to adopt the online channel.

Taken together, these findings provide converging evidence that AR is most effective when product-related uncertainty is high. Managers can thus use AR to reduce uncertainty and improve sales.



More information:
Yong-Chin Tan et al, EXPRESS: Augmented Reality in Retail and Its Impact on

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