November 2017: Picture of the Month


This helmet-shaped cosmic cloud with wing-like appendages is popularly called Thor’s Helmet. Heroically sized even for a Norse god, Thor’s Helmet spans about 30 light-years across. In fact, the helmet is more like an interstellar bubble, blown as a fast wind — from the bright star near the center of the bubble’s blue-hued region — sweeps through a surrounding molecular cloud. This star, a Wolf-Rayet star, is a massive and extremely hot giant star thought to be in a brief, pre-supernova stage of evolution. Cataloged as NGC 2359, the emission nebula is located about 12,000 light-years away toward the constellation of the Big Dog (Canis Major). The sharp image, made using broadband and narrowband filters, captures striking details of the nebula’s filamentary gas and dust structures. The blue color originates from strong emission from oxygen atoms in the nebula.

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Star Talk: Computer Vision on Mars

computer_vision_on_mars“Computer Vision on Mars “, with Professor Jonathan Kelly

Abstract: Modern computer vision technologies have been key to improving our understanding of the Red Planet over the past 15 years. Vision systems are deployed on-orbit (e.g., the HiRISE camera on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter), on the surface (e.g., the vision sensors on the rovers Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity), and have also been used for safe entry, descent, and landing of recent robotic platforms reaching the surface. In this talk, I will review the design and use of several of these vision systems, including, for example, how the Curiosity rover makes use of visual navigation methods when wheel odometry is unreliable (rolling over sandy terrain).


About the speaker: Professor Jonathan Kelly is an Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies and the Director of the Space & Terrestrial Autonomous Robotic Systems (STARS) Laboratory. Before joining the University of Toronto, he was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Robust Robotics Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and he completed his Ph.D. in the Robotic Embedded Systems Laboratory at the University of Southern California.


Date and Location: 7:10 PM Nov. 29th, McLennan Physical Laboratories (MP), Room 202

Telescope observing: 8:00 PM on 14th floor of McLennan Physical Laboratories (MP) (weather permitting) — you will be guided to the telescopes.