Star Talk: Computer Vision on Mars REDUX

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

Hey everybody! As you may have remembered in November this Star Talk was cancelled due to some unforeseen events, so we’re gonna give this one more go!

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).

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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.

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Date and Location: 7:10 PM Jan. 24th, McLennan Physical Laboratories (MP), Room 137

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

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Important Notice for Nov. 29, 2017 Star Talk

Hello everyone,

Sadly, the Star Talk which was originally planned for 7:10-8:00 tonight is cancelled because Professor Jonathan Kelly is sick and cannot make it to the event.

HOWEVER, for those who are interested, we will still be holding the telescope observing session from 8:00-9:00pm and we will be meeting in the lobby of McLennan at 8:00

We sincerely apologize for this last-minute change of plan.

– The ASX executive team

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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).

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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.

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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.

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Star Talk – The Gaia Satellite: Mapping the Milky Way in 3D

gaia_satelliteAbstract: For hundreds of years, astronomers have been working to map the structure of the Universe and of the Milky Way, but this endeavor is hampered by the difficulty of measuring distances to celestial objects. Prof. Bovy will tell the story of how we have determined our place in the cosmos, from measuring the size of the solar system and the distance to nearby stars, to figuring out how far other galaxies are. He will then take us to the present day, giving an overview of the new Gaia satellite mission which is making us see the Milky Way with new eyes by measuring the distances to a billion stars in the Milky Way.

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About the speaker: Professor Jo Bovy is an assistant professor at the University of Toronto. He graduated with a PhD in physics from New York University and went on to become a Bahcall fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. He currently holds the Canada Research Char in Galactic Astrophysics at UofT, and is a member of the APOGEE-2 survey, which maps the dynamical and chemical patterns of Milky Way stars using near-infrared spectroscopy.

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Date and Location: 7:00 PM Sept. 27th, Lash Miller Chemical Laboratories (LM) Room 159
Telescope observing: 8:00 PM on 14th floor of McLennan Physical Laboratories (MP) (weather permitting) — you will be guided to the telescopes.

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Star Talk: The Algonquin Pulsar Project

star_talk_feb “The Algonquin Pulsar Project”, with Professor Ue-Li Pen

Abstract: The Algonquin Radio Observatory (ARO), built in 1965, along with the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO) are the first to achieve long baseline interferometry (VLBI), whereby two single-dish telescopes are combined to provide the same resolution as a telescope the size of Canada.

CITA, the Dunlap Institute, and the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics collectively have continued the Canadian VLBI tradition with a new program to conduct transnational interferometric observations of pulsars and fast radio bursts (FRBs). The former has been named “scintillometry,” whose purpose is to utilize VLBI on earth in combination with scattering in the interstellar medium (ISM) to create an effective telescope size of ~astronomical unit to study pulsars and the intervening matter between us and them. The latter could provide the first ever spatial localization of FRBs.

Pulsar VLBI is located at the Algonquin Radio Observatory, which is visited frequently for data collection. The Crab pulsar will be studied using scintillometry techniques and VLBI. To obtain better images, one would need a telescope with a larger diameter. An easy way to increase diameter was to combine the signals from multiple telescopes using them as an interferometer thus creating VLBI. The data collected at Algonquin are synced up to data collected with other telescopes across the world. The radio waves that is emitted from the pulses propagate to telescopes on earth directly and indirectly via deflections on a scattering screen in the interstellar medium in space. The different paths interfere thus causing scintillation. By observing the scintillation with multiple telescopes on Earth, it is possible to estimate the pulsar’s position with extremely high precision.

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