Benjamin Burress has been a staff astronomer at Chabot Space & Science Center since July 1999. He graduated from Sonoma State University in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in physics (and minor in astronomy), after which he signed on for a two-year stint in the Peace Corps, where he taught physics and mathematics in the African nation of Cameroon. From 1989-96 he served on the crew of NASA’s Kuiper Airborne Observatory at Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA. From 1996-99, he was Head Observer at the Naval Prototype Optical Interferometer program at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, AZ.
Ben Burress's Latest Posts
Europe's Rosetta mission is poised to add another extraterrestrial landfall to a very short list, and top a new list as it becomes the first mission to land a probe on a comet.
A decade ago, NASA's Cassini spacecraft, the largest and most complex robotic probe yet built, arrived in the Saturn system to begin a marathon exploration of the gas giant, its famous and awe-inspiring rings and what has turned out to be a collection of some of the most eye-opening moons in the solar system.
Will the generation that is coming into the world today know more than eight, more than nine, solar planets? Some recent observations make this prospect sound like a strong possibility.
How big can an Earth-like planet be? Astronomers thought they had a pretty good handle on this question but have just been given a fresh example of how nature never ceases to outpace our imaginations and show us something unexpected.
Recently, a major milestone in space exploration was reached: a planet was captured in a picture! The big deal is that the planet captured in this shot, a gas giant planet named Beta Pictoris b, is 63 light years away--over 100,000 times farther away than even Pluto.
Two years ago, a solar coronal mass ejection of possibly the greatest recorded strength in history blasted by Earth's orbit. Had it impacted Earth's protective magnetic field, we could have experienced major disruptions in communication, brilliant aurora displays at tropical latitudes, damage to orbital satellites and possibly even major power blackouts.
Recently, NASA administrator Charles Bolden rephrased the "Moon, Mars and Beyond" mission plan to better align the steps toward Mars with budgetary realities and to balance human space programs with more cost-effective robotic missions.
Modern explorers have found a previously unknown ocean -- but this one's on Saturn's moon Enceladus. Learn more from Chabot Space & Science Center's Ben Burress at KQED Science.
Upholding a long-standing tradition of showing us things in space that we have never seen before, the Hubble Space Telescope recently witnessed the break-up of an asteroid.
A recent study of data collected by NASA's Wide-Field Infrared Explorer (WISE) spacecraft may have exorcised the notion of the hypothetical existence of the fabled "Planet X."
Investigation of an ancient Martian meteorite has re-fueled a debate about evidence of possible past life on Mars.
Recent observations of the dwarf planet Ceres by the European Herschel Space Observatory have revealed for the first time the presence of water vapor on this object in the Main Asteroid Belt.
On Monday, far beyond the orbit of Mars, an alarm clock went off and a robot began the slow process of waking up after a long, cold sleep. The European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft is now approaching the comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko, which it will catch up with this May.
Let's take a moment to tally a few of 2013's highlights of astronomy and space exploration. In brief, it was a very good year on a number of fronts.
Comet ISON is gone, Comet Lovejoy remains and a sun-grazing asteroid, 3200 Phaeton, is showing comet-like behavior. An interesting December to say the least.
If you had to make a choice to shut down either the Mars rover Curiosity or that explorer of the Saturn system Cassini, would you deliver a pink slip to the young, eager, energetic newbie or force an early retirement on a veteran explorer who has delivered volumes of knowledge?
There's been a great deal of anticipation surrounding Comet ISON—and a great deal of debate about whether it will become a Comet of the Century, or fizzle out like so many other comets of the century have in the past. ISON is now visible in binoculars, which may bode well for a good sky show in the coming weeks.
Over centuries of observing the planet Jupiter, we have but scratched the surface of the deep mysteries held secret beneath its thick clouds. Now NASA's Juno probe, currently en route to the king of planets, is preparing to pierce the veil of Jupiter's mystery and give us a peek inside.