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Ben Burress

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.

Read his previous contributions to QUEST, a project dedicated to exploring the Science of Sustainability.

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Ben Burress's Latest Posts

NASA’s Cassini Divines Hidden Waters of Saturn’s Moon Enceladus

KQED Science | April 18, 2014 | 0 Comments

NASA’s Cassini Divines Hidden Waters of Saturn’s Moon Enceladus

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.

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope Shows Us Something New: A Disintegrating Asteroid

KQED Science | April 4, 2014 | 0 Comments

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope Shows Us Something New: A Disintegrating Asteroid

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.

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NASA’s WISE Mission Reports No Signs of ‘Planet X’

KQED Science | March 21, 2014 | 1 Comment

NASA’s WISE Mission Reports No Signs of ‘Planet X’

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."

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Martian Meteorite May Contain Evidence of Past Life on Mars

KQED Science | March 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

Martian Meteorite May Contain Evidence of Past Life on Mars

Investigation of an ancient Martian meteorite has re-fueled a debate about evidence of possible past life on Mars.

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Recent Observations Confirm Presence of Water Vapor on Dwarf Planet Ceres

KQED Science | February 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Recent Observations Confirm Presence of Water Vapor on Dwarf Planet Ceres

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.

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The Cigar Galaxy Lights Up: Supernova 2014J

KQED Science | February 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

The Cigar Galaxy Lights Up: Supernova 2014J

Once upon a time in a galaxy 12 million light years away, a tiny white dwarf star went supernova, and for a few fleeting weeks was elevated in brightness to outshine the rest of the stars in its galaxy combined.

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Rosetta Wakes Up for Final Approach to a Comet

KQED Science | January 24, 2014 | 0 Comments

Rosetta Wakes Up for Final Approach to a Comet

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.

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Opposition of Jupiter: Bright Beauty in the Sky

KQED Science | January 10, 2014 | 0 Comments

Opposition of Jupiter: Bright Beauty in the Sky

The planet Jupiter is once again a source of surprise and wonder to many who gaze up at the night sky.

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Space 2013: Another Great Year of Cosmic Adventure

KQED Science | December 27, 2013 | 0 Comments

Space 2013: Another Great Year of Cosmic Adventure

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.

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Farewell, Comet ISON, but There’s Other Celestial Visitors This Month

KQED Science | December 13, 2013 | 0 Comments

Farewell, Comet ISON, but There’s Other Celestial Visitors This Month

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.

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Cassini or Curiosity: Budget Cuts Could Force NASA to Make A Tough Choice

KQED Science | November 29, 2013 | 3 Comments

Cassini or Curiosity: Budget Cuts Could Force NASA to Make A Tough Choice

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?

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Comet ISON’s Solar-Coaster Ride is Heating Up

KQED Science | November 15, 2013 | 1 Comment

Comet ISON’s Solar-Coaster Ride is Heating Up

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.

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Juno Aims to Pierce the Veil of Jupiter’s Cloud-Shrouded Mystery

KQED Science | November 1, 2013 | 0 Comments

Juno Aims to Pierce the Veil of Jupiter’s Cloud-Shrouded Mystery

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.

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Comet ISON: Celestial Popcorn That’s Ready to Pop?

KQED Science | October 18, 2013 | 0 Comments

Comet ISON: Celestial Popcorn That’s Ready to Pop?

Maybe a week before it passes closest to the sun, the dark side of Comet ISON is expected to begin turning into the sunlight. The sudden exposure to the intense radiation could cause a strong outburst of gases into the coma--like a celestial popcorn kernel suddenly bursting.

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NASA Robots Are Sniffing For Clues on Mars and Titan

KQED Science | October 4, 2013 | 0 Comments

NASA Robots Are Sniffing For Clues on Mars and Titan

NASA's Curiosity rover on Mars has raised some eyebrows by something it has not detected: methane. And, much farther out, the Cassini spacecraft has made a positive detection of plastic in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan.

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Peeling Away the Moon’s Mysteries

KQED Science | September 23, 2013 | 1 Comment

Peeling Away the Moon’s Mysteries

The moon often seems like an ancient relic of space exploration, that dusty, dry, airless ball of rock and soil that we visited decades ago and have since left alone—possibly because we found nothing there but dust, rock, and soil? Not so fast. Exploration in the past few years has revealed aspects of the moon that contradict what we were taught in school.

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Comet ISON: Comet of the Century or Fanciful Fluff?

KQED Science | September 6, 2013 | 3 Comments

Comet ISON: Comet of the Century or Fanciful Fluff?

A comet named ISON has been hailed as a possible "comet of the century." But scientists aren't sure yet if it will survive a hairpin turn around the sun.

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Generations of Exploration: From Hubble to the James Webb Space Telescope

KQED Science | August 23, 2013 | 0 Comments

Generations of Exploration: From Hubble to the James Webb Space Telescope

If you think the list of achievements of NASA's Hubble Space Telescope is impressive, consider that its successor, the James Webb Space Telescope, will sport a mirror 21 feet across, with more than 20 times the light-collecting capability of its predecessor!

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The Perseids Are Coming! Find Out When And Where To View Them

KQED Science | August 9, 2013 | 1 Comment

The Perseids Are Coming! Find Out When And Where To View Them

It's time to enjoy the annual Perseid meteors, the Old Faithful of meteor showers that lights up the August night and thoroughly delights those sleepy souls willing to stay up past midnight for one of nature's original fireworks shows.

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Smile! You’re On NASA’s Cassini Camera

KQED Science | July 26, 2013 | 0 Comments

Smile! You’re On NASA’s Cassini Camera

On July 19, NASA's Cassini probe captured a picture of the Earth and Moon, offering us a perspective of all of humanity on one tiny dot in space, and a reminder that Cassini is still out there exploring the distant reaches of the Solar System.

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