Aldrich member Melanie Meadors was recently awarded a grant from the Massachusetts Space Grant Consortium,which was established by NASA under the National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program created by Congress in 1987. The purpose of these grants is to further education in space science and space engineering opportunities. Melanie is currently a geography/GIS major at Worcester State University studying to further her career in science writing. She also writes science articles for the Once and Future Podcast website and for GeekMom. You can check out her website at Melaniermeadors.com.
As part of this grant effort Melanie will examine techniques of calibration for astrophotography, including the use of flat files, dark files, and bias files, in order to correct for sensitivity errors, thermal noise, bias errors, quantization errors, and random noise in deep sky work and ultimately, exoplanet observation, using open source software and a backyard telescope and camera setup. This study will lead to a better understanding of the methods necessary for the analysis and modeling of exoplanets in order to improve the quality of scientific contributions to this field, as well as communicate the science with others in the hope they will be encouraged to participate in programs such as TFOP (TESS Follow-up Observing Program).
Melanie will have to create a booklet with instructions and inspiration for citizen scientists/backyard astronomers to get started with astrophotography, as well as information about the TESS program and how people can help with that. As part of this training she hopes she will also become a member of the NASA TESS TFOP SG1 Team one day herself!