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.
Carl Sagan Poses with Model of Viking Lander

Antiques Roadshow of the Solar System

As a space-faring culture, we have now left our marks across the solar system, on planets, moons, asteroids, and in the empty space between them. Some of these “marks” are yet-functioning robotic spacecraft. Some are litter, scattered about the place like so many discarded soda cans, plastic grocery bags, depleted batteries, and defunct electronic devices. Are we trashing our solar system?

Before sending the Curiosity rover to Mars, its drilling technology was tested exhaustively by drilling many holes in samples of Earth rock.

The Mars Rover Curiosity Digs a Little Deeper

On February 8th, the rover Curiosity used its drill to bore a hole into a slab of flat bedrock, marking the first time we have probed deeply into the interior of a Martian rock in search of the secrets of Mars' past it may hold.

Comparison of heights of Mars' Mount Sharp and some of Earth's tallest mountains

Mars Mountain Climbing Mashup!

The comparison between Earth-side mountain exploration and the planned expedition by the Mars rover Curiosity came to my mind as I read a book my family got me over the holidays: Last Climb, the story of the legendary Mount Everest expeditions of George Leigh Mallory.

The Stars Go For the Gold

The middle-aged adage that we are made from stardust, made popular by Carl Sagan back in the 1970s, pops up in my thoughts now and then. Not just pretty words; it's the literal truth!

NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory-July 28 2012

Touch the Sun at Chabot Space & Science Center

Just in time for the imminent event of Solar Maximum, Chabot Space & Science Center is opening a new solar exhibition that features the latest in stunning ultraviolet satellite imagery from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory!

Artist illustration of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory rover, Curiosity.

Still Curious About Mars in 2012

NASA is preparing to make a big announcement concerning Mars and a recent discovery by the SAM instrument on board the rover Curiosity, though has qualified the nature of the announcement to scientifically interesting, and not "earth-shaking" as the blogosphere has hyped it in speculation.

Leonid Meteors. Credit: Carter Roberts, Eastbay Astronomical Society

The Leonids Are Back!

The Leonids are back: the annual meteor shower of November that offers us the chance to see a bit of very ancient history disintegrate in a fiery second.