This week in What’s Up: how you can help the European Space Agency with your Android smartphone. ESA’s Navigation Innovation and Support Program has an app called CAMALIOT with which you can help scientists improve weather forecasting models and predictions of space weather, such as the types of events that can disrupt our communication systems due to solar flares.
All you need to do is leave your phone by the window each night with positioning turned on so that the phone can “record small variations” in the signals from GPS satellites. Since the signals can be affected by atmospheric conditions such as the amount of water vapor in the atmosphere and space weather events, it’s possible to use these small differences to make inferences about the atmospheric conditions.
Basically, the CAMALIOT app records the GPS signal data and sends that information and the location of the phone to the researchers. They in turn use that data with machine learning algorithms to improve weather forecasting, particularly for rainfall.
The app is available for fifty different models of Android smartphones and can be downloaded from the Google Play store. We’ll include a link to the CAMALIOT website in our show notes for this episode on DailySpace.org.
This segment is called What’s Up but so far, this segment has been about what you can do not what you can see in the night sky. Let’s change that.
Coming up starting the evening of March 27 around midnight and continuing into the wee hours of the 28th is a series of conjunctions involving Saturn, Venus, and Mars, which will all be between 2 and 7 degrees of the Moon.
On Friday, April 1, there will be a New Moon, which would be a good time to head out with your binoculars or telescope and try to observe some of the fainter objects in the night sky. If you want a challenge, try observing the open clusters M46 and M47 in the constellation Puppis. We’ll have a finder chart also in our show notes.
ESA press release
The Sky This Week: The Moon passes the planets (Astronomy)