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  • Another Successful LPSC
    interest in lunar exploration the wealth of information being returned daily from the current Mars missions and the stunning images of the saturnian system all contributed to the variety of new research unveiled at the conference LPSC is clearly the must attend meeting of the year said Dr Walter Kiefer staff scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Institute Not only is it the place to get caught up on all

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/lpsc_2007/post_lpsc/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Temporary Opening of the Cosmic Dust Lab at NASA JSC
    cosmic dust we are reopening the Cosmic Dust Lab only long enough to process immediate requests for samples Please be advised that there is a strict deadline for receipt of cosmic dust requests which will be May 1 2007 Therefore please consider this announcement as fair warning If you anticipate analyzing cosmic dust samples in the coming year please send in your request by May 1 2007 to permit the

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/cosmic_dust_lab/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Mars' South Pole Ice Deep and Wide
    a new report on these findings published in the March 15 online edition of the journal Science The instrument named the Mars Advanced Radar for Subsurface and Ionospheric Sounding MARSIS also is mapping the thickness of similar layered deposits at the north pole of Mars Our radar is doing its job extremely well said Giovanni Picardi a professor at the University of Rome La Sapienza and principal investigator for the instrument MARSIS is showing itself to be a very powerful tool to probe underneath the Martian surface and it s showing how our team s goals such as probing the polar layered deposits are being successfully achieved Picardi said Not only is MARSIS providing us with the first ever views of Mars subsurface at those depths but the details we are seeing are truly amazing We expect even greater results when we have concluded an ongoing sophisticated fine tuning of our data processing methods These should enable us to understand even better the surface and subsurface composition Polar layered deposits hold most of the known water on modern Mars though other areas of the planet appear to have been very wet at times in the past Understanding the history and fate of water on Mars is a key to studying whether Mars has ever supported life since all known life depends on liquid water The polar layered deposits extend beyond and beneath a polar cap of bright white frozen carbon dioxide and water at Mars south pole Dust darkens many of the layers However the strength of the echo that the radar receives from the rocky surface underneath the layered deposits suggests the composition of the layered deposits is at least 90 percent frozen water One area with an especially bright reflection from the base of the deposits puzzles researchers

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/mars_ice/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Mars Rover Churns Up Questions With Sulfur-Rich Soil
    small amounts of water bound to minerals in the soil The rover resumed driving in late 2006 when the Martian season brought sufficient daily sunshine to the solar panels Some of the bright soil from Tyrone was dragged to the winter site by the right front wheel and Spirit spent some time measuring the composition and mineralogy of these materials The material is sulfur rich and consists of sulfate salts associated with iron and likely calcium These salts could have been concentrated by hydrothermal liquid or vapor moving through the local rocks said rover science team member Dr Albert Yen a geochemist at JPL Two other patches of bright soil uncovered by Spirit before Tyrone were also sulfur rich but each had similarities to local rock compositions that were different at the three sites suggesting localized origins Researchers will watch for more patches of bright soil If we find them along fractures that would suggest they were deposited at ancient gas vents Arvidson said If they are at the saddles between hills that would suggest the deposits formed where groundwater came to the surface Scientists are describing recent findings by Spirit and Opportunity at the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference this week in League City Texas Spirit has driven away from the Tyrone area for a clockwise circuit around a plateau called Home Plate Researchers want to learn more about Home Plate which Spirit visited briefly in early 2006 They are checking a hypothesis that explosive volcanism driven by the interaction of magma with water formed Home Plate and similar features Halfway around Mars Opportunity is exploring clockwise around Victoria Crater a bowl about 800 meters half a mile across Cliff like promontories alternate with more gradually sloped alcoves around the scalloped rim The impact that dug the crater exposed

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/mars_rover/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Cassini Spacecraft Images Seas on Saturn's Moon Titan
    and now with multiple instruments we have a first indication of seas that dwarf the lakes seen previously said Dr Jonathan Lunine Cassini interdisciplinary scientist at the University of Arizona Tucson While there is no definitive proof yet that these seas contain liquid their shape their dark appearance in radar that indicates smoothness and their other properties point to the presence of liquids The liquids are probably a combination of methane and ethane given the conditions on Titan and the abundance of methane and ethane gases and clouds in Titan s atmosphere Cassini s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer also captured a view of the region and the team is working to determine the composition of the material contained within these features to test the hypothesis that they are liquid filled The imaging cameras which provide a global view of Titan have imaged a much larger irregular dark feature The northern end of their image corresponds to one of the radar imaged seas The dark area stretches for more than 1 000 kilometers 620 miles in the image down to 55 degrees north latitude If the entire dark area is liquid filled it would be only slightly smaller than Earth s Caspian Sea The radar data show details at the northern end of the dark feature similar to those seen in earlier radar observations of much smaller liquid filled lakes However to determine if the entire dark feature is a liquid filled basin will require investigation through additional radar flyovers later in the mission The presence of these seas reinforces current thinking that Titan s surface must be re supplying methane to its atmosphere the original motivation almost a quarter century ago for the theoretical speculation of a global ocean on Titan Cassini s instruments are peeling back the haze

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/seas_on_saturn/ (2016-02-15)
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  • A Hot Start Might Explain Geysers on Enceladus
    to form Enceladus is a very small body and it s made almost entirely of ice and rock The puzzle is how the moon developed a warm core said Dr Julie Castillo the lead scientist developing the new model at JPL The only way to achieve such high temperatures at Enceladus is through the very rapid decay of some radioactive species The hot start model suggests Enceladus began as a mixed up ball of ice and rock that contained rapidly decaying radioactive isotopes of aluminum and iron The decomposition of those isotopes over a period of about 7 million years would produce enormous amounts of heat This would result in the consolidation of rocky material at the core surrounded by a shell of ice According to the theory the remaining more slowly decaying radioactivity in the core could continue to warm and melt the moon s interior for billions of years along with tidal forces from Saturn s gravitational tug Scientists have also found the model helpful in explaining how Enceladus might have produced the chemicals in the plume as measured by Cassini s ion and neutral mass spectrometer Matson is lead author of a new study of the plume s composition which appears in the April issue of the journal Icarus Although the plume is predominantly made up of water vapor the spectrometer also detected within the plume minor amounts of gaseous nitrogen methane carbon dioxide propane and acetylene Scientists were particularly surprised by the nitrogen because they don t think it could have been part of Enceladus original makeup Instead Matson s team suggests it is the product of the decomposition of ammonia deep within the moon where the warm core and surrounding liquid water meet The thermal decomposition of ammonia would require temperatures as high as 577

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/enceladus/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Committee to Assess Solar System Exploration
    open meeting February 22 24 in Washington DC The committee has been tasked with assessing The degree to which NASA s current solar system exploration program addresses the strategies goals and priorities outlined in Academy reports NASA progress toward realizing these strategies goals and priorities and The identification of any actions that could be taken to optimize the science value of the program in the context of current and forecasted

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/sse/ (2016-02-15)
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  • New Release: Protostars and Planets V
    and distribution This unique collaboration enables the Press to offer the books in this series at a price that is affordable to a much wider segment of the community including graduate students Increasing discoveries of new planets beyond our solar system are invigorating the quest for new knowledge and understanding of the birth of stars and planets Protostars and Planets V comprising 58 chapters written by 249 contributing authors recognized for their expertise in the field builds on the latest results from recent advances in ground and space based astronomy and in numerical computing techniques to offer the most detailed and up to date picture of star and planet formation including the formation of our own solar system This book emphasizes the cross disciplinary aspects of the field with a particular focus on the early evolution of our solar system Protostars and Planets V is the new foundation for further advancement in the fields of stellar and planetary formation making it an indispensable resource for researchers and students in astronomy planetary science and the study of meteorites Other Space Science Series books produced by the University of Arizona Press in collaboration with the Lunar and Planetary Institute include Origin of

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/protostars/ (2016-02-15)
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