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  • Planetary Scientist Selected to Lead Mission Directorate
    Stern will direct a wide variety of research and scientific exploration programs for Earth studies space weather the solar system and the universe beyond In addition he will manage a broad spectrum of grant based research programs and spacecraft projects to study Earth and the universe Stern is a planetary scientist and an author who has published more than 175 technical papers and 40 popular articles His research has focused on studies of our solar system s Kuiper belt and Oort cloud comets satellites of the outer planets Pluto and the search for evidence of solar systems around other stars He has worked on spacecraft rendezvous theory terrestrial polar mesospheric clouds galactic astrophysics and studies of tenuous satellite atmospheres including the atmosphere of the Moon Stern has a long association with NASA serving on the NASA Advisory Council and as the principal investigator on a number of planetary and lunar missions including the New Horizons Pluto Kuiper belt mission He was the principal investigator of the Southwest Ultraviolet Imaging System which flew on two space shuttle missions STS 85 in 1997 and STS 93 in 1999 He has been a guest observer on numerous NASA satellite observatories including the International

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/stern/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Pluto Probe Prepares for 9000 mph Boost from Jupiter
    be the source of short period comets New Horizons reaches its first big milestone closest approach to Jupiter on February 28 but already the first new images of the giant planet have been transmitted demonstrating the added opportunity for making new observations and measurements of the Galilean system We set out for Pluto Charon and the Kuiper belt thinking of Jupiter as little more than a gravity assist target and a testing ground in preparation for the real meat and potatoes that lies ahead declares Alan Stern Principal Investigator for New Horizons from Southwest Research Institute in Boulder Colorado Yet even our first Jupiter system observations are revealing new things about the solar system s largest planet And those first images were taken more than 35 times farther than we will be at closest approach During the Jupiter flyby the New Horizons team will use all the onboard instruments to carry out many procedures planned for the more critical flyby of the Pluto Charon system This will be a way to discover any problems in the mechanical and operational systems now when there is time to fix them The instrument package includes a visible and infrared spectrometer to produce high resolution color and compositional maps of planetary or moon surfaces Ralph an ultraviolet spectrometer Alice and passive radiometer REX to investigate atmospheric composition and temperature a long range imaging system LORRI a solar wind analyzer SWAP and an energetic particle spectrometer PEPPSI In addition there is a student produced instrument the Student Dust Center SDC that will measure the sizes of dust particles throughout the mission At Jupiter the mission team plans over 700 scientific observations of the planet system including scans of Jupiter s atmosphere magnetosphere and ring system New Horizons will also make compositional and topographical maps of the four largest moons as well as survey Io s current volcanic activity which was detailed so amazingly by the Galileo mission earlier this decade Studies of Jupiter s atmosphere will focus on the Little Red Spot a small storm raging to the southest of the Great Red Spot and a usually turbulent region to the northwest of the Great Red Spot Early images returned in mid January show that turbulence in that area has calmed to nearly nothing since the Galileo mission last imaged the giant planet in 1998 Great turbulence was seen in high level clouds to the northwest of Jupiter s Great Red Spot First spotted by the Galileo mission left the same area recently imaged by New Horizons right appears much less turbulent It seems the skies are clear over a much larger fraction of the planet than has been typically encountered by these other spacecraft reports Dr Kevin Baines a science team member from NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California But if Jupiter remains relatively quiet this might give us a valuable opportunity to effectively plumb the obscure depths of Jupiter below the ammonia clouds The other unique opportunity of the flyby is

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/new_horizons/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Announces Jim Green as Director, Planetary Science Division
    NASA announced the appointment of Dr James Green to the position of Director Planetary Science Division Green has served as Acting Director since the departure of Andrew Dantzler in June 2006 For more information about Green see the interview published in the November 2006 issue of the Lunar and Planetary Bulletin We extend our congratulations to Dr Green The community will have an opportunity to interact with him at the

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/green2/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Famous Space Pillars Feel the Heat of Star's Explosion
    Spatiale in France Now we have discovered something new about this region we thought we understood so well Flagey a visiting graduate student at NASA s Spitzer Science Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena presented the results at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Seattle Astronomers have long predicted that a supernova blast wave would mean the end for the popular pillars The region is littered with 20 or so stars ripe for exploding so it was only a matter of time they reasoned before one would blow up The new Spitzer observations suggest one of these stellar time bombs has in fact already detonated an event humans most likely witnessed 1000 to 2000 years ago as an unusually bright star in the sky Whenever the mighty pillars do crumble gas and dust will be blown away exposing newborn stars that were forming inside A new generation of stars might also spring up from the dusty wreckage Spitzer is a space telescope that detects infrared longer wavelength light that our eyes cannot see This allows the observatory to both see the dust and see through it depending on which infrared wavelength is being observed In Spitzer s new look at the Eagle nebula the three pillars appear small and ghostly transparent They are colored green in this particular view In the largest of the three columns an embedded star is seen forming inside the tip Above the pillars is the enormous cloud of hot dust colored red in the picture which astronomers think was seared by the blast wave of a supernova explosion Flagey and his team say evidence for this scenario comes from similarities observed between this hot dust and dust around known supernova remnants The dust also appears to have a shell like shape implying

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/spitzer/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LPI to Administer Shoemaker and Barringer Awards
    with planetary sciences for over 100 years beginning with Daniel Moreau Barringer who was the first person to prove the impact origin of a crater This award is given as a tribute to the work of D M Barringer s five sons who maintained the scientific integrity of the impact crater that now bears the Barringer name The grant funds may be used to assist with travel and subsistence costs as well as laboratory and computer analysis of research samples and findings Student proposals for the next grant cycle are due April 16 2007 The Eugene M Shoemaker Impact Cratering Award is designed to support undergraduate and graduate students of any nationality working in any country in the disciplines of geology geophysics geochemistry astronomy or biology Grants support the study of impact cratering processes on Earth and other bodies in the solar system including asteroids and comets that produce impacts and the geological chemical or biological results of impact cratering This award is generously provided by the Planetary Geology Division of the Geological Society of America It is a memorial to the work of Gene Shoemaker who greatly influenced planetary sciences during the Apollo era and for several decades thereafter

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/awards/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Cassini's Infrared Camera Sees Tall Mountains on Titan
    Survey Flagstaff Ariz He added There seem to be layers and layers of various coats of organic paint on top of each other on these mountain tops almost like a painter laying the background on a canvas Some of this organic gunk falls out of the atmosphere as rain dust or smog onto the valley floors and mountain tops which are coated with dark spots that appear to be brushed washed scoured and moved around the surface The mountains probably formed when material welled up from below to fill the gaps opened when tectonic plates pull apart similar to the way mid ocean ridges are formed on Earth Separately the radar and infrared data are difficult to interpret but together they are a powerful combination In the infrared images one can see the shadows of the mountains and in radar one can see their shape But when combined scientists begin to see variations on the mountains which is essential to unraveling the mysteries of the geologic processes on Titan A fan shaped feature possibly a remnant of a volcanic flow is also visible in the infrared images The radar instrument imaged this flow and a circular feature from which the flow seems to emanate on a previous flyby but not in this level of detail The evidence is mounting that this circular feature is a volcano said Dr Rosaly Lopes Cassini radar team member at NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Pasadena Calif With radar data alone we identified it as a possible volcano but the combination of radar and infrared makes it much clearer Near the wrinkled mountainous terrain are clouds in Titan s southern mid latitudes whose source continues to elude scientists These clouds are probably methane droplets that may form when the atmosphere on Titan cools as it

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/titan_mt/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LPI to Host a Night Viewing
    monthly Family Space Day events families with children ages 5 to 8 are invited to the LPI to view a host of astronomical sights including planets constellations nebulae and galaxies and to participate in hands on science activities Several telescopes will be available so everyone will have an opportunity to view If you own a telescope bring it with you For more information please visit http www lpi usra edu

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/night_viewing/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Abstract Deadline for 38th LPSC Approaches
    of the annual science conference The entire Institute pitches in to ensure that everything goes smoothly and all those wishing to make submissions do so before the 5 00 deadline The LPI has been hosting the conference since its inception in 1971 Initially the conference was conceived as an arena for the exchange and dissemination of science resulting from the analysis of the lunar samples that were returning to Earth

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/lpsc_2007/abstract_deadline.shtml (2016-02-15)
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