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  • ESA to Define Long-Term Space Exploration Strategy
    working on the Aurora program as a framework for space exploration for several years and aims to make space exploration a global and societal project Representatives of four stakeholder communities scientific political and institutional industrial and innovation related and general public from all around Europe and worldwide will gather in Edinburgh They will be given a presentation of the current and future ESA plans and discuss a compelling rationale for Europe to play a significant role in the global space exploration endeavor Subsequent to NASA s unveiling of its lunar exploration architecture on December 4 ESA will define a broader scenario that will include the Moon as an important exploration target and an unavoidable stepping stone for the human exploration of further space destinations European space exploration architectures will be derived from these scenarios taking into account the industrial scientific and societal interests expressed by the stakeholders in consultations such as the one in Edinburgh Based on these architectures and driven by the primary European priorities ESA will be participating with other international partners in this decades long undertaking of robotic and human exploration of the solar system The outcome of the ESA BNSC European Exploration Workshop will be debated

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/esa/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Studies of Volcanos on Other Planets Yield Understanding of Earthquakes
    15 two successive earthquakes shook the Hawaiian Islands causing hundreds of minor injuries knocking out electrical service to over 45 000 customers and inflicting damages estimated at 40 million As the dust settled and scientists looked more closely at these earthshaking events an interesting situation emerged Existing models for earthquake analysis could not accurately explain the occurrence and location of two earthquakes Olympus Mons the solar system s tallest volcano measures 600 kilometers wide and 23 kilometers high three times as tall as Mount Everest the Earth s tallest feature Image courtesy of NASA The October quakes were caused by stress built up over many years of volcanic activity and were notable in that they occurred deep within the Earth s upper mantle The first earthquake occurred 39 kilometers below sea level with a magnitude of 6 7 Seven minutes later and about 30 kilometers to the north a second earthquake magnitude 6 0 struck at 19 kilometers below sea level Existing earthquake models could explain the first quake but models fell short when trying to explain why the second earthquake was so deep Most earthquake models treat the lithosphere or strong outer layer of the planet as one uniform plate while McGovern s model recognizes the importance of modeling the lithosphere in discrete layers It was this insight that made successful modeling of the October earthquakes possible According to McGovern s model the second earthquake occurred in the deeper stiffer mantle rather than the shallower less stiff crust McGovern s studies of volcanos on Venus and Mars are complementary to studies of Earth s large volcanos in several ways Volcanos on Venus and Mars are not subject to obscuration and erosion by an ocean thus pristine examples of volcanic structures are available for examination on such planets Furthermore volcanos

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/mcgovern/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Planetary Society Offers $50,000 for Asteroid Tagging Designs
    Astronautics AIAA and the Universities Space Research Association USRA The Planetary Society is conducting a competition to design a mission that could tag a potentially dangerous asteroid such as Apophis The prize money was contributed and competition made possible by Daniel Geraci a member of the Planetary Society Board of Directors together with donations from Planetary Society members around the world Geraci stated The time scale may be unknown but the danger of a Near Earth Object impact is very real We need to spur the space community and indeed all people into thinking about technical solutions and being aware of the possibilities The purpose of the competition is to gather a wide ranging selection of entries that would serve as a creative starting point for a potential future mission to tag a hazardous NEO sponsored by one or more of the world s space agencies hopefully in a cooperative venture The Society will present the winning entries to the world s major space agencies and the findings of the competition will be presented at relevant scientific and engineering conferences In 2029 if Apophis passes through a several hundred meter wide keyhole it will impact the Earth in 2036 Current estimates rate the probability of impact as very low but the mission design sought is to be general enough to apply to other potential dangerous cases that might be discovered The competition design scenario asks participants to imagine that Earth based observations of Apophis made over the coming years are not sufficient to know whether the asteroid will or will not pass through the 2029 keyhole and that a better orbit determination is needed to know if a deflection mission is required Tagging an asteroid with a device on or near it would enable the necessary precision tracking Apophis is being used as an example for the purposes of the competition to enable design of a specific example of a broader type of mission to any potentially dangerous asteroid The competition requires that the tagging mission should be designed to return information fast enough so that by the year 2017 space agencies could determine whether they need to send a mission to deflect the asteroid from the keyhole The following mission aspects are the primary focus of the competition the encounter or rendezvous positioning of the tracking device conducting asteroid tracking after the tagging The competition focuses on the portions of the mission near the asteroid For complete Apophis rules please visit Aphophis Mission Design Competion at The Planetary Society s Web site Teams or individuals intending to submit a proposal should submit a Notice of Intent to Propose by February 15 2007 The deadline for proposals is August 31 2007 The Apophis Mission Design Competition is open to anyone from any country Proposals may be submitted by individuals or teams The competition is open to teams from academia and industry as well as student groups and private groups and to government groups or individuals not using government salary to

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/apophis/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LPIB Features an Interview with Director of Planetary Science Division
    satellites and probes in collaboration with NASA s partners around the world to answer fundamental questions requiring the view from and into space SMD seeks to understand the origins evolution and destiny of the universe and to understand the nature of the strange phenomena that shape it At the helm of the Planetary Science Division at SMD is Dr James Green who assumed the position of Acting Director in June of this year Hailing from the same small town in Iowa as another renowned NASA science leader Dr Edward Stone former director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Green was inspired at a young age by NASA and a vision of working for the space agency We recently had the opportunity to talk to Green about his new job his vision for SMD and the goals he hopes to accomplish during his tenure as Acting Director of Planetary Science Green s enthusiasm for the planetary sciences is palpable At the time of our interview he had just returned from the annual meeting of the Division of Planetary Sciences and was bubbling with all the science he had encountered and conversations he had had with the planetary community Talking to the community

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/green/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Unveils Global Exploration Strategy and Lunar Architecture
    strategy will enable interested nations to leverage their capabilities and financial and technical contributions making optimum use of globally available knowledge and resources to help energize a coordinated effort that will propel us into this new age of discovery and exploration The Global Exploration Strategy focuses on two overarching issues why we are returning to the Moon and what we plan to do when we get there The strategy includes

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/global_ex/ (2016-02-15)
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  • JSC Researchers Discover Building Blocks for Life in Meteorite
    study was performed on the Tagish Lake carbonaceous chondrite a rare type of meteorite that is rich in organic carbon bearing compounds Organic matter in meteorites is a subject of intense interest because this material formed at the dawn of the solar system and may have seeded the early Earth with the building blocks of life The Tagish Lake meteorite is especially valuable for this work because much of it

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/tagish_lake/ (2016-02-15)
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  • USRA Announces New President
    mission to Russia to procure over 100 tons of advanced Soviet space hardware then designed built and operated a special test facility for it He later was Defense Liaison in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy serving as Executive Assistant to the National Security Council Senior Director for Science and Technology After this he was appointed Chief of the Air and Missile Defense Branch in the Office of the Secretary of the Army Following his military career Dr Tarantino joined the Bechtel Corporation where he rose to become President and General Manager of Bechtel Nevada Corporation responsible for management and operations of the Nevada Test Site and eight associated operating locations After eight years with Bechtel Dr Tarantino was appointed Principal Associate Director Nuclear Weapons Program at the Los Alamos National Laboratory where he directed all aspects of a 1 4 billion a year science based weapons stewardship program Dr Tarantino holds a B S degree in Physics from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute an M S in Nuclear Science from the Air Force Institute of Technology and a Ph D in Nuclear Reactor Physics from MIT He is also a graduate of the Wharton Business School s Advanced

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/usra_pres/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Radar Subsurface Imaging Leads to Discovery of Rare Meteorite
    data that was collected during meteorite recovery which will be of critical importance when trying to model the fall that generated the strewn field The Brenham strewn field provided an optimal test site as a number of relatively large pallasites have been found at this location ranging in size from a few centimeters to a few tenths of centimeters The largest known pallasite on Earth weighing 635 kilograms 1400 pounds was discovered there in 2005 by meteorite hunter Steve Arnold Previous meteorite searches at this location relied on the use of metal detectors However the history of agricultural use of this land meant that the site contained a significant number of man made metal artifacts that could not readily be distinguished from potential meteorite locations A new method was needed that could distinguish meteoritic targets from dozens of other undesirable targets over the 30 acre site Radar three dimensional polarimetric imaging was suggested as a means of determining a potential meteorite s precise location and provide geometrical characterization of the buried meteorite before digging began Using laboratory electromagnetic characterization on soil samples previously collected from the Kansas soil in the strewn field along with meteoritic samples from the LPI collection Heggy identified the optimal penetration depth and dielectric contrast between the pallasites and the surrounding soil and then set the optimal frequency and surveying parameter to search for the potential presence of buried meteorites at the study site The survey used a cross polarized and multiple frequency sounding GPR surveying technique to reduce ambiguities regarding the physical and geometrical properties of the identified object in the subsurface Due to the oriented shape of the meteorite cross polarization at multiple frequencies was determined to be a very efficient tool to use in its identification Once the potential meteorite was located three dimensional mapping at three different frequencies 270 500 and 900 MHz and two polarizations of a 6 meter 6 meter area 20 feet 20 feet were performed in order to better establish the orientation of the meteorite in the subsurface Armed with this knowledge paleontologists from HMNS were able to fine tune the extraction process to the precise orientation and location of the meteorite thereby allowing them to preserve critical information about the impact and date the event of the meteorite strike Soil samples and organic materials immediately surrounding the meteorite were preserved for dating purposes Comparison of the meteorite as imaged by the 900 MHz cross polarized ground penetrating radar with the actual meteorite retrieved by the paleontology team of the Houston Museum of Natural Science The dimensions of the meteorite as inferred from the radar signal match that revealed by the dig Preliminary information obtained at the dig has already dispelled the prevailing wisdom that the Brenham meteorite fall may have occurred 20 000 years ago The meteorite s location in a Pleistocene epoch soil layer sets the date of the event as closer to 10 000 years ago The high resolution 900 MHz three dimensional GPR image

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