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  • Graduate Students Eligible for the LPI Career Development Award
    to help cover travel expenses for attending the LPSC in March Awards will be based on a review of the application materials by a panel of lunar and planetary scientists The application deadline for the LPI Career Development Award is Friday January 15 2016 Applications must include Letter outlining why the applicant would like to participate at the LPSC and what he or she will contribute to the conference Letter of recommendation from his or her research advisor Copy of the first author abstract Curriculum vitae for the applicant Please be aware that citizens of U S State Department Designated Countries are not eligible Applications and ALL accompanying materials must be submitted electronically Note that all documents listed above will need to be uploaded in text or PDF format NOTE Applicants should be aware that the selected award recipients will be expected to provide a few hours no more than four of volunteer service during the conference The assigned duties will be general in nature and will include such tasks as distributing registration materials restocking conference materials and supplies helping clean up reset the poster area at the conclusion of the poster sessions etc Awardees will be contacted by the

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/112415/cda/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Secondhand Spacecraft Has Firsthand Asteroid Experience
    mission and a new name Its job was to find and collect the infrared signatures on some of our closest celestial neighbors asteroids comets and near Earth objects Now led by Principal Investigator Amy Mainzer of NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California the mission was named Near Earth Object WISE NEOWISE As an infrared telescope NEOWISE sees the heat emitted from celestial bodies Although it is common to think of objects in space as very cold our Sun warms the surfaces of asteroids making them glow brightly in NEOWISE images Even asteroids as dark as black ink which can be difficult to see against the darkness of space in visible wavelengths can be spotted by NEOWISE s camera Using visible wavelengths of light it is difficult to tell if an asteroid is big and dark or bright and small because both combinations reflect the same amount of light said Carrie Nugent a NEOWISE scientist at the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena But when you look at an asteroid in the infrared with NEOWISE the amount of infrared light corresponds with how big the asteroid is and with some thermal models on a computer you can figure out how big the asteroids are With these thermal models the NEOWISE team has measured the size and brightness of about 20 of the known asteroid population In the first year since reactivation Nugent and the NEOWISE team have made these measurements for almost 8000 asteroids including 201 near Earth asteroids When WISE rolled off the assembly line it was like a shiny new car with all the latest technology said Nugent Now it s like that first car you get out of school more vintage than new and with a lot of miles

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/112415/neowise/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Upgrade Helps NASA Study Mineral Veins on Mars
    clues behind that scientists are now analyzing for insights into how ancient environmental conditions changed over time These fluids could be from different sources at different times said Diana Blaney a Curiosity science team member at NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena California We see crosscutting veins with such diverse chemistry at this localized site This could be the result of distinct fluids migrating through from a distance carrying chemical signatures from where they d been Researchers used Curiosity s laser firing Chemistry and Camera ChemCam instrument to record the spectra of sparks generated by zapping 17 Garden City targets with the laser The unusually diverse chemistry detected at Garden City includes calcium sulfate in some veins and magnesium sulfate in others Additional veins were found to be rich in fluorine or varying levels of iron As researchers analyzed Curiosity s observations of the veins the ChemCam team was completing the most extensive upgrade to its data analysis toolkit since Curiosity reached Mars in August 2012 They more than tripled to about 350 the number of Earth rock geochemical samples examined with a test version of ChemCam This enabled an improvement in their data interpretation making it more sensitive to a wider range of possible composition of martian rocks Blaney said The chemistry at Garden City would have been very enigmatic if we didn t have this recalibration The Garden City site is just uphill from a mudstone outcrop called Pahrump Hills which Curiosity investigated for about six months after reaching the base of multi layered Mount Sharp in September 2014 The mission is examining ancient environments that offered favorable conditions for microbial life if Mars has ever hosted any and the changes from those environments to drier conditions that have prevailed on Mars for more than 3 billion

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/112415/mars/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LPI Now Accepting Applications for Exploration Science Interns
    year period 2008 2012 teams of students worked with Lunar and Planetary Institute LPI science staff and their collaborators to produce A Global Lunar Landing Site Study to Provide the Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon The program for 2016 is designed to have the same impact on future exploration activities but has a broader scope that includes both the Moon and near Earth asteroids It is a unique opportunity to integrate scientific input with exploration activities in a way that mission architects and spacecraft engineers can use Activities may involve assessments and traverse plans for a particular destination e g on the lunar farside or a more general assessment of a class of possible exploration targets e g small near Earth asteroids The deadline for application is January 15 2016 This program is open to graduate students in geology planetary science planetary astronomy and related programs The 10 week program runs from May 23 2016 through July 29 2016 Selected interns will receive a 5675 stipend to cover the costs associated with being in Houston for the duration of the program Additionally U S citizens will receive up to 1000 in travel expense reimbursement and foreign nationals will

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/102115/exploration_interns/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Announcing New Planetary Science Nuggets Website
    A subset of these submissions are selected by the Planetary Science Division to be presented to SMD leadership and potentially NASA leadership OSTP and the White House The collection on this website represents those selected nuggets and will be updated as new nuggets are accepted The website also includes a Powerpoint Presentation by Jim Green on how to prepare nuggets http www lpi usra edu opag meetings aug2015 presentations day

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/100915/nuggets/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LPI Now Accepting Applications for 2016 Summer Intern Program in Planetary Science
    application is January 8 2016 Summer interns will work one on one with a scientist at the LPI or at the NASA Johnson Space Center on a research project of current interest in lunar and planetary science Furthermore they will participate in peer reviewed research learn from top notch planetary scientists and preview various careers in science The 10 week program begins June 6 2016 and ends on August 12

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/100515/lpiintern/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Confirms Evidence that Liquid Water Flows on Today’s Mars
    more rapidly Scientists say it s likely a shallow subsurface flow with enough water wicking to the surface to explain the darkening We found the hydrated salts only when the seasonal features were widest which suggests that either the dark streaks themselves or a process that forms them is the source of the hydration In either case the detection of hydrated salts on these slopes means that water plays a vital role in the formation of these streaks said Lujendra Ojha of the Georgia Institute of Technology Georgia Tech in Atlanta lead author of a report on these findings published September 28 by Nature Geoscience Ojha first noticed these puzzling features as a University of Arizona undergraduate student in 2010 using images from the MRO s High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment HiRISE HiRISE observations now have documented RSL at dozens of sites on Mars The new study pairs HiRISE observations with mineral mapping by MRO s Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars CRISM The spectrometer observations show signatures of hydrated salts at multiple RSL locations but only when the dark features were relatively wide When the researchers looked at the same locations and RSL weren t as extensive they detected no hydrated salt Ojha and his co authors interpret the spectral signatures as caused by hydrated minerals called perchlorates The hydrated salts most consistent with the chemical signatures are likely a mixture of magnesium perchlorate magnesium chlorate and sodium perchlorate Some perchlorates have been shown to keep liquids from freezing even when conditions are as cold as 70 C 94 F On Earth naturally produced perchlorates are concentrated in deserts and some types of perchlorates can be used as rocket propellant Perchlorates have previously been seen on Mars NASA s Phoenix lander and Curiosity rover both found them in the

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/092915/MRO/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Cassini Finds Global Ocean in Saturn's Moon Enceladus
    Cassini s images confirm this to be the case This was a hard problem that required years of observations and calculations involving a diverse collection of disciplines but we are confident we finally got it right said Peter Thomas a Cassini imaging team member at Cornell University Ithaca New York and lead author of the paper Cassini scientists analyzed more than seven years worth of images of Enceladus taken by the spacecraft which has been orbiting Saturn since mid 2004 They carefully mapped the positions of features on Enceladus mostly craters across hundreds of images in order to measure changes in the moon s rotation with extreme precision As a result they found Enceladus has a tiny but measurable wobble as it orbits Saturn Because the icy moon is not perfectly spherical and because it goes slightly faster and slower during different portions of its orbit around Saturn the giant planet subtly rocks Enceladus back and forth as it rotates The team plugged their measurement of the wobble called a libration into different models for how Enceladus might be arranged on the inside including ones in which the moon was frozen from surface to core If the surface and core were rigidly connected the core would provide so much dead weight the wobble would be far smaller than we observe it to be said Matthew Tiscareno a Cassini participating scientist at the SETI Institute Mountain View California and a co author of the paper This proves that there must be a global layer of liquid separating the surface from the core The mechanisms that might have prevented Enceladus ocean from freezing remain a mystery Thomas and colleagues suggest a few ideas for future study that might help resolve the question including the surprising possibility that tidal forces due to Saturn

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/092915/cassini/ (2016-02-15)
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