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  • NASA Issues “Remastered” View of Jupiter’s Moon Europa
    NASA s Galileo spacecraft This is the first time that NASA has published a version of the scene produced using modern image processing techniques This view of Europa stands out as the color view that shows the largest portion of the moon s surface at the highest resolution An earlier lower resolution version of the view published in 2001 featured colors that had been strongly enhanced The new image more closely approximates what the human eye would see Space imaging enthusiasts have produced their own versions of the view using the publicly available data but NASA had not previously issued its own rendition using near natural color The image features many long curving and linear fractures in the moon s bright ice shell Scientists are eager to learn if the reddish brown fractures and other markings spattered across the surface contain clues about the geological history of Europa and the chemistry of the global ocean that is thought to exist beneath the ice In addition to the newly processed image a new video details why this likely ocean world is a high priority for future exploration The video can be seen at http youtu be kz9VhCQbPAk Hidden beneath Europa s

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/120514/europa/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Second Time Through, Mars Rover Examines Chosen Rocks
    Vasavada of NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Pasadena California Overlaid on that structure are compositional variations Some of those variations were detected with our spectrometer Others show themselves as apparent differences in cementation or as mineral veins There s a lot to study here During a second pass up the outrcrop the mission is using a close up camera and spectrometer on the rover s arm to examine selected targets in more detail The second pass findings will feed into decisions about whether to drill into some target rocks during a third pass to collect sample material for onboard laboratory analysis The variations we ve seen so far tell us that the environment was changing over time both as the sediments were laid down and also after they hardened into bedrock Vasavada said We have selected targets that we think give us the best chance of answering questions about how the sediments were deposited in standing water flowing water sand blowing in the wind and about the composition during deposition and later changes The first target in the second pass is called Pelona a fine grained finely layered rock close to the September drilling target at the base of Pahrump Hills outcrop The second is a more erosion resistant ledge called Pink Cliffs Before examining Pelona researchers used Curiosity s wheels as a tool to expose a cross section of a nearby windblown ripple of dust and sand One motive for this experiment was to learn why some ripples that Curiosity drove into earlier this year were more difficult to cross than anticipated While using the rover to investigate targets in Pahrump Hills the rover team is also developing a work around for possible loss of use of a device used for focusing the telescope on Curiosity s Chemistry and

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/120514/curiosity/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LPI Announces Shoemaker Impact Cratering Award Recipient
    of California Los Angeles Boenke is pursuing a Ph D study of impact related shock processes and their effect on the argon argon radiometric system He is working with Mark Harrison at the University of California Los Angeles With funds provided with the GSA Planetary Geology Division s Eugene M Shoemaker Impact Cratering Award Boehnke will be conducting shock experiments at Caltech and Ar Ar analyses of experimental products at New Mexico Tech 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 and administered by the LPI It commemorates the work of Eugene Gene Shoemaker who greatly influenced planetary sciences during the Apollo era and for several decades thereafter including the discovery of Comet Shoemaker Levy 9 with his wife Carolyn and colleague David Levy Proposals for

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/120514/shoemaker_award/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Geologic Maps of Vesta from Dawn Mission Published
    NASA Goddard Spaceflight Center Greenbelt Maryland The geologic mapping campaign at Vesta took about two and a half years to complete and the resulting maps enabled us to recognize a geologic timescale of Vesta for comparison to other planets said Williams Scientists discovered through these maps that impacts from several large meteorites have shaped Vesta s history Asteroids like Vesta are remnants of the formation of the solar system giving scientists a peek at its history Asteroids could also harbor molecules that are the building blocks of life and reveal clues about the origins of life on Earth The geologic mapping of Vesta is enabled by images obtained by the framing camera provided by the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research of the German Max Planck Society and the German Aerospace Center This camera takes panchromatic images and seven bands of color filtered images Stereo photos are used to create topographic models of the surface that aid in the geologic interpretation Vesta s geologic timescale is determined by the sequence of large impact events primarily by the Veneneia and Rheasilvia impacts in Vesta s early history and the Marcia impact in its late history The oldest crust on Vesta pre dates the Veneneia impact The relative timescale is supplemented by model based absolute ages from two different approaches that apply crater statistics to date the surface This mapping was crucial for getting a better understanding of Vesta s geological history as well as providing context for the compositional information that we received from other instruments on the spacecraft the visible and infrared VIR mapping spectrometer and the gamma ray and neutron detector GRaND said Carol Raymond Dawn s deputy principal investigator at NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory The objective of NASA s Dawn mission is to characterize the two

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/112114/dawn/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Hubble Telescope Finds Potential Kuiper Belt Targets for New Horizons Pluto Mission
    have never been visited by spacecraft and that contain clues to the origin of our solar system The KBOs that Hubble found are each about 10 times larger than typical comets but only about 1 2 the size of Pluto Unlike asteroids KBOs have not been heated by the Sun and are thought to represent a pristine well preserved deep freeze sample of what the outer solar system was like following its birth 4 6 billion years ago The KBOs found in the Hubble data are thought to be the building blocks of dwarf planets such as Pluto The New Horizons team started to look for suitable KBOs in 2011 using some of the largest groundbased telescopes on Earth They found several dozen KBOs but none was reachable within the fuel supply available onboard the New Horizons spacecraft We started to get worried that we could not find anything suitable even with Hubble but in the end the space telescope came to the rescue said New Horizons science team member John Spencer of SwRI There was a huge sigh of relief when we found suitable KBOs we are over the moon about this detection Following an initial proof of concept of the Hubble pilot observing program in June the New Horizons Team was awarded telescope time by the Space Telescope Science Institute for a wider survey in July When the search was completed in early September the team identified one KBO that is considered definitely reachable and two other potentially accessible KBOs that will require more tracking over several months to know whether they too are accessible by the New Horizons spacecraft This was a needle in the haystack search for the New Horizons team because the elusive KBOs are extremely small faint and difficult to pick out against a

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/112114/hubble/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Mars Spacecraft Reveal Comet Flyby Effects on Martian Atmosphere
    perturbations Earth based telescopes and a host of space based telescopes also observed the unique celestial object This historic event allowed us to observe the details of this fast moving Oort cloud comet in a way never before possible using our existing Mars missions said Jim Green director of NASA s Planetary Science Division at the agency s Headquarters in Washington Observing the effects on Mars of the comet s dust slamming into the upper atmosphere makes me very happy that we decided to put our spacecraft on the other side of Mars at the peak of the dust tail passage and out of harm s way The MAVEN spacecraft recently arrived at Mars detected the comet encounter in two ways The remote sensing Imaging Ultraviolet Spectrograph observed intense ultraviolet emission from magnesium and iron ions high in the atmosphere in the aftermath of the meteor shower Not even the most intense meteor storms on Earth have produced as strong a response as this one The emission dominated Mars ultraviolet spectrum for several hours after the encounter and then dissipated over the next two days MAVEN was also able to directly sample and determine the composition of some of the comet dust in Mars atmosphere Analysis of these samples by the spacecraft s Neutral Gas and Ion Mass Spectrometer detected eight different types of metal ions including sodium magnesium and iron These are the first direct measurements of the composition of dust from an Oort cloud comet The Oort cloud well beyond the outermost planets that surround our Sun is a spherical region of icy objects believed to be material left over from the formation of the solar system Elsewhere above Mars a joint U S and Italian instrument on Mars Express observed a huge increase in the density of

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/112114/comet_siding_spring/ (2016-02-15)
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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 January 9 2015 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 LPSC

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/110714/cda_award/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LPI Now Accepting Applications for Exploration Science Interns
    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 2015 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 23 2015 This program is open to graduate students in geology planetary science planetary astronomy and related programs It is also open to exceptional undergraduate students with at least 50 semester hours of credit in those fields The 10 week program runs from May 26 2015 through July 31 2015 Selected interns will receive a 5600 stipend to cover the costs associated with being in Houston for the duration of the program Additionally U S citizens will receive up

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/110414/exploration_intern/ (2016-02-15)
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