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  • LPI Now Accepting Applications for 2015 Summer Intern Program in Planetary Science
    semester hours of credit to experience cutting edge research in the lunar and planetary sciences The deadline for application is January 9 2015 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

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/lpi_intern2015/101514/ (2016-02-15)
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  • USRA Announces New President and CEO
    to joining Sandia in 2011 he was at RAND Corporation where he was Vice President and Director of the Arroyo Center the U S Army s federally funded research and development center FFRDC for studies and analysis He had returned to RAND in 2007 from Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company where he directed systems engineering and integration of the Space Based Infrared System High This multibillion dollar satellite program provides the U S with a next generation capability for missile warning Prior to joining Lockheed Martin in 2004 Isaacson served in a variety of research and management positions for nearly 13 years at RAND including Vice President and Director of the National Defense Research Institute the FFRDC supporting the Office of the Secretary of Defense the Joint Staff and the defense agencies As a Department of Energy graduate fellow in the 1980s he conducted research at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory Isaacson is a member of the Army Science Board and the M I T Corporation Visiting Committee for the Engineering Systems Division He earned degrees at Columbia University Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he received his Ph D in theoretical physics Isaacson is also a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom having served in Afghanistan as a mobilized reservist from May 2009 to April 2010 Wesley Harris of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who chaired the search process and serves as Vice Chair of the USRA Board commented Jeff possesses an exceptional depth and range of abilities from his doctoral work in theoretical physics to research on complex national defense policy and strategy problems to executive level management of major programs for the Departments of Defense and Energy I am confident Jeff will provide the Association with the vision and

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/usra_president/101514/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Former Lunar Exploration Interns Receive COSPAR Award
    and Characterization and Science Rich Landing Sites for Lunar Lander Missions Using Integrated Remote Sensing Observations was co authored by a group of students who spent the summer of 2010 at the Lunar and Planetary Institute LPI in Houston as part of the Lunar Exploration Summer Intern Program The lead author of the article is former intern Jessica Flahaut Laboratoire de Géologie de Lyon co authors include former interns Jean Francois Blanchette Guertin University of British Columbia Christine Jilly University of Hawai i at Manoa Priyanka Sharma University of Arizona and Audrey Souchon Université de Toulouse III along with advisor David Kring LPI The COSPAR Publications Committee relying on assistance and advice from Associate Editors and Commission Panel officers recommend recipients for the award to the Bureau Candidates must be first authors under 31 years of age at the time the manuscript is submitted for publication in Advances in Space Research and award recipients are selected from among a minimum of five competitors per Commission Panel A virtual issue containing all the articles selected for the award has been made available for free viewing through December on the Elsevier website The Lunar Exploration Summer Intern Program now the Exploration Science

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/cospar/101514/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Mission Points to Origin of “Ocean of Storms” on Earth’s Moon
    volcanic plains The rifts are buried beneath dark volcanic plains on the nearside of the Moon and have been detected only in the gravity data provided by GRAIL The lava flooded rift valleys are unlike anything found anywhere else on the Moon and may at one time have resembled rift zones on Earth Mars and Venus The findings are published online in the journal Nature Co authors of the article include LPI scientists Walter Kiefer Patrick McGovern and Paul Schenk Another theory arising from recent data analysis suggests this region formed as a result of churning deep in the interior of the Moon that led to a high concentration of heat producing radioactive elements in the crust and mantle of this region Scientists studied the gradients in gravity data from GRAIL which revealed a rectangular shape in resulting gravitational anomalies The rectangular pattern of gravity anomalies was completely unexpected said Jeff Andrews Hanna a GRAIL co investigator at the Colorado School of Mines in Golden Colorado and lead author of the paper Using the gradients in the gravity data to reveal the rectangular pattern of anomalies we can now clearly and completely see structures that were only hinted at by surface observations The rectangular pattern with its angular corners and straight sides contradicts the theory that Procellarum is an ancient impact basin since such an impact would create a circular basin Instead the new research suggests processes beneath the Moon s surface dominated the evolution of this region Over time the region would cool and contract pulling away from its surroundings and creating fractures similar to the cracks that form in mud as it dries out but on a much larger scale The study also noted a surprising similarity between the rectangular pattern of structures on the Moon and those

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/grail/100614/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Rosetta Comet Fires Its Jets
    These jets originating from several discrete locations are a product of ices sublimating and gases escaping from inside the nucleus The overlapping and slightly dissimilar angles of the four images that compose the montage are a result of the combined effect of the comet rotating between the first and last images taken in the sequence about 10 over 20 minutes and the spacecraft movement during that same time Launched in March 2004 Rosetta was reactivated in January 2014 after a record 957 days in hibernation Rosetta is composed of an orbiter and lander Its objectives since arriving at Comet 67P Churyumov Gerasimenko earlier this month are to study the celestial object up close in unprecedented detail prepare for landing a probe on the comet s nucleus in November and after the landing track the comet s changes through 2015 as it sweeps past the Sun Comets are time capsules containing primitive material left over from the epoch when the Sun and its planets formed Rosetta s lander will obtain the first images taken from a comet s surface and will provide comprehensive analysis of the comet s possible primordial composition by drilling into the surface Rosetta also will be the

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/rosetta/100614/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Swirling Cloud at Titan’s Pole is Cold and Toxic
    switch occurred in 2009 when winter gave way to spring in the northern hemisphere and summer transitioned to autumn in the southern hemisphere In May 2012 while Titan s southern hemisphere was experiencing autumn images from Cassini revealed a huge swirling cloud several hundred miles across taking shape above Titan s south pole This polar vortex appears to be an effect of the change of season A puzzling detail about the swirling cloud is its altitude approximately 300 kilometers about 200 miles above Titan s surface where scientists thought the temperature was too warm for clouds to form We really didn t expect to see such a massive cloud so high in the atmosphere said de Kok Keen to understand what could give rise to this mysterious cloud the scientists dove into Cassini s observations and found an important clue in the spectrum of sunlight reflected by Titan s atmosphere A spectrum splits the light from a celestial body into its constituent colors revealing signatures of the elements and molecules present Cassini s visual and infrared mapping spectrometer VIMS maps the distribution of chemical compounds in Titan s atmosphere and on its surface The light coming from the polar vortex showed a remarkable difference with respect to other portions of Titan s atmosphere says de Kok We could clearly see a signature of frozen HCN molecules As a gas HCN is present in small amounts in the nitrogen rich atmosphere of Titan Finding these molecules in the form of ice was surprising as HCN can condense to form frozen particles only if the atmospheric temperature is as cold as 148 C 234 F This is about 100 C about 200 F colder than predictions from current theoretical models of Titan s upper atmosphere To check whether such low temperatures were

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/cassini/100614/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Curiosity Rover Arrives at Martian Mountain
    Murray formation is softer and does not preserve impact scars as well As viewed from orbit it is not as well layered as other units at the base of Mount Sharp Curiosity made its first close up study last month of two Murray formation outcrops both revealing notable differences from the terrain explored by Curiosity during the past year The first outcrop called Bonanza King proved too unstable for drilling but was examined by the rover s instruments and determined to have high silicon content A second outcrop examined with the rover s telephoto Mast Camera revealed a fine grained platy surface laced with sulfate filled veins While some of these terrain differences are not apparent in observations made by NASA s Mars orbiters the rover team still relies heavily on images taken by the agency s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter MRO to plan Curiosity s travel routes and locations for study For example MRO images helped the rover team locate mesas that are over 18 meters 60 feet tall in an area of terrain shortly beyond Pahrump Hills which reveal an exposure of the Murray formation uphill and toward the south The team plans to use Curiosity s drill to acquire a sample from this site for analysis by instruments inside the rover The site lies at the southern end of a valley Curiosity will enter from the north Although this valley has a sandy floor the length of two football fields the team expects it will be an easier trek than the sandy floored Hidden Valley where last month Curiosity s wheels slipped too much for safe crossing Curiosity reached its current location after its route was modified earlier this year in response to excessive wheel wear In late 2013 the team realized a region of martian terrain littered

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/mars/curiosity/092314/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA’s Newest Mars Mission Spacecraft Enters Orbit Around Red Planet
    the potential habitability of the planet said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden It also will better inform a future mission to send humans to the Red Planet in the 2030s After a 10 month journey confirmation of successful orbit insertion was received from MAVEN data observed at the Lockheed Martin operations center in Littleton Colorado as well as from tracking data monitored at NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory navigation facility in Pasadena California The telemetry and tracking data were received by NASA s Deep Space Network antenna station in Canberra Australia NASA has a long history of scientific discovery at Mars and the safe arrival of MAVEN opens another chapter said John Grunsfeld astronaut and associate administrator of the NASA Science Mission Directorate at the agency s Headquarters in Washington MAVEN will complement NASA s other martian robotic explorers and those of our partners around the globe to answer some fundamental questions about Mars and life beyond Earth Following orbit insertion MAVEN will begin a six week commissioning phase that includes maneuvering into its final science orbit and testing the instruments and science mapping commands MAVEN then will begin its one Earth year primary mission taking measurements of the composition structure and escape of gases in Mars upper atmosphere and its interaction with the Sun and solar wind It s taken 11 years from the original concept for MAVEN to now having a spacecraft in orbit at Mars said Bruce Jakosky MAVEN principal investigator with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics at the University of Colorado Boulder I m delighted to be here safely and successfully and looking forward to starting our science mission The primary mission includes five deep dip campaigns in which MAVEN s periapsis or lowest orbit altitude will be lowered from 150 kilometers 93 miles to

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/maven/092314/ (2016-02-15)
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