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  • Spitzer and WISE Find Sun’s Close, Cold Neighbor
    the mass to burn nuclear fuel and radiate starlight The newfound coldest brown dwarf is named WISE J085510 83 071442 5 It has a chilly temperature between 54 and 9 F 48 to 13 C The previous record holders for coldest brown dwarfs also found by WISE and Spitzer were about room temperature WISE was able to spot the rare object because it surveyed the entire sky twice in infrared light observing some areas up to three times Cool objects like brown dwarfs can be invisible when viewed by visible light telescopes but their thermal glow even if feeble stands out in infrared light In addition the closer a body the more it appears to move in images taken months apart Airplanes are a good example of this effect A closer low flying plane will appear to fly overhead more rapidly than a high flying one This object appeared to move really fast in the WISE data said Luhman That told us it was something special After noticing the fast motion of WISE J085510 83 071442 5 in March of 2013 Luhman spent time analyzing additional images taken with Spitzer and the Gemini South telescope on Cerro Pachon in Chile Spitzer s infrared observations helped determine the frosty temperature of the brown dwarf Combined detections from WISE and Spitzer taken from different positions around the Sun enabled the measurement of its distance through the parallax effect This is the same principle that explains why your finger when held out right in front of you appears to jump from side to side when you alternate left and right eye views It is remarkable that even after many decades of studying the sky we still do not have a complete inventory of the Sun s nearest neighbors said Michael Werner the project

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/spitzer/042814/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LADEE Mission Ends with Planned Impact on the Lunar Surface
    its closest approach to the lunar surface The new orbit brought LADEE to altitudes below one mile two kilometers above the lunar surface This is lower than most commercial airliners fly above Earth enabling scientists to gather unprecedented science measurements On April 11 LADEE performed a final maneuver to ensure a trajectory that caused the spacecraft to impact the farside of the Moon which is not in view of Earth or near any previous lunar mission landings LADEE also survived the total lunar eclipse on April 14 15 This demonstrated the spacecraft s ability to endure low temperatures and a drain on batteries as it and the Moon passed through Earth s deep shadow In the coming months mission controllers will determine the exact time and location of LADEE s impact and work with the agency s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter LRO team to possibly capture an image of the impact site Launched in June 2009 LRO provides data and detailed images of the lunar surface It s bittersweet knowing we have received the final transmission from the LADEE spacecraft after spending years building it in house at Ames and then being in constant contact as it circled the Moon for the last several months said Butler Hine LADEE project manager at Ames Launched in September 2013 from NASA s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia LADEE began orbiting the Moon on October 6 and gathering science data on November 10 The spacecraft entered its science orbit around the Moon s equator on November 20 and in March 2014 LADEE extended its mission operations following a highly successful 100 day primary science phase LADEE also hosted NASA s first dedicated system for two way communication using laser instead of radio waves The Lunar Laser Communication Demonstration LLCD made history using a pulsed

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/ladee/041814/ (2016-02-15)
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  • David Black Selected as President and CEO of SETI Institute
    numerous advisory committees for NASA and the National Science Foundation The work done at the Institute will inform humanity s understanding of its past and help point the way to its future says Black The SETI Institute provides a focus for studies of some of the more profound questions that humans can ask For example how did life come into existence and is there life on planets orbiting distant stars Learning how life originates or discovering it elsewhere will raise important societal questions says Black While widely known for its expertise in the use of specialized radio antennas to search for signals that would indicate extraterrestrial intelligence the SETI Institute has a much broader research agenda More than 75 research scientists lead studies that bear on the search for life past or present on Mars or on moons of the outer solar system as well as the location composition and history of asteroids meteors and interstellar dust Institute scientists also investigate the mechanisms of terrestrial life s origins and development The Institute hosts the Rings Node of the Planetary Data System which serves scientists worldwide Black notes With the discovery of hundreds perhaps thousands of planets orbiting distant stars the mission of the SETI Institute is more relevant now than when it began The Institute is closely involved with data analysis for NASA s Kepler Mission an exciting effort that has discovered nearly a thousand exoplanets and yielded our first real understanding of the occurrence and arrangement of planetary systems in other star systems Black is assuming leadership of an Institute committed to educational activities to improve the teaching of science and to increase science literacy among the public These efforts include outreach programs for the SOFIA and Kepler telescope missions as well as teacher training a weekly one hour

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/black/ (2016-02-15)
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  • April 15 Lunar Eclipse from a Different Perspective: What Would an Astronaut See from the Moon?
    light This red coloring is due to Earth s atmosphere acting as a lens bending the Sun s light and scattering blue light while allowing red light to pass through and eventually reach the lunar surface Because Earth is blocking the Sun and most of its light from view temperatures would begin to fall During the June 15 2011 lunar eclipse the Diviner instrument onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter observed the temperature of the lunar surface drop more than 100 An astronaut s spacesuit can accommodate the change in temperature but his or her visibility would be affected Low light levels might make it more difficult but not impossible to see and might affect depth perception View from the Farside of the Moon A new generation of astronauts will likely explore the lunar farside a terrain shaped by immense impact craters and mountain peaks It is one of the best locations in the solar system for determining the answers to fundamentally important questions about planetary origins and evolution It is also one of the key locations suitable for developing a productive and sustainable presence in space One of the most interesting locations on the Moon s farside is the Schrödinger impact basin which is located within the immense South Pole Aitken basin Exploring Schrödinger basin would address the two highest science priorities and more than half of the scientific objectives outlined by the National Research Council report The Scientific Context for Exploration of the Moon Commander Gene Cernan of Apollo 17 captured this spectacular image of Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt with the American flag and a view of Earth During an eclipse the face of Earth in the sky above the flag would be dark and outlined by a ring with light In the foreground on the lunar surface

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/eclipse/041014/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Cassini and Deep Space Network Detect Ocean Inside Saturn Moon
    the solar system The gravity measurements suggest a large possibly regional ocean about 6 miles 10 kilometers deep beneath an ice shell about 19 25 miles 30 40 kilometers thick The subsurface ocean evidence supports the inclusion of Enceladus among the most likely places in our solar system to host microbial life Before Cassini reached Saturn in July 2004 no version of that short list included this icy moon barely 300 miles 500 kilometers in diameter This then provides one possible story to explain why water is gushing out of these fractures we see at the south pole said David Stevenson of the California Institute of Technology one of the paper s co authors Cassini has flown near Enceladus 19 times Three flybys from 2010 to 2012 yielded precise trajectory measurements The gravitational tug of a planetary body such as Enceladus alters a spacecraft s flight path Variations in the gravity field such as those caused by mountains on the surface or differences in underground composition can be detected as changes in the spacecraft s velocity measured from Earth The technique of analyzing a radio signal between Cassini and the Deep Space Network can detect changes in velocity as small as less than 1 foot per hour 90 micrometers per second With this precision the flyby data yielded evidence of a zone inside the southern end of the moon with higher density than other portions of the interior The south pole area has a surface depression that causes a dip in the local tug of gravity However the magnitude of the dip is less than expected given the size of the depression leading researchers to conclude the depression s effect is partially offset by a high density feature in the region beneath the surface The Cassini gravity measurements show a

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/cassini/040414/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Masursky Lecture by Dave Scott Now Available on Livestream LPSC Archive
    West Point 1954 a Master of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT 1962 the degree of Engineer in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT 1962 an Honorary Doctor of Astronautical Science degree from the University of Michigan 1971 an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Southern Utah University 1997 an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Brown University 2011 and an Honorary Doctor of Science and Technology degree Jacksonville University 2013 He is a graduate of the USAF Experimental Test Pilot School 1963 and the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School 1964 In 1963 he was selected in the third group of NASA astronauts During the next eight years he flew three space missions Gemini VIII the first docking in space March 1966 Apollo 9 the first test flight of all spacecraft and flight operations for the Apollo lunar mission except landing March 1969 and Apollo 15 July 1971 for which as Commander he received NASA s highest award For leading the most complex and carefully planned scientific expedition in the history of exploration Scott has logged more than 5600 hours flying time in 25 types of aircraft helicopters and spacecraft and 546 hours in space including more than 20 hours of extravehicular activity during five separate EVA excursions Scott held positions in NASA management for six years becoming the Special Assistant for Mission Operations for the joint USA USSR Apollo Soyuz Test Project ASTP In 1975 he retired from the Air Force as a full Colonel to accept the civilian appointment as Director of the NASA Hugh L Dryden Flight Research Center Edwards California the prime NASA aeronautical flight research facility After entering the private sector in 1978 Scott formed several U S corporations conducting business in the U S and England activities of which included project management consulting

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/masursky/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LPI Announces Planetary Science Summer Interns
    the opportunity to experience cutting edge research in lunar and planetary science working one on one with scientists at the LPI and the NASA Johnson Space Center JSC on a project of current interest in planetary science This year s program will run from June 2 through August 8 The students below were selected from an applicant pool of more than 800 students and we welcome them to the LPI as they begin what promises to be a very rewarding summer For more information about the program visit the summer intern webpage Student Eleanor Armstrong The University of Oxford Advisor Julianne Moses LPI Student Elise Harrington Simon Fraser University Advisor Allan Treiman LPI Student Steven Dibb University of California Santa Cruz Advisor Walter Kiefer LPI Student Molly Johnson Winona State University Advisor Virgil Sharpton LPI Student Stefan Farsang University of St Andrews Advisors David Kring and Amy Fagan LPI Student Kaitlyn McCain University of Chicago Advisor Justin Simon JSC Student Allison Fox Indiana University Advisors Paul Niles and Brad Sutter JSC Student Jeffrey Murl University of Hawaii at Monoa Advisors Paul Spudis and George Kramer LPI Student Timothy Gregory The University of Manchester Advisor Michael Zolensky JSC Student Alyssa Pascuzzo

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/interns_2014/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Releases First Interactive Mosaic of Lunar North Pole
    viewers can zoom in and out and pan around an area Constructed from 10 581 pictures the mosaic provides enough detail to see textures and subtle shading of the lunar terrain Consistent lighting throughout the images makes it easy to compare different regions This unique image is a tremendous resource for scientists and the public alike said John Keller LRO project scientist at NASA s Goddard Space Flight Center It s the latest example of the exciting insights and data products LRO has been providing for nearly five years The images making up the mosaic were taken by the two LRO Narrow Angle Cameras which are part of the instrument suite known as the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera LROC The cameras can record a tremendous dynamic range of lit and shadowed areas Creation of this giant mosaic took four years and a huge team effort across the LRO project said Mark Robinson principal investigator for the LROC at Arizona State University in Tempe We now have a nearly uniform map to unravel key science questions and find the best landing spots for future exploration The entire image measures 931 070 pixels square nearly 867 billion pixels total A complete printout at 300 dots per inch considered crisp resolution for printed publications would require a square sheet of paper wider than a professional U S football field and almost as long If the complete mosaic were processed as a single file it would require approximately 3 3 terabytes of storage space Instead the processed mosaic was divided into millions of small compressed files making it manageable for users to view and navigate around the image using a web browser To view the image with zoom and pan capability visit lroc sese asu edu gigapan LRO entered lunar orbit in June 2009

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/LRO/032014/ (2016-02-15)
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