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  • Zooming in on a Blue Moon
    yourself reaching out to pick up a rock and becoming restless for a chance to walk among the lunar peaks This fresh look at the Moon is produced from an integrated set of lunar images and topographical data obtained by the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter LRO in particular the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera LROC and Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter LOLA teams From the Earth to the Moon is a brief but vivid video and audio recording that provides an inspirational view of the lunar surface which humans have not visited since 1972 despite being the best and most accessible place in the solar system to explore the fundamental principles of our origins highlights vast portions of the lunar surface that have yet to be explored and demonstrates how new images are revealing dramatic details of future landing sites suitable for both robotic and human missions Future missions to the Moon are needed to investigate the earliest processes associated with the formation of the Earth Moon system the evolution of the Moon through a period with a planet wide magma ocean and a subsequent period of intense bombardment that repeatedly modified the surfaces of the Earth Moon and all other inner

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/moonVideo/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Curiosity Rover Lands on Martian Surface
    an amazing achievement made possible by a team of scientists and engineers from around the world and led by the extraordinary men and women of NASA and our Jet Propulsion Laboratory President Obama has laid out a bold vision for sending humans to Mars in the mid 2030s and today s landing marks a significant step toward achieving this goal Curiosity landed at 10 32 p m August 5 PDT 1 32 a m EDT August 6 near the foot of a mountain 3 miles tall and 96 miles in diameter inside Gale Crater During a nearly two year prime mission the rover will investigate whether the region ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life The Seven Minutes of Terror has turned into the Seven Minutes of Triumph said NASA Associate Administrator for Science John Grunsfeld My immense joy in the success of this mission is matched only by overwhelming pride I feel for the women and men of the mission s team Curiosity returned its first view of Mars a wide angle scene of rocky ground near the front of the rover More images are anticipated in the next several days as the mission blends observations of the landing site with activities to configure the rover for work and check the performance of its instruments and mechanisms Our Curiosity is talking to us from the surface of Mars said MSL Project Manager Peter Theisinger of NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory The landing takes us past the most hazardous moments for this project and begins a new and exciting mission to pursue its scientific objectives Confirmation of Curiosity s successful landing came in communications relayed by NASA s Mars Odyssey orbiter and received by the Canberra Australia antenna station of NASA s Deep Space Network Curiosity carries 10 science instruments

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/mars/curiosity/080612/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Spacecraft Reveals Ice Content in Moon Crater
    to ice and other volatile compounds on the Moon is surprising given the cosmically cold temperatures inside its polar craters The spacecraft mapped Shackleton crater with unprecedented detail using a laser to illuminate the crater s interior and measure its albedo or natural reflectance The laser light measures to a depth comparable to its wavelength or about one micrometer That represents a millionth of a meter or less than one ten thousandth of an inch The team also used the instrument to map the relief of the crater s terrain based on the time it took for laser light to bounce back from the Moon s surface The longer it took the lower the terrain s elevation In addition to the possible evidence of ice the group s map of Shackleton revealed a remarkably preserved crater that has remained relatively unscathed since its formation more than three billion years ago The crater s floor is itself pocked with several small craters which may have formed as part of the collision that created Shackleton The crater named after the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton is 2 miles 3 2 kilometer deep and more than 12 miles 19 3 kilometers wide Like several craters at the Moon s south pole the small tilt of the lunar spin axis means Shackleton crater s interior is permanently dark and therefore extremely cold The crater s interior is extremely rugged said Maria Zuber the team s lead investigator from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge It would not be easy to crawl around in there While the crater s floor was relatively bright Zuber and her colleagues observed that its walls were even brighter The finding was at first puzzling Scientists had thought that if ice were anywhere in a crater it would be on

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/LRO/072512/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Spitzer Finds Possible Exoplanet Smaller Than Earth
    his colleagues were studying the Neptune sized exoplanet GJ 436b already known to exist around the red dwarf star GJ 436 In the Spitzer data the astronomers noticed slight dips in the amount of infrared light streaming from the star separate from the dips caused by GJ 436b A review of Spitzer archival data showed the dips were periodic suggesting a second planet might be orbiting the star and blocking out a small fraction of the star s light This technique used by a number of observatories including NASA s Kepler space telescope relies on transits to detect exoplanets The duration of a transit and the small decrease in the amount of light registered reveals basic properties of an exoplanet such as its size and distance from its star In UCF 1 01 s case its diameter would be approximately 5200 miles 8400 kilometers or two thirds that of Earth UCF 1 01 would revolve quite tightly around GJ 436 at about seven times the distance of Earth from the Moon with its year lasting only 1 4 Earth days Given this proximity to its star far closer than the planet Mercury is to our Sun the exoplanet s surface temperature would be more than 1000 F almost 600 C If the roasted diminutive planet candidate ever had an atmosphere it almost surely has evaporated UCF 1 01 might therefore resemble a cratered mostly geologically dead world like Mercury Paper co author Joseph Harrington also of the University of Central Florida and principal investigator of the research suggested another possibility that the extreme heat of orbiting so close to GJ 436 has melted the exoplanet s surface The planet could even be covered in magma Harrington said In addition to UCF 1 01 Stevenson and his colleagues noticed hints of

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/spitzer/072512/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Announcing the 2012 Humans in Space International Youth Art Competition
    communicate their vision of the future while incorporating this year s theme How will humans use science and technology to explore space and what mysteries will they uncover Competition judges will include program managers scientists artists teachers astronauts musicians and engineers from all over the world Winning artwork will be woven into multimedia displays and performances providing opportunities for people of all ages to experience and be inspired by the creativity our next generation of explorers Key venues for the 2012 winners will include the 19th Humans in Space Symposium of the International Academy of Astronautics IAA in Cologne Germany in July 2013 and multiple events associated with NASA s 50th Anniversary of Solar System Exploration celebration Information about background science artwork guidelines and how to enter the competition is available at http www humansinspaceart org Submissions are electronic and are due October 21 2012 11 59 p m CDT 23 59 GMT 5 A complete submission for youth artists will have An entry form that includes Submission and contact information Artist s statement of originality 400 words or less Artwork rules for different genres provided on website A waiver signed by a parent or guardian or by the artist

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/hsyac/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Barringer Award Recipients Announced
    for Meteorite Impact Research was established to support field work by eligible students interested in the study of impact cratering processes The Fund provides a small number of competitive grants each year for support of field research at known or suspected impact sites worldwide The Fund was established as a memorial to recognize the contributions of Brandon Moreau Paul and Richard Barringer to the field of meteoritics and the Barringer

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/barringer/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Stuart Ross Taylor Receives 2012 Shoemaker Distinguished Lunar Scientist Award
    lunar composition evolution and origin The Shoemaker Distinguished Lunar Scientist Medal is an annual award given to a scientist who has significantly contributed to the field of lunar science throughout the course of their scientific career The first Distinguished Lunar Scientist Award was given posthumously to Gene Shoemaker and presented to his wife Carolyn The award was subsequently named after Shoemaker and includes a medal with the Shakespearian quote And he will make the face of heaven so fine that all the world will be in love with night Previous Shoemaker medalists include Don E Wilhelms 2010 and G Jeffrey Taylor 2011 The prize is presented at the annual Lunar Science Forum held each July sponsored by the NLSI Taylor grew up on a farm in New Zealand and earned both M S and B S degrees in chemistry and geology at the University of New Zealand before completing his Ph D in geochemistry at Indiana University under advisor Brian Mason He lectured at the Universities of Oxford and Cape Town before moving to the Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University where he is currently an emeritus professor He has also had many appointments at the Lunar and Planetary Institute LPI in Houston as a visiting scientist and in 2005 was the LPI s first Heritage Fellow His research involves studies of the composition and evolution of the Moon Earth s continental crust tektites and impact glasses island arc rocks and many other topics involving trace element geochemistry He has published 240 scientific papers and nine books including Lunar Science A Post Apollo View Planetary Science A Lunar Perspective Solar System Evolution A New Perspective Destiny or Chance The Continental Crust with Scott McLennan and Planetary Crusts with Scott McLennan Taylor has been awarded the Goldschmidt

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/rosstaylor/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Center for Lunar Science and Exploration Welcomes 2012 Intern Class
    science priorities can be accomplished with robotic and human exploration missions The 10 week program runs May 29 through August 3 2012 Applications were accepted from graduate students in geology planetary science and related programs as well as undergraduates with at least 50 semester hours of credit in those fields Now in its fifth year the program continues to produce successful outcomes Last year s interns submitted seven abstracts that

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/lunar/interns2012/ (2016-02-15)
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