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  • Research Suggests Water Content of Moon Interior Underestimated
    examined in two Apollo samples and a lunar meteorite McCubbin s team utilized tests that detect elements in the parts per billion range Combining their measurements with models that characterize how the material crystallized as the Moon cooled during formation they found that the minimum water content ranged from 64 parts per billion to 5 parts per million The result is at least two orders of magnitude greater than previous results from lunar samples that estimated water content of the Moon to be less than 1 part per billion In this case when we talk about water on the Moon we mean water in the structural form hydroxyl said Jim Green director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington This is a very minor component of the rocks that make up the lunar interior The origin of the Moon is now commonly believed to be the result of a Mars sized object that impacted the Earth 4 5 billion years ago This impact put a large amount of material into Earth s orbit that ultimately compacted to form the Moon The lunar magma ocean thought to have formed at some point during the compacting process began to cool During this cooling water either escaped or was preserved as hydroxyl molecules in the crystallizing minerals Previous studies found evidence of water both on the lunar surface and inside the Moon by using remote sensing data from the Indian spacecraft Chandrayaan 1 and other lunar sample analysis Carnegie researchers looked within crystalline rocks called KREEP K for potassium REE for rare Earth elements and P for phosphorus These rocks are a component of some lunar impact melt and basaltic rocks Since water is insoluble in the main silicates that crystallized we believed that it should have concentrated in those

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/moon_water/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Hayabusa Capsule Recovered Intact
    Kagoshima Space Center in Uchinoura Japan Hayabusa was designed as a flying testbed Its mission to research several new engineering technologies necessary for returning planetary samples to Earth for further study With Hayabusa JAXA scientists and engineers hoped to obtain detailed information on electrical propulsion and autonomous navigation as well as an asteroid sampler and sample reentry capsule The 510 kilogram 950 pound Hayabusa spacecraft rendezvoused with asteroid Itokawa in September 2005 Over the next two and a half months the spacecraft made up close and personal scientific observations of the asteroid s shape terrain surface altitude distribution mineral composition gravity and the way it reflected the Sun s rays On November 25 of that year Hayabusa briefly touched down on the surface of Itokawa That was only the second time in history a spacecraft descended to the surface of an asteroid NASA s Near Earth Asteroid Rendezvous Shoemaker spacecraft landed on asteroid Eros on February 12 2001 Hayabusa marked the first attempt to sample asteroid surface material The spacecraft departed Itokawa in January 2007 The road home for the technology demonstrator has been a long one with several anomalies encountered along the way But now the spacecraft has returned to its home planet The data acquired by the descent team should help evaluate how thermal protection systems behave during these super speedy spacecraft reentries This in turn will help engineers understand what a sample return capsule returning from Mars would undergo The Hayabusa sample return capsule reentry observation was similar to earlier observations of NASA s Stardust capsule return and the reentry of the European Space Agency s ATV 1 Jules Verne automated transfer vehicle Soon after the sample return capsule touched down on the ground Hayabusa team members were scheduled to retrieve it and transport it to JAXA

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/hayabusa/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LPI Welcomes Planetary Science Interns
    the Institute as they begin what promises to be a very rewarding summer The application deadline for next year s program will be in January 2011 We will begin accepting applications in the fall For more information about the program visit the summer intern webpage Student Aaron Bauer Williams College Advisor Tomasz Stepinski LPI Project Automated Detection and Characterization of Lunar Craters Using Topography Data Student Cameron Mercer Middlebury College Advisors John Jones and David Draper JSC Project A Low Temperature Study of High Ti Lunar Systems Student Tiffany Engle Sam Houston State University Advisors Juliane Gross and Allan Treiman LPI Project Mineral Chemistry and Origin of Spinel bearing Rock Types in Lunar Highland Meteorites Student Sean Murphy Lafayette College Advisor Paul Schenk LPI Project Rayed Craters on Saturn s Icy Moons Student Joel Hecker University of Cincinnati Advisor Paul Spudis LPI Project Radar Properties of Lunar Geological Units Student William Vaughan University of Chicago Advisors Katherine Joy and Axel Wittman LPI Project Characterization of the Impact History of Lunar Meteorite PCA 02007 Student Kristin Johnson Youngstown State University Advisor David Mittlefehldt JSC Project Investigation of Orthopyroxene Diversity in Howardites Student Katelyn Verner Southern Methodist University Advisors Patrick McGovern and

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/interns2010/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LPI Welcomes Lunar Exploration Interns
    The ten week program runs June 1 2010 through August 6 2010 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 The Lunar Exploration Summer Intern Program is supported by funding from the LPI and the NASA Lunar Science Institute at NASA Ames Research Center Congratulations to the ten students chosen to participate in

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/lunar/intern2010/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Mars Rovers Set Surface Longevity Record
    Passing the solstice means we re over the hump for the cold dark winter season Unless dust interferes which is unlikely in the coming months the solar panels on both rovers should gradually generate more electricity Operators hope that Spirit will recharge its batteries enough to awaken from hibernation start communicating and resume science tasks Unlike recent operations Opportunity will not have to rest to regain energy between driving days The gradual increase in available sunshine will eventually improve the rate of Opportunity s progress across a vast plain toward its long term destination the Endeavour Crater This month some of Opportunity s drives have been planned to end at an energy favorable tilt on the northern face of small martian plain surface ripples The positioning sacrifices some distance to regain energy sooner for the next drive Opportunity s cameras can see a portion of the rim of Endeavour on the horizon approximately eight miles away across the plain s ripples of windblown sand The ripples look like waves on the ocean like we re out in the middle of the ocean with land on the horizon our destination said Steve Squyres of Cornell University in Ithaca New York Squyres is the principal investigator for Opportunity and Spirit Even though we know we might never get there Endeavour is the goal that drives our exploration The team chose Endeavour as a destination in mid 2008 after Opportunity finished two years examining the smaller Victoria Crater Since then the goal became even more alluring when orbital observations found clay minerals exposed at Endeavour Clay minerals have been found extensively on Mars from orbit but have not been examined on the surface Those minerals form under wet conditions more neutral than the wet acidic environment that formed the sulfates we ve found

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/mars_rover/longevity/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Phoenix Mars Lander Does Not Phone Home, New Image Shows Damage
    However the slim possibility Phoenix survived could not be eliminated without listening for the lander after abundant sunshine returned An image of Phoenix taken this month by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment HiRISE camera onboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter suggests the lander no longer casts shadows the way it did during its working lifetime Before and after images are dramatically different said Michael Mellon of the University of Colorado in Boulder a science team member for both Phoenix and HiRISE The lander looks smaller and only a portion of the difference can be explained by accumulation of dust on the lander which makes its surfaces less distinguishable from surrounding ground Apparent changes in the shadows cast by the lander are consistent with predictions of how Phoenix could be damaged by harsh winter conditions It was anticipated that the weight of a carbon dioxide ice buildup could bend or break the lander s solar panels Mellon calculated hundreds of pounds of ice probably coated the lander in midwinter During its mission Phoenix confirmed and examined patches of the widespread deposits of underground water ice detected by Odyssey and identified a mineral called calcium carbonate that suggested occasional presence of thawed water The lander also found soil chemistry with significant implications for life and observed falling snow The mission s biggest surprise was the discovery of perchlorate an oxidizing chemical on Earth that is food for some microbes and potentially toxic for others We found that the soil above the ice can act like a sponge with perchlorate scavenging water from the atmosphere and holding on to it said Peter Smith Phoenix principal investigator at the University of Arizona in Tucson You can have a thin film layer of water capable of being a habitable environment A micro world at the

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/phoenix/damage/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Field Training and Research Program at Meteor Crater
    geology field class and research project based at Barringer Meteorite Crater Arizona more popularly known as Meteor Crater The goal will be to introduce students to impact cratering processes and provide an opportunity to assist with a research project at the crater Skills developed during the field camp should better prepare students for their own thesis studies in impact cratered terrains whether they be on Earth the Moon Mars or

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/mcFieldCamp/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Invites Public to Take Virtual Walk on Moon
    images taken by NASA s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera LROC offer exciting clues to unveil or reveal the history of the Moon and our solar system The Moon Zoo website is a citizen science project developed by the Citizen Science Alliance a group of research organizations and museums and builds on the team s success with Galaxy Zoo which has involved more than 250 000 people in astronomical research We need web users around the world to help us interpret these stunning new images of the lunar surface said Chris Lintott of Oxford University and chair of the Citizen Science Alliance If you only spend five minutes on the site counting craters you ll be making a valuable contribution to science and who knows you might run across a Russian spacecraft Scientists are particularly interested in knowing how many craters appear in a particular region of the Moon in order to determine the age and depth of the lunar surface regolith Fresh craters left by recent impacts provide clues about the potential risks from meteor strikes on the Moon and on Earth We hope to address key questions about the impact bombardment history of the Moon and discover sites of geological interest that have never been seen before said Katherine Joy of the Lunar and Planetary Institute and a Moon Zoo science team member NASA Lunar Science Institute NLSI scientists are contributing to the Moon Zoo efforts by providing science expertise NLSI is also providing educational content and supporting outreach goals of the project The NASA Lunar Science Institute is very excited to be involved with Moon Zoo and support lunar citizen science said David Morrison NLSI director Science and public outreach are cornerstones of our Institute Moon Zoo will contribute to the accomplishment of important science while being a

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