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  • Voyager Celebrates 20-Year-Old Valentine to Solar System
    in the Milky Way galaxy in a universe replete with galaxies Stone said In the years since the twin Voyager spacecraft were launched in 1977 they had already sent back breathtaking groundbreaking pictures of the gas giants Jupiter Saturn Uranus and Neptune It took Voyager 1 more than 12 years to reach the place where it took the group portrait 6 billion kilometers almost 4 billion miles away from the Sun The imaging team started snapping images of the outer planets first because they were worried that pointing the camera near the Sun would blind it and prevent more picture taking Candice Hansen a planetary scientist based at NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL who worked with the Voyager imaging team at the time remembers combing through the images and finally finding the image of Earth She had seen so many pictures over the years that she could distinguish dust on the lens from the black dots imprinted on the lens for geometric correction There was our planet a bright speck sitting in a kind of spotlight of sunlight scattered by the camera Hansen still gets chills thinking about it I was struck by how special Earth was as I saw it shining in a ray of sunlight she said It also made me think about how vulnerable our tiny planet is This was the image that inspired Carl Sagan the the Voyager imaging team member who had suggested taking this portrait to call our home planet a pale blue dot As he wrote in a book by that name That s here That s home That s us On it everyone you love everyone you know everyone you ever heard of every human being who ever was lived out their lives There is perhaps no better demonstration of the

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/voyager/20yrValentine/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LPI Announces Publication of Space Science Series Volume
    and formatting and the Press provides traditional publishing services including printing marketing and distribution This unique collaboration enables the Press to offer the books in this series at a price that is affordable to a much wider segment of the community including graduate students Few worlds are as tantalizing and enigmatic as Europa whose complex icy surface intimates the presence of an ocean below Europa beckons for our understanding and future exploration enticing us with the possibilities of a water rich environment and the potential for life beyond Earth This new volume edited by Robert T Pappalardo William B McKinnon and Krishan K Khurana with 85 contributing authors reveals the discovery and current understanding of Europa s icy shell subsurface ocean presumably active interior and myriad inherent interactions within the Jupiter environment Europa is the foundation upon which the coming decades of scientific advancement and exploration of this world will be built making it indispensable for researchers students and all who hold a passion for exploration Other Space Science Series books produced by the Press in collaboration with the LPI include Origin of the Earth and Moon Asteroids III Comets II Meteorites and the Early Solar System II Protostars and

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/europa/book/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Successfully Launches a New Eye on the Sun
    380 full length movies This is going to be sensational said Richard R Fisher director of the Heliophysics Division at NASA Headquarters SDO is going to make a huge step forward in our understanding of the Sun and its effects on life and society The Sun s dynamic processes affect everyone and everything on Earth SDO will explore activity on the Sun that can disable satellites cause power grid failures

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/SDO/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Public Lecture on Thursday, February 11
    orbiting nearby stars outside our solar system While none of these planets are thought to resemble Earth astronomers hope to identify Earth like planets within the habitable zones of nearby stars within the next two decades What makes a planet potentially habitable How did it evolve to become this way And finally what signatures of life are astronomers searching for and how do they identify these signatures Kasting explores these questions as he continues LPI s speaker series The Search for Meaning for Planets for Life Kasting is a Distinguished Professor in the Geosciences Department of The Pennsylvania State University Kasting s research focuses on habitable zones around stars and the search for extraterrestrial life as well as the study of the evolution of Earth s atmosphere and climate He has been a member of numerous committees and advisory groups including the NASA Solar System Exploration Subcommittee the NRC Committee on the Origin and Evolution of Life and the NASA NSF ExoPlanet Task Force This free presentation begins at 7 30 p m and will be followed by a light reception and an opportunity to meet Dr Kasting No reservation is necessary and all interested adults are welcome LPI is

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/speakerseries/kasting/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LPI Career Development Award Recipients Announced
    invaluable opportunity for students not only to present their own research but also to hear and see firsthand the latest breaking results from other researchers in their field Opportunities are also provided for students to meet and network with an international group of distinguished researchers Congratulations to the 2010 recipients Marc Biren University of New Brunswick Canada Mohamed Ramy El Maarry Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research Germany Julia Cartwright The University of Manchester United Kingdom Qian Huang Institut de Physique de Globe de Paris France Hitesh Changela University of Leicester United Kingdom Amanda Nahm University of Nevada United States Erinna Chen University of California Santa Cruz United States Natasha Stephen Natural History Museum London and Imperial College London United Kingdom Matthew Chojnacki The University of Tennessee United States S Vijayan Anna University of Chennai India Serina Diniega University of Arizona United States Hongwei Yang Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences China The LPI maintains a highly focused education effort chartered to engage excite and educate the public about lunar and planetary science and invests in the development of future generations of scientists The LPI Career Development Award has been provided from the generous endowments that the LPI has received

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/cda_award/020410/index.shtml (2016-02-15)
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  • Spirit Rover Begins a New Chapter In Red Planet Scientific Studies
    sandbox at NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL plus analysis modeling and reviews In November another wheel quit working making a difficult situation even worse Recent drives have yielded the best results since Spirit became embedded However the coming winter mandates a change in strategy It is mid autumn at the solar powered robot s home on Mars Winter will begin in May Solar energy is declining and expected to become insufficient to power further driving by mid February The rover team plans to use those remaining potential drives for improving the rover s tilt Spirit currently tilts slightly toward the south The winter sun stays in the northern sky so decreasing the southward tilt would boost the amount of sunshine on the rover s solar panels We need to lift the rear of the rover or the left side of the rover or both said Ashley Stroupe a rover driver at JPL Lifting the rear wheels out of their ruts by driving backward and slightly uphill will help If necessary we can try to lower the front right of the rover by attempting to drop the right front wheel into a rut or dig it into a hole At its current angle Spirit probably would not have enough power to keep communicating with Earth through the martian winter Even a few degrees of improvement in tilt might make enough difference to enable communication every few days Getting through the winter will all come down to temperature and how cold the rover electronics will get said John Callas project manager at JPL for Spirit and its twin rover Opportunity Every bit of energy produced by Spirit s solar arrays will go into keeping the rover s critical electronics warm either by having the electronics on or by turning on essential

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/spirit/update/ (2016-02-15)
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  • IAU Approves Name of Fourth Dwarf Planet
    located in a region beyond Neptune that is populated with small solar system bodies often referred to as the transneptunian region The object was discovered in 2005 by a team from the California Institute of Technology led by Mike Brown and was previously known as 2005 FY9 unofficially Easterbunny It has the IAU Minor Planet Center designation 136472 Once the orbit of a small solar system body or candidate dwarf planet is well determined its provisional designation is superseded by its permanent numerical designation The discoverer of a solar system object has the privilege of suggesting a name to the IAU which judges its suitability As Brown explains We consider the naming of objects in the solar system very carefully Makemake s surface is covered with large amounts of almost pure methane ice which is scientifically fascinating but really not easily relatable to terrestrial mythology Suddenly it dawned on me the island of Rapa Nui Why hadn t I thought of this before I wasn t familiar with the mythology of the island so I had to look it up and I found Makemake the chief god the creator of humanity and the god of fertility I am partial to fertility gods Eris Makemake and 2003 EL61 were all discovered as my wife was 3 6 months pregnant with our daughter I have the distinct memory of feeling this fertile abundance pouring out of the entire universe Makemake was part of that The WGPSN and CSBN accepted the name Makemake during discussions conducted per e mail Makemake holds an important place in the solar system because it along with Eris and 2003 EL61 was one of the objects whose discovery prompted the IAU to reconsider the definition of a planet and to create the new group of dwarf planets Visually

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/iau/dwarfPlanet4/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA to Check for Unlikely Winter Survival of Mars Lander
    survived the winter it is expected to follow instructions programmed on its computer If systems still operate once its solar panels generate enough electricity to establish a positive energy balance the lander would periodically try to communicate with any available Mars relay orbiters in an attempt to reestablish contact with Earth During each communications attempt the lander would alternately use each of its two radios and each of its two antennas Odyssey will pass over the Phoenix landing site approximately 10 times each day during three consecutive days of listening this month and two longer listening campaigns in February and March We do not expect Phoenix to have survived and therefore do not expect to hear from it However if Phoenix is transmitting Odyssey will hear it said Chad Edwards chief telecommunications engineer for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory We will perform a sufficient number of Odyssey contact attempts that if we don t detect a transmission from Phoenix we can have a high degree of confidence that the lander is not active The amount of sunshine at Phoenix s site is currently about the same as when the lander last communicated on November 2

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/phoenix/survival/winter/ (2016-02-15)
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