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  • NASA and ESA Prioritize Outer Planet Missions
    and explore its surface after also exploring the surface of Saturn s moon Enceladus NASA and ESA engineers and scientists carefully studied both potential missions in preparation for last week s meeting Based on these and other studies as well as stringent independent assessment reviews NASA and ESA agreed that the Europa Jupiter System Mission called Laplace in Europe was the most technically feasible to do first However ESA s Solar System Working Group concluded the scientific merits of this mission and a Titan Saturn System Mission could not be separated The group recommended and NASA agreed that both missions should move forward for further study and implementation The decision means a win win situation for all parties involved said Ed Weiler associate administrator for NASA s Science Mission Directorate in Washington Although the Jupiter system mission has been chosen to proceed to an earlier flight opportunity a Saturn system mission clearly remains a high priority for the science community Both agencies will need to undertake several more steps and detailed studies before officially moving forward The Europa Jupiter System Mission would use two robotic orbiters to conduct unprecedentedly detailed studies of the giant gaseous planet Jupiter and its moons Io Europa Ganymede and Callisto NASA would build one orbiter initially named Jupiter Europa ESA would build the other orbiter initially named Jupiter Ganymede The probes would launch in 2020 on two separate launch vehicles from different launch sites The orbiters would reach the Jupiter system in 2026 and spend at least three years conducting research Europa has a surface of ice and scientists theorize it has an ocean of water beneath that could provide a home for living things Ganymede the largest moon in the solar system is the only moon known to have its own internally generated magnetic

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/esa/nasaEsa/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Public Lecture on Thursday, February 18
    enabled astronomers to measure of the acceleration of the universe and provided probes of the first stars to wink on in the universe J Craig Wheeler is the Samuel T and Fern Yanagisawa Regents Professor of Astronomy at the University of Texas at Austin and past department chair His book Cosmic Catastrophes Supernovae Gamma Ray Bursts and Adventures in Hyperspace has won popular awards He recently finished serving a two

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/publicLecture/ (2016-02-15)
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  • IAU Formally Adopts Name for Haskin Crater
    with the recent addition of Ryder Crater in 2006 named after Graham Ryder 1949 2002 and now Haskin Crater named in honor of Larry Haskin Haskin died in 2005 of myelofibrosis a bone marrow disease for which he had been treated for more than 15 years He was 70 years old Haskin was a highly regarded lunar geochemist who was a major contributor to the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference for decades until his death in 2005 In the 1960s his research helped establish the field of rare earth element geochemistry In 1969 he was one of the researchers to study the first lunar samples returned by the Apollo 11 mission In 1973 he became Chief of the Planetary and Earth Sciences Division at the NASA Johnson Space Center JSC in Houston One of his major accomplishments at JSC was to begin the task of securing the lunar sample collection for future researchers by building a safer modern curatorial facility Haskin continued his lunar research until his death Haskin s work on the Moon included many important discoveries with the recognition of the Procellarum KREEP terrain as one of his final contributions The IAU officially gave Haskin s name to

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/haskinCrater/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Names Team of Texas Scientists to Lunar Institute
    the origin and early evolution of life on Earth David Kring visiting scientist for the Lunar Exploration Initiative at the LPI will lead the team Collaborating institutions include The University of Arizona University of Houston University of Maryland University of Notre Dame Rice University Southwest Research Institute and the National Institute of Polar Research In addition the team has organized a consortium of 12 universities throughout Texas to provide educational opportunities for their students NASA has created a unique opportunity for our team to integrate lunar science with the human exploration program said Kring Our program will help drive the growth of our nation s technical capabilities while simultaneously creating paths of opportunity for students interested in cutting edge space science The NASA Lunar Science Institute is a new organization that supplements and extends existing NASA lunar science programs Supported by the NASA Science Mission Directorate and Exploration Systems Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington the NLSI is managed by NASA s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field California NLSI is modeled on the NASA Astrobiology Institute with teams across the nation working together to help lead the agency s research activities related to lunar exploration goals Team investigations focus on one or more aspects of lunar science Most of the LPI JSC team s work at Johnson will be conducted by the Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science Directorate It will be integrated with the Office for Lunar and Planetary Exploration in the Constellation Systems Program Office I am delighted with the opportunity to be part of one the initial member teams of the agency s Lunar Science Institute said Eileen Stansbery director of Astromaterials Research and Exploration Science at JSC The NLSI is a very important initiative for NASA s future Our research effort builds on our respective

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/lsi/scienceTeam/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Mars Rovers Near Five Years of Science and Discovery
    Spirit and Opportunity We realize that a major rover component on either vehicle could fail at any time and end a mission with no advance notice but on the other hand we could accomplish the equivalent duration of four more prime missions on each rover in the year ahead Occasional cleaning of dust from the rovers solar panels by martian wind has provided unanticipated aid to the vehicles longevity However it is unreliable aid Spirit has not had a good cleaning for more than 18 months Dust coated solar panels barely provided enough power for Spirit to survive its third southern hemisphere winter which ended in December This last winter was a squeaker for Spirit Callas said We just made it through With Spirit s energy rising for spring and summer the team plans to drive the rover to a pair of destinations about 200 yards south of the site where Spirit spent most of 2008 One is a mound that might yield support for an interpretation that a plateau Spirit has studied since 2006 called Home Plate is a remnant of a once more extensive sheet of explosive volcanic material The other destination is a house sized pit called Goddard Goddard doesn t look like an impact crater said Steve Squyres of Cornell University Squyres is principal investigator for the rover science instruments We suspect it might be a volcanic explosion crater and that s something we haven t seen before A light toned ring around the inside of the pit might add information about a nearby patch of bright silica rich soil that Squyres counts as Spirit s most important discovery so far Spirit churned up the silica in mid 2007 with an immobile wheel that the rover has dragged like an anchor since it quit working in

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/mars_rover/5yearAnniv/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Graduate Students Eligible for the LPI Career Development Award
    cover their travel expenses for attending the LPSC in March The application deadline for the LPI Career Development Award is February 2 2009 Applications should be directed to Dr Stephen Mackwell c o Claudia Quintana 3600 Bay Area Boulevard Houston TX 77058 1113 quintana lpi usra edu Awards will be based on a review of the application materials by a panel of lunar and planetary scientists Applications must include Letter outlining why the applicant would like to participate at the LPSC and what he or she will contribute to the conference Letter of recommendation from his or her research advisor Copy of the first author abstract Curriculum Vita for the applicant The 40th LPSC will be held at The Woodlands Waterway Marriott Hotel Convention Center in The Woodlands Texas An average of 1500 lunar and planetary scientists from all over the world gather each year for the annual meeting which has gained the reputation of being the premiere gathering place for lunar and planetary scientists 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

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/cda_award/2009/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Prepares for New Juno Mission to Jupiter
    Sun Jupiter is more than 400 million miles from the Sun or five times further than Earth Bolton said Juno is engineered to be extremely energy efficient The spacecraft will use a camera and nine science instruments to study the hidden world beneath Jupiter s colorful clouds The suite of science instruments will investigate the existence of an ice rock core Jupiter s intense magnetic field water and ammonia clouds in the deep atmosphere and explore the planet s aurora borealis In Greek and Roman mythology Jupiter s wife Juno peered through Jupiter s veil of clouds to watch over her husband s mischief said Professor Toby Owen co investigator at the University of Hawaii in Honolulu Our Juno looks through Jupiter s clouds to see what the planet is up to not seeking signs of misbehavior but searching for whispers of water the ultimate essence of life Understanding the formation of Jupiter is essential to understanding the processes that led to the development of the rest of our solar system and what the conditions were that led to Earth and humankind Similar to the Sun Jupiter is composed mostly of hydrogen and helium A small percentage of the planet is composed of heavier elements However Jupiter has a larger percentage of these heavier elements than the Sun Juno s extraordinarily accurate determination of the gravity and magnetic fields of Jupiter will enable us to understand what is going on deep down in the planet said Professor Dave Stevenson co investigator at the California Institute of Technology These and other measurements will inform us about how Jupiter s constituents are distributed how Jupiter formed and how it evolved which is a central part of our growing understanding of the nature of our solar system Deep in Jupiter s atmosphere under

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/juno/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Spacecraft Detects Buried Glaciers on Mars
    value they could be a source of water to support future exploration of Mars Scientists have been puzzled by what are known as aprons gently sloping areas containing rocky deposits at the bases of taller geographical features since NASA s Viking orbiters first observed them on the martian surface in the1970s One theory has been that the aprons are flows of rocky debris lubricated by a small amount ice Now the shallow radar instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has provided scientists an answer to this martian puzzle These results are the smoking gun pointing to the presence of large amounts of water ice at these latitudes said Ali Safaeinili a shallow radar instruments team member with NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory Radar echoes received by the spacecraft indicated radio waves pass through the aprons and reflect off a deeper surface below without significant loss in strength That is expected if the apron areas are composed of thick ice under a relatively thin covering The radar does not detect reflections from the interior of these deposits as would occur if they contained significant rock debris The apparent velocity of radio waves passing through the apron is consistent with a composition of water ice Scientists developed the shallow radar instrument for the orbiter to examine these midlatitude geographical features and layered deposits at the martian poles We developed the instrument so it could operate on this kind of terrain said Roberto Seu leader of the instrument science team at the University of Rome La Sapienza in Italy It is now a priority to observe other examples of these aprons to determine whether they are also ice Holt and 11 coauthors report the buried glaciers lie in the Hellas Basin region of Mars southern hemisphere The radar also has detected similar appearing

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