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  • Site List Narrows For NASA’s Next Mars Landing
    to focus further on evaluating the sites and planning the navigation The mission plan calls for the rover to spend a full Mars year 23 months examining the environment with a diverse payload of tools After evaluating additional Mars orbiter observations of the four sites NASA will hold a fourth science workshop about the candidates in the spring and plans to choose a final site next summer Three previous landing site science workshops for Mars Science Laboratory drew participation of more than 100 Mars scientists and presentations about more than 30 sites The four sites rated highest by participants in the latest workshop were the same ones chosen by mission leaders after a subsequent round of safety evaluations and analysis of terrain for rover driving One site Gale had been a favorite of scientists considering 2004 landing sites for NASA s Spirit and Opportunity rovers but was ruled out as too hazardous for the capabilities of those spacecraft Landing on Mars always is a risky balance between science and engineering The safest sites are flat but the spectacular geology is generally where there are ups and downs such as hills and canyons That s why we have engineered this spacecraft to make more sites qualify as safe said JPL s Michael Watkins mission manager for the Mars Science Laboratory This will be the first spacecraft that can adjust its course as it descends through the martian atmosphere responding to variability in the atmosphere This ability to land in much smaller areas than previous missions plus capabilities to land at higher elevations and drive father allows us consider more places the scientists want to explore For their Mars landings in 2004 Spirit and Opportunity needed safe target areas about 70 kilometers about 40 miles long Mars Science Laboratory is designed to

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/marsLandingSite/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Restores Historic Lunar Orbiter Image
    film for scientific analysis When these images were first retrieved from lunar orbit only a portion of their true resolution was available because of the limited technology available The Lunar Orbiter Image Recovery Project located at NASA Ames Research Center is taking analog data from original recorders used to store on tape and 1500 of the original tapes converting the data into digital form and reconstructing the images The restored image released yesterday confirms that data from the original tapes can be retrieved from the newly restored tape drives from the 1960s when combined with software from 2008 I m glad that we could offer our services to the project team and play a part in the recovery of such an historic image of the Moon said Ames Director Pete Worden Future images will be made publically available when they are fully processed and calibrated The intent of this project is to facilitate wherever possible the broadest dissemination and public use of these images It s a tremendous feeling to restore a 40 year old image and know it can be useful to future explorers said Gregory Schmidt deputy director of the NASA Lunar Science Institute at Ames Now that we ve demonstrated the capability to retrieve images our goal is to complete the tape drives restoration and move toward retrieving all of the images on the remaining tapes he added As the images are processed they will be submitted to the Planetary Data System which NASA s Space Science Mission Directorate sponsors in cooperation with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory The images also will be calibrated with standard mapping coordinates from the U S Geological Survey s Astrogeology Research Program in Flagstaff NASA will launch the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2009 to map the Moon s surface The restoration of

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/lunarOrbiter/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Next Steps Toward an International Lunar Base
    LEAG SRR conference participants on the last day of a very successful and interactive lunar conference The participants were charged by LEAG ILEWG and SRR to address 12 key questions They summarized their findings and made 13 recommendations Finally the participants in the ILEWG LEAG SRR 2008 conference reaffirmed their commitment to international lunar exploration from the analysis and integration of current lunar orbiter data to the development of lunar landers and rovers the build up of a global robotic village and the preparation for human settlements and international lunar bases With Chandrayaan 1 joining Kaguya and Chang e 1 in lunar orbit we now have an international family of lunar orbiters and great prospects for exciting data said Bernard Foing ILEWG Executive Director Within a few years robotic landers and rovers will bring new science technology progress and opportunities for the next generation of explorers and entrepreneurs International collaboration is especially important to prepare for the next era of human exploration of the Moon for which plans are ambitious and budgets are fixed said Clive Neal Chair of LEAG The other dimension is the involvement of the commercial sector either through the buying of services or creating capabilities such

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/ilewg/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA’s Phoenix Mission Faces Survival Challenges
    time in an effort to conserve power The heaters serve the purpose of keeping the electronics within tested survivable limits As each heater is disabled some of the instruments are also expected to cease operations The energy saved is intended to power the lander s main camera and meteorological instruments until the very end of the mission Yesterday engineers began sending commands to disable the first heater That heater warms Phoenix s robotic arm robotic arm camera and thermal and evolved gas analyzer TEGA an instrument that bakes and sniffs martian soil to assess volatile ingredients Shutting down this heater is expected to save 250 watt hours of power per martian day The Phoenix team has parked the robotic arm on a representative patch of martian soil No additional soil samples will be gathered The thermal and electrical conductivity probe TECP located on the wrist of the arm has been inserted into the soil and will continue to measure soil temperature and conductivity along with atmospheric humidity near the surface The probe does not need a heater to operate and should continue to send back data for weeks Throughout the mission the lander s robotic arm has successfully dug and scraped martian soil and delivered it to the onboard laboratories We turn off this workhorse with the knowledge that it has far exceeded expectations and conducted every operation asked of it said Ray Arvidson the robotic arm s co investigator and a professor at Washington University St Louis When power levels necessitate further action Phoenix engineers will disable a second heater which serves the lander s pyrotechnic initiation unit The unit hasn t been used since landing and disabling its heater is expected to add four to five days to the mission s lifetime Following that step engineers would disable

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/phoenix/survival/ (2016-02-15)
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  • India Sets Launch Date for Chandryaan-1 Mission to the Moon
    billion 83M U S dollars and has the direct involvement of six other countries including the U S and Europe Over the next two years it will survey the lunar surface to produce a complete map of its chemical characteristics and its three dimensional topography The goals of the mission are not only to expand ISRO s capabilities but to help resolve long standing questions about the Moon s history Chandryaan 1 will deploy a powerful suite of instruments The European Space Agency ESA has supplied three instruments the Chandrayaan 1 X ray Spectrometer C1XS the Near InfraRed spectrometer SIR 2 and the Sub KeV Atom Reflecting Analyser SARA These instruments will investigate the Moon s surface and near surface composition and the way the lunar body interacts with the fast moving particles streaming away from the Sun Chandrayaan 1 will also drop a small impact probe on to the lunar surface to test its properties The Bulgarian Academy of Science provided the Radiation Dose Monitor Experiment RADOM which will qualitatively and quantitatively characterize in terms of particle flux dose rate and deposited energy spectrum the radiation environment in near Moon space NASA provided two instruments the Miniature Synthetic Aperture

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/chandrayaan1/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Cassini Plans Doubleheader Flybys of Saturn’s Geyser Moon
    sampling the particles and gases The emphasis here is on the composition of the plume rather than imaging the surface We know that Enceladus produces a few hundred kilograms per second of gas and dust and that this material is mainly water vapor and water ice said Tamas Gambosi Cassini scientist at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor The water vapor and the evaporation from the ice grains contribute most of the mass found in Saturn s magnetosphere One of the overarching scientific puzzles we are trying to understand is what happens to the gas and dust released from Enceladus including how some of the gas is transformed to ionized plasma and is disseminated throughout the magnetosphere said Gambosi On October 31 the cameras and other optical remote sensing instruments will be front and center imaging the fractures that slash across the moon s south polar region like stripes on a tiger These two flybys might augment findings from the most recent Enceladus flyby which hint at possible changes associated with the icy moon Cassini s August 11 encounter with Enceladus showed temperatures over one of the tiger stripe fractures were lower than those measured in earlier flybys The fracture called Damascus Sulcus was about 160 to 167 K 171 to 159 F below the 180 K 136 F reported from a flyby in March of this year We don t know yet if this is due to a real cooling of this tiger stripe or to the fact that we were looking much closer at a relatively small area and might have missed the warmest spot said John Spencer Cassini scientist on the composite infrared spectrometer at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder Results from Cassini s magnetometer instrument during the August flyby suggest a difference in the intensity

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/cassini/enceladus/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Mars Rover to Head Toward Bigger Crater
    look inside a bowl 13 7 miles across Scientists expect to see a much deeper stack of rock layers than those examined by Opportunity in Victoria Crater I would love to see that view from the rim Squyres said But even if we never get there as we move southward we expect to be getting to younger and younger layers of rock on the surface Also there are large craters to the south that we think are sources of cobbles that we want to examine out on the plain Some of the cobbles are samples of layers deeper than Opportunity will ever see and we expect to find more cobbles as we head toward the south Opportunity will have to pick up the pace to get there The rover team estimates Opportunity may be able to travel about 110 yards each day it is driven toward the Endeavour crater Even at that pace the journey could take two years This is a bolder more aggressive objective than we have had before said John Callas the project manager for both Mars rovers at NASA s Jet Propulsion Laboratory It s tremendously exciting It s new science It s the next great challenge for these robotic explorers Opportunity like Spirit is well past its expected lifetime on Mars and might not keep working long enough to reach the crater However two new resources not available during the 4 mile drive toward Victoria Crater in 2005 and 2006 are expected to aid in this new trek One is imaging from orbit of details smaller than the rover itself using the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment HiRISE camera on NASA s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter which arrived at the Red Planet in 2006 HiRISE allows us to identify drive paths and potential hazards on the

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/biggerCrater/ (2016-02-15)
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  • LPI Closed due to Hurricane Ike
    and running late on Sunday night September 14 We apologize to anyone who tried and failed to access our resources over that weekend While the LPI fared very well many of our staff have damaged houses fences and trees the eye of the storm passed right over this area so we got to experience the intense winds of the eyewall twice with gusts over 100 mph Nonetheless many staff returned

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