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  • MESSENGER Makes New Discoveries from Mercury
    plains began with the 1972 Apollo 16 Moon mission which suggested that some lunar plains came from material that was ejected by large impacts and then formed smooth ponds When Mariner 10 imaged similar formations on Mercury in 1975 some scientists believed that the same processes were at work Others thought Mercury s plains material came from erupted lavas but the absence of volcanic vents or other volcanic features in images from that mission prevented a consensus Six of the papers in Science report on analyses of the planet s surface through its reflectance and color variation surface chemistry high resolution imaging at different wavelengths and altitude measurements The researchers found evidence of volcanic vents along the margins of the Caloris basin one of the solar system s youngest impact basins They also found that Caloris has a much more complicated geologic history than previously believed The first altitude measurements from any spacecraft at Mercury also found that craters on the planet are about a factor of two shallower than those on Earth s Moon The measurements also show a complex geologic history for Mercury Mercury s core makes up at least 60 of its mass a figure twice as large as any other known terrestrial planet The flyby revealed that the magnetic field originating in the outer core and powered by core cooling drives very dynamic and complex interactions among the planet s interior surface exosphere and magnetosphere Remarking on the importance of the core to surface geological structures Principal Investigator Sean Solomon at the Carnegie Institution of Washington said The dominant tectonic landforms on Mercury including areas imaged for the first time by MESSENGER are features called lobate scarps huge cliffs that mark the tops of crustal faults that formed during the contraction of the surrounding area They

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/messenger/7_15_08/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Former NASA Deputy Administrator Dr. Robert C. Seamans Jr. Dies at Age 89
    exploration and joined NASA as an associate administrator in 1960 three years after the Soviet Union had launched Sputnik the world s first manmade object to orbit Earth He worked closely with President Kennedy s administration toward achieving his pledge of a manned lunar landing by the end of the decade Seamans who toured Cape Canaveral with famed rocket scientist Wernher von Braun and Kennedy less than a week before the president was assassinated served as deputy administrator from 1965 to 1968 and worked closely with the defense department on research and engineering programs particularly those that affected national security In an introduction to Apollo Expeditions to the Moon a NASA history Seamans described the monumental challenges involved in carrying men to the Moon and bringing them back safely As planning for Apollo began we identified more than 10 000 separate tasks that had to be accomplished to put a man on the Moon wrote Seamans Each task had its particular objectives its manpower needs its time schedule and its complex interrelationship with many other tasks But Seaman s trademark attention to detail combined with determination to cut problems down to size allowed him to tackle even the most daunting tasks While some NASA administrators thought a lunar landing was only a remote possibility Seamans insisted that it was within reach and was not afraid to say so Seamans was instrumental in deciding to send Apollo 8 to the Moon over the objections of some in the agency The success of that mission which orbited the Moon 10 times paved the way for the lunar landing the following year Seamans resigned from NASA in January 1968 to become a visiting professor at MIT although he remained a consultant to the NASA administrator From 1969 to 1973 he served as secretary

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/seamans/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Former LPI Intern Heads Team that Finds a New Type of Comet Dust Mineral
    these mineral grains were only 1 10 000 of an inch in size A new method of collecting IDPs was suggested by Scott Messenger another JSC scientist and former LPI intern 1990 He predicted Comet 26P Grigg Skjellerup was a source of dust grains that could be captured in Earth s stratosphere at a specific time of the year In response to his prediction NASA performed stratospheric dust collections using an ER 2 high altitude aircraft flown from NASA s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base Calif The aircraft collected IDPs from this particular comet stream in April 2003 The new mineral was found in one of the particles To determine the mineral s origin and examine other dust materials a powerful new transmission electron microscope was installed in 2005 at JSC Because of their exceedingly tiny size we had to use state of the art nano analysis techniques in the microscope to measure the chemical composition and crystal structure of Keiko s new mineral said Lindsay Keller JSC scientist and a co discoverer of the new mineral This is a highly unusual material that has not been predicted either to be a cometary component or to have formed by condensation in the solar nebula Since 1982 NASA routinely has collected cosmic and interplanetary dust with high altitude research aircraft However the sources of most dust particles have been difficult to pin down because of their complex histories in space The Earth accretes about 40 000 tons of dust particles from space each year originating mostly from disintegrating comets and asteroid collisions This dust is a subject of intense interest because it is made of the original building blocks of the solar system planets and our bodies The mineral was surrounded by multiple layers of other minerals

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/brownleeite/ (2016-02-15)
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  • John Lindsay, 1941–2008
    Brandon work phone 281 244 6408 office is Room 114 Bldg 31 JSC Al will also be attending the memorial service at LPI on July 1 The Geological Society of America Attention Mary Kerns P O Box 9140 3300 Penrose Place Boulder CO 80301 9140 June 20 2008 It is with tremendous sadness that we announce the passing of John F Lindsay at the age of 67 John who was a visiting scientist on the staff of the Lunar and Planetary Institute died early this morning after a valiant battle against cancer John s education was in soft rock geology with a solid background in chemistry physics mathematics and statistics earning his B Sc with Honors and M Sc degrees from the University of New England in New South Wales Australia and his Ph D in geology from Ohio State University in 1968 One of the original scientists at the Institute in the early 1970s John s professional background also included positions as Research Scientist at the Marine Science Institute of the University of Texas Program Manager at Exxon Production Research Adjunct Professor at Oxford University and NRC Senior Research Associate at the Astrobiology Institute at NASA Johnson Space Center where John worked closely with David McKay and his group Much of John s recent work involved research into the origins of life especially around ancient and modern hydrothermal systems as universal analogs for planetary environments John s work suggested that the assumption that life on Earth developed early and that all record of the prebiotic biotic boundary may have been lost may be incorrect John came to the conclusion that the early Archean record on Earth provides many parallels with early Mars and is likely to provide a good analog to help plan for the search for life beyond

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/jLindsay/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Highest-Resolution View Ever from Mars Comes from NASA Lander
    on Wednesday did not reach Phoenix because the orbiter intended for relaying the transmission NASA s Mars Odyssey had put itself into a safe standby mode shortly before the commands would have reached Odyssey On Wednesday the lander completed a back up plan of activities that had been sent previously reported JPL s Chris Lewicki mission manager for Phoenix surface operations on the lander s eleventh martian day That plan included weather monitoring and additional imaging for a high resolution color panorama of the site The Optical Microscope images were taken June 3 of particles that had collected on a sticky surface exposed during the Phoenix landing and for five days after landing It s a first quick look Hecht said This experiment was partly an insurance policy for something to observe with the microscope before getting a soil sample delivered by the arm and partly a characterization of the Optical Microscope All the tools are working well Some of the particles might have come from inside the spacecraft during the forceful events of landing but many match expectations for martian particles We will be using future observations of soil samples delivered by the Robotic Arm to confirm whether the types of particles in this dustfall sample are also seen in samples we can be certain are martian in origin Hecht said The particles show a range of shapes and colors You can see the amount of variety there is in what appears otherwise to be just reddish brown soil said Tom Pike Phoenix science team member from Imperial College London He noted that one translucent particle resembles a grain of salt but that it is too early to say for sure Thursday s commands were relayed to Phoenix via NASA s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter The relay radio on that

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/marsPhoenix/dustSand/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Taylor Named Recipient of the 2008 Carl Sagan Medal
    to a public understanding of and enthusiasm for planetary science Taylor a planetary geoscientist at the University of Hawaii is widely recognized in the planetary science community for his research on the Moon which has focused on using Apollo samples and data collected by numerous spacecraft missions to understand the general composition of the Moon s surface and interior and how its geology compares with Earth s His studies have improved our understanding of how our Moon and the planets formed and changed Taylor describes himself as fanatical about promoting the fascinating discoveries made by planetary exploration and the research on data and rocks returned by space missions and believes that it is the responsibility of planetary scientists to help publicize their discoveries To this end along with colleague Linda Martel Taylor co founded the Planetary Science Research Discoveries website an educational site that shares the latest research on meteorites planets and other solar system bodies being made by NASA sponsored scientists The site has received numerous awards for extraordinary effort in presenting quality science information to a wide audience Other DPS awards announced for 2008 include Michael A Hearn of the University of Maryland who was awarded the Gerard

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/awards/dps/taylor/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Phoenix Spacecraft Lands at Martian Arctic Site
    of the Phoenix Mars Lander suspended from its parachute during the lander s successful arrival at Mars marking the first time ever one spacecraft has photographed another one in the act of landing on Mars Phoenix mission team members at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver and the University of Arizona in Tucson cheered confirmation of the landing and eagerly awaited further information from Phoenix later that night Among those in the JPL control room was NASA Administrator Michael Griffin who noted this was the first successful Mars landing without airbags since Viking 2 in 1976 For the first time in 32 years and only the third time in history a JPL team has carried out a soft landing on Mars Griffin said I couldn t be happier to be here to witness this incredible achievement During its 422 million mile flight from Earth to Mars after launching on August 4 2007 Phoenix relied on electricity from solar panels during the spacecraft s cruise stage The cruise stage was jettisoned seven minutes before the lander encased in a protective shell entered the martian atmosphere Batteries provide electricity until the lander s own pair of solar arrays spread open What a thrilling landing But the team is waiting impatiently for the next set of signals that will verify a healthy spacecraft said Peter Smith of the University of Arizona principal investigator for the Phoenix mission I can hardly contain my enthusiasm The first landed images of the martian polar terrain will set the stage for our mission A critical deployment will be the first use of the 7 7 foot long robotic arm on Phoenix Researchers will use the arm during future weeks to get samples of soil and ice into laboratory instruments on the lander deck

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/marsPhoenix/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Mars Express Images Crater in Mamers Valles, Mars
    with a ground resolution of approximately 14 m pixel The images are centered at approximately 39 north and 17 east on the planet The circular depression seen in the images is approximately 30 km wide and 1400 m deep and lies at the southeastern end of Mamers Valles The valley of Mamers Valles is approximately 1000 km long running along the boundary between the northern lowlands and southern highlands in the region of Deuteronilus Mensae Scientists term a region such as Mamers Valles fretted terrain because it shows numerous deep and wide labyrinth like valleys and circular depressions The depressions often show structures formed by liquid flowing on the floor The structures formed by the flows are thought to be ice rich debris flows They show some resemblance to block glaciers seen on Earth The patches of rock at the center of the depression are thought to be remnants of rock that were detached from the flanks of the depression and transported to the center The wrinkle ridges as the name indicates are formed by compressive forces acting on the surface The dark colored material inside the crater could have formed in situ or may have been transported by the

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