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  • Workshop AnnouncementEnabling Exploration: The Lunar Outpost and Beyond
    sector interests to discuss progress in lunar exploration share ideas and information and form collaborations It will be an opportunity to integrate diverse interests in lunar exploration to reduce risk and cost of establishing a permanent presence on the Moon through novel and innovative ideas technologies and partnerships The primary objective of the workshop is to define pathways to offset the costs and risks of achieving the next era of

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/leag/ (2016-02-15)
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  • SELENE (“KAGUYA”) Lunar Mission Launches Successfully
    of the KAGUYA was confirmed The major objectives of the mission are to understand the Moon s origin and evolution and to observe the Moon in various ways in order to utilize it in the future The lunar missions that have been conducted so far have gathered a large amount of information on the Moon but the mysteries of its origin and evolution have been left unsolved KAGUYA will investigate the entire Moon in order to obtain information on its elemental and mineralogical composition its geography its surface and subsurface structure the remnant of its magnetic field and its gravity field The results are expected to lead to a better overall understanding of the Moon s evolution At the same time the observation equipment installed on the orbiting satellite will observe plasma the electromagnetic field and high energy particles The data obtained in this way will be of great scientific importance for exploring the possibility of using the Moon for human endeavors KAGUYA consists of the Main Orbiter and two small satellites Relay Satellite and VRAD Satellite Once the Main Orbiter has reached the Moon it will be placed into peripolar orbit at an altitude of 100 km The Relay

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/selene/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Saturn’s Moon Iapetus is the Yin-and-Yang of the Solar System
    scientist at the Free University in Berlin Germany who was responsible for the imaging observation planning Every new picture contained its own charm I was most pleased about the images showing huge mountains rising over the horizon I knew about this scenic viewing opportunity for more than seven years and now the real images suddenly materialized This flyby was nearly 100 times closer to Iapetus than Cassini s 2004 flyby bringing the spacecraft to about 1640 kilometers 1000 miles from the surface The moon s irregular walnut shape the mountain ridge that lies almost directly on the equator and Iapetus brightness contrast are among the key mysteries scientists are trying to solve Theres never a dull moment on this mission said Bob Mitchell Cassini program manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory JPL We are very excited about the stunning images being returned There s plenty here to keep many scientists busy for many years Our flight over the surface of Iapetus was like a non stop free fall down the rabbit hole directly into Wonderland Very few places in our solar system are more bizarre than the patchwork of pitch dark and snowy bright we ve seen on this moon said Carolyn Porco Cassini imaging team leader at the Space Science Institute in Boulder Colorado The return of images and other data was delayed early Tuesday due to a galactic cosmic ray hit that put the spacecraft into a precautionary state called safe mode This occurred after the spacecraft had placed all the flyby data on its data recorders and during the first few minutes after it began sending the data home The data flow resumed later that day and concluded on Wednesday The spacecraft is operating normally and its instruments are expected to return to normal operations in a

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/lapetus/ (2016-02-15)
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  • 500 Days at Venus, and the Surprises Keep Coming
    or less continuously The few anomalies that have occurred have been quickly resolved by vigilant spacecraft controllers On August 18 Venus was at the shortest distance from Earth The planet was also aligned with Earth and the Sun Given the short distance all instruments worked at full speed and the communication system is at its maximum Back on Earth data was downloaded without difficulty This situation is very different from when Venus is on the farside of the Sun Due to the large distance the rate at which data can be downloaded plummets to 22 kbps a tenth of the maximum At such times competition between the instruments can be quite tough Despite this an impressive amount of data about 1 Terabits or one million million bits has been transmitted to Earth over the first 500 days Hakan Svedhem Venus Express Project Scientist says The scientists analyzing the data have a challenging but exciting task ahead They will have to archive the data and extract the most important detail from this immense collection of images spectra and profiles of temperature pressure and chemical composition Some of the first detailed analyses are now being completed and will soon be published in acclaimed scientific journals Among many other findings that have surprised scientists Venus atmosphere seems extremely fickle Recent observations with the Visible and Near Infrared Mapping Spectrometer VIRTIS have shown that Venus atmospheric structure changes quite rapidly from day to day According to Giuseppe Piccioni co Principal Investigator for VIRTIS on board Venus Express It seems that the mid latitudes form a sort of transition region with mostly laminar flow Moving equatorward there is more convective flow in the atmosphere whereas the polar region is dominated by huge vortices The meteorology of the planet including its deep atmosphere is highly variable

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/venus_express/500days/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Pioneering NASA Spacecraft Mark Thirty Years of Flight
    waves and fine structure in Saturn s icy rings from the tugs of nearby moons For the past 19 years the twin Voyagers have been probing the Sun s outer heliosphere and its boundary with interstellar space Both Voyagers remain healthy and are returning scientific data 30 years after their launches Voyager 1 currently is the farthest human made object at a distance from the Sun of about 9 7 billion miles Voyager 2 is about 7 8 billion miles from the Sun Originally designed as a four year mission to Jupiter and Saturn the Voyager tours were extended because of their successful achievements and a rare planetary alignment The two planet mission eventually became a four planet grand tour After completing that extended mission the two spacecraft began the task of exploring the outer heliosphere The Voyager mission has opened up our solar system in a way not possible before the Space Age said Edward Stone Voyager project scientist at the California Institute of Technology It revealed our neighbors in the outer solar system and showed us how much there is to learn and how diverse the bodies are that share the solar system with our own planet Earth In December 2004 Voyager 1 began crossing the solar system s final frontier Called the heliosheath this turbulent area approximately 8 7 billion miles from the Sun is where the solar wind slows as it crashes into the thin gas that fills the space between stars Voyager 2 could reach this boundary later this year putting both Voyagers on their final leg toward interstellar space Each spacecraft carries five currently functioning science instruments that study the solar wind energetic particles magnetic fields and radio waves as they cruise through this unexplored region of deep space The spacecraft are too far

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/voyager/ (2016-02-15)
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  • Life and Work on the Moon: What Images Come to Mind?
    sponsoring the Life and Work on the Moon contest Winners will receive cash prizes up to 1000 Winning artwork also will be exhibited online and across the country Students in architecture industrial design computer design the fine arts and other disciplines are invited to submit entries in one of three categories two dimensional art three dimensional art or digital art To ensure artistic concepts reflect the realities of the harsh lunar environment art students are strongly encouraged to consult with science and engineering students and use NASA s online resources A volunteer panel of judges will represent NASA other government agencies universities industry and the professional art community Judges will evaluate artistic qualities and whether the entry depicts a valid scenario in the context of the lunar environment In sponsoring the contest NASA hopes to encourage more collaboration among scientists and engineers and the artistic and creative communities Such collaboration may generate new ideas for living and working in extraterrestrial environments resulting in more successful long duration space missions Winners of the contest will be offered the opportunity to exhibit their work in NASA facilities and science museums An online public gallery will be available through a partnership with NASA

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/moon/index.shtml (2016-02-15)
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  • Hubble Camera Snags Rare View of Uranus Rings
    using the onboard JPL built and designed Wide Field Planetary Camera 2 The view tilted edge on to Earth was photographed on August 14 2007 Earthbound astronomers only see the rings edge every 42 years as the planet follows a leisurely 84 year orbit about the Sun However the last time the rings were tilted edge on to Earth astronomers didn t even know they existed The fainter outer rings appeared in 2003 Hubble images but were not noticed there until they were seen in 2005 Hubble images which prompted astronomers to analyze the previous ones more carefully Uranus has a total of 13 dusty rings In the image the edge on rings appear as spikes above and below the planet The rings cannot be seen running fully across the face of the planet because the bright glare of the planet has been blocked out in the Hubble photo A small amount of residual glare appears as a fan shaped image artifact along with an edge between the exposure for the inner and outer rings Uranus is the seventh planet from the Sun Its diameter without the rings is about 51 000 kilometers 32 000 miles at the equator The

    Original URL path: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/features/hubble/ (2016-02-15)
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  • NASA Science Mission Directorate Update
    the front office had a position solely devoted to addressing R A issues Nobel winning cosmologist John Mather from NASA Goddard is our new chief scientist Former NASA Ames division director Yvonne Pendleton was appointed to the SARA position Other new people whose names you ll likely recognize in the new SMD front office include APL s Andy Cheng as the deputy chief scientist for space science JPL s Randy Friedl as the deputy chief scientist for Earth science and SwRI s Dan Durda who is serving as a special advisor for NEOs and human spaceflight Two common attributes these people all have as do the other faces in SMD s new front office roster are very high energy levels and direct recent experience in the science community Like myself most of the new folks in SMD leadership have come to HQ this year from the receiving end of the bureaucracy and therefore understand the frustrations so many in the community have felt That combined with the energetic and proactive leadership that Jim Green was already providing since last fall as the new leader of SMD s Planetary Science Division and Colleen Hartmann s incredible assistance as Deputy AA have made it easy to make advances on numerous issues that had previously been in logjam or unable to even make it to the radar screen Much of our time in the few months our new SMD team been in business has been focused on the FY09 budget to be released early next year Since FY07 was half over when we came and FY08 was already formulated and submitted to Congress by my predecessor FY09 is the first budget that the new team can significantly impact Since the FY09 budget is still in formulation information about it is embargoed but I

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