Space & Planetary Science: June 2005 Archives

The Story of Cosmos 1 is Not Over: A Personal Report, Planetary Society

"So right now, I am not thinking about what might have been. What we did is not bad. We built the first solar-sail spacecraft. There is even a chance it got to orbit in working condition and ready for its mission. We created an international partnership with very limited resources. We conducted the first space mission by a privately funded space-interest group. We tested the notion of private funding for space ventures based on the idea that they have exciting stories to tell."

Editor's note: Mary Cleave will be replacing Al Diaz as AA at the Science Mission Directorate. Colleen Hartman will be her deputy.

Space camera flaw traced to earthly mirror, MSNBC

"The optical flaw that blurred the vision of NASAs comet-smashing Deep Impact probe has been tentatively diagnosed as the result of overlooking a simple law of physics, sources familiar with the investigation have told MSNBC.com."

NASA to clear up comet hunter's blurry vision, Rocky Mountain News

"The problem has been traced to a mirror used when the HRI was tested at Ball, the space agency said. While flat at room temperatures, the mirror unexpectedly developed a slight curvature during testing at ultra-cold temperatures. Ball engineers didn't detect the curvature at the time."

Editor's note: Of course, when it comes to performance/award fee time for Deep Impact, NASA probably won't have the courage to ding Ball for this dumb mistake. I wonder (in this era of full cost acocunting) who pays for all the work performed to fix the bad optics with a software workaround.

And why is it that NASA makes no mention of this camera problem in the otherwise highly detailed press release it issued on Deep Impact on 9 June? All the press release says is "A camera and infrared spectrometer, which comprise the High Resolution Instrument, are carried on the flyby spacecraft, along with a Medium Resolution Instrument. A duplicate of the Medium Resolution Instrument on the impactor will record the vehicle's final moments before it is run over by Tempel 1." There is mention, however in the mission's press kit.

A Sunset on Mars

NASA Mars Rover Sunset: A Moment Frozen in Time

"On May 19th, 2005, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit captured this stunning view as the Sun sank below the rim of Gusev crater on Mars. This Panoramic Camera mosaic was taken around 6:07 in the evening of the rover's 489th martian day, or sol."

NAS SSB Report Online

Look at This

NASA'S Spitzer Captures Echo of Dead Star's Rumblings

"An enormous light echo etched in the sky by a fitful dead star was spotted by the infrared eyes of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. The surprising finding indicates Cassiopeia A, the remnant of a star that died in a supernova explosion 325 years ago, is not resting peacefully. Instead, this dead star likely shot out at least one burst of energy as recently as 50 years ago."

NASA frees rover from Martian sand trap, MSNBC

"NASA's Opportunity rover has broken free from the Martian sand dune where it had been stuck for more than a month, the mission's top scientist announced Saturday. "We're out!" Cornell astronomer Steve Squyres, principal investigator for the Mars Exploration Rovers, reported in a mission update. Squyres said data from the previous day's activities at Meridiani Planum indicated that "all six wheels are on top of the soil."

NASA Universe Strategic Roadmap Commitee Draft minutes: March 21, 2005

"The original intent had been to seek science that could be done in the $600-700 million range; most of these fell in the $1 billion range. Sterl Phinney said the way to get $600 million missions was to ask for $300 million proposals."

Leading theories of cosmic explosions contradicted, University of Chicago

"The question could probably be settled within the next few years with more burst observations conducted jointly between the Swift and HETE-2 satellites, which measure slightly different properties of the phenomena. But NASA plans to discontinue the HETE-2 mission this September."


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