Space & Planetary Science: April 2007 Archives

NASA Satellite To Study Polar Clouds, AP

"The Pegasus rocket, built by Orbital Sciences Corp., featured Virginia Tech logos on its side in memory of the 32 students and teachers who died in a school rampage last week. One of the mission's scientists, deputy principal investigator Scott Bailey, works at Virginia Tech."

Planetary Society Urges Congress to "Restore NASA's Vision"

"The Society supports the Administration's Vision for Space Exploration, but noted that it has now become distorted, with valuable science and exploration missions being cannibalized to pay for it."

Space Studies Board News - January - March 2007: Comments from Lennard Fisk, NAS SSB

"The budget issue we must confront is not what we had, but what we need. Science in NASA has a job to do. We are to explore the universe and lay down the foundational knowledge for the human expansion into space. We are to determine the future of the Earth, so that sound policy decisions can be made to protect the future of our civilization. We are to contribute to the capability of the United States to compete in the world, whether it is through new knowledge, new technology, or a new workforce. There is no comfort in knowing that we have been proportionally abused in the NASA budget. We do not have the funds required to do our job, and we are not happy."

Editor's note: Have a look at this page : Board Meetings and Presentations, SSB Meeting March 5-7, 2007 if you want to get an idea why Len Fisk et al are so upset.

NASA Announces Press Conference on First 3-D Images of the Sun

"NASA will hold a press conference on Monday, April 23 at 11:00 a.m. EDT to unveil new 3-D images of the sun from the agency's Solar TErrestrial RElations Observatory (STEREO). For the first time, scientists will be able to see structures in the Sun's atmosphere in three dimensions. The new view will improve space weather forecasting and greatly aid scientist's ability to understand solar physics."

Larger image (3D glasses required for stunning full effect). You may have seen some sneak previews of images this morning on ABC's Good Morning America.

More images

Report Reveals Likely Causes of Mars Spacecraft Loss

"On Nov. 2, after the spacecraft was ordered to perform a routine adjustment of its solar panels, the spacecraft reported a series of alarms, but indicated that it had stabilized. That was its final transmission. Subsequently, the spacecraft reoriented to an angle that exposed one of two batteries carried on the spacecraft to direct sunlight. This caused the battery to overheat and ultimately led to the depletion of both batteries. Incorrect antenna pointing prevented the orbiter from telling controllers its status, and its programmed safety response did not include making sure the spacecraft orientation was thermally safe."

Earlier SpaceRef story from 10 January 2007: NASA Decides That A Software Error Doomed The Mars Global Surveyor Spacecraft, SpaceRef

According to public comments made by McNamee: "We think that the failure was due to a software load we sent up in June of last year. This software tried to synch up two flight processors. Two addresses were incorrect - two memory addresses were over written. As the geometry evolved, we drove the [solar] arrays against a hard stop and the spacecraft went into safe mode. The radiator for the battery pointed at the sun, the temperature went up, and battery failed. But this should be treated as preliminary."

Some Earth-like Worlds May Have Foliage of Colors Other Than Green, Researchers Say

"In the next decade, when scientists are able to study Earth-sized worlds around other stars, they may find that foliage on some of the planets is predominantly yellow--or orange, or red. It all depends on the color of the star the planet orbits and the stuff that makes up the planet's atmosphere."

NASA Mars Rover Opportunity Status: Looking For an 'In'

"Opportunity is healthy and working on obtaining a long baseline stereo image of the bay "Valley without Peril." The remainder of the week was spent driving toward a lookout point above the Valley without Peril. From this vantage point, Opportunity will acquire a long baseline stereo image of the vicinity. Valley Without Peril is being considered as a possible ingress location into "Victoria Crater."

Stardust's Data May Be Contaminated, Report Says, Popular Mechanics

"When the mission finally returned to Earth last year, the samples revealed the presence of osbornite, which indicates that the big beginning was hotter and more violent than scientists had previously imagined. But a new report insists there may be another reason for the presence of the mineral in Stardust's samples: Contamination by rocket fuel, which contains Titanium Nitride - osbornite's chemical compound."

NASA Nobel Prize Recipient to Lead Chief Scientist Office

"NASA's new Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Alan Stern has appointed NASA scientist and 2006 Nobel Prize recipient John Mather to lead the Office of the Chief Scientist at Headquarters in Washington. Mather and his staff in the newly created office will be chief advisors to Stern."

Editor's update: Interesting thing for Alan Stern do on his very first day on the job.

Memo to NASA Science Asssociates Group Regarding ESA Cosmic Visions Competition

"This is to bring to your attention the email, attached below, from NASA regarding the ESA Cosmic Visions competition for science missions and how U.S. investigators can obtain a "letter of acknowledgement" from NASA if their collaboration with a European proposal team is deemed to be in alignment with NASA strategic planning. Please also note that the NASA email also addresses the status of the NASA Science Plan, for which the NSAG provided an industry review last year, with a web site to which the Plan will soon be posted."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Space & Planetary Science category from April 2007.

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