Space & Planetary Science: August 2007 Archives

Editor's note: Not to be out done, NASA has a somewhat retro avant-guard video online (below) - one that focuses on Mars Phoenix. Using 80's music works for me - indeed this video has a 80's MTV feel to it. Alas, while it probably hits the taxpaying demographic right in the middle, I am not sure how it connects with the younger crowd. That's OK. At least someone at NASA is trying. NASA now needs to expand on this experiment and be hitting multiple audiences using multiple approaches. I guess the producers of this video will need to do another one using music that is still on the charts. Of course, for me, the all time MTV classic video promoting space themes (even if overt pre-launch alcohol consumption is depicted) is still "Major Tom" by Peter Schilling (below). Look at the variants of this video that have also been produced ...

Editor's note: Have a look at "The Hubble Deep Field: The Most Important Image Ever Taken". This video was made by Tony Darnell who runs I like it - a lot. In addition to using NASA images to make some important cosmological points, he also makes a few other points - such as our YouTube posting and viewing habits. Thanks to who alerted me to this video and who noted "... continuing along your lines about NASA's PAO, or lack thereof, why didn't we do this???"

NASA Mars Exploration Rover Spirit Update: Dust from Martian Sky Accumulates on Solar Panels

"Dust from Martian Sky Accumulates on Solar Panels - sol 1284-1287, August 20, 2007: Even though the Martian sky above Gusev Crater continued to clear, solar power levels on NASA's Spirit rover remained fairly constant as dust settling from the atmosphere accumulated on top of the solar panels. Activities remained restricted. Measurements of atmospheric opacity, known as Tau, dropped from 3.6 on Martian day, or sol, 1283 (Aug. 12, 2007) to 3.3 on sol 1286 (Aug. 16, 2007), generating power levels of 301 watt-hours (100 watt-hours is the amount of energy needed to light a 100-watt bulb for one hour)."

Hubble Teams With Google to Bring The Cosmos Down to Earth

"Imagine cruising the heavens from your desktop and seeing all the spectacular images from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope. Exploding stars and faraway galaxies are just a mouse click away through Sky in Google Earth. Sky in Google Earth is produced by Google, the company that hosts the popular Internet search engine, through a partnership with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, the science operations center for Hubble. To access the new feature, users will need to download the newest version of Google Earth, available free of charge."

Stern's Impact at SMD

Planetary Exploration Newsletter: NASA Science Mission Directorate Update - Alan Stern, Associate Administrator/SMD

"First, thanks to Mark Sykes for inviting me to write PEN subscribers about recent events since I assumed the reigns of leadership at SMD. But before I do that, I'll first say that when I arrived at SMD in April, I came with a set of specific goals that apply across all four of SMD's science themes - astrophysics, planetary, heliophysics, and Earth science. Those goals include: ... "

Imagery for the People

Europlanet : Conference Conundrum, Planetary Society

"... I want to explain to people what happens when you take the brave step of throwing raw imagery on the web quickly - something which we've seen with MER and Cassini, but currently you couldn't imagine any ESA mission considering doing. The mosaics, animations, software, maps, graphs that people make - even the suggestions for images that the New Horizons team considered - and took."

Play Cosmic DJ

What Would You Put on a New Golden Record, NASA JPL

"NASA's twin Voyager spacecraft launched in August and September 1977. Aboard each spacecraft is a Golden Record, a collection of sites, sounds and greetings from Earth. If a new Golden Record were to be created, what one item from the past 30 years would you include? Give use your ideas by Sept. 5, 2007 (the 30th anniversary of Voyager 1's launch) and our Voyager Mission team will pick what they think would be the best additions. Just click on the Comment link at the bottom of this page."

Reader note 19 Aug 7:40 pm EDT: "Unless my calendar is wrong, Voyager 2 celebrates 30 years of mission ops tomorrow [20 Aug]. Nothing on NASA, JPL web sites. I suppose us old fogies who even remember that craft are no longer in NASA's 'target demo.' Having followed this mission since I was 11 years old (yes, I still have boxes of Neptune and Uranus PBS "All Night' tapes), I find the lack of even a mention on NASA sites a bit sad, but, unfortunately, not unexpected given their recent communication skills..."

Editor's note 20 Aug 8:30 am EDT: When I posted this reader's note last night I could find nothing on any NASA website about Voyager 2's impending 30th anniversary. Indeed, at that point it was already 20 August in many parts of the world. A reader in Germany noted (overnight) that this website at JPL now reflects that anniversary. Alas, as I post this note there is still nothing on either the NASA or JPL home pages that link to this Voyager page. Sources at NASA also tell me that in contrast to the apparent absence of any celebratory notes online, that quite a lot is planned to celebrate this anniversary. Why NASA did not get the word out to the public and the media in advance is curious. Its not like the date of the 30th anniversary wasn't known - for the past 30 years ... Stay tuned. Of course, NASA's Strategic Communications people are no where to be seen on this. Voyager's saga is ripe with wonderful analogies about NASA's capabilities and contributions. You'd think they'd be jumping on a chance to crow about some positive news for once.

Editor's note 20 Aug 10:00 am EDT: NASA HQ now has some links up. Yet there is still nothing on JPL's home page. What is just plain silly is the fact that you can set your web editing software to post things automatically at a certain date and time. Either they do not know how to do this at JPL, they can't get out of their own way to do so, or someone forgot to do this on Friday - yet the folks in the office down the hallway know how to reprogram ancient computers billions of miles away on an interstellar spacecraft. Go figure.

NASA GRC Reader note: "The Glenn Research Center, who was responsible for launching both Voyagers on Titan/Centaur, had a 30th anniversary celebration at our visitor center this past Saturday."

Editor's note: Gee, too bad NASA could not coordinate these Voyager events across its field centers - with each one linking to the other's events. They only had 30 years to plan this. Then again, the OneNASA concept is no longer needed since the agency is fully integrated as a single entity, right Mike?

Pioneering NASA Voyager Spacecraft Mark Thirty Years of Flight

"NASA's two venerable Voyager spacecraft are celebrating three decades of flight as they head toward interstellar space. Their ongoing odysseys mark an unprecedented and historic accomplishment."

Editor's 20 Aug 12:00 pm EDT note: Finally. A press release.

"Forging the Future of Space Science" A Nationwide Public Seminar Series on the Next 50 Years of Space Science

"Next month, the Space Studies Board (SSB) of the National Research Council will kick off a yearlong series of public lectures and colloquia in cities across the country and abroad. "FORGING THE FUTURE OF SPACE SCIENCE - THE NEXT 50 YEARS" will celebrate the spectacular achievements of space and earth science, examine new discoveries in both fields, and look ahead at what the next 50 years may bring."

SWIFT Problems?

Swift Trigger 28742: False trigger due to star tracker loss, NASA GSFC

"At 19:54 UT, Swift suffered a loss of star tracker lock, and the Burst Alert Telescope (BAT) then interpreted Sco X-1 as a GRB (trigger=287421). The BAT position notice correctly contained the comment line: COMMENTS: This trigger occured while the StarTracker had lost lock, so it is possibly bogus. Star tracker recovery is currently underway."

A Side of Mercury Not Seen By Mariner 10, e-Print archive

"More than 60,000 images of Mercury were taken at ~29 deg elevation during two sunrises, at 820 nm, and through a 1.35 m diameter off-axis aperture on the SOAR telescope. The sharpest resolve 0.2" (140 km) and cover 190-300 deg longitude -- a swath unseen by the Mariner 10 spacecraft -- at complementary phase angles to previous ground-based optical imagery. Our view is comparable to that of the Moon through weak binoculars. Evident are the large crater Mozart shadowed on the terminator, fresh rayed craters, and other albedo features keyed to topography and radar reflectivity, including the putative huge ``Basin S'' on the limb."

Phoenix Rises

NASA Spacecraft Heads for Polar Region on Mars

"NASA's Phoenix Mars Mission blasted off Saturday, aiming for a May 25, 2008, arrival at the Red Planet and a close-up examination of the surface of the northern polar region. Perched atop a Delta II rocket, the spacecraft left Cape Canaveral Air Force Base at 5:26 a.m. EDT into the predawn sky above Florida's Atlantic coast. The spacecraft established communications with its ground team via the Goldstone, Calif., antenna station of NASA's Deep Space Network at 7:02 a.m. EDT, after separating from the third stage of the launch vehicle."

NASA Selects Astrophysics Projects for New Science on the Moon

"NASA has selected four proposals focusing on astrophysics priorities in lunar science to facilitate the nation's exploration program. The proposed studies are part of a NASA effort to develop new opportunities to conduct important science investigations during the planned renewal of human exploration of the moon."

SMD AA Telecon

NASA Science Chief to Reveal Cassini Plans; Discuss Programs

Alan Stern, associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington, will host a media teleconference at 1 p.m. EDT, Wednesday, Aug. 1.



Stern: There is a new vigor at SMD and a new way of holding costs. With regard to reusing spacecraft, a peer reviewed process selected these two proposals. We originally have three comet flybys in the modern era. Now we are going to have 5.

With regard to future opportunities: In the last 3 months we have been looking at a process to standardize selection of these missions of opportunity - and have an annual call for proposals across a variety of disciplines so that we can get the most out of the spacecraft that we already have as well as with our partners on those missions.



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

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