Space & Planetary Science: November 2007 Archives

Grading NASA's Solar System Exploration Program: A Midterm Review,Committee on Assessing the Solar System Exploration Program, NRC

"The Committee on Assessing the Solar System Exploration Program has reviewed NASA's progress to date on implementing the recommendations made in the National Research Council's (NRC's) 2003-2013 solar system exploration decadal survey, New Frontiers in the Solar System, and in its Mars architecture report, Assessment of NASA's Mars Architecture 2007-2016."

MPEC 2007-V70: EDITORIAL NOTICE, Minor Planet Electronic Circular

"A posting on the Minor Planet Mailing List by Denis Denisenko suggested that the object designated 2007 VN84 on MPEC 2007-V69 might be the Rosetta spacecraft. Our investigation of this possibility, using information from the Satellite Situation Center, show that this suggestion is indeed correct."

The Moon and Europe - Rosetta OSIRIS images

"As Rosetta closed in on Earth, swung by and then left on its course again, several instruments on the spacecraft were busy taking snaps. As it swung away, the OSIRIS camera also caught glimpses of the Moon."

Two Instruments Restored to the Mars Science Laboratory, Planetary Society

"This is a victory for space science and Mars exploration -- The Planetary Society had protested the decision to cut these instruments from the project. We congratulate and thank Alan Stern for overturning this earlier decision."

Editor's note: There is an important distinction to make here. This Planetary Society memo gives a somewhat erroneous impression - as if opponents to this decision somehow prevailed and that NASA somehow relented - i.e. that a victory was won. That did not happen. Rather, Alan Stern and SMD prevailed. Stern did not "overturn his earlier decision". SMD's position on cost over runs has not changed. Instead, the initial problem that caused Stern to make the decision has been changed, rendering part of his initial decision moot.Reading the memo carefully, one can see that Stern said "Malin Space Science Systems has agreed that there will be no additional costs to NASA for the completion of the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI). Furthermore, funds returned to the Mars Exploration Program from the unfortunate elimination of MARDI operations on Phoenix will be used to support MARDI integration on MSL." and also that "In the case of ChemCam, LANL, the French Space Agency (CNES), and even other MSL instrument team members have developed a series of descopes and support arrangements to allow instrument completion, reducing the development cost-to-go by a little over 80%--i.e." In other words, instrument developers cut back so as to accommodate Stern's initial concerns.

Again, SMD's position on costs did not change. Note the original memo's mention of a "change from a rock grinding tool to a rock brushing tool". This decision still stands. Stern did not budge. Neither did SMD. Rather, instrument developers got the message - and SMD prevailed. An equally strong stance has been taken with regard to costs issues on Kepler, SDO, and other projects. MSL is not an isolated instance. Stay tuned.

Mars Science Laboratory Instrumentation Announcement from Alan Stern and Jim Green, NASA Headquarters

Push back on MSL cuts, earlier post

Mars Science Laboratory Project Changes Respond to Cost Increases, Keep Mars Program On Track, NASA

Mars Science Laboratory Instrumentation Announcement from Alan Stern and Jim Green, NASA Headquarters

"Dear Colleagues: We are very happy to announce that MARDI and ChemCam's cost issues have been solved and both instruments are going forward to launch on MSL. Malin Space Science Systems has agreed that there will be no additional costs to NASA for the completion of the Mars Descent Imager (MARDI). Furthermore, funds returned to the Mars Exploration Program from the unfortunate elimination of MARDI operations on Phoenix will be used to support MARDI integration on MSL."

50 Years On Orbit

Vanguard Approaches Half A Century In Space, SpaceRef

Editor's note: I received this note the other day from someone at the NASA Alumni League: "Calling all Vanguardians: On March 17, 2008, the Vanguard One satellite, the oldest object in space from Planet Earth, will complete its 50th year in Earth orbit. A small group of former NRL and NASA folks has been in communication, and a number of government agencies have been asked to commemorate the event."


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

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