Space & Planetary Science: July 2008 Archives
"Laboratory tests aboard NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander have identified water in a soil sample. The lander's robotic arm delivered the sample Wednesday to an instrument that identifies vapors produced by the heating of samples. "We have water," said William Boynton of the University of Arizona, lead scientist for the Thermal and Evolved-Gas Analyzer, or TEGA. "We've seen evidence for this water ice before in observations by the Mars Odyssey orbiter and in disappearing chunks observed by Phoenix last month, but this is the first time Martian water has been touched and tasted."
"Mars Express closed in on the intriguing martian moon Phobos at 6:49 CEST on 23 July, flying past at 3 km/s, only 93 km from the moon.
The ESA spacecraft's fly-bys of the moon have returned its most detailed full-disc images ever, also in 3-D, using the High Resolution Stereo Camera on board."
"Scientists have confirmed that at least one body in our solar system, other than Earth, has a surface liquid lake.
Using an instrument on NASA's Cassini orbiter, they discovered that a lake-like feature in the south polar region of Saturn's moon, Titan, is truly wet. The lake is about 235 kilometers, or 150 miles, long."
NLSI Lunar Science Conference, 20- 23 Jul NASA ARC
Rob Ferl - Plants in Lunar Exploration. Not your grandfather's garden we are talking about here. Plants complete the habitation environment in space - life support, food etc. Use of small plants - Arabidopsis - as reporter plants to understand adaptation to environments such as space.
Larry Young - NASA Bioastronautics Roadmap 1997-2005 identified 55 risks and risk factors and 250 enabling resources needed for long term human exploration. We are going to the Moon as a stepping stone to Mars - we should therefore learn as much as we can along the way - while doing science that can only be done on the Moon. Issues - bone and muscle loss, response to fractional gravity, space radiation, lunar dust. Need to consier all of these issues before human go to the moon. I am heartbroken that the Centrifuge Accommodation Module is not flying on the ISS where we can look at the region between zero and 1 G but the moon, at least, gives us a shot at looking at 1/6th G.
John Charles NASA JSC - Stay times on the moon during Apollo provided valuable but limited data. Working on plans for longer term stays on the lunar surface in connection with commensurate stays on the ISS.
Chris McKay - Humans in Long Duration Lunar Exploration
The Science included in the CAN (Cooperative Agreement Notice) is broad. It includes humans, plants, sustainability. This is how issues on Earth, Moon, and Mars can be tied together - sustainability.
NASA/Ames scientists map our return to the moon, SJ Mercury News
"For the next three days, Silicon Valley will be the base for planning humankind's return to the moon, as more than 400 scientists from around the world assemble at NASA/Ames Research Center for a conference on what type of science should be done when astronauts revisit Earth's nearest neighbor."
Scientists swap moon, Mars exploration plans, SF Chronicle
"At the lunar science conference Thursday, NASA scientists will join scientists from Canada, Korea, Japan, Italy and Britain to create an International Lunar Network to help them work together on major projects, said David Morrison, director of the new NASA Lunar Science Institute at Ames. He was joined by Stephen Mackwell, director of the independent Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, whose $7 million budget is financed by NASA grants."
NLSI Lunar Science Conference, 20- 23 Jul NASA ARC
Editor's Note: I was going to try and live blog and make Twitter posts from this conference but the free WiFi never works and the building where the meeting is held seems to block commercial EVDO signals. I might try again tomorrow.
Andy Chaikin: Talking about larger social ramifications of Apollo program. The effect that live TV had on the people of Earth. The moon is a wtiness to the early history of the solar system and it is right in our own back yard. Impact events may well have affected the origin and evolution of life on Earth. The moon was revealed by exploration to be a place of spectacular beauty. It is the ony world in the solar system where we can stand and look back at our own place in the solar system. When we do go back I want us to remember what we got the first time and that when we look back at our world we see it for what it is. The moon, as a magnet for exploration, has shown us what we can become.
Imagination takes a flight to Mars, USA Today
"This could be the Indian summer of Mars exploration. The success of NASA's Phoenix lander has capped a decade of robotic derring-do and discoveries by uncovering chips of ice on the barren surface of the Red Planet's north pole. The find proves the existence of water, a key ingredient of life."
"The world's first astronomical observatory bound for the Moon was announced today as a joint venture between the International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA) and Google Lunar X PRIZE contender Odyssey Moon Limited. A dual function ILO precursor instrument demonstrating observation and communication techniques will be part of the scientific and commercial payloads aboard Odyssey Moon's inaugural "MoonOne" lander mission, planned for 2011, and destined for the lunar equator in pursuit of the Google Lunar X PRIZE."
"Mars once hosted vast lakes, flowing rivers and a variety of other wet environments that had the potential to support life, according to two new studies based on data from the Compact Reconnaissance Imaging Spectrometer for Mars (CRISM) and other instruments on board NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO). One study, published in the July 17 issue of Nature, shows that vast regions of the ancient highlands of Mars--which cover about half the planet--contain clay minerals, which can form only in the presence of water."
"Scientists running the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, known as HiRISE, on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have processed more details in an amazing image their camera captured as the Phoenix spacecraft descended through Mars' atmosphere during its landing on May 25, 2008. New analysis has turned up what likely is Phoenix's heat shield falling toward Mars' surface, they conclude. HiRISE, run from The University of Arizona, made history by taking the first image of a spacecraft as it descended toward the surface of another planetary body."
Editor's note: Oh, I am not sure about that. As a NASA Watch reader pointed out, there are images, such as this one of the Apollo 11 Eagle as it descended to the lunar surface .... and then, of course there were the Ranger probes who televised their own descent to the lunar surface.