Space & Planetary Science: October 2009 Archives

Mars orbiter reported facing a potentially fatal scenario, Arizona Star

"While the engineers have not been able to find the root cause of why the orbiter did so on Aug. 26, they are seeing a pattern among the four occurrences this year. "In all four cases the most likely scenario is that ... either one of the voltages wasn't right or the part of the device that measures voltages indicated there was a problem and there wasn't one," Erickson said."

Infographic of the Day: We're Getting Good at Going to Mars, Fast Company

"Maybe ever since the Moon landing, it's been pretty easy to overestimate the success of our space programs--when we want to go somewhere or launch something, we just do it, right? In actuality, space exploration remains a high risk endeavor, as the various Space Shuttle disasters have proven. And going to Mars? Maybe it's out closest planet, but going there isn't as easy as it seems. To prove it, here's a clever graph of all the missions ever sent to Mars. As you can see, it's basically a bar graph; missions to Mars as listed chronologically, and the mission result is coded by how close the corresponding bar reaches to Mars."

Seeing Boulders From Orbit

Bouncing Boulders on The Far Side of the Moon

"Southwest of Rowland crater on the Moon's farside, a 15 km diameter unnamed crater exhibits many boulder trails on the crater walls in this Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter image. The boulders range from 1 m to 15 m across and mark a path downslope to the crater floor from a higher elevation."

Bouncing Boulder on Mars Blocks a Slope Streak

"A boulder track is visible in the center of this Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter subimage. The track formed on the sloping wall of an impact crater when a rock bounced or rolled downhill leaving behind marks on the surface. In the full image, you can see its whole path, starting from a cliff to the east, from which it presumably originated."

ESO: Media Telecon to Discuss Significant Exoplanet Finding

"On Monday 19 October 2009, astronomers will report at the international ESO/CAUP exoplanet conference in Porto, Portugal, on a significant discovery in the field of exoplanets, obtained with the High Accuracy Radial Velocity Planet Searcher, better known as HARPS, the spectrograph for ESO's 3.6-meter telescope."

From the same authors, using the same instrument: arXiv:0906.2780: The HARPS search for southern extra-solar planets XVIII. An Earth-mass planet in the GJ 581 planetary system

"We report here the detection of an additional planet - GJ 581e - with a minimum mass of 1.9 M_earth With a period of 3.15 days, it is the innermost planet of the system and has a 5% transit probability."

Wind-Painted Dunes on Mars

This image was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

USGS Dune Database Entry (ESP_014426_2070) Credit: NASA/JPL/University of Arizona

Larger image and further information.

"This is an image of Earth and the Moon, acquired at 5:20 a.m. MST on 3 October 2007, at a range of 142 million kilometers, which gives the HiRISE image a scale of 142 km/pixel and an Earth diameter of about 90 pixels and a Moon diameter of 24 pixels. The phase angle is 98 degrees, which means that less than half of the disks of the Earth and Moon have direct illumination. We could image Earth/Moon at full disk illumination only when they are on the opposite side of the sun from Mars, but then the range would be much greater and the image would show less detail." More information

GeoEye Looks For LCROSS

This GeoEye-1 satellite image shows the LCROSS crater impact area on the Moon. This image was taken when the GeoEye-1 Earth-imaging satellite was on the dark side of the Earth over the central Pacific heading northward at a speed of 4 miles per second. The image was taken 47 seconds after Centaur's impact. Resolution is about 230 meters.

Larger images.

Charting The Solar System

This fascinating graphic by Sean McNaughton at National Geographic shows all interplanetary missions since the dawn of ths Space age.

Larger version.

Blasting for lunar H20 on -'s Keith Cowing talks about the rocket that crashed into the moon in search of water.

Margaret Warner's Full Interview With Keith Cowing of NASA Watch regarding LCROSS

Keith's note: As was the case yesterday with this NASA Watch posting "Let's Bomb The Moon Into Oblivion Once And For All" JSC IT has apparently once again blocked this NASA Watch posting of CNN video as well. What are these people afraid of? Streaming video? Do they block NASA TV?



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