Space & Planetary Science: June 2010 Archives

Making a Splash With a Hint of Mars Water, Science, 30 June 2000

"Opening the press conference, planetary geologist Michael Malin of Malin Space Science Systems Inc. (MSSS) in San Diego warned that "the actual science may pale before the science fiction that has been written." The fiction grew out of an accurate, if vague, item on the independent watchdog Web site, NASA Watch (, late afternoon on 19 June. It reported, apparently from sources in the astrobiology community, that NASA had briefed the White House (presidential science adviser Neal Lane, as it turned out) on a major discovery involving water on Mars. Other Web sites added details through Tuesday, 20 June; USA Today put a Web-sourced story at the top of its front page Wednesday morning. The information gleaned anonymously from NASA headquarters personnel and researchers around the country ranged from on target--signs of recent spring activity--to unlikely: ponds and even the possibility of geysers. Although no reporters appeared to have seen the paper (by Malin and his MSSS colleague Kenneth Edgett), Science decided to stem the flow of misinformation by releasing it."

Moon Water Update

A Wetter Moon Impacts Understanding of Lunar Origin, Paul Spdis, Air & Space

"A paper recently published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describes lunar samples containing the calcium-phosphate mineral apatite. Using a sensitive technique, they detected water (in the form of its ion hydroxyl, -OH) within the crystal structure of this mineral. Moreover, these hydroxyl-bearing apatite grains are found in several different rocks from a variety of geological settings. This indicates that the presence of water in the lunar interior is not some fluke, but a general property of the Moon. So the story of water on the Moon advances."

Keith's 6:08 pm EDT note: Surprise surprise, NASA just issued this press release at 6:08 pm EDT "NASA Releases Kepler Data On Potential Extrasolar Planets" even though the papers have been accessible for almost 24 hours, and their release was announced 11 days ago. Yet another example of Ed Weiler and SMD's lack of interest in being "open" and "transparent".

Also, it would seem that Jon Morse, the head of the Astrophysics Division at NASA HQ SMD is ordering his staff and scientists associated with this (and other) projects not to talk about any possible extrasolar planet candidates with the media or anyone else until papers have been peer reviewed. That's fine Jon, but then why do you allow the release the papers for public examination - online - if you are so concerned about unreviewed data getting out into the wild? It just doesn't make any sense. You can't have it both ways, Jon.

There is another location where the papers that Jon Morse would rather that you not see are located. All you have to do is go to the The SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System and do a simple search for "Kepler" and these papers also show up here.

- Kepler Eclipsing Binary Stars. I. Catalog and Principal Characterization of 1832 Eclipsing Binaries in the First Data Release, SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)
- Characteristics of Kepler Planetary Candidates Based on the First Data Set: The Majority are Found to be Neptune-Size and Smaller, SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)
- Five Kepler target stars that show multiple transiting exoplanet candidates, SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS)

Keith's 5:30 pm EDT note: As best I understand the situation, Ed Weiler and SMD management have consistently refused to allow any NASA publicity surrounding the submission of these Kepler papers - even though anyone can read them via the links below. It is not so much PAO's fault (although there are a few PAO people who should have seen this coming) but rather SMD's clinging to outmoded ways of releasing information.

Then again the Kepler folks posted this update on 4 June that announced this data release. 11 days and they can't agree on a press release?

How SMD can expect people to ignore papers that announce preliminary findings about a large number of newly-identified planets circling other stars simply baffles me. If SMD does not want people to read their papers before they are reviewed, etc. then they should not be posting them on a publicly accessible abstract website for all the world to see.

Keith's 3:00 pm EDT note: Curiously there is no mention whatsoever of this data release at NASA ARC's homepage or on's Kepler mission home page. Its not as if they did not have advanced notice that this data was being released. These papers were posted on astro-ph last night around midnight. Maybe PAO doesn't know that they are online.

- Five Kepler target stars that show multiple transiting exoplanet candidates, astro-ph
- Characteristics of Kepler Planetary Candidates Based on the First Data Set: The Majority are Found to be Neptune-Size and Smaller, astro-ph
- Kepler Eclipsing Binary Stars. I. Catalog and Principal Characterization of 1832 Eclipsing Binaries in the First Data Release, astro-ph

Kepler Withholds Data While NASA Struggles To Be Relevant, related post

Water Worlds

Research Suggests Water Content Of Moon Interior Underestimated

"NASA-funded scientists estimate from recent research that the volume of water molecules locked inside minerals in the Moon's interior could exceed the amount of water in the Great Lakes here on Earth."

New CU-Boulder Study Indicates An Ancient Ocean May have Covered One-Third of Mars

"Collectively, these results support the existing theories regarding the extent and formation time of an ancient ocean on Mars and imply the surface conditions during the time probably allowed the occurrence of a global and active hydrosphere integrating valley networks, deltas and a vast ocean as major components of an Earth-like hydrologic cycle," Di Achille and Hynek wrote in Nature Geoscience."

Space Weather Enterprise Forum 2010: Building an Informed and Resilient Society - the Decade Ahead

"As we approach the next peak of solar activity expected in 2013, our nation faces multiplying uncertainties from increasing reliance on space weather-affected technologies for communication, navigation, security, and other activities, many of which underpin our national infrastructure and economy. We also face increasing exposure to space weather-driven human health risk as trans-polar flights and space activities, including space tourism, increase."

More Boulders As Seen By Lunar Orbiter 2

"This high resolution image, subframe 2128_H2, was taken by Lunar Orbiter 2 on 22 November 1966 at 20:18:27 GMT. Two areas containing craters filled with boulders have been highlighted. Enlarged versions of these locations are shown below. With a resolution of approximately 1 meter/pixel, the smallest boulders visible are several meters across."



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This page is an archive of entries in the Space & Planetary Science category from June 2010.

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