Space & Planetary Science: August 2010 Archives

NASA MSFC RFI: Electrodynamic Tether Propulsion Demonstration Mission

"NASA MSFC is seeking a partner capable of providing a spacecraft bus as a part of a technology development proposal team. Responses to this RFI will provide information necessary for the selection of spacecraft providing partners for the proposal team in late Summer/early Fall 2010. This RFI seeks input from vendors with experience and facilities for designing, fabricating, and integrating Low Earth Orbiting (LEO) satellites. Vendors must be able to provide low risk, highly reliable design solutions and have a history of successfully delivering spacecraft bus systems to support Flight projects."

Massive solar storm to hit Earth in 2012 with 'force of 100m bombs', ANI, Yahoo India

"Astronomers are predicting that a massive solar storm, much bigger in potential than the one that caused spectacular light shows on Earth earlier this month, is to strike our planet in 2012 with a force of 100 million hydrogen bombs. Several US media outlets have reported that NASA was warning the massive flare this month was just a precursor to a massive solar storm building that had the potential to wipe out the entire planet's power grid. Despite its rebuttal, NASA's been watching out for this storm since 2006 and reports from the US this week claim the storms could hit on that most Hollywood of disaster dates - 2012."

Sun storm to hit with 'force of 100m bombs',

"Dr Richard Fisher, director of NASA's Heliophysics division, told Mr Reneke the super storm would hit like "a bolt of lightning", causing catastrophic consequences for the world's health, emergency services and national security unless precautions are taken."

Expert rubbishes solar storm claims, AB CNews

"Australia's leading body responsible for monitoring space weather has dismissed claims that a massive solar storm could wipe out the Earth's entire power grid. One report quotes an Australian astronomer as saying "the storm is likely to come sooner rather than later". But Dr Phil Wilkinson, the assistant director of the Bureau of Meteorology's Ionospheric Prediction Service, says claims that this coming solar maximum will be the most violent in 100 years are not factual."

NASA's Kepler Mission Discovers Two Planets Transiting the Same Star

"NASA's Kepler spacecraft has discovered the first confirmed planetary system with more than one planet crossing in front of, or transiting, the same star. The transit signatures of two distinct planets were seen in the data for the sun-like star designated Kepler-9. The planets were named Kepler-9b and 9c. The discovery incorporates seven months of observations of more than 156,000 stars as part of an ongoing search for Earth-sized planets outside our solar system. The findings will be published in Thursday's issue of the journal Science."

Planets' clockwork goes crazy, MSNGBC

"The Science [Magazine] research was held under embargo until 2 p.m. ET today, but the discovery came to light an hour early when NASA made their news release and other information about the observations publicly available."

NASA To Announce Latest Findings By Kepler Spacecraft

"NASA will hold a media teleconference Thursday, Aug. 26, at 1 p.m. EDT to discuss the Kepler spacecraft's latest discovery about an intriguing planetary system. Kepler, a space observatory, looks for the data signatures of planets by measuring tiny decreases in the brightness of stars when planets cross in front of, or transit, them. In June, mission scientists announced the mission has identified more than 700 planet candidates, including five candidate systems that appear to have more than one transiting planet."

Earth and Moon from 114 Million Miles as seen by MESSENGER

"In the lower left portion of this image, the Earth can be seen, as well as the much smaller Moon to Earth's right. When MESSENGER took this image, a distance of 183 million kilometers (114 million miles) separated the spacecraft and Earth. To provide context for this distance, the average separation between the Earth and the Sun is about 150 million kilometers (93 million miles). Though it is a beautiful, thought-provoking picture, viewing our planet from far away was not the main reason that the mission team planned the collection of this image. Instead, this image was acquired as part of MESSENGER's campaign to search for vulcanoids, small rocky objects that have been postulated to exist in orbits between Mercury and the Sun."

The Moon Is Shrinking

NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Reveals 'Incredible Shrinking Moon'

"Newly discovered cliffs in the lunar crust indicate the moon shrank globally in the geologically recent past and might still be shrinking today, according to a team analyzing new images from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) spacecraft. The results provide important clues to the moon's recent geologic and tectonic evolution."

LRO News Telecon Today

NASA to Hold Media Briefing on Latest Results from Lunar Mission

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 2p.m. EDT on Thursday, August 19 to discuss new research results from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. To participate in the teleconference, reporters should email Rob Gutro at Requests must include media affiliation and telephone number. Supporting information will be posted at the start of the news conference at: Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live at:"

NRC Decadal Survey: New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Committee for a Decadal Survey of Astronomy and Astrophysics; National Research Council

"New Worlds, New Horizons in Astronomy and Astrophysics recommends a balanced and executable program that will support research surrounding the most profound questions about the cosmos. The discoveries ahead will facilitate the search for habitable planets, shed light on dark energy and dark matter, and aid our understanding of the history of the universe and how the earliest stars and galaxies formed. The book is a useful resource for agencies supporting the field of astronomy and astrophysics, the Congressional committees with jurisdiction over those agencies, the scientific community, and the public."

NASA NEO Workshop

Huge asteroid on possible collision course with Earth (172 years from now), Christian Science Monitor

"An international team, including NASA experts, say in new research that the space rock has a one-in-a-thousand chance of an impact. They may sound like high odds, but they are enough to mean the threat from the 560-meter (612-yard) wide asteroid will have to be taken seriously."

Will a Giant Asteroid Kill Us All in 2182?, Time

"The future isn't looking bright, (ahem....) but here's a doomsday theory even skeptics can't totally deny: a massive asteroid, named the 1999 RQ36 was discovered in 1999 and has a width of over 1,800 feet. Scientists have said that this asteroid's impact could have a similar effect to that which allegedly wiped out the dinosaurs. Great."

NASA Workshop to Discuss Exploring Near Earth Objects

"NASA will host an interactive workshop to identify objectives for exploration missions to near-Earth objects, or NEOs, on Aug. 10-11 at the Renaissance Mayflower Hotel in Washington."

Live webcast

Mini-RF Has Just Completed its First Month of Polar Mapping

"The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter's Mini-RF has just completed its first month of systematic polar mapping. These mosaics cover from 70 to the pole for both the north (top) and south (bottom) polar regions. The left-hand images show radar brightness whilst the right-hand color images also show the circular polarization ratio."

Kepler Science Status: Statement to Ames Center Director

"Recently there have been reports to the effect that Kepler has discovered many Earth-like planets. This is not the case. Analysis of the current Kepler data does not support the assertion that Kepler has found any Earth-like planets. Kepler is producing excellent results and is on a path to achieving all its mission requirements and actually determining the frequency of Earth-size planets, especially in habitable zones. We will announce our results when they become available and are confirmed."

Confusion Over Kepler's 'Earth-Like' Planets Explained, Science

"NASA's mini fiasco in public communication last week was a scientist's attempt at public outreach gone awry. Kepler mission co-investigator Dimitar Sasselov of Harvard University, speaking at the popular TED talks, tried to convey the excitement of hunting for Earth-size planets orbiting in the habitable zones of other stars. But his sloppy terminology and careless graphics, says Kepler Principal Investigator William Borucki, led to headlines that Kepler had just discovered hundreds of Earth-like planets. That's not true, says Borucki of NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California. "I'm disappointed one of our members confused people."

Rumors in Astrophysics Spread at Light Speed, NY Times

"Last week, Dr. Sasselov was busy eating his words. In a series of messages posted on the Kepler Web site Dr. Sasselov acknowledged that should have said "Earth-sized," meaning a rocky body less than three times the diameter of our own planet, rather than "Earthlike," with its connotations of oxygenated vistas of blue and green. He was speaking in geophysics jargon, he explained."

Joint USAF/NOAA Report of Solar and Geophysical Activity 1 August 2010

"Region 1092 (N13E21) produced a long-duration C3/Sf flare at 01/0826Z. The flare was associated with a Type IV radio sweep, an 890 sfu Tenflare, and an Earth-directed full-halo coronal mass ejection (CME). A disappearing filament (DSF) occurred during 01/0750 - 0811Z, centered near N37W32 and time coincident with the C3 flare. The DSF was associated with an Earth-directed partial-halo CME."

SDO video

Did Kepler Astronomer Realy Jump The Gun?, Ray Villard, Discovery News

"Science reporters were primed for this "shoot-ready-aim" response because they are growing impatient with one of NASA's most exciting and inspiring space observatory missions."

Keith's note: Gee Ray, I suppose you have data to back up this wacky claim. Could it be that the media reacted to what Sasselov actually said?

"The semantics over "Earth-like" and "Earth-sized" got confused in stories. Let's set the record straight. Kepler will never find an Earth-like planet. All Kepler is seeing is the shadows of planets as they pass in front of their star (transits). .... Once on the Internet, Sasselov's lecture was translated by reporters. Important ideas got misinterpreted in the translation. This was due in part to the fact that no press conference or substantive press release accompanied the June publication of some of the data."

Keith's note: These are after the fact attempts at spinning things on your part, Ray. Sasselov said "Earth-like". Its on his charts as well. So if these worlds are not "Earth-like" then it is the fault of the media and the general public for not knowing that "Earth-like" does not really mean "Earth-like"? If so, then why did Sasselov say "Earth-like" in the first place? As for your suggestion that media "translated" his comments (anyone can watch the video by the way) - they didn't translate them at all. Sasselov used the words "Earth-like" - and so did the media.

At no point in this article (or at the link to his other articles) does Ray Villard bother to mention that he works at the Space Telescope Science Institute as News Chief ( STSCI operates NASA's Hubble Space Telescope and funds for Villard's salary come from ... NASA.



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