"Light-colored mounds of a mineral deposited on a volcanic cone more than three billion years ago may preserve evidence of one of the most recent habitable microenvironments on Mars. Observations by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter enabled researchers to identify the mineral as hydrated silica and to see its volcanic context. The mounds' composition and their location on the flanks of a volcanic cone provide the best evidence yet found on Mars for an intact deposit from a hydrothermal environment -- a steam fumarole, or hot spring. Such environments may have provided habitats for some of Earth's earliest life forms."
Space & Planetary Science: October 2010 Archives
"It is not often that a $30M issue in an appropriations bill gets a lot of attention. In fact, it is not uncommon to hear Senate staff state that they have $100M round off errors, but recent language in Congressional legislation appropriating funds of this magnitude can have a direct, negative impact on the long-term success of US planetary science and, potentially, creative approaches to power generation for future astrophysics missions, earth observation missions and other research activities in space."
"The ground where NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit became stuck last year holds evidence that water, perhaps as snow melt, trickled into the subsurface fairly recently and on a continuing basis. Researchers took advantage of Spirit's months at Troy last year to examine in great detail soil layers the wheels had exposed, and also neighboring surfaces. Spirit made 13 inches of progress in its last 10 backward drives before energy levels fell too low for further driving in February. Those drives exposed a new area of soil for possible examination if Spirit does awaken and its robotic arm is still usable."
"An international cadre of scientists that used data from NASA's Kepler spacecraft announced Tuesday the detection of stellar oscillations, or "starquakes," that yield new insights about the size, age and evolution of stars. The results were presented at a news conference at Aarhus University in Denmark by scientists representing the Kepler Asteroseismic Science Consortium (KASC). The team studied thousands of stars observed by Kepler, releasing what amounts to a roster of some of humanity's most well-characterized stars."
Strange Lunar Brew, Paul Spudis
"Just after it has been relegated to a "been there, done that" status, the Moon again shows us we have a lot to learn about its history, physical state and the potential value of its resources. We must take the initiative to learn more as the Moon is crucial in developing and advancing a sustainable space faring infrastructure."
"By understanding the processes and environments that determine where water ice will be, how water was delivered to the moon and its active water cycle, future mission planners might be better able to determine which locations will have easily-accessible water. The existence of mostly pure water ice could mean future human explorers won't have to retrieve the water out of the soil in order to use it for valuable life support resources. In addition, an abundant presence of hydrogen gas, ammonia and methane could be exploited to produce fuel."
"This was a first for SDO and it was visually engaging too. On October 7, 2010, SDO observed its first lunar transit when the new Moon passed directly between the spacecraft (in its geosynchronous orbit) and the Sun. With SDO watching the Sun in a wavelength of extreme ultraviolet light, the dark Moon created a partial eclipse of the Sun."
"On Sunday, Oct. 17, at 3:24 Universal Time, we passed the halfway mark in the number of days from launch to Pluto encounter - the last of our halfway milestones en route to Pluto! From here, we have fewer days in front of us than behind us."
"The Science journal has embargoed information until 2 p.m. EDT on Oct. 21. NASA will host a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Oct. 21, to discuss additional findings from NASA's Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO, missions. The results will be featured in six papers published in the Oct. 22 issue of the journal Science. The journal's embargo on these results will be lifted at the start of the telecon."
Keith's note: Once again a private publication gets to determine when NASA-funded research results are released to taxpaying public.
"NASA's Kepler mission Science Operations Center software system was named winner of the 2010 NASA Software of the Year Award by the NASA Software Advisory Panel."
Keith's note: So ... a NASA advisory panel gives a NASA project an award, and NASA ARC PAO thinks that this is "news"? This is self-manufactured news.