Space & Planetary Science: April 2012 Archives

Sander van den Berg: "The footage in this video is derived from image sequences from NASA's Cassini and Voyager missions. I downloaden a large amount of raw images to create the video."

Looking For Life on Mars - Without Fiddling Around

"We really want to address the big questions on Mars and not fiddle around," says Dirk Schulze-Makuch, whose earlier proposals have included an economical one-way trip to the red planet. "With the money for space exploration drying up, we finally have to get some exciting results that not only the experts and scientists in the field are interested in but that the public is interested too."

U.S. Astronomers Make Case for Science on Capitol Hill

"Fifteen members of the American Astronomical Society (AAS) are traveling to Washington, DC, April 24-25 to thank Congress for recent appropriations in the fiscal year 2013 spending bill and to express the need for continued federal funding of research and development (R&D) programs, which are critically important to American economic growth."

House Panel Wants NASA to Plan Mars Sample Return

"If an NRC review of NASA's mission concept concludes that it will not lead to a sample return, the bill directs the agency to spend the $150 million on developing a mission to orbit Europa, one of Jupiter's icy moons. That would be in line with the priorities laid out in the NRC's planetary science decadal survey, released in March 2011."

Senate Bill Good News for NASA Mars Missions, Science

"It's not clear yet if this restored funding--if the bill should become law--will in fact restore components of the 2016 and 2018 Mars missions that NASA had originally intended to undertake in collaboration with the European Space Agency."

NASA Planning Group Takes Key Steps for Future Mars Exploration

"Starting today, the scientific and technical community across the globe can submit ideas and abstracts online as part of NASA's effort to seek out the best and the brightest ideas from researchers and engineers in planetary science. Selected abstracts will be presented during a workshop in June hosted by the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston."

Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration

"While we hope to accommodate all possible concepts, the workshop venue is limited to roughly 185-200 participants. If the number of submitted abstracts exceeds this limit, a NASA-designated program panel will review the abstracts and develop the final workshop attendee list. In order to encourage broad participation, industry and government laboratories (including NASA Centers) will be asked to limit participation to individuals presenting ideas/concepts. University research groups are encouraged to send principal investigators as their representatives, and to recognize that the number of attendees will be limited."

Keith's note: At today's media telecon NASA representatives stressed that this review process and this meeting were going to be "transparent and open" and that people from outside NASA would be encouraged to attend. This does not synch with the meeting description that has been posted. It sounds like NASA is going to limit attendees and presentations. Moreover, instead of trying to encourage new ideas (younger participants) the older PIs are the ones who will attend. All too often these "independent" NASA activities are just the same old faces engaged in choir practice and Powerpoint generation. I asked if this event would be webcast in its entirety and Doug McQuiston said "yes". I wonder if NASA will allow remote participation - you know, like everyone in the real world can now do. Stay tuned. Will this MPPG activity be yet another slow motion exercise resulting no real change in the status quo other than lowered budget reactions or will NASA really think outside the box this time?

Viking Data Suggests Life?, Universe Today via NASA's Astrobiology Magazine

"Researchers from universities in Los Angeles, California, Tempe, Arizona and Siena, Italy have published a paper in the International Journal of Aeronautical and Space Sciences (IJASS) citing the results of their work with data obtained by NASA's Viking mission."

Is it Snowing Microbes on Enceladus?, Science.nasa.gov

"There's a tiny moon orbiting beyond Saturn's rings that's full of promise, and maybe -- just maybe -- microbes. In a series of tantalizingly close flybys to the moon, named "Enceladus," NASA's Cassini spacecraft has revealed watery jets erupting from what may be a vast underground sea. These jets, which spew through cracks in the moon's icy shell, could lead back to a habitable zone that is uniquely accessible in all the solar system."

Keith's note:I am a biologist. Back in the day I ran many NASA peer review panels for exobiology research and helped plan NASA's initial astrobiology program. I run astrobiology.com and would absolutely love this story to be true i.e. microbes raining on Enceladus but ... its not true - at least no one has proved it. Dr. Porco's guesses are imaginative and inspired and are not without some strong supporting data but they are just guesses - and Cassini does not have any way to prove that there is anything alive in these plumes. So yes, "let's go back".

NASA Astrophysics Urged To Slim Down, Aviation Week

"The SRC strongly urges the HST to consider all possible avenues, vigorously pursuing ways to accelerate cost reductions without compromising mission safety even if some science is not enabled," the panel cautioned the Hubble team in the April 4 report that included the Kepler extension recommendation. "To keep HST operating while maintaining the overall balance of NASA's astrophysics program, it will be necessary to seek further cost reductions, even at the expense of some observing efficiency."

NASA Extends Kepler, Spitzer, Planck Missions

"NASA is extending three missions affiliated with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. -- Kepler, the Spitzer Space Telescope and the U.S. portion of the European Space Agency's Planck mission -- as a result of the 2012 Senior Review of Astrophysics Missions. The 2012 NASA Senior Review report, which includes these three missions and six others also being extended, is available at: https://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/2012-senior-review."

Impact of Delays in Selection and Funding of Research and Data Analysis Program Awards, PSI

"Consequences include: The personal assumption of research expenses by scientists, the potential loss of students, funding instability or inadequacy for postdocs, undermining funded research, general loss of efficiency in programs and research, a sense of overall lack of support for these foundational programs that underpin our solar system exploration efforts, and the potential loss of scientists from planetary science."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Space & Planetary Science category from April 2012.

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