Space & Planetary Science: November 2013 Archives

China aims for the Moon, Nature

"Space analysts expect that the lunar and crewed objectives of China's space-flight programme will merge, with Chinese astronauts (known as taikonauts) aiming to walk on the Moon some time in the 2020s."

- China will achieve first soft landing on the moon, CNTV (Video)
- Meet China's Jade Rabbit, the peace-loving moon rover, Quartz (Photos)
- NASA Exploration Ideas - With Added China Bashing (Update), earlier post

Comet ISON May or May Not Still Exist

"Comet ISON went around the sun on Nov. 28, 2013. Several solar observatories watched the comet throughout this closest approach to the sun, known as perihelion. While the fate of the comet is not yet established, it is likely that it did not survive the trip."

- Comet ISON Streams Toward the Sun (video)
- Hyper Suprime-Cam Captures Comet ISON's Long Tails, NAOJ
- NASA Hosts Nov. 28 Hangout to Discuss Comet Nearing Sun

China's 1st Moon Lander May Cause Trouble for NASA Lunar Dust Mission, Space.com

"Conversely, with some sort of communication between the missions, including NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO)," talk between countries could enhance both LADEE and Chang'e 3 investigations, [Clive] Neal said. "What we have here is a situation where politics is certainly inhibiting good scientific cooperation and discovery because the NASA mission people are not allowed to communicate bilaterally with their Chinese counterparts," Neal said."

Keith's note: The possibility that the U.S. and China might collaborate on Chang'e 3 and LADEE is certainly moot now that the U.S. just flew B-52's through China's new self-declared air defense zone. Add this to existing China prohibitions from the Frank Wolf contingent and ...

Maven Leaves Earth

MAVEN Leaves Earth for Mars

"Flight of NASA's MAVEN spacecraft continues to go well following an on-time launch at 1:28 p.m. EST aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket."

NASA TV coverage.

Important Changes in the NASA Planetary Science Division's (PSD) Radioisotope Program

"With an adequate supply of Pu-238, and considering the current budget-constrained environment, NASA has decided to discontinue procurement of ASRG flight hardware. We have given direction to the Department of Energy, which manages the flight procurement, to end work on the flight units. The hardware procured under this activity will be transferred to the Glenn Research Center to continue development and testing of the Stirling technology."

Keith's note: At bottom of this release "Mars Rover Teams Dub Sites in Memory of Bruce Murray", JPL has included "For more information about Opportunity, visit http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl , http://www.nasa.gov/rovers and http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov . For more information about Curiosity, visit http://www.nasa.gov/msl and http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl" .

Two missions - five websites.

First for the Opportunity links. if you go to http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ you do not get anything on Opportunity but rather its a Curiosity page. If you go to http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov it redirects you to http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/home/index.html at JPL. If you go to http://www.nasa.gov/rovers it redirects you to http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/mer/index.html at NASA HQ. If you go to the NASA HQ rover site it has a link to a JPL rover website at http://marsrover.nasa.gov/home/index.html it does not link to http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov. And http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov is identical to http://marsrover.nasa.gov/home/index.html. So, one of the three links listed has nothing to do with Opportunity. The NASA HQ MER site links to a JPL MER site but it is at a different address than the JPL MER website listed in the release even though the content is identical.

Now for the Curiosity links. If you go to http://www.nasa.gov/msl it redirects you to http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/msl/index.html at NASA HQ. If you go to http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl you end up at a MSL website at JPL. The NASA HQ MSL site points to the JPL MSL site but the JPL MSL site does not point to the NASA HQ MSL site.

So, NASA is paying to maintain two MSL websites and the web addresses they give out are different than the actual web addresses - but they won't bother to put the actual addresses in press releases. Meanwhile, NASA is paying for 2 (or 3) MER websites - and again the links put in the press release are not the actual website address. And a website link that has "MSL" in it is listed as a place to get MER information. In total 5 links are included for 2 missions - and JPL PAO seems to think this is just fine. Meanwhile NASA PAO and SMD have the nerve to moan and complain about lack of education and public outreach funds? They are squandering their money on overlapping websites that don't even coordinate their content or links. I have raised this issue at several SMD media telecons. All they say is "we'll look into it". They don't. They just don't care about being efficient or coordinating. No - they just want more money and refuse to change the way that they operate. Clueless.

Oh yes --- did you know that NASA's Constellation Program is building the Altair Lunar Lander that will land on the moon by 2020? Moreover, the Altair will be launched on the Ares V rocket. HEOMD has an incredibly tangled web presence too.

- Why Does NASA Maintain Three (Four) Different MSL Websites?
- Why does NASA need multiple websites for the same mission?, earlier post
- NASA's Tangled Human Spaceflight Web Presence, earlier post
- NASA's Sprawling Web Presence, earlier post
- NASA's Inability To Speak With One Voice Online, earlier post

Editorial: NASA Planetary R&A Reorganization

"The planetary research and analysis programs, along with mission data analysis programs, support most of the US planetary community. Their streamlining could provide benefits. A misstep could permanently damage US solar system exploration capability. The plan laid out is very vague. Its implementation is premature. So, it is very good that NASA is reaching out to the community for input. This should be the first step in a more extended process that will transparently and iteratively add important details and well-defined improvements to any reorganization plan. It is far more important to get it right, than to rush and cause harm."

Request for Questions Regarding Planetary Science R&A Restructuring

Keith's note: The NAS Space Studies Board is meeting today. Here is the webex Link that the NAS doesn't want you to know about. Their PR office told me several weeks ago that they would be letting media know about webcasting in advance of their meetings. They never sent me anything despite their pledge to do so. You have to know which internal NASA webpage to go to in order to download an agenda that has the links on them. Alas when you dial in the audio is so faint that you can't really hear what people are saying. Here are the presentations (not that there is anything interesting)

- Space Studies Board is (Not Really) Interested In What You Think, earlier post

Chelyabinsk Meteoroid Airburst Event Yields Crucial Data

"A team of NASA and international scientists for the first time have gathered a detailed understanding of the effects on Earth from a small asteroid impact. The unprecedented data obtained as the result of the airburst of a meteoroid over the Russian city of Chelyabinsk on Feb. 15, has revolutionized scientists' understanding of this natural phenomenon."

New research shows events like Russian asteroid may happen more frequently

"Existing models predict events like the Chelyabinsk asteroid might hit every 120 or 150 years, but our data shows the frequency may be closer to every 30 or 40 years," explains Brown, the Canada Research Chair in Meteor Science, who also serves as CPSX Director. "That's a big surprise. When Chelyabinsk happened, I would have never expected to see an event big enough to cause damage on the ground. It's totally outside the realm of what we thought likely in our lifetimes based on earlier statistics. Our statistics now suggest this type of event likely happens with more frequency."

AeroCube-4 Captures Images of the Moon's Shadow

"One of Aerospace's CubeSats captured a photo of the moon's shadow on Earth's surface during the solar eclipse that occurred on Nov. 3. This solar eclipse began at 11 a.m. UTC and lasted for about two hours, with the shadow of the moon tracing a thin path that began in the Atlantic near Bermuda, crossed the ocean in a southeasterly direction, and ended over central Africa."

Gloomy Budget News for SMD

Hertz Paints Bleak Near-Term Outlook for NASA Astrophysics Division if Sequester Continues, Space PolicyOnline

"NASA Astrophysics Division Director Paul Hertz painted a bleak picture of NASA's FY2014 astrophysics budget today and forecast a future filled with uncertainty. The James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) may be secure, but the rest of NASA's astrophysics program could have tough sailing ahead. Hertz stressed that the country spends quite a bit of money on NASA's astrophysics portfolio - a total of $1.3 billion "and you can't plead poverty when there's $1.3 billion on the table." Roughly half of that is for JWST, however, which is managed separately from the rest of NASA's astrophysics programs."

Prevalence of Earth-size planets orbiting Sun-like stars, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (full article behind paywall)

"We find that 22% of Sun-like stars harbor Earth-size planets orbiting in their habitable zones. The nearest such planet may be within 12 light-years."

1 in 5 Sun-like Stars Has Earth-size Planet in Habitable Zone, UC Berkeley

"The research was funded by UC Berkeley and the National Science Foundation, with the assistance of the Keck Observatories and NASA."

NASA paywalls first papers arising from Curiosity rover, I am setting them free, Michael Eisen, UC Berkeley

"This whole situation is even more absurd, because US copyright law explicitly says that all works of the federal government - of which these surely must be included - are not subject to copyright. So, in the interests of helping NASA and Science Magazine comply with US law, I am making copies of these papers freely available here"

Keith's 5 Nov update: PNAS has finally made this paper available to the public free of charge. Its just baffling how NASA is unable to coordinate this sort of thing in advance rather than after the fact. Now, will NASA make a point of letting people know that this paper is online?


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This page is an archive of entries in the Space & Planetary Science category from November 2013.

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