Space & Planetary Science: July 2016 Archives

Inclusive Astronomy

American Astronomical Society Endorses Vision Statement for Inclusive Astronomy, AAS

"We believe that people of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and physical abilities are capable of doing excellent science and shaping the future of our discipline. We know that identity is intersectional, and we see connections among barriers facing communities of color, women, people with disabilities, and LGBTIQA* people in science. We believe in equal opportunity. We share a vision of a more inclusive, more productive profession. We know that true inclusion and diversity require hard work from individual astronomers, organizations, and our profession as a whole to re-examine our professional culture, modify our existing practices, and remove barriers to inclusion. We assert that progress can and should be measured, and should be pursued with the same zeal as other strategic scientific goals. We have faith that we all -- as colleagues and as a profession -- can learn and improve."

NASA Viking at 40 Symposium Lectures

"This week NASA hosted the Viking Mars Landers 40th anniversary symposium. In 1976 Viking 1 and 2 were the first landers to successfully land on Mars."

"NASA's Viking 1 and 2 missions to Mars, each consisting of an orbiter and a lander, became the first space probes to obtain high resolution images of the Martian surface; characterize the structure and composition of the atmosphere and surface; and conduct on-the-spot biological tests for life on another planet."

"Viking provided the first measurements of the atmosphere and surface of Mars. These measurements are still being analyzed and interpreted. The data suggested early Mars was very different from the present day planet. Viking performed the first successful entry, descent and landing on Mars. Derivations of a Viking-style thermal protection system and parachute have been used on many U.S. Mars lander missions since."

NASA's Management of the Mars Science Laboratory Project, NASA OIG, 8 June 2011

"... in February 2009, because of the late delivery of several critical components and instruments, NASA delayed the launch to a date between October and December 2011. This delay and the additional resources required to resolve the underlying technical issues increased the Project's development costs by 86 percent, from $969 million to the current $1.8 billion, and its life-cycle costs by 56 percent, from $1.6 billion to the current $2.5 billion. ... Finally, since the 2009 decision to delay launch, the Project has received three budget increases, most recently an infusion of $71 million in December 2010. However, in our judgment because Project managers did not adequately consider historical cost trends when estimating the amount required to complete development, we believe the Project may require additional funds to meet the 2011 scheduled launch date."

NASA announces plans for new $1.5 billion Mars rover, CNet, 4 December 2012

"The new rover announced Tuesday, along with the rocket needed to boost it to Mars, will cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $1.5 billion, plus or minus $200 million, according to a rough estimate by the Aerospace Corp."

Mars 2020 rover mission to cost more than $2 billion, Space News

"[George] Tahu said that the mission also decided to add new technologies to the rover, including a system that increases the accuracy of the rover's landing and another to improve the rover's ability to drive autonomously. "Our confirmed cost today, in real year dollars, of $2.1 billion for development and launch and $300 million for prime mission operations remains consistent with the scope and cost approved at the start of the project," he said."

Keith's note: So that's $2.4 billion for a rover that was supposed to cost around $1.5 billion - a rover that was sold as being inherently cheaper because it was made with MSL spare part, lessons learned from MSL mistakes, etc. Once again JPL has ignored NASA's price claims - and NASA SMD just can't fight the urge and lets it happen. Can you imagine what will happen when NASA starts to price the whole #JourneyToMars thing?

Keith's 4 July note: At a press briefing today Juno PI Scott Bolton said that they will turn on JunoCam once Juno is in orbit and may release a few "interesting" images. No word when this will happen. What is really odd about this is that JPL missions such as Cassini have been posting raw imagery online almost as soon as they get it for more than a decade. MSL has also been posting raw images since it landed. Mars landing missions have been sending back images in real time for everyone to see in real time since the days of Spirit and Opportunity. Yea its scary to risk failing in real time but NASA has done this many times before. It is understandable that the camera won't be activated for a while as the spacecraft is checked out. But once the images start heading back to Earth why not let everyone see them? This decision to sit on them is especially odd since JunoCam was added to the mission as an education and public outreach effort. Baffling.

Keith's 5 July update: There was a post-JOI press briefing at 1:00 am EDT. When directly asked about his earlier comment wherein he said that the Juno team might release some "interesting" JunoCam images Scott Bolton passed on a chance to clarify what he will or will not release by saying that "all images are interesting". Sigh. Yet another NASA mission PI who can't answer a simple direct question about releasing information to the public.

How to Get to Mars: Q&A With NASA Deputy Administrator Dava Newman, PC Magazine

"[Dava Newman] We have something called the Juno-cam, which will send take high-def images and the public will help decide what images to capture. As long as we're in orbit, we're going to say, "Okay," to the public, "where do you want it? Help us explore." We really want to take people with us to Jupiter, and I think that's the best way to do it. It's a huge experiment in citizen science, so you can tell us where you want to look on Jupiter and we'll point the camera."

Last Image Of Jovian System Before Juno Arrives

Juno Is Orbiting Jupiter, NASA

"Juno has arrived at Jupiter after an almost five-year journey. NASA TV will broadcast a briefing at 1 a.m. EDT/10 p.m. PDT. Juno will circle the Jovian world 37 times during 20 months, skimming to within 3,100 miles (5,000 km) above the cloud tops. This is the first time a spacecraft will orbit the poles of Jupiter, providing new answers to ongoing mysteries about the planet's core, composition and magnetic fields."

Marc's note: Missed the late night, early morning, press conference and orbital insertion? Watch them again with the links below. Oh, and if you didn't already know it we have a Twitter account for Jupiter, @JupiterToday.

- NASA provides an update on Juno's arrival at Jupiter after it enters orbit, SpaceRef
- Replay: Juno orbital insertion at Jupiter, SpaceRef

Fireworks Juno Style

Keith's note: I did a live interview on CTV tonight at 7:30 pm EDT on Juno. Then I did another live with BBC World News at 9:10 pm EDT. The Fairfax Country, VA fireworks are launched 2 miles from my house over at Lake Fairfax. They started 10 minutes early while I was doing a live interview via Skype on BBC World News. The BBC control room guys said they could hear them. So the sound of Fairfax County fireworks reached an audience of 300+ million people. Thanks Juno ;-)

New Horizons Receives Mission Extension to Kuiper Belt, Dawn to Remain at Ceres

"In addition to the extension of the New Horizons mission, NASA determined that the Dawn spacecraft should remain at the dwarf planet Ceres, rather than changing course to the main belt asteroid Adeona. Green noted that NASA relies on the scientific assessment by the Senior Review Panel in making its decision on which extended mission option to approve. "The long-term monitoring of Ceres, particularly as it gets closer to perihelion - the part of its orbit with the shortest distance to the sun -- has the potential to provide more significant science discoveries than a flyby of Adeona," he said. Also receiving NASA approval for mission extensions, contingent on available resources, are: the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN (MAVEN), the Opportunity and Curiosity Mars rovers, the Mars Odyssey orbiter, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), and NASA's support for the European Space Agency's Mars Express mission."


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