Space & Planetary Science: October 2019 Archives

Mars InSight's Mole Has Partially Backed Out of Its Hole

"After making progress over the past several weeks digging into the surface of Mars, InSight's mole has backed about halfway out of its hole this past weekend. Preliminary assessments point to unusual soil conditions on the Red Planet. The international mission team is developing the next steps to get it buried again. A scoop on the end of the arm has been used in recent weeks to "pin" the mole against the wall of its hole, providing friction it needs to dig. The next step is determining how safe it is to move InSight's robotic arm away from the mole to better assess the situation. The team continues to look at the data and will formulate a plan in the next few days."

Restructuring NASA's Planetary Research Program For ROSES 2021

"In 2014, NASA announced the reorganization of the planetary research and data analysis programs to align them by subject area to Planetary Science Division strategic goals. A number of disparate programs were merged into the Solar System Workings program, creating a behemoth to which well over 300 proposals have been submitted each year. This has proved unwieldy for managers, reviewers, and proposers alike. A survey (Appendix A) shows it is supported by less than 10% of respondents. In this grass roots effort, we propose SSW be broken up into five core programsanda separate pilot program for geologic mapping. We propose a restructuring of mission data analysis programs with some guidelines for future programs. We would maintain most of the other existing programs. An initial draft of this proposal was posted online and an online community survey (Appendix A) was conducted from October 1-7, advertised through the Planetary Exploration Newsletter, AAS DPS Newsletter, and other community forums. This proposal is informed by the 249 responses to the survey including a large number of comments."

Keith's note: If you go to the NASA GSFC website you will see this release "Laser Precision: NASA Flights, Satellite Align Over Sea Ice". In the release you will see this at the bottom: "For more information, visit: nasa.gov/icesat-2 or icesat-2.gsfc.nasa.gov". There's no HMTL for the links on this webpage thus making it more difficult for people to follow the non-existent links.

If you go to nasa.gov/icesat-2 you get the NASA ICESAT -2 website which features a link to this release. If you go to icesat-2.gsfc.nasa.gov you see the GSFC ICESAT-2 website but this press release is not even mentioned. [7 Oct Update: they added a link to the release today]. If you go to the NASA main page or the NASA Earth Science topic page there is no mention of this release. If you go to the NASA Science Mission directorate page there is no mention of this release either.

If you go to the Science Mission Directorate Press Releases page there is no mention either. In fact the last press release - of any kind - that is mentioned is from 30 July 2019 - more than 2 months ago.

Yet this press release is posted on AAAS' Eurekalert and is shown as being from "NASA GSFC" - not from "NASA". If this research is being done by NASA - and is important enough to warrant paid posting on a press release service then is it not also worth posting on NASA and NASA SMD websites? Is it not also worth posting on the GSFC ICESAT-2 website along with other ICESAT-2 news? And why does NASA Need two ICESAT-2 websites - both of which cater to a wide range of public interest audiences?

- NASA Just Can't Stop Doing Web Stuff Twice, earlier post
- Overhauling NASA's Tangled Internet Presence, earlier post
- Progress Made In Making NASA's Internet Presence Leaner, earlier post

Keith's note: The 'Pluto is a planet fan club' has been howling about the demotion of Pluto from a "planet" to "dwarf planet" status after an IAU vote for more than a decade. Despite their outrage no one has been willing or able to muster enough votes to reverse the IAU vote or to find another professional body willing to endorse their definition of what a planet is. Apparently this is not that big of an issue otherwise the planetary science community would have staged an uprising to correct this grave error, right? Nothing but crickets.

So ... some of the Pluto fan club members have decided to try and use Wikipedia and other non-scientific means to accomplish what they can't get their scientific colleagues to do. Funny thing about Wikipedia - you can see every edit made and, with a little patience, figure out who is making the edits. Some of the stuff they are trying to post is really silly.

That said, crowd sourcing is a thing these days. The evolving "Geophysical planet definition" - definition - is online here. You can watch the process of editing this entry in real time - additions, deletions, edits, clarifications, etc. here. You are also welcome to make your own contributions and comments. Is 'Science' now something that now operates by popular whim? Let's open it up and see what happens.

Keith's 7 October update: There has been a surge of edits and deletions in the past 48 hours. It would seem that there is not unanimity on this topic (based a small sample size). FYI the Wkipedia page for "planet" has been "protected to prevent vandalism". If you look back at the edits that were aligned with the Pluto faction (now deleted) some of them were attempted by members of the 'Pluto is a planet fan club' i.e. @Nasaman58 - Kirby Runyon. Runyon has made the most edits (thus far) of "Geophysical Planet definition". Stay tuned.

Dear Colleague Letter From NASA Science Mission Directorate Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen

"As we leave the FY19 year behind, I recognize that we stressed our system and often ourselves. Despite that, I observed true excellence on many occasions. You and your colleagues completed our challenging tasks, even though it would have been easy to find an excuse not to do them. I have received a number of comments from the science community expressing gratitude for the work of the NASA Science team - you and your colleagues. The community sees - and so does the entire leadership team -- that NASA Science remains high-performing and has in many domains even improved over and above expectations. I am proud to be part of this team, which stands with the best worldwide making history each year."


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This page is an archive of entries in the Space & Planetary Science category from October 2019.

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