Thursday, September 27, 2007

Star with Comet Tail

http://science.nasa.gov/headlines/y2007/15aug_mira.htm?list199286

make sure you watch the animation.

Inflatable spacecraft update

http://www.space.com/news/070814_bigelow_sundancer.html

Mars Rover Update

Status (Spirit is doing well and lots of dust on Opportunity):
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/mission/status.html

Spirit Pictures:
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/press/spirit/20070919a.html

Opportunity Pictures (not new):
http://marsrovers.jpl.nasa.gov/gallery/press/opportunity/20070913a.html

On the (Moon) Beach

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20907029/

Titan data analyzed

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20992926/

The DAWN of a new age of exploration

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21010387/

Chinese Space Weapons

This is the best analysis I've seen on this topic:
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/930/1

Space Solar Power

Maybe someone can convince Bill Gates to put up the $100 million for a test satellite
http://www.thespacereview.com/article/931/1

Why we go into space

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/932/1

Vision for Space Exploration Review

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/933/1

I'm IN!

Opportunity is safely in Victoria Crater and doing science:
http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/09/mars-rover-as-s.html

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Cover me. I'm goin' in!

Opportunity descends into Victoria Crater.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/20726395/

Reuseable Launch Vehicle Article

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/925/1

NASA Press Release about Phoenix Launch

Guy Webster
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
818-354-5011
guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

George Diller
Kennedy Space Center, Florida
321-867-2468
george.h.diller@nasa.gov

Sara Hammond
University of Arizona, Tucson
520-626-1974
shammond@lpl.arizona.edu

NEWS RELEASE: 2007-086 August 4, 2007

NASA Spacecraft Heads for Polar Region on Mars

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. - NASA's Phoenix Mars Mission blasted off Saturday, aiming for a May 25, 2008, arrival at the Red Planet and a close-up examination of the surface of the northern polar region.

Perched atop a Delta II rocket, the spacecraft left Cape Canaveral Air Force Base at 5:26 a.m. Eastern Time into the predawn sky above Florida's Atlantic coast.

"Today's launch is the first step in the long journey to the surface of Mars. We certainly are excited about launching, but we still are concerned about our actual landing, the most difficult step of this mission," said Phoenix Principal Investigator Peter Smith of the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, Tucson.

The spacecraft established communications with its ground team via the Goldstone, Calif., antenna station of NASA's Deep Space Network at 7:02 a.m. Eastern Time,after separating from the third stage of the launch vehicle.

"The launch team did a spectacular job getting us on the way," said Barry Goldstein, Phoenix project manager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "Our trajectory is still being evaluated in detail; however we are well within expected limits for a successful journey to the red planet. We are all thrilled!"

Phoenix will be the first mission to touch water-ice on Mars. Its robotic arm will dig to an icy layer believed to lie just beneath the surface. The mission will study the history of the water in the ice, monitor weather of the polar region, and investigate whether the subsurface environment in the far-northern plains of Mars has ever been favorable for sustaining microbial life.

"Water is central to every type of study we will conduct on Mars," Smith said.

The Phoenix Mars Mission is the first of NASA's competitively proposed and selected Mars Scout missions, supplementing the agency's core Mars Exploration Program, whose theme is "follow the water." The University of Arizona was selected to lead the mission in August 2003 and is the first public university to lead a Mars exploration mission.

Phoenix uses the main body of a lander originally made for a 2001 mission that was cancelled before launch. "During the past year we have run Phoenix through a rigorous testing regimen," said Ed Sedivy, Phoenix spacecraft program manager for Lockheed Martin Space Systems, Denver, which built the spacecraft. "The testing approach runs the spacecraft and integrated instruments through actual mission sequences, allowing us to asses the entire system through the life of the mission while here on Earth."

Samples of soil and ice collected by the lander's robotic arm will be analyzed by instruments mounted on the deck. One key instrument will check for water and carbon-containing compounds by heating soil samples in tiny ovens and examining the vapors that are given off. Another will test soil samples by adding water and analyzing the dissolution products. Cameras and microscopes will provide information on scales spanning 10 powers of 10, from features that could fit by the hundreds into a period at the end of a sentence to an aerial view taken during descent. A weather station will provide information about atmospheric processes in the arctic region.

The Phoenix mission is led by Smith, with project management at JPL and development partnership at Lockheed Martin, Denver. The NASA Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center and the United Launch Alliance are responsible for the Delta II launch service. International contributions are provided by the Canadian Space Agency, the University of Neuchatel (Switzerland), the University of Copenhagen (Denmark), the Max Planck Institute (Germany) and the Finnish Meteorological Institute. JPL is a division of the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena.

Additional information on Phoenix is available online at: http://www.nasa.gov/phoenix .
Additional information on NASA's Mars program is available online at: http://www.nasa.gov/mars .

-end-

Where do Saturn's rings come from?

Whitney Clavin 818-354-4673
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.

Preston Dyches 720-974-5859
Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo.

NEWS RELEASE: 2007-085 Aug. 2, 2007

Cassini Finds Possible Origin of One of Saturn's Rings

PASADENA, Calif. - Cassini scientists may have identified the source of one of Saturn's more mysterious rings. Saturn's G ring likely is produced by relatively large, icy particles that reside within a bright arc on the ring's inner edge.

The particles are confined within the arc by gravitational effects from Saturn's moon Mimas. Micrometeoroids collide with the particles, releasing smaller, dust-sized particles that brighten the arc. The plasma in the giant planet's magnetic field sweeps through this arc continually, dragging out the fine particles, which create the G ring.

The finding is evidence of the complex interaction between Saturn's moons, rings and magnetosphere. Studying this interaction is one of Cassini's objectives. The study is in the Aug. 2 issue of the journal Science and was based on observations made by multiple Cassini instruments in 2004 and 2005.

"Distant pictures from the cameras tell us where the arc is and how it moves, while plasma and dust measurements taken near the G ring tell us how much material is there," said Matthew Hedman, a Cassini imaging team associate at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., and lead author on the Science paper.

Saturn's rings are an enormous, complex structure, and their origin is a mystery. The rings are labeled in the order they were discovered. From the planet outward, they are D, C, B, A, F, G and E. The main rings -- A, B and C from edge-to-edge, would fit neatly in the distance between Earth and the moon. The most transparent rings are D -- interior to C -- and F, E and G, outside the main rings.

Unlike Saturn's other dusty rings, such as the E and F rings, the G ring is not associated closely with moons that either could supply material directly to it -- as Enceladus does for the E ring -- or sculpt and perturb its ring particles -- as Prometheus and Pandora do for the F ring. The location of the G ring continued to defy explanation, until now.

Cassini images show that the bright arc within the G ring extends one-sixth of the way around Saturn and is about 250 kilometers (155 miles) wide, much narrower than the full 5,955-kilometer width (3,700 miles) of the G ring. The arc has been observed several times since Cassini's 2004 arrival at the ringed planet and thus appears to be a long-lived feature. A gravitational disturbance caused by the moon Mimas exists near the arc.

As part of their study, Hedman and colleagues conducted computer simulations that showed the gravitational disturbance of Mimas could indeed produce such a structure in Saturn's G ring. The only other places in the solar system where such disturbances are known to exist are in the ring arcs of Neptune.

Cassini's magnetospheric imaging instrument detected depletions in charged particles near the arc in 2005. According to the scientists, unseen mass in the arc must be absorbing the particles. "The small dust grains that the Cassini camera sees are not enough to absorb energetic electrons," said Elias Roussos of the Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research, Germany, and member of the magnetospheric imaging team. "This tells us that a lot more mass is distributed within the arc."

The researchers concluded that there is a population of larger, as-yet-unseen bodies hiding in the arc, ranging in size from that of peas to small boulders. The total mass of all these bodies is equivalent to that of an ice-rich, small moon that's about 100 meters wide (328 feet wide).

Joe Burns, a co-author of the paper from Cornell University and a member of the imaging team, said, "We'll have a super opportunity to spot the G ring's source bodies when Cassini flies about 600 miles from the arc 18 months from now."

The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Cassini-Huygens mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, Washington. The Cassini orbiter and its two onboard cameras were designed, developed and assembled at the laboratory. The imaging team is based at the Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. The magnetospheric imaging instrument team is based at Johns Hopkins University, Laurel, Md.

G ring movies and images are available on the Internet at: http://www.nasa.gov/cassini, http://saturn.jpl.nasa.govand http://ciclops.org.

-end-

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Armadillo Aerospace Update

http://www.space.com/news/070727_armadillo_modular.html

Make sure you read the last paragraph. That would be quite a feat!

Moon gas

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/070730_gassy_moon.html

Interesting explanation.

Moon, Asteroid, then Mars

http://www.space.com/missionlaunches/070730_asteroid_probe.html

Makes sense to me.

Gun to Space

http://www.thespacereview.com/article/920/1

Sounds promising.

Mars Phoenix Mission Overview

http://www.space.com/searchforlife/070726_seti_phoenix.html

Mars Sample Return

http://www.space.com/scienceastronomy/070726_mars_samplereturn.html

Just do it!

MIT space suit

http://www.isa.org/Content/ContentGroups/News/20071/July34/Think_more_Spiderman,_less_John_Glenn.htm

Space Based Solar Power

http://www.space.com/businesstechnology/070725_techwed_pentagon_spacepower.html

This seems like fusion, always 20 years away.