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Saturday, November 10, 2001


Mars Odyssey's First Picture

First picture from the Mars Odyssey.
First picture from the Mars Odyssey.
Credit: NASA
Just over a week after entering orbit around Mars, the Odyssey spacecraft has sent back its first snapshot -- a thermal infrared image of the planet's southern hemisphere. "This spectacular first image of Mars from the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft is just a hint of what's to come," said NASA associate administrator Ed Weiler in a prepared statement. Images taken by THEMIS are expected to be used by scientists to learn more about the distribution of minerals on Mars, particularly those that indicate the presence of water.

- posted by Alex @ 20:09 EST

(permanent link)

Wednesday, November 14, 2001


Seismic Activity

New data from instruments aboard the Mars Global Surveyor show evidence for ongoing volcanic activity, with geological features tied to recent floods. Both these volcanic and hydrologic events are young, and could perhaps still occur on Mars in the future. Using images snapped by the Mars Global Surveyor camera and the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter aboard the spacecraft, the Elysium and Amazonis Planitia regions of Mars have been extensively studied. These sites are thought to be young, geologically speaking. They are pegged at between 10 million to 100 million years of age, perhaps less. From the apparent age range of flows within the region, this is clearly a long-lived volcanic province,” Sakimoto contends. “Future hydrologic and/or volcanic events are still conceivable.

(More info: MSNBC.com)


- posted by Alex @ 16:23 EST

(permanent link)


New NASA Administrator

New NASA Administrator.
New NASA Administrator.
Credit: Unknown
After more than 10 months in office, President Bush has finally selected a candidate to replace longtime NASA Administrator Daniel Goldin. Sources told Space.com that Bush will announce on Wednesday his intention to nominate Sean O’Keefe, deputy director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, to replace Goldin, who retires at the end of the week.

(More info: MSNBC.com)


- posted by Alex @ 18:24 EST

(permanent link)


Recruits to Mars

Recruits to Mars.
Recruits to Mars.
Credit: Mars Society
(CNN) - The destination is Mars, in a manner of speaking. The red planet group hopes to enlist volunteers for its upcoming expedition to a remote Arctic island that boasts extreme conditions resembling those on Mars. The mission, which will simulate a manned trip to Mars, will take place between June and August on Devon Island, the largest uninhabited island in the world. Applicants must be in good physical condition and between 18 and 60 years of age. Scientific, engineering and wilderness experience are considered a plus as well as "literary skills."

(More info: Mars Society)


- posted by Alex @ 20:49 EST

(permanent link)

Saturday, November 17, 2001


Leonid Meteor Shower

Leonid Meteor.
Leonid Meteor.
Credit: NASA/NBC News
(MSNBC) - The Leonid meteor shower promises to bring a spectacular display to the skies over North America in the wee hours of Sunday morning in fact, some experts think it could be the show of the century. And all you need to see it are your eyes, dark skies and a little weather luck. The Leonid shower is brought to us by Comet Tempel-Tuttle, a ball of ice and rock that orbits the sun every 33 years, jettisoning tiny fragments of itself. Each pass lays down a new trail of bits and pieces, or meteoroids, which burn from the friction of the Earth’s atmosphere as we cross the Tempel-Tuttle trails every November. For North American skywatchers, Earth will enter the heavier parts of the stream at about 11 p.m. ET on Saturday. Activity will peak around 5 a.m. Sunday, when as many as 13 meteors per minute could be visible probably for a stretch of time that lasts less than an hour. The peak corresponds to 4 a.m. CT, 3 a.m. MT and 2 a.m. PT.

Pittsburgh area residents (like myself) will find tonight to be one of the foggiest nights on record. It looks like we'll just have to wait three more decades.

(More info: MSNBC.com)


- posted by Alex @ 15:51 EST

(permanent link)

Wednesday, November 21, 2001


Lack of Evidence

Mars Meteorite.
Mars Meteorite.
Credit: David J. Phillip / AP
(MSNBC) - A Group led by Peter R. Buseck of Arizona State University said that the NASA researchers have inadequate evidence showing that tiny crystalline structures in Mars meteorite ALH84001 were formed by bacteria billions of years ago as the rock was sitting on the Martian surface. A study with Buseck as the first author appears Tuesday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Buseck said that NASA-supported researchers claimed in February that crystals found in the meteorite are identical to crystals formed on Earth by bacteria. The material, known as magnetite, is formed by some bacteria that live on the bottom of lakes. The magnetic crystals act as a sort of compass to allow the bacteria to orient themselves as they move along the lake bottom. Buseck said there was inadequate similarity between earthly magnetite and that found in the Mars meteorite to prove that the material was formed by a living organism. "We find that there is much more uncertainty than they seem to believe," said Buseck, referring to the NASA researchers. Everett Gibson, a NASA researcher who was among the group that first proposed that ALH84001 contained evidence of life, said that Buseck has not even looked at the Mars meteorite.

(More info: MSNBC.com)


- posted by Alex @ 20:53 EST

(permanent link)


100,000th Pic!

100,000th Pic.
100,000th Pic.
Credit: NASA/MSSS
(MSNBC) - [Mars Global Surveyor] has taken its 100,000th picture of Mars, far eclipsing the photographic bounty returned by any other mission to the Red Planet. Scientists recieved the image from NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor on Nov. 5, nearly five years to the day after the robotic satellite was launched. No other spacecraft has taken as many pictures of Mars. NASA’s twin Viking orbiters have come the closest, returning a total of about 55,000 images of the planet between 1975 and 1980. So far, about two-thirds of the images returned from Global Surveyor have been examined, cataloged and archived on the Internet. NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey, another unmanned satellite, joined Global Surveyor in orbit around Mars in October. It will begin its science work in February.

(More info: MSNBC.com)


- posted by Alex @ 21:55 EST

(permanent link)

Thursday, November 22, 2001


Happy Thanksgiving!

To my fellow Americans out there, Happy Turkey Day! Consume lots of calories and eat tons of meat, travel safely and save the shopping for tomorrow.

- posted by Alex @ 15:56 EST

(permanent link)

Tuesday, November 27, 2001


Alien Atmosphere

A planet.
A planet.
Credit: NASA
(CNN) - Scientists for the first time have detected an atmosphere on a planet outside our solar system, using NASA's flagship orbiting observatory. The observation suggests that the planet, which is almost as massive as Jupiter, has an atmosphere similar to gas giants in our solar system, researchers said. The same technique could be refined to scrutinize other planets for the kinds of gases consistent with the presence of life. "This opens up an exciting new phase of extrasolar planet exploration, where we can begin to compare and contrast the atmospheres of planets around other stars," lead scientist David Charbonneau said Tuesday. The planet is located around a sun-like star about 150 light-years away in the constellation Pegasus. It is one of about 80 planets discovered beyond our solar system in recent years. Chances are slim that this extrasolar planet harbors life as we know it. Because it orbits only 4 million miles from its parent star, its atmosphere sizzles at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit (1,100 degrees Celsius).

(More info: CNN.com)


- posted by Alex @ 16:57 EST

(permanent link)

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