Many folks would like to see us back on the Moon and developing its resources.

Monday, January 26, 2004

News - The Mars Society: "Mars Society Statement on Bush Space Initiative
January 24, 2004

On January 23, 2004, the following statement concerning the new Bush space policy was ratified by the Steering Committee of the Mars Society. The vote was 19 in favor, 3 abstentions, none opposed, and 5 not voting.
Bush Speech Opens Door
The Future is Up to Us

Statement of the Steering Committee of the Mars Society
January 23, 2004

On January 14, President George Bush gave a speech at NASA headquarters outlining a new strategic orientation for the American space agency. While some of the initial ideas for implementing the new space policy can and should be substantially improved upon, the policy overall clearly represents a significant and long-overdue step in the right direction for the American space program. The Steering Committee of the Mars Society therefore welcomes the new policy as presented in Presidential Directive entitled �A Renewed Spirit of Discovery,� and strongly urges Congress to provide the funds requested for the initial steps requested for the program over the next fiscal year.

Our analysis of the important strengths and required areas for improvement of the new policy is presented below. "
ESA Portal - Europe's eye on Mars: first spectacular results from Mars Express: "Europe's eye on Mars: first spectacular results from Mars Express

Europe's first close-up image of Mars

ESA PR 05-2004. ESA's Mars Express, successfully inserted into orbit around Mars on 25 December 2003, is about to reach its final operating orbit above the poles of the Red Planet. The scientific investigation has just started and the first results already look very promising, as this first close-up image shows.

Although the seven scientific instruments on board Mars Express are still undergoing a thorough calibration phase, they have already started collecting amazing results. The first high-resolution images and spectra of Mars have already been acquired. "
Science & Technology: Mars Express Commissioning and Early Results: "Mars Express Commissioning and Early Results
23 Jan 2004 11:00
Overall Mission Status
The Mars Express orbiter was successfully inserted into orbit around Mars on 25 December 2003. Since then several manoeuvres have been performed using the spacecraft�s main engine (plane turn manoeuvre and apocentre reductions) and several further manoeuvres will be performed, using the on-board thrusters, until the mapping orbit is reached on 28 January 2004. "
ScienceDaily News Release: Europe's Eye On Mars: First Spectacular Results From Mars Express: "Europe's Eye On Mars: First Spectacular Results From Mars Express
ESA's Mars Express, successfully inserted into orbit around Mars on 25 December 2003, is about to reach its final operating orbit above the poles of the Red Planet. The scientific investigation has just started and the first results already look very promising, as this first close-up image shows. "

Sunday, January 25, 2004

USGS Astro Hot Topics: Historic Lunar Images Revived: "Historic space images taken by NASA's Lunar Orbiters in the 1960s are now available in digital form on the internet. Thanks to modern scanning technology and processing methods developed by the USGS, these important images can now be viewed by everyone at a NASA-funded web site established by the USGS Astrogeology Program in Flagstaff, Arizona where mapping of planets continues to be a primary function.
A series of five NASA missions orbited the Moon in 1966 and 1967 to photograph the Moon and assist the Apollo Program in finding safe places for humans to land. As photographic prints, these images have long been available to lunar scientists and they were invaluable in planning and understanding the Apollo mission science data. Now these same photos are available to the general public on the internet.
Since Apollo, several other spacecraft (including Galileo, Clementine and Lunar Prospector) have returned global color image data but the Lunar Orbiter data are still the starting point for scientific studies that require regional views of the Moon.
To view the images, go to: "
NAU Solar System Simulation: "NAU Solar System Simulation

We are offering the next iteration in Spring 2004
using the Pueblo-enhanced DragonMUD server-code,
and recommending the Mozilla browser/ MOOzilla client combination
to take best advantage of new HTML options. "

Sunday, January 18, 2004

Star Telegram | 01/18/2004 | Exploration: the sea and the moon above it: "Posted on Sun, Jan. 18, 2004

Exploration: the sea and the moon above it
In the valley of Taurus-Littrow
By Harrison H. Schmitt
Special to the Star-Telegram"

President Bush's plan to propose a permanent return to the moon cannot help but stir memories in an Apollo moonwalker -- and raise new hopes for potential exploration.

As the last of 12 men to step on the moon, and the only scientist to do so, my recollections are as clear today as 31 years ago.

It was December 1972. President Nixon had just been re-elected; the war in Vietnam was in its final years.

We landed in a spectacular valley known as Taurus-Littrow, on the southeastern edge of the Sea of Serenity. Apollo 17 was to be the last of the manned American moon missions for at least three decades, but we didn't know it then.


Friday, January 09, 2004 special section: Mars: "Rover roll-off to be delayed a few days
Posted: Thu, Jan 8 12:06 PM ET (1706 GMT)
Officials with NASA's Mars Exploration Rover project said that the 'roll-off' of the rover Spirit from its lander will be delayed a few days to deal with some minor technical issues with the spacecraft. Roll-off of Spirit, originally planned for the beginning of next week, will now be delayed until no earlier than January 14. The extra time is needed to work on a few issues, such as retraction a portion of deflated airbag material that is in the way of where Spirit will move off the lander. Controllers are planning a 'lift and tuck' maneuver where one petal of the lander is raised slightly, allowing the airbag material to be retracted before the petal is lowered again. Scientists are using the time to continue their analysis of images from the lander, and some have concluded that the Gusev Crater region may not have been an ancient lakebed as previously thought. The gently rolling terrain and relatively coarse soil is not what scientists would have expected in a lakebed, one scientist noted, although the material may have been 'chewed up' by impacts."

Monday, January 05, 2004

SciScoop || Download Maestro And Follow Mars Exploration Rovers The NASA Way: "By rickyjames, Section News
Posted on Sun Jan 4th, 2004 at 11:34:02 PM PST

There is a group within NASA that has developed a software tool to plan rover surface activities during the current Mars rover missions. That group is the Maestro Team, and its software tool is called (duh) Maestro, which may be downloaded here. It's a 38 megabyte download. For the record, here's a tech paper on what Maestro is supposed to do, and here's the instruction manual.

The Maestro Team posted an invitation over on Slashdot saying anybody who wanted to could download the Maestro software and periodic data files from its website. This would allow rickyjames, er, John Q. Public, to follow along with the NASA team in planning of the Mars rover science activities. Great idea!!!

The Maestro team members were totally unprepared for what happened next. Their site received so many Internet requests for the initial software download that it promptly crashed, and they are just now managing to get it running smoothly again. So far they have yet to release the first data file for Maestro - they're still downloading and formatting it from the Spirit rover on Mars, and they're still trying to figure out how to post it on the Internet for download by everybody out in cyberspace without another pesky server computer crash.

Pressure on NASA server computers has been extremely heavy to support web access by the highly-interested public for data on the ongoing Mars Exploration Rover mission. Still, NASA is managing to keep its head above water and is doing a great job of making this the first Mars mission where the Internet is the primary news distribution medium. No doubt the Maestro team will get its act together and start posting data files for the rock fields surrounding (and hopefully Opportunity) rovers Real Soon Now. "
Seattle Post-Intelligencer: AP - High-Tech: "Monday, January 5, 2004 · Last updated 5:20 a.m. PT
NASA rover Mars photos draw Web traffic
PASADENA, Calif. -- A six-wheeled rover appeared on track Sunday to become the biggest Web draw in NASA history, just hours after it safely landed on Mars.
Traffic on Web sites operated by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration climbed steadily Sunday, as computer users around the world logged on to see the first images of Mars taken by the Spirit rover.
NASA recorded 109 million hits on its home page and related Web sites during the 24-hour period coinciding with the late Saturday landing of Spirit on Mars. Nearly 17 hours after the successful landing, that figure had more than doubled, said Brian Dunbar, NASA's Internet services manager.
'As we put out more pictures, we'll continue to see that,' Dunbar said of the steady growth in traffic. To support the onslaught, NASA is relying on 1,300 servers around the world to host Web pages containing details of the Spirit mission.
The loss of the space shuttle Columbia and its crew nearly a year ago and the landing of the Pathfinder spacecraft on Mars in 1997 each drew about 750 million hits. By midday Sunday, less than a day into a mission expected to last 90 days, Spirit-related Web sites were already at roughly one-third that tally.
NASA recorded 47 million hits during the busiest 24-hour period of the Pathfinder mission, which sent the tiny Sojourner rover scurrying across the surface of Mars. At the time, it was among the busiest Web events ever on the then-nascent medium.
---" - Spirit beams images of success: "Jan. 5, 2004, 9:45AM

Spirit beams images of success
Copyright 2004 Houston Chronicle"

PASADENA, Calif. -- Like a giddy tourist, NASA's Spirit rover snapped picture after picture on Sunday, each revealing a little more of Mars' rock-strewn alien surroundings.

Though black and white, the earliest pictures revealed level vistas in every direction. Small, angular rocks peppered the landscape, none too large for Spirit to maneuver around or over when it goes on the prowl early next week.

The first color imagery was expected early today -- but even in black and white, Mars seemed full of intrigue.

Sunday, January 04, 2004 | News | Back-seat drivers on another planet: "Back-seat drivers on another planet
Instructions for Mars rover come from California
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

PASADENA, Calif. -- Too many things to do and not enough time to do them. The six-wheeled robot rover hadn't budged in a day. Tempers were flaring. Fingers were pointing. And this was only a test. When it comes to driving on Mars, there are a lot of back-seat drivers.
'We are basically going to have to repeat what we did yesterday,' frustrated geologist Laurence Soderblom told the 50 or so scientists milling around NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory for the final test of the Mars rovers.
'We've got to keep it simple,' he admonished. 'If we are overly ambitious with the activity plan, we could be our own worst enemies.'
Not everyone agreed."

===> Read on at web site. - LRK -
NOVA | MARS Dead or Alive | Update from Mission Control | PBS: "Update from Mission Control

MARS Dead or Alive homepage
January 4, 2004--At about 8:30 a.m. Pacific time today, Mark Davis, producer of the NOVA program 'MARS Dead or Alive,' which airs tonight with a near-live update from mission control, called into NOVA's offices from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. The atmosphere at mission control is electric, he says, and had been ever since the first signal came back shortly after the rover Spirit successfully landed on the martian surface yesterday. Here's what he had to say before rushing off to edit the final sequence of tonight's NOVA program:"

Saturday, January 03, 2004

Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Home: "Spirit Rover Lands on Mars
NASA's Deep Space Network has received a signal confirming that Mars Exploration Rover Spirit is alive after rolling to a stop on the surface of Mars. (9:00 pm PST)
Check back to this page for more rover updates "

Friday, January 02, 2004

Mars Exploration Rover Mission: Features: "In a perfect world, or in this case two perfect worlds -- Earth and Mars, the first of NASA's two robot geologists will bounce over rocks and roll to a safe stop on the martian surface shortly after 8:35 p.m. PST this Saturday, January 3, 2004.
NASA's twin rovers, named Spirit and Opportunity, have been cruising through the frigid temperatures of space toward Mars for seven months, traveling about 300 million miles. Spirits of the engineers and scientists who have worked on this mission for the last three years will likely heat up around 7:04 p.m. PST when the Spirit spacecraft rotates to face its heat shield forward for final approach. The first step the rover will take in shedding more than half of the spacecraft it has been traveling in should occur at 8:14 p.m. PST, when the entry vehicle is scheduled to separate from the cruise stage. The rover should come screaming into the Martian atmosphere going 12,000 mph at 8:29 p.m. PST. "
Mars Exploration Rovers: "Mars Exploration Rover - Briefing Schedule"

Saturday, Jan. 3
-- News briefing, Spirit landing status, noon to 1 p.m. PST
-- News briefing, Mars program overview, 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. PST
-- Live coverage, Spirit landing, 6:45 p.m. to 9 p.m. PST (landing at 8:35 p.m. PST)
-- News briefing, Spirit landing, 9:30 to 10:30 p.m. PST
-- Live coverage, Spirit communications relay opportunity, 11 p.m. to midnight PST
Next Stop, Interstellar Space: Science News Online, Jan. 3, 2004: "Next Stop, Interstellar Space
Voyager journeys to the edge of the solar system
Ron Cowen
On the interplanetary highway, there are no mile markers and no exit signs. Precious few clues indicate that you're nearing the edge of the solar system. Those clues, however, are revealing that the venerable Voyager 1 spacecraft, launched 26 years ago and now 90 times as far from the sun as Earth is, either has reached or will soon enter a turbulent region near the solar system's final frontier. There, the solar wind first slams into large numbers of atoms and molecules that have leaked into the solar system from interstellar space. The encounter puts the brakes on the solar wind, causing it to abruptly slow from supersonic speeds of 400 to 700 kilometers per second down to subsonic speeds of 100 km/sec, according to simulations."

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