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

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Good evening,

Jeff Marraccini at Altair has migrated all of you to the new list server for the lunar-update list.
He has also added all of the lunar-update post from January 2003 to the present to the archive.
To see the collection of prior postings to the list, visit the lunar-update Archives.

Will check and see how far back I go on my computer at Ames and maybe we can add the earlier lunar-update posts as well. You will have to keep me in line and make sure I post material that will be worth looking at over time. Will take a look myself and see what it is that I have said. Hope I am not embarrassed. :-)

When you consider the thought, to the Moon, Mars, and Beyond, the topic of a "Majestic Universe" fits right in. I have a slim publication by that title from the Scientific American magazine, one of those you get when you renew your subscription.

Astronomers of all kinds have been looking up at the heavens and wondering what was out there. We are finding that as we look in the different parts of the electro-magnetic spectrum that there is more than just what can be seen with the naked eye.

One of the articles is entitled, "The Gas between the Stars" and is written by Ronald J. Reynolds. There is a nice three page spread of what can be seen when looking at the Milky Way Galaxy depending on the frequency at which astronomers observe it.

If you have students coming up through the educational system, I hope they see that the field of sensors is playing an important role. We send robots to Mars and we become one with the sensors. The more places in the Universe we explore, the more we will depend on what we use to perceive what is around us. The world is as we sense it. New ideas and new ways of looking at what is around us can be most exciting.

Let me just list the nine ways the Milky Way Galaxy was pictured in this article.

(400 MHz)
Reveals fast-moving electrons, found especially at sited of past supernovae.

(1420 MHz)
Reveals neutral atomic hydrogen in interstellar clouds and diffuse gas.

(2.4-2.7 GHz)
Reveals warm, ionized gas and high-energy electrons.

(115 GHz)
Reveals molecular hydrogen (as traced by carbon monoxide) in cold clouds.

(12-100 microns)
Reveals dust warmed by starlight, specially in star-forming regions.

(6.8-10.8 microns)
Reveals complex molecules in interstellar clouds, as well as reddish stars.

(0.4-0.6 micron)
Reveals nearby stars and tenuous ionized gas: dark areas are cold and dense.

(0.25-1.5 kiloelectron-volt)
Reveals hot, shocked gas from supernovae.

(greater than 300 megaelectron-volt)
Reveals high-energy phenomena such as pulsars and cosmic ray collisions.

The article states "Fifty years ago, when astronomers were restricted to visible light, interstellar gas seemed like just a nuisance--blocking the real objects of interest, the stars. Today scientists think the gas may be as important to the evolution of the galaxy as are the stars."

Thanks for looking up. - LRK -

We really have only begun to know what is out there in space. - LRK -

May you find what you are looking for, and a few surprises thrown in just for excitement. :-) - LRK -

Who will design the next visor for us to see our surroundings?

The outstanding characteristic LaForge shows is his longtime adaptability to and satisfaction with life, symbolized by the fact that his birth-blindness until recently was overcome not by direct surgery but by the unique VISOR instrument - which, though painful allowed him to "see" throughout the electromagnetic spectrum, from heat and infrared through visible light to radio waves. It attached at the temples via implants which connected directly to the brain and provided such a complex and broad-based input that the user had to concentrate to focus on one area. It was perhaps this intense focusing ability that has enabled him to master the complexities of warp engineering and other starship systems.

Since mid-2371, however, ongoing miniaturization and cybernetic technology have allowed LaForge to begin using ocular implants, which employ complex sensors and filters all with the confines of an artificial eye.


Larry Kellogg


Friday, February 25, 2005

Good day,

Jeff Marraccini asked if I might be interested in using a web based e-mail server for the lunar-update list. Jeff is providing this Majordomo list server so that I could continue posting to the lunar-update list.
This has been a one way, me to you, type of presentation and the only interaction has been if you wrote to me specifically. Since I don't have any great agenda, the posts have often been triggered by someone asking a question or saying, "Have you seen this?"

My thought is that maybe you would like more discourse although I probably create enough noise in an already hectic e-mail world.

With this GNU Mailman installation, posts could be set up to allow members to post to the list or it could remain a moderated list with only myself making the posts.

What I liked about it was that it provides a way of sorting the archive list by Thread, Subject, Author, and Date. This would make it possible to find past subject material.

You could probably get similar results from the various other group type subscriptions and put up with all their ads. (Yahoo comes to mind)

I would be interested in hearing from the list as to whether you want more interaction and participation or if my one way, me to you, discourse is enough.

My thanks to Jeff for providing the Majordomo service and offering the upgrade as a way to continue talking about the Moon, Mars, and Beyond.
>Jeff Marraccini
Manager, Altair Systems
Altair Engineering, Inc.
I don't want to forget you folks either, thanks for looking up with me.

Now a bit about the Moon, Mars and Beyond.

I attended an hour long presentation by Dr. David Des Marais about the status of the Mars Rovers.
It was a most interesting talk. He said that the rovers were taking pictures of not only where they were going, but where they have been. This will make it possible to make a 3D virtual reality presentation in the future it was hoped. - LRK -
Dr. David Des Marais leads a team that will investigate questions dealing with the origin, evolution, and future of habitable environments and life, including research on planetary formation and habitability, the nature of the first cells, atmospheric biosignatures that might allow detection of living planets beyond the solar system, and the ability of terrestrial life to survive in space. Ames Research Center is a returning founding team of the NAI.

A video, should you care to down load. - LRK -
-------------------------------- (Quick time clip)

David Des Marais
NASA Ames Research Center
Senior Research Scientist

Dave Des Marais studies the stable isotope biogeochemistry of lunar rocks and soils, midocean ridge basalts, carbonaceous meteorites, geothermal gases, and ancient (Precambrian) shales and carbonates. He also coordinated a ten-year consortium study of microbial (cyanobacterial) mats, which currently serve as analogs of ancient biological communities. In addition, Des Marais has published more than 90 research articles, six book chapters, and several articles for popular press. He is currently an associate editor of the Journal of Geophysical Research and Geochimica et Cosmochimica Acta.

For more information on astrobiology research led by Des Marais' team, see:

SMART-1 is starting science at our Moon.

and its mission extended until August of 3006

2005-02-18 | MISSIONS
*SMART-1 Mission Extended*

ESA has decided to extend the SMART-1 mission. The mission was initially scheduled to end in August 2005, but will now continue until August 2006. The extension will allow SMART-1 time to map both the northern and southern hemispheres of the Moon in high resolution.

Data from SMART-1 will help scientists better understand the Earth-Moon system and provide information that will aid in developing potential long-duration human missions to the Moon. Understanding how the Moon was formed can tell us a great deal about the history and evolution of our own planet . Developing a human presence on the Moon could be a stepping stone to further locations like Mars, and the technologies being tested aboard SMART-1 may help to make such missions possible.

A list of links for the Latest in Astrobiology News.

Larry Kellogg
SMART-1 mission extended
16 February 2005
ESA's SMART-1 mission was extended by one year, pushing back the mission end date from August 2005 to August 2006.

ESA's Science Programme Committee endorsed unanimously the proposed one-year extension of SMART-1 on 10 February 2005.

The extension by one year of the mission will provide opportunities to extend the global coverage, compared to the original six-month mission, and to map both southern and northern hemispheres at high resolution. The new orbit will also be more stable and require less fuel for maintenance.

The extension also gives the possibility to perform detailed studies of areas of interest by performing stereo measurements for deriving topography, multi-angle observations for studying the surface 'regolith' texture, and mapping potential landing sites for future missions.

Implementation of this mission extension will be in two periods of six months that correspond to different orbital parameters and illumination conditions. During the first period, the southern survey study is to be completed and dedicated pointings made for multi-angle, stereo and polar illumination studies.


Sunday, February 13, 2005

Astronomers discover 'new planet'

Astronomers have detected what could be the Solar System's 10th planet.

It was first seen by astronomers using California's Mount Palomar Observatory, and has been given the name "Sedna" after the Inuit goddess of the ocean.

Observations show it measures about 1,180-2,360km (730-1,470 miles) across, making it similar in size to Pluto.

Astronomers now say they have evidence that Sedna has its own moon, although this needs to be confirmed, and is also very red in colour.

There is likely to be some debate about whether it qualifies as a true planet, but some scientists are already saying it re-defines our Solar System.

Further than Pluto

Sedna, or 2003 VB12, as it was originally designated, is the most distant object yet found orbiting our Sun. It is three times further away than Pluto (average distance to the Sun is 5.9 billion km or 3.6 billion miles).

It was discovered using the Mt Palomar facility in November by astronomers from the California Institute of Technology, Yale Observatory and the Gemini Observatory.

Dr Mike Brown of the California Institute of Technology, US, leader of the research team that found the body, said he did not believe it was a true planet.

He suggested this "planetoid" is about half rock and half ice mixed together, but further work is needed to verify this.

The scientists say that its rotation on itself is relatively slow, suggesting it could have a satellite in orbit around it.

Follow-up studies by the Tanagra Observatory have measured the thermal radiation coming from Sedna to determine how hot it is, and therefore provide some estimate of its size.

Researchers believe that Sedna's surface temperature is about -240 degrees Celsius (-400 degrees Fahrenheit).

>> More at the BBC site. - LRK -

Planet-Like Body Discovered at Fringes of Our Solar System

Planet-Like Body Discovered at Fringes of Our Solar System

What's bigger than an asteroid, smaller than a planet, red all over and far, far away? The answer -- a mysterious planet-like body orbiting our Sun -- has been discovered by NASA-funded researchers led by an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif.

The object is three times farther away from Earth than Pluto, making it the most distant known in the solar system.

"The Sun appears so small from that distance that you could completely block it out with the head of a pin," said Dr. Mike Brown, Caltech associate professor of planetary astronomy and leader of the research team. The object, unofficially named "Sedna," is 13 billion kilometers (8 billion miles) away from Earth.

This is likely the first detection of the long-hypothesized "Oort cloud," a faraway repository of small icy bodies that supplies the comets that streak by Earth.

More about Sedna at NASA web site. - LRK -

Sedna (2003 VB12)

The coldest most distant place known in the solar system; possibly the first object in the long-hypothesized Oort cloud,

The view from Sedna with everything identified

See the nice cover article in Discover Magazine about Sedna and the rest of the outer solar system

Sedna's name is now official! (and not everyone is happy)

Does Sedna have a moon?

Is Sedna a planet? (is Pluto a planet? what exactly makes something a planet?)

Read the scientific paper describing this discovery

On 15 March 2004, astronomers from Caltech, Gemini Observatory, and Yale University announced the discovery of the coldest, most distant object known to orbit the sun. The object was found at a distance 90 times greater than that from the sun to the earth -- about 3 times further than Pluto, the most distant known planet.

The discovery was made on the Samuel Oschin Telescope at the Palomar Observatory east of San Diego on 14 November 2003 by the team of Mike Brown (Caltech), Chad Trujillo (Gemini Observatory) and David Rabinowitz (Yale).

Because of its frigid temperatures, the team has named the object Sedna, after the Inuit goddess of the sea from whom all sea creatures were created.


>> More about Sedna at URL above. - LRK -

Pluto Still a Mystery 75 Years Later

Associated Press Writer

February 13, 2005, 1:07 PM EST

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- It's been 75 years since the discovery of Pluto, but it remains a mystery. Perhaps in another 10 years some of its secrets will be revealed when a space probe gets close enough for a good look.

Pluto was quickly heralded as the ninth planet in the solar system when it was spotted Feb. 18, 1930 by Clyde Tombaugh, a young amateur astronomer at Lowell Observatory. It still holds that title today, if somewhat tenuously.

"It's a misbehaved planet if you want to think about it as a planet," said Neil deGrasse Tyson, director of New York's Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History.

Tyson provocatively removed Pluto from his exhibit of planets five years ago, lumping it instead with a belt of comets at the edge of the solar system.

"I still have folders of hate mail from third-graders," he said.

>> More to be said of Pluto at the link above. - LRK -

Distant Object Could Hold Secrets to Earth's Past

By Guy Gugliotta
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, February 14, 2005; Page A06

When the icy red world called Sedna edged into the solar system from the shadows of deep space, astronomers marveled at its unexpected arrival even as they wondered at its origins. Where did it come from? And why was it there?

A year after its public debut, Sedna remains an enigma in search of an explanation.

It is the most distant object in the solar system ever identified -- traveling around the sun every 10,500 years in a highly elliptical orbit that keeps it 7 billion to 93 billion miles from Earth. Nothing else that far out has ever been seen.

>> A long way out. You may want to read the whole article. - LRK -

Monday, February 07, 2005

Science & Space

China's next manned space mission in 2005

BEIJING, China (AP) -- China has said its second manned space mission will take place in September or October 2005, and will involve two astronauts orbiting for up to five days.

The official Xinhua News Agency said on Thursday Shenzhou 6 will have a four- or five-day flight with two astronauts aboard, citing Sun Laiyan, director of China National Space Administration.

The astronauts will carry out unspecified scientific tests while in orbit, Xinhua said.

The government said earlier it hoped to carry out the flight before the end of 2005.

If it occurs, it will come two years after China became the third nation to launch a human into space on its own, firing Yang Liwei into orbit.

In October 2003, Yang circled the Earth 14 times and landed by parachute in China's northern grasslands after a 21 1/2-hour flight.

China attaches enormous national pride to its space program, and Yang has become a celebrity. In addition to China, only Russia and the United States have sent humans into space on their own.

Moon and Mars - Videos