Highlights for 02/20/09

star cluster
star cluster

Tori Hoehler (SSX):

Tori Hoehler was a speaker/panelist at a public event at Chabot Space & Science Center. Hoehler and UC Berkeley professor Gibor Basri provided astrobiology and astronomy perspectives, respectively, as they interacted with a live audience to explore the subject of extrasolar planets. The panel discussion was the culmination of a night-long series of exoplanet-themed events at Chabot, including a presentation on the Ames-led Kepler mission.

Jennifer Heldmann (SST) on detail to HQ:

  • Pentagon Satellite Problems Could Delay LRO Launch. The Huntsville (AL) Times (2/14, Spires) reported, “The launch of NASA’s next lunar probe could be delayed because of problems with a Pentagon communications satellite, according to a NASA manager.” The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter’s and LCROSS’ launch may slip by two weeks. A memo from Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter program manager Craig Tooley “said his office had been ‘notified that problems with the (Air Force) spacecraft have made it impossible for (United Launch Alliance) to launch’ on April 24 and they are aiming for a May 7.” The “launch dates are critical to the dual mission because NASA scientists want the orbiter’s cameras and other sensors trained on the moon when the LCROSS hits,” Marshall Space Flight Center spokesperson Jennifer “Morcone said.” Boeing Spokesperson Lewis Brinson said the Wideband Global Satellite-2 is facing “minor issues.” Boeing is constructing the satellite.
  • Former Astronauts Simulating Lunar Landings At Ames. The San Jose (NM) Mercury News (2/16, Swift) reports, “At NASA Ames Research Center…a group of former astronauts, including several Apollo astronauts who flew the original Lunar Module in space, are helping design America’s next lunar lander. NASA engineers are using the world’s most advanced motion-based flight simulator at Ames to help create Altair.” The group is “painstakingly logging data” with the Vertical Motion Simulator in order to “determine everything from the amount of thrust the lander’s engine will have, to the design and function of the cockpit instruments.” The simulator is also “one of NASA’s main tools to train space shuttle pilots.”

Farid Salama (SSA):

As chair of the AAS Working Group on Laboratory Astrophysics (WGLA), Farid Salama (SSA), has co-authored and coordinated five distinct white papers for the National Academies ASTRO2010 decadal survey.

A white paper centered on laboratory astrophysics was submitted by the WGLA to each of the five Science Frontiers Panels in the ASAC Subcommittee on Science. The white papers titles are:

New Discoveries in the Galactic Neighborhood through Advances in Laboratory Astrophysics

New Discoveries in Planetary Systems and Star Formation through Advances in Laboratory Astrophysics

New Discoveries in Stars and Stellar Evolution through Advances in Laboratory Astrophysics

New Discoveries in Cosmology and Fundamental Physics through Advances in Laboratory Astrophysics

New Discoveries in Galaxies across Cosmic Time through Advances in Laboratory Astrophysics

Talk at SETI by Margaret Race and Rocco Mancinelli (SSX):

Panel: Margaret Race and Rocco Mancinelli of the SETI Institute and Workshop participants
When: February 11, 12:00 noon
Where: The SETI Institute, Europa room

Abstract: SETI Principle Investigators Margaret Race and Rocco Mancinelli are convening an interdisciplinary workshop at the Institute from Feb. 9-11 that includes experts from a range of disciplines, including law, ethics, policy, theology, philosophy, social sciences, education, communication, and astrobiology sciences. Supported by a grant from the NAI, the invited participants are charged with systematically analyzing the diversity of societal issues that arise in Astrobiology research and space exploration. Margaret and Rocco will chair a lunchtime panel discussion that includes short presentations on the initial workshop findings followed by questions and feedback from the audience. Join us for a chance to experience a roadmap in the making.