Highlights for 04/17/09 (archived)

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Dale Cruikshank (Astrophysics Branch / SSA):

Dr. Cruikshank has accepted an invitation to participate in the Steering Group of the Planetary Decadal Survey that will establish priorities in Solar System missions and related research for the next decade. The Survey is an activity of the National Research Council (Space Studies Board) of the National Academy of Sciences, done at the request of NASA and the NSF.

Tom Greene (Astrophysics Branch / SSA):

Tom Greene was nominated to serve on the Electromagnetic Observations from Space Program Prioritization Panel of the Astro2010 decadal survey being conducted by the National Academy of Sciences. He has indicated his intent to serve on the panel, and his membership should be finalized within several weeks after a public comment period and a conflict of interest screening. He is one of only a very few (about 3) current NASA employees involved in the Astro2010 process. The membership of all Astro2010 program prioritization panels is posted at:

Jennifer Heldmann (Planetary Systems Branch / SST on detail to HQ)

Hubbard will Lead Mars Program Review. Space News (4/14, David) reported, “Scott Hubbard, the former NASA Ames Research Center director…will lead a review team to help shape NASA’s next decade of robotic Mars exploration.” Doug McCuistion, head of the Mars exploration program, stated that the team will “analyze mission architectures” for Mars through 2020. “This is not Hubbard’s first encounter with Mars. He served as NASA’s first Mars program director in 2000-2001, restructuring the entire Mars program following the loss of the Mars Climate Orbiter and Mars Polar Lander…a task that earned him the title of NASA’s Mars czar.” Hubbard, speaking with Space News, “said collecting rock and soil samples on Mars and returning them to Earth for study continues to be a top scientific priority, yet NASA’s budget is insufficient to accomplish a Mars sample return mission on its own any time soon. New results… call for new missions and new measurements.”

Jeff Scargle (Planetary Systems Branch / SST):

Jeff Scargle visited the radio astronomy group at the California Institute of Technology headed by Prof. Anthony Readhead. This group has begun a large program of monitoring the radio frequency flux of about 1,000 extragalactic sources of variable luminosity (mostly active galactic nuclei), using the 40 meter dish of the Owens Valley Radio Observatory. The program is a collaboration with the Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope. Scargle will participate in the cross-analysis of the data from Fermi and the OVRO telescopes.