Highlights for 09/18/09

star cluster
star cluster

Jennifer Heldmann (Planetary Systems Branch on detail to HQ)

NASA Picks Crater For LCROSS Mission. The Los Angeles Times (9/12, Johnson, 797K) reported, “NASA scientists announced Friday that they had picked a 60-mile-wide crater near the moon’s south pole as the place where they will send a rocket to punch a hole in the lunar surface next month in search of water.” The announcement was made at the Ames Research Center. The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) spacecraft is scheduled to crash into the Cabeus A crater on October 9. NASA scientists “said Cabeus A was chosen as the specific site after a vigorous debate that drew on data from a variety of resources, including Earth-based telescopes and Japanese and Indian satellites.” According to the article, “Finding water on the moon would not only be a major scientific discovery, it would also have a profound effect on plans to establish a semipermanent moon base.”

Minotaur 5’s Debut Launch To Send LADEE Mission To Moon. Space News (9/15, Brinton) reports Orbital Sciences Corp. “will launch a NASA lunar orbiter in 2012 aboard a five-stage Minotaur 5 rocket, which is based in part on excess ICBM hardware, under a contract option exercised by the US Air Force, the company announced Sept. 14.” The rocket will launch NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft, which “will orbit the Moon to determine the global density and composition of the lunar atmosphere.” The article notes this is the Minotaur 5’s “debut” mission. The AP (9/14) notes the “mission is currently scheduled for launch in May 2012 from Wallops Island.”

Cloud Computing Initiative Announced At Ames. The IDG News Service (9/15, McMillan) reported, “Google will offer cloud-computing services designed specifically for US government agencies starting next year, the company announced Tuesday at the NASA Ames Research Center.” Matthew Glotzbach, director of product management with Google, made the announcement. “Federal Chief Information Officer Vivek Kundra also unveiled the government’s new online storefront, called Apps.gov, at the event. The site is the first stage in the government’s move toward cloud computing, he said.”

NASA Mission Not Only One To Intentionally Crash Into Planets. Space.com (9/15, Hsu) reported, “NASA’s latest lunar probe looks to grab the spotlight next month when it takes a two-part sledgehammer to the moon, but it’s hardly the first space mission to set a planned collision course for destruction.” The article listed and briefly described the missions that were “willful participants in an ongoing space demolition derby – all in the name of science, of course.” The article noted, “All this physical bashing may sound hard on the moon and other solar system bodies. But scientists know that the solar system itself has a long history of violence, as tons of rock, ice and other debris continually slam into planets and moons on a regular basis.”

Ames Has Largest Faux Motherboard. The Los Altos (CA) Town Crier (9/16, Hislop) reported, “Home to one of the world’s fastest supercomputers, NASA Ames is now home to the world’s largest faux motherboard at the campus’ ‘Line of Questions’ exhibit. Following the yellow-brick road – OK, painted yellow lines – walkers can stop at the simulated circuitry stations of an oversized computer board.” The exhibit was designed by graduate students from the International Space University and Singularity University. Roger Margulies, art designer for the project, “said the idea is to focus on STEM – science, technology, engineering and mathematics – to steer young students into those careers.”

Jeff Cuzzi (Planetary Systems Branch)

Jeff Cuzzi and Jack Lissauer (SST), and Mark Showalter (SETI), appeared on “The Universe” episode “The Ring Hunters” September 15, 2009.

Ross Beyer (Planetary Systems Branch)

The Planetary Content Team has been selected as one of the winners of the 2009 Ames Honor Award. The following people will receive an award (ceremony to be held on Oct. 14) for helping to develop “Mars in Google Earth” (aka “Google Mars 3D”):

Michael Broxton, Matt Hancher, Ross Beyer, Mike Lundy

Diane Wooden (Planetary Systems Branch)

Here is a GMOS image in .png and .jpg format for pointing, taken in Gemini-N on 2009-Sep-11-13:12 UT. The exact slit positions will be revised before impact after image analyses by Diane Wooden w.r.t. coordinates supplied by the LCROSS Mission and the shadow models.

I am posting 3 images and an ejecta flux prediction (W/(m^2 um arcsec^2)) versus Wavelength (um) for 3 different values of the grain column density (1E7 m^-2 represents 4-20 sec; 2E5 m^-2 represents 30-90 sec). The brighter part of the ejecta plume reaches about 1.5 to 3 arc sec in height and spreads to 15″-30″ wide in 120-240 sec. The grain column densities are based on models by LCROSS Science Team Member D. Goldstein (Goldstein, D.B. et al. 2008, Amer. Inst. Phys.1084, 1061).

Gemini-N GMOS image from 2009-Sep-11-13:12UT in two formats, at G-band (398-552 nm)+ RG610 (blue blocking) to avoid saturation. (http:// www.gemini.edu/sciops/instruments/gmos/imaging/filters/gmosn-filters) mrgN20090911S0308.jpg mrgN20090911S0308.png

Gemini-N Acquisition Camera image with pointing craters labeled. cabeus_region_pointing_Cabeus_A1.pdf

Flux calculations based on number density of lofted 35um regolith grains. ejecta_flux_predict_09sep02.pdf

I have added labels to the Gemini Acquisition Camera image to show the craters relevant for pointing to Cabeus A1. When showing these images, please site: 2009-Sep-11-13:12UT GMOS Gemini-N (GN-2009B-Q-35) LCROSS Ground-Based Observation Campaign, Mauna Kea Spectroscopy Team: D. Wooden, C. Woodward, P. Lucey, D. Harker, E. Young, M. S. Kelley, T. Geballe, M. DiSanti, A. Conrad, D. Goldstein, A. Stephens, K. Roth, J. Rayne

Suggested Pointing Sequence for Spectroscopy

Pointing coordinates refer to the observer’s centroid on the elliptical shape of the crater, not on the common designation coordinates.

Pointing_Designation lon lat altitude
Casatus_C_Waypt1 330.23 -72.195 0 km
Newton_E_Waypt2 323.79 -79.820 -1.3 km
Waypt3 321.22 -81.062 -1.0 km
Cabeus_A1 316.90 -81.55 -2.0 km
Altitude for Sun-Horizon
Bettinus 330.23 -72.195 0 km
Alternative to Casatus_C_Waypt1 as lunar phase wanes

In JPL horizons, derive Right Ascension and Declination and lunar tracking rates by using g: long, lat, altitude @301 in the OBJECT SEARCH BOX – see attached screen grab as an example.


Pasquale Temi (Astrophysics Branch)

Awarded ROSES2009 NASA research grant (3 years, $479K): “Dusty Feedback and Star Formation in Early-type Galaxies: Probes of Galaxy Formation”