Highlights for 10/2/09 (archived)

star cluster
star cluster

Korean Astronaut Pleased With Experience At Ames. Farid Salama invited to serve at IAU. Hydrogen cyanide ice on Triton. Tom Greene “Peeking at the youngest stars”. Scott Sandford discusses abiotic production of uracil, a building blocks of DNA and RNA.

Jennifer Heldmann (Planetary Systems Branch on detail to HQ)

Korean Astronaut Pleased With Experience At Ames. The UK’s Your Local Guardian (9/25, Didymus) reported, “Korea’s first and only astronaut had a lesson about space from Kingston University lecturer Chris Welch recently, after being stumped by questions from intrigued audiences following her return from the International Space Station.” Soyeon Yi “signed up to a group project run by Dr Welch at the Nasa Ames research centre, California, in order to improve her knowledge, and said the summer programme had made a huge difference.”

Farid Salama (Astrophysics Branch)

Farid Salama (SSA) was invited to serve on the Organizing Committee of the Astrochemistry Working Group of the International Astronomical Union (IAU). The Working Group advises the IAU on all areas of Astrochemistry from Solar System to high redshift Galaxies and acts as the Scientific Organizing Committee (SOC) for the IAU Symposia in the field.

Dale Cruikshank (Astrophysics Branch)

Dale Cruikshank and Cristina Dalle Ore are collaborating with Martin Burgdorf (SOFIA group at Ames) and Tomohiko Sekiguchi (Tokyo) in the interpretation of a spectrum of Triton obtained with the Japanese AKARI telescope in space. They have submitted a paper to Astronomy and Astrophysics, and will present some preliminary results of the work at the AGU meeting in December. This first result reports the discovery of HCN (hydrogen cyanide = “prussic acid”) ice on Triton. HCN is the first “processed” molecule found on Triton, and joins nitrogen, methane, water, carbon dioxide, and carbon monoxide ices found earlier.

Tom Greene (Astrophysics Branch)

– Tom Greene attended the 3rd and final meeting of the Electromagnetic observations from space program prioritization panel of the Astro 2010 decadal survey in Washington, DC 23 – 25 September.

– Tom Greene gave an invited colloquium titled “Peeking at the youngest stars” at Sonoma State University on September 28.

Scott Sandford (Astrophysics Branch)

A scientific paper has just appeared in the journal Astrobiology in which it is shown that UV irradiation of astrophysical ices containing pyrimidine can result in the abiotic production of the molecule uracil. Uracil is one of the nucleobases that are the building blocks of DNA and RNA. The work was done by Michel Nuevo, Stefanie Milam, and Scott Sandford in the NASA-ARC Astrochemistry Laboratory.