Lunar Magnetic Fields

Lunar Magnetic Fields

This morning I’m sitting in a session titled, “Lunar geophysics.” A more accurate might have been, “Lunar Magnetic Fields.” So far the dominant theme has been trying to determine if the moon once had a nature magnetic field driven by a lunar dynamo, or if all magnetic fields fields found on the moon were induced by impact events. This is a complex question that I will try to address, but first let me do a bit of book keeping. This is probably the last coverage of the Moon we’re going to bring you from this meeting due to conflicts with future moon sessions. Currently Rebecca is sitting in a session on fluvial (liquid) systems on Mars, and this afternoon one of us will be catching up on Enceladus and Venus while the other sits...

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Mars got womped

Mars got womped

Let’s face it, impacts are cool. Big, small, it really doesn’t matter. Everyone likes a good geological train wreck , especially one not involving us. I just finished listening to one of the most fast paced, data flying talks I’ve seen so far. In 15 minutes, dozens of PowerPoint slides flew furiously as J.C. Andrews-Hanna presented tantalizing new results that indicate that Mars may have been hit by a 2230km diameter impactor early in its history (for perspective, Mars’ diameter is ~6800km – what hit it was ~1/3 its current size!). Here are the details. Anyone who has looked at a topographical map of mars (above right) has probably noticed that the planet has a split topography with one pole being significantly lower elevation than...

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LPSC Random with Alan Stern

I’m very frustrated. I have been walking around reading my schedule, preplanned and placed on my iPhone, trying to make sure I make it to everything I want/need to. One of the things on my list was Alan Stern’s address tonight at 5:30. The problem is it got moved to noon, and I only caught the last 20 minutes. That last 20 minutes did give me a chance to hear one of the best exchanges I’ve heard so far: Alan Stern: MSL can launch in 2011 if we miss the launch window [due to everything being behind schedule]. Infact, we can even launch in 2010 and hang out in a gravity assist Earth orbit that gets us to Mars the same time as the 2011 launch. That doesn’t get us to Mars any faster, but it gets MSL out of California. Audiance: HUGE laughter...

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Looking for Life of Mars: A Question of Temperature

Looking for Life of Mars: A Question of Temperature

Basic Question – where can life live and prosper on Mars? Or can it? Part of answering this question requires us to consider the temperature structure on Mars. As near as we can tell, temperatures above 253 K / -4F (as well as aqueous liquid, shielding from UV) are required for life. Salty water can be liquid to low 200’s, so low temperatures are the real limit. While the average temperature on Mars is no where this high, there are many places on Mars that daily get above this limit. (The 253K limit is based on Siberian permafrost methanogens.) The thing that really has to be brought home is how organics really can exist in briny solutions (really saly water).  In the laboratory, MgSO4, NaCl, MgCl2, CaCl2 Fe2(SO4)3 and other organics have happily...

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Astrobiology: Organics in the Morning

Astrobiology: Organics in the Morning

This morning life is starting to emerge from the data. I’m in the amphitheatre Rebecca praised the other day, where I can have good access to electricity and comfortable chairs. Unfortunately, the trade off for comfort and power appears to be really bad sound quality. The first two talks I heard were given by scientists who addressed their PowerPoint slides, heads generally turned away from the mic, and all I heard was a long series of mumbles punctuated with “s”s and “t”s that popped and hissed. The second talk at least had a lot of words on the slides. This well-worded PowerPoint was on vertical geochemical profiling across a 3.33 billion year microbial mat from Barberton (translation: the looked at the fossil remains of a microbes...

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Mooning away Tuesday

Mooning away Tuesday

Yes, that was a silly title, but it was a good day filled with Lunar science. (Posting delayed by too much fun recording content). The very first talk I saw this morning was so cool that instead of writing it up, I’m just going to interview the guy who gave the talk: Larry Copper of The University of Tennessee. Teaser: You can melt lunar dust with microwave ovens, and it is possible to use microwave tools to melt lunar dust into things like parabolic dishes, and landing pads. Check out the audio: [mp3]. From there it went to the story of the lunar poles. Presented by P. Lucey. A lot of focus is going into trying to understand the Moon’s poles as we gear up for new (and more lasting) manned missions to the Moon. The most often stated reason in the...

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