Come here & hear Steve Squyres at SIUE?

Come here & hear Steve Squyres at SIUE?

If you’re like me, you’ve been following NASA’s desperate attempt to free Spirit, and the ongoing roving of the rugged little Opportunity. These two rovers, with Captain Jack like habits of not dying, are in part the creation of Steven Squyres. Next week, on Wednesday night, Squyres will be giving a talk here at SIUE. Come give him a listen? Here are the details: Steven Squyres “Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity and the Exploration of the Red Planet” Wednesday, February 17, 7:30 p.m. Meridian Ballroom, Morris University Center Sponsored by the Shaw Memorial Fund Steve Squyres is the man responsible for taking us to the Red Planet and igniting a new firestorm of interest in space exploration. “Spirit and Opportunity” have...

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The Moon is Made of Minerals

Here is where I admit I have never taken Geology or Organic Chemistry. This is my third time coming to LPSC and each time I come I learn there are more minerals yet to learn. Today I spent my morning sitting in on sessions involving the new data coming down from the Lunar Missions Kaguya, Chang’e-1 and Chandrayaan-1. I’ll be doing the same this afternoon, and right now I’m sitting in a session on “What does the community want in future Moon Missions?” The first thing I personally learned is I need to learn what more minerals mean and why they matter on the moon. To this end, I have received the following book recommendations: The Lunar Source Book, and New Views on the Moon. I will be beginning for my university to get both as soon...

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Flying Metal Bits

Flying Metal Bits

corot.jpgA quick fly through the nearby universe will show you, well, a whole lot of nothing. But, embedded in the nearest bits of that nothing are 8 spectacular planets, dozens of moons, and hundreds of random bits of rock and ice that, depending on where they orbit, fall into such categories as asteroids, Kuiper belt objects, and comets. Somewhat randomly distributed around (and sometimes on) these celestial objects are little bits of flying metal.

Locally, COROT (vaguely rhymes with Inspector Perot), obtained first light today (image above, credit CNES 2006 – D. Ducros). This orbital observatory will dedicate it self to the search for rocky worlds around other stars. A product of the European Space Agency, COROT will study nearby stars with its 30cm telescope, looking for slight changes in brightness indicative of planetary transits. The images it takes will also be useful for asteroseismology, the study of how stars bump and wiggle in reaction to chemical and thermal processes deep beneath their surfaces. Pre-launch calculations predict that every 150 days (the time COROT will spend studying one area of the sky), COROT could discover 10-40 rocky planets and tens of gas giants. Since the first published discoveries of an extrasolar planet around a pulsar in 1992, and around a normal star in 1995, astronomers have only discovered 209 extrasolar worlds. With COROT, that number could double in as little as 1 year.

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