Webcast on New Mars Science Laboratory Rover

Mars Science Laboratory

On Thursday October 16th at 7pm PST, JPL will host a webcast of a lecture on the new Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) Rover. This webcast will require RealPlayer—the free RealPlayer 8 Basic can be downloaded from RealPlayer.
More info can be found here at JPL.

This talk is part of the JPL von Kármán Lecture Series.
Here is the Summary from the JPL Website:

New Wheels on Mars: The Mars Science Laboratory
Dr. Richard Cook
Mars Science Laboratory Project Manager

Building on the success of the two rover geologists that arrived at Mars in January, 2004, NASA’s next rover mission will depart for the Red Planet in 2009. Twice as long and five times as heavy as the Mars Exploration Rovers, the Mars Science Laboratory will collect Martian soil and rock samples and analyze them for organic compounds and minerals which demonstrate that Mars can or did support life. This sophisticated science laboratory will be delivered to the Martian surface using an innovative new landing system. The spacecraft will start by steering itself through the Martian atmosphere in a fashion similar to the way the Apollo entry capsule controlled its entry through Earth’s upper atmosphere. This approach will allow the spacecraft to fly to a desired location above the surface of Mars before deploying its parachute for the final landing. Then, in the final minutes before touchdown, the spacecraft will activate its parachute and retro rockets before lowering the rover package to the surface on a tether.

If you are local, you may be able to attend the talk:

Thursday, October 16, 2008, 7p.m.
The von Kármán Auditorium at JPL
4800 Oak Grove Drive
Pasadena, CA

Friday, October 17, 2008, 7p.m.
The Vosloh Forum at Pasadena City College
1570 East Colorado Blvd.
Pasadena, CA

Phoenix Images

These guys are publishing these images faster than I can blog!

 Phoenix Landing Site

This image shows the horizon.  This is again a very flat region, but there is interesting patterning on the surface.  Perhaps this is due to freezing/thawing mechanisms.

Here is the link to the incoming images at the Phoenix Mission site.

Kevin Knuth
Albany NY

Phoenix Probe Lands on Mars

At 4:53:44 p.m. Pacific Time (7:53:44 p.m. Eastern Time) NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory received radio signals from the Mars Phoenix Lander confirming that it survived its landing in the north polar region of Mars.

The probe enters the Martian atmosphere at about 78 miles above the surface and begins decelerating from its space cruise velocity of 12,500 miles per hour down to Mach 1.7 (1.7 times the speed of sound) when its parachute deployed.  The parachute is jettisoned at 1 km above the surface when the probe fires its rocket thrusters to decelerate it further until it reaches either 12 meters altitude or a speed of 5 miles per hour.  At this point the rocket engines stop and the probe drops to the surface.

Artist's Conception of Phoenix Probe 

Above is an artist’s conception.
I cant wait to see how it really will look!

Check the Phoenix Mission Site for updates!

Kevin Knuth
Albany NY

NASA Astrobiology Institute Cooperative Agreement Notice (Cycle-5)

NASA Astrobiology Institute
Cooperative Agreement Notice (Cycle-5)

The NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) announces, through the release of this Cooperative Agreement Notice (CAN), an opportunity for the submission of team-based proposals for membership in the Institute. Proposals should clearly articulate an innovative, interdisciplinary, astrobiology research program, together with plans to advance the full scope of NAI objectives as defined in the Institute’s Mission Statement.The Cooperative Agreement Notice can be accessed at: http://nspires.nasaprs.com

CAN Release Date: January 8, 2008
Notices of Intent Due: February 22, 2008
Proposals Due: April 11, 2008