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Archive for February 28, 2012

Proposed Mars Mission Has New Name

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment

A proposed Discovery mission concept led by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif., to investigate the formation and evolution of terrestrial planets by studying the deep interior of Mars now has a new name, InSight.

InSight stands for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport and is a partnership involving JPL, Lockheed Martin Space Systems, the French Space Agency (CNES), the German Aerospace Center (DLR), and other NASA centers. The previous name for the proposal was GEMS (GEophysical Monitoring Station). NASA requested that name be reserved for an astrophysics mission known as the Gravity and Extreme Magnetism Small Explorer, which was already in development.

“We chose the name InSight because we would literally peer into the interior of Mars to map out its structure,” said JPL’s Bruce Banerdt, the principal investigator. “With our geophysical instruments we will be able to see right through to the center of Mars, and will be able to map out how deeply the crust extends as well as the size of the core.”

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2012-050

Herschel Materials Newly Open for Research

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment

A collection of science materials from the family of Sir John F. W. Herschel (1792–1871) is now open for research after a $10,000 grant enabled staffers to rehouse the collection and to create an online inventory.

The Herschel family papers, acquired in 1960 with subsequent smaller accessions of additional materials, largely represent the life and work of Herschel, the English mathematician, astronomer, chemist and experimental photographer/inventor. John Herschel has been called Britain’s first modern physical scientist, and his correspondence has been noted as one of the most valuable archives for 19th-century science.

“The Herschel family archive is the most important history of science collection at the Ransom Center,” said Richard Oram, associate director and Hobby Foundation Librarian at the Ransom Center. “The Herschels dominated the natural sciences in England for more than 100 years. While we have significant material relating to William Herschel, the discover of the planet Uranus, and his sister Caroline, who is now regarded as a pioneering female scientist, the most important holding is the correspondence of John Herschel, who, together with Darwin, towers over the Victorian scientific world.”

Full Story: http://www.hrc.utexas.edu/press/releases/2012/herschel.html

Powerful New Astronomy Tool Arrives on Mauna Kea

February 28, 2012 Leave a comment

A 10,000-pound package was delivered on Feb. 16 to the W. M. Keck Observatory near the summit of Mauna Kea. Inside is a powerful new scientific instrument that will dramatically increase the cosmic data gathering power of what is already the world’s most productive ground-based observatory.

The new instrument is called MOSFIRE (Multi-Object Spectrometer For Infra-Red Exploration). It is the newest tool to survey the cosmos and help astronomers learn more about star formation, galaxy formation and the early universe. The spectrometer was made possible through funding provided by the National Science Foundation and a generous donation from astronomy benefactors Gordon and Betty Moore.

“This is a crucial and important step,” said MOSFIRE co-principal investigator Ian McLean of U.C. Los Angeles, who has been involved in the building of four instruments for the Keck telescopes. “Just shipping it to Hawaii is the first step.” A long series of installation steps are already underway that will lead up to MOSFIRE’s “first light” on the sky and handover to the Keck community in August.

Full Story: http://keckobservatory.org/news/mosfire_astronomy_mauna_kea