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Astro Chuckles

Thursday, March 16, 2006

  • Two atoms bump into each other. One says 'I think I lost an electron!' The other asks, 'Are you sure?', to which the first replies, 'I'm positive.'
  • Heisenberg is out for a drive when he's stopped by a traffic cop. The cop says 'Do you know how fast you were going?' Heisenberg says 'No, but I know where I am.'
  • Why did the chicken cross the road? Albert Einstein: Whether the chicken crossed the road or the road crossed the chicken depends on your frame of reference.
  • The answer to the problem was 'log(1+x)'. A student copied the answer from the good student next to him, but didn't want to make it obvious that he was cheating, so he changed the answer slightly, to 'timber(1+x)'

Credit: Jokes and Anecdotes

Become a NASA Teacher-Mentor!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Airspace Systems Education Cohort (ASEC). Educators selected for this opportunity will attend a 3-day institute at Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA July 19-23, 2006. This institute will engage participants in scientific inquiry at the leading edge of education and technology and prepare them to share their experiences with students and colleagues. Go to the NASA Quest website and follow the link for Airspace Systems Education Cohort. Application Deadline: Postmarked by March 31, 2006. Notification will be mailed the week of April 24, 2006.

Astrogeology Steps Up Lunar Orbiter Data with Apollo Images

Thursday, March 16, 2006

The U.S. Geological Survey Astrogeology Program takes another step forward in reviving the lunar data from the 1960’s. The cartographic group is evaluating the use of modern softcopy digital mapping techniques to extract a digital elevation model (DEM) from Lunar Orbiter (LO) and Apollo digitized imagery. Products enabled by this endeavor will supersede earlier maps and will be functional for upcoming lunar missions and coincide with the vision to gain a new foothold on the moon.

Cartoon poking fun at stair-step artifacts in Lunar Orbiter imagery
The original Lunar Orbiter photographs reconstructed in the 1960’s had limited utility for topographic mapping due to stair-step artifacts in the reconstructed photographs. To correct this problem, Lunar Orbiter images were digitized and reconstructed to fit tto calibrated reseaux and fiducials locations, and the stair-step artifacts in the resulting images were greatly reduced. Although the Apollo imagery was previously used to produce topographic maps, they were limited in size and accuracy, and most notably, had kilometer-sized offsets between them because different control networks were employed during their production. To correct this, a revised global network for the Moon that included Clementine imagery acquired in the 1990’s was generated, so that future mapping would be based on a common control network. The Unified Lunar Control Network 2005 improved the accuracy and the density of control points and included computed elevations values for each point.

To take reviving Lunar Orbiter to another level, the cartographic group considers the pros and cons for using digital elevation models from Apollo (metric vs. panoramic) and/or Lunar Orbiter imagery to produce controlled DEMs, orthoimage mosaics and other products that will be useful in future mission planning and scientific analysis. Upcoming missions such as SELENE – Japan, Chang’e 1 –China, Chandrayaan-1 – India, and -Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter - USA, will have access to highly detailed topographic data.

President Bush announced in a press release, on January 14, 2004, that our goal is to return to the moon by 2020. "Beginning no later than 2008, we will send a series of robotic missions to the lunar surface to research and prepare for future human exploration." The Astrogeology team continues their lunar groundwork.

Learn more about Lunar Orbiter, ULCN 2005 network, and Mapping with Apollo Images

Space Fans Surf Mars

Thursday, March 16, 2006

No need to pack your bags, acquire driver’s license or get insurance. Interplanetary explorers and space fans now have Google Mars and are in for a good tour. They can view geographical features on Mars with a click of their mouse on maps provided to Google by NASA.

The images were captured by NASA’s Mars Odyssey and Mars Global Surveyor, probes that are currently orbiting Mars. In collaboration with NASA researchers at Arizona State University, Google created scientific maps of Mars. Interplanetary explorers can see the planet using three different types of maps: The shaded relief map shows elevation and was generated with data from the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft; it is color-coded by altitude. The Visible map consists of a mosaic of images taken by the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC) on NASA's Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft, and finally there is a mosaic of infrared images taken by the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft where warmer areas appear brighter, and colder areas are darker. Clouds and dust in the atmosphere are transparent in the infrared.

Users can zoom in on any of the three maps to view geographical features such as mountains, canyons, dunes and craters. The maps also pinpoint the locations of unmanned space probes that have landed on Mars and mark the sites of previous unmanned missions to Mars, including the final landing site of the British probe Beagle 2, which launched in 2003 but failed on landing.

To whom do space enthusiasts owe this honor? The site was launched to celebrate the 151st anniversary of the birth of Percival Lowell, an astronomer who mapped and studied Mars in the 19th century, and is a joint collaboration between Google and NASA.

More:Google Mars