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New Names Approved for Venus

Monday, September 25, 2006

Names for seven coronae and one tholus have been approved by the IAU for use on Venus. The names are Anjea Corona, Durga Corona, Hutash Corona, Ikas Coronae, Orbona Corona, Partula Corona, Parvati Corona, and Ezili Tholus. Please see the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature for more information.

Names Approved for 31 Craters on Mars

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

The following names for 31 craters on Mars have been approved by the IAU: Ada, Alamos, Beruri, Bopolu, Cefalù, Chupadero, Dulovo, Elorza, Grindavik, Hargraves, Hashir, Iazu, Jörn, Kontum, Lismore, Makhambet, Martin, Mazamba, Nakusp, Ohara, Pebas, Runanga, Sefadu, Shardi, Soffen, Taytay, Uzer, Woking, Xainza, Yalgoo, and Zarand. For more information about these names, see the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.

Update on Mars' Rovers

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Larry Soderblom
Larry Soderblom, MER co-Investirgator

Dr. Larry Soderblom, Astrogeology Program (USGS), will be speaking on NASA's Mars Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, September 28, 2006 at 4.p.m. at Lowell Observatory, as part of the Flagstaff Festival of Science.

These rovers have seen the sun rise and set on Mars nearly a thousand times, and have traveled nearly 10 miles across the Martian surface. Many have joked about the rovers being like the energizer bunny, how they just keep going, and going even if they get a hitch in their giddyup.

Dr. Soderblom will be there to tell you what it is like first hand. Don't miss out on such a rich opportunity.


More: Visit the Flagstaff Festival of Science web site

Astrogeology’s Scientist Helps Solve Martian Riddle

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tim Titus
Timothy Titus

What causes puzzling dark spots, spider-shaped features, and fan-like markings on the icecap at the Martian south pole?

Usually, there are dark spots, typically 50 to 150 feet wide, that are spaced several hundred feet apart and that appear every southern spring as the Sun rises over the icecap. The dark spots last for several months and then vanish, only to reemerge the following year after winter's cold deposits a fresh layer of ice on the cap. Even stranger, the spots seem to reoccur annually in the same locations.

The research of Astrogeology (USGS) Space Scientist, Timothy Titus,(left) in collaboration with Hugh Kieffer (USGS-retiree) and Phil Christensen of ASU research, appears in the August 17, 2006 issue of the scientific journal Nature. Perchance they’ve solved the riddle, although Titus says, “There remain some outstanding questions."

Previous studies suggested that the dark features were areas of early ice defrosting and exposition of dark soil. However the Mars Odyssey Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) showed that the temperatures of the spots indicated they were far too cold to be bare soil. "We started looking at all of the THEMIS infrared and visual images in the Cryptic region, looking for an area that demonstrated the dynamic nature of the spots," Titus said. "Phil was the one who discovered this area, which we call "Manhattan Island" due to its appearance. We then targeted the THEMIS cameras to take almost daily pictures of the region. The result was a blockbuster movie of one of the most dynamic regions on Mars.


Continue reading "Astrogeology’s Scientist Helps Solve Martian Riddle"

New Names on Mars

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Five new names have been approved for Mars: Angustus Labyrinthus, Chronius Mons, Promethei Mons, Sisyphi Tholus, and Thyles Montes. The names Australis Patera, Angusta Patera, and Cavi Frigores have been marked as dropped in the database. New imagery has shown that the two paterae were named using the wrong descriptor term, and the area previously named Cavi Frigores has been incorporated into the adjacent Cavi Angusti.

The definition of the descriptor term labyrinthus has been expanded from "Complex of intersecting valleys" to "Complex of intersecting valleys or ridges."

See the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature for more information.

NAU CENS Career Fair - CompSci Internships

Thursday, September 14, 2006

USGS Astrogeology Research Program will have representatives at the NAU CENS Career Fair on September 26, 2006, at the du Bois Center on NAU's south campus from 1:00pm to 6:00pm. The career fair is held each semester for the students of Northern Arizona University's College of Engineering and Natural Science.

Currently, Astrogeology has two year-round internships open for Computer Science majors, or other majors with a Computer Science minor. Students who have a strong programming background are also welcome to apply. Please bring a resume to the NAU CENS Career Fair and drop it off with the folks at the USGS table. The internships are advertised through NAU Off-Campus Jobs page.

Whether you're interested in an internship with the USGS, or you're interested in a career with the USGS or other federal science agency, stop by the NAU CENS Career Fair to chat! Our representatives are Astrogeology computer scientists, information technology specialists, and interns who want to share their unique experiences working on space exploration missions, planetary research, and great projects that support NASAs space science mission. There will be plenty of information about Astrogeology, the USGS, and pursuing careers in the federal government.

For more information about working for the USGS Astrgeology Research Program, see our Careers page.

2003 UB313 named Eris

Thursday, September 14, 2006

The International Astronomical Union has approved the name Eris for the largest known dwarf planet (see CBAT Circular 8747). Eris is the Greek goddess of chaos and strife; she created a quarrel among goddesses that led to the Trojan War. This name could be considered quite fitting for the body that has fueled the debate concerning how to define a planet. The name Eris was suggested by the discoverer, Michael Brown.

Eris’ satellite was named Dysnomia, for Eris’ daughter who carries the attribute of lawlessness.

Actual science tests report

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

FireThese are reputedly real answers to questions on science tests.

When you smell an odorless gas, it is probably carbon monoxide.

Water is composed of two gins, oxygin and hydrogin. Oxygin is pure gin. Hydrogin is gin and water.

Nitrogen is not found in Ireland because it is not found in a free state.

When you breathe, you inspire. When you do not breathe, you expire.

Three kinds of blood vessels are arteries, vanes, and caterpillars.

Before giving a blood transfusion, find out if the blood is affirmative or negative.

The moon is a planet just like the Earth, only it is even deader.

The pistol of a flower is its only protection against insects.

A fossil is an extinct animal. The older it is, the more extinct it is.

For fainting: Rub the person's chest, or, if it's a lady, rub her arm above the hand. Or put her head between the knees of the nearest medical doctor.

Equator: a menagerie lion running around Earth through Africa.

Rhubarb: a kind of celery gone bloodshot.

The skeleton is what is left after the insides have been taken out and the outsides have been taken off. The purpose of the skeleton is so that there is something to hitch the meat to.

To remove dust from the eye, pull the eye down over the nose.

The body consists of three parts - the brainium, the borax and the abominable cavity. The brainium contains the brain. The borax contains the heart and lungs, and the abominable cavity contains the bowels, of which there are five - A, E, I, O, and U.

credit:AHAJOKES.com

A snapshot of Titan

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

T-17 Flyby
T-17 Flyby -- Raw Image N00065334
Image Credit: NASA/JPL
402x402

N00065334.jpg was received on Earth, Sept. 8, 2006. The camera was pointing toward TITAN at approximately 137,854 kilometers away, using the CL1 and CB3 filters. The image reportedly has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image is expected to be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System in 2007.

Hubble Captures a Rare Eclipse on Uranus

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Uranus Eclipse
Arial traverses Uranus
click for larger image

This NASA Hubble Space Telescope image is a never-before-seen astronomical alignment of a moon traversing the face of Uranus, and its accompanying shadow. The white dot near the center of Uranus’ blue-green disk is the icy moon Ariel. The 700-mile-diameter satellite is casting a shadow onto the cloud tops of Uranus. To an observer on Uranus, this would appear as a solar eclipse, where the moon briefly blocks out the Sun as its shadow races across Uranus’s cloud tops. Though such "transits" by moons across the disks of their parents are commonplace for some other gas giant planets, such as Jupiter, the satellites of Uranus orbit the planet in such a way that they rarely cast shadows on the planet's surface. Uranus is tilted so that its spin axis lies nearly in its orbital plane. The planet is essentially tipped over on its side. The moons of Uranus orbit the planet above the equator, so their paths align edge-on to the Sun only every 42 years. This color composite image was created from images at three wavelengths in near infrared light obtained with Hubble’s Advanced Camera for Surveys on July 26, 2006. Dr. Kathy Rages, of the SETI Institute, made the identification of the bright spot as Ariel.

Credit: NASA, ESA, L. Sromovsky (University of Wisconsin, Madison), H. Hammel (Space Science Institute), and K. Rages (SETI)

SMART-1 hits the Moon

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

LUNAR FLASH: As planned, Europe's SMART-1 spacecraft crashed into the Moon this morning, Sept. 3rd, at 0542 UT. The resulting flash was too faint for most backyard telescopes, but a team of astronomers using the big 3.6m CFHT telescope in Hawaii did manage to photograph the explosion.

Visit http://spaceweather.com for updates and images.

No More Provisional Names!

Wednesday, September 6, 2006

There has been an important change in the approval process for planetary feature names; the designation of "provisional nomenclature" is no longer used. As soon as the IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) has successfully reviewed a name, it is considered approved and can be used in publications. Immediately after WGPSN approval, names are entered into the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature. Any objections to these names based on significant, substantive problems must be forwarded in writing or email to the IAU Division III president within three months of the names being published in the gazetteer.

This new policy will allow for much more efficient use of planetary feature names for the scientific community, and it will streamline and simplify the use of planetary feature names in the publication process.