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Phoenix Launch Delayed

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

From the NASA Phoenix Mission site:

The launch of the Phoenix spacecraft has been rescheduled to Aug. 4. Due to the forecast for severe weather in the vicinity of the launch pad on Tuesday afternoon, the Delta II launch team was unable to complete fueling of the rocket's second stage. The two available launch times on Aug. 4 are 5:26:34 and 6:02:59 a.m. EDT.

The Phoenix Mars lander's assignment is to dig through the Martian soil and ice in the arctic region and use its onboard scientific instruments to analyze the samples it retrieves.

Both rocket and spacecraft have been undergoing final preparation at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

For more information about the Phoenix mission, visit:

For more information about NASA TV, streaming video, and downlink and schedule information, visit:

For information about NASA and agency programs, visit:

NASA Image of the Day: Flagstaff area volcanoes

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Today's NASA Image of the Day is a rendering of the San Francisco volcano field, the home of Flagstaff, Arizona.

ASTER perspective on a mountain range
ASTER perspective was created by draping ASTER image data over topographic data from the U.S. Geological Survey National Elevation Data.

Image credit: NASA/GSFC/METI/ERSDAC/JAROS, and U.S./Japan ASTER Science Team

From the NASA Image of the Day site: Northern Arizona is best known for the Grand Canyon. Less widely known are the hundreds of geologically young volcanoes, at least one of which buried the homes of local residents. San Francisco Mountain, a truncated stratovolcano, was once a much taller structure before it exploded some 400,000 years ago a la Mt. St. Helens. The young cinder cone field to its east includes Sunset Crater, that erupted in 1064 and buried Native American homes. This ASTER perspective was created by draping ASTER image data over topographic data from the U.S. Geological Survey National Elevation Data.

Continue reading "NASA Image of the Day: Flagstaff area volcanoes"

Update: Mars Rovers Braving Severe Dust Storms

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Artist's Concept of Rover on Mars
Artist's Concept of Rover on Mars (credit: Maas Digital LLC)

NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity sent signals Monday morning, July 23, indicating its power situation improved slightly during the days when it obeyed commands to refrain from communicating with Earth in order to conserve power.

Dust storms on Mars in recent weeks have darkened skies over both Opportunity and its twin, Spirit. Last week Opportunity was commanded to go into a very low-power state and to communicate only once every three days. Next scheduled transmission will be Thursday, July 26, though controllers may command Opportunity to send information on Tuesday, July 24. "The outlook for both Opportunity and Spirit depends on the weather, which makes it unpredictable, " said JPL's John Callas, project manager for both rovers. "If the weather holds where it is now or gets better, the rovers will be OK. If it gets worse, the situation becomes more complex ".

Read the Full Story from NASA.

Two New Names Approved for use on Mars

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

The name Olympia Rupēs has been approved for a series of scarps in the north polar region of Mars, and the name Jezero has been approved for a crater on the western edge of Isidis Planitia. See the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature for more information.

Spelling of Saturnian Satellite Changed

Thursday, July 12, 2007

The spelling of the name of Saturn XLIV has been changed from Hyrokkin to Hyrrokkin, the original Norse spelling. For more information, see the page that describes planet and satellite names in the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature.

PBS Arizona Stories: Apollo Astronaut Training

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

PBS is airing Arizona Stories: Apollo Astronaut Training Sunday, July 15, 2007. This documentary presents an overview of the USGS Astrogeology Research Program's involvement in training the Apollo astronauts in field geology techniques to help them acheive the science objectives of the lunar landing missions. From the transcript: "Beginning about 1964, the U.S.G.S. took Astronauts on geologic field trips to places like the Grand Canyon and Meteor Crater southeast of Flagstaff . When astronauts were not available, geologists dressed up in spacesuits and simulated the work that would be done on the moon. Learning to relay geologic observations by radio was important because during actual moon landings, U.S.G.S. scientists were at mission control, keeping track of where astronauts were on the lunar surface." The documentary includes interviews with Gene Shoemaker and Gerald Schaber, and video footage of training site preparation and activities.

More: KAET/PBS Arizona Stories: Apollo Astronaut Training

More: KAET/PBS Arizona Stories program schedule

Link: USGS Astrogeology Research Program History

Link: USGS Astro - Astronaut Training and Equipment Testing Photo Gallery

Link: USGS Astro - The View From An Astronaut's Eyes Apollo Photo Gallery

Dust Storm Affects Mars Rovers

Friday, July 6, 2007

NASA - A giant dust storm brewing for more than a week on Mars has become worse and is affecting surface operations of the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity. Because the rovers depend on solar energy for survival, and the dust is partially blocking the sun, the storm is being watched closely by the rover scientists and engineers. Opportunity's entry into Victoria Crater is delayed for at least several days.

The storm, the most severe storm yet to hit the rovers, is expected to continue for at least another week. Opportunity is perched near "Duck Bay" as it readies to descend into Victoria Crater, but operations were scaled back on Saturday, June 30, to conserve power.

More: NASA - Dust Delays Mars Crater Entry

Two New Patera Names for Io

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Two new patera names have been approved for use on Io: Prometheus Patera and Grian Patera. See the Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature for more information.

'In the Shadow of the Moon' makes Sedona debut

Monday, July 2, 2007

From the Sedona Film Festival website:

In the Shadow of the Moon, the first-hand thoughts of the surviving crew members from every Apollo moon mission between 1968 and 1972, will be featured at the July installment of the popular Second Tuesday Cinema Series. It is the feature presentation at 7 p.m., July 10 at the Harkins Sedona Six Theatres. Presented by the Sedona International Film Festival and Workshop, “In the Shadow of the Moon” was the top documentary at the Sundance Film Festival, winning the prestigious “Audience Choice World Cinema Best Documentary” Award and going on to audience and critical acclaim at high-profile film festivals around the world since then.


Where: Harkins Sedona Six Theatres

When: July 10, 2007

Time: 7:00pm Cost: $10, or $8 for Film Sedona members

More: Internet Movie Database "In the Shadow of the Moon"

More: Sundance Film Festival "In the Shadow of the Moon"

Job Opening: Technical Information Specialist

Monday, July 2, 2007

Application Deadline: July 30, 2007 (note, the deadline has been extended from the original date of July 23, 2007)

The Astrogeology Team of the U.S. Geological Survey in Flagstaff, Arizona has openings for a full-time, permanent Technical Information Specialist (GS-1412) position at the GS-7 to -9 grade levels. The salary range for this position is $35,752.00 TO $56,849.00. The position will open on July 2, 2007 and close on July 23, 2007.

The incumbent will manage the Astrogeology Regional Planetary Information Facility (RPIF) on behalf of NASA and USGS. The RPIF is a planetary resource library and an archival repository for photographic and supplemental engineering data products. Major duties include but are not limited to: Incorporates new information and data into RFIF digital and hardcopy archives. Maintains digital catalogs and inventories. Oversees and manages archival historic and/or research materials. Generates inventories, catalogs, and digital image products for use in specific research efforts or for transfer to public information users. Assists planetary scientists in finding images, maps, and other data. Conducts general interest tours of RPIF and Astrogeology collections and facilities on a variety of planetary science topics. Provides technical or operational guidance to assistants. Assists senior staff with development and maintenance of long-range plans for future management and operation of the facility.

The Astrogeology Program of the USGS operates largely on funding from NASA.

The mission of Astrogeology is to establish and maintain geoscientific and technical expertise in planetary science and remote sensing to perform three major tasks:

  • Scientifically study and map Earth and extraterrestrial bodies,
  • Plan and conduct planetary exploration missions, and
  • Explore and develop new technologies in data processing and analysis, archiving, and distribution.

Please see our Web site ( for more information on the breadth of our research program.

To learn more about this opportunity and/or to apply go to the USGS online Online Automated Recruitment Site (OARS) at:

Look for announcement # WR-2007-0448 for all U.S. citizens or #WR-2007-0454 for specific eligibility as described within the announcement.

or visit USA-Jobs at:

Look for announcement # WR-2007-0448 for all U.S. citizens. USA-Jobs will direct applicants to the OARS site above as all must apply via the OARS system.

Applicants must apply online at the OARS site by the closing date of the announcement (midnight Eastern Time on July 23, 2007).

Contact Karen Perez for more information:

U.S. Geological Survey

Department of Interior

Office of Human Resources

3020 State University Drive East

Modoc Hall, Suite 2001

Sacramento, CA 95819

Attn: Karen Perez, 916-278-9389

Fax: 916-278-9401