Astronomy News for the Month of April 2016


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For amateur radio operators and scanner enthusiasts, when in the Denver metro area, please join the Colorado Astronomy Net on the Rocky Mountain Radio League's 146.94 MHz and 449.825 MHz repeaters. The RMRL 146.94 repeater is also linked with the WB0WDF Cripple Creek 447.400 MHz repeater and Allstar nodes 28298, 28299 and 29436. We are also linked via Echolink, links are k0jsc-r and canoncty. More information on the WB0WDF repeater links and Allstar nodes and Echolinks can be found at k0jsc.com. The net meets on Tuesday nights at 7 P.M. Mountain Time (US).

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 Excerpts from JPL mission updates are provided as a public service as part
of the JPL Solar System Ambassador/NASA Outreach program.

For special JPL programs and presentations in your area visit the JPL Solar System Ambassador website.
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In this Newsletter...

Background screen credits: NGC5775 - Imaged March 21/22, 2001 using the 16" Kitt Peak Visitors Center telescope as part of the Advanced Observing Program.


Earthbound observers get superb views of Mercury in mid-April, though the detail will pale in comparison to what the MESSENGER spacecraft captured up close.
Nasa/JHUAPL/CIW


The Month At-A-Glance
A calendar displaying the daily astronomical events.


19 day moon

The Moon

Phases

Apogee/Perigee

Moon/Planet Pairs

For reference: The Full Moon subtends an angle of 0.5°.

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The Planets & Dwarf Planets

Planetary Reports generated by "TheSky" software. These reports provide predicted data for the planets for the first of each month for the current year. The rise and set times for the Sun and the Moon for each day of the month as well as meteor shower radiants are also included in the reports. These reports have been optimized for the Denver, Colorado location, however, the times will be approximate for other locations on Earth.

(All times are local unless otherwise noted.)

Planetary Highlights for AApril

Begin your evening viewing with Jupiter, now well above the eastern horizon after the Sun sets. Mars follows later in the evening. If you are up before dawn, begin your early morning observations with Jupiter setting in the west. Continue to scan the skies eastward to find Mars, Saturn, Pluto. Neptune and Venus may be too low to the eastern horizon to be spotted easily this month. Uranus and Ceres are lost in the Sun's glow all month.

Mercury

Is at greatest eastern elongation (20° east of the Sun), which puts Mercury about 10° above the western horizon, on the 18th. Mercury is stationary on the 28th. Mercury sets at 8:12 p.m. on the 1st. Mercury sets about 8:53 p.m. by month's end. Look for Mercury low above the western horizon soon after sunset for most of the month. Mercury moves from the constellation of Pisces into Aries shining at magnitude -0.4.

Venus

Rises at 5:31 a.m. on the 1st and about 6:10 a.m. by month's end. Venus lies about 1° above the eastern horizon about 30 minutes before sunrise. If you have a very flat eastern horizon, you might be able to spot Venus shining through the early morning twilight glow. Venus moves from the constellation of Aquarius into Aries shining at magnitude -3.8.

Earth

N/A.

Mars

Rises at 11:49 p.m. on the 1st and about 9:54 p.m. by month's end. Mars is stationary on the 16th. As the month progresses, Mars will rise earlier in the late evening sky. Mars is best viewed in the east in the early morning after midnight. Mars is in the constellation of Scorpius this month shining at magnitude -1.0.

Jupiter

Sets at 5:54 a.m. on the 1st and about 3:51 a.m. by month's end. Begin your observing of Jupiter in the early evening. Jupiter reached opposition last month, but viewing still remains quite good as visibility has improved. Jupiter is in the constellation of Leo shining at magnitude -2.5.

Saturn

Rises at 12:32 a.m. on the 1st and about 10:25 p.m. by month's end. Saturn is stationary on the 25th. Even though Saturn returns to the evening sky by the end of the month, the best time to spot Saturn will be after midnight. Saturn is in the constellation of Ophiuchus shining at magnitude 0.3.

Uranus

Is in conjunction with the Sun on the 9th and is lost in the evening twilight glow. Uranus sets at 7:58 p.m. on the 1st. After conjunction, Uranus returns to the morning sky but is still lost in the morning twilight glow. Uranus rises about 5:12 a.m. by month's end. Uranus may be visible by the last week of the month but will still be very low to the eastern horizon to be spotted easily. Uranus is in the constellation of Pisces shining at magnitude 5.9.

Neptune

Rises at 5:33 a.m. on the 1st and about 3:38 a.m. by month's end. Neptune's visibility has improved since last month as it continues to rise earlier in the pre-dawn sky. Look to the east to spot Neptune in the early morning before sunrise. Neptune is in the constellation of Aquarius shining at magnitude 7.9.

Dwarf Planets

Ceres

Is still relatively close to the Sun this month and will be lost in the early morning twilight for all of April. Ceres moves from the constellation of Aquarius into Cetus this month.

Pluto

Rises at 2:43 a.m. on the 1st and about 12:45 a.m. by month's end. Pluto is stationary on the 18th. Look to the southeast to spot Pluto before sunrise. Pluto is in the constellation of Sagittarius shining at magnitude 14.2.

As always, good luck at spotting Neptune, Ceres and Pluto, a large telescope and dark skies will be needed.

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Astronomical Events

Meteor Showers

  • The Lyrids [meteor shower] are typically visible between April 16 and 25. Maximum occurs during April 21-22. Although the maximum rate is about 10, there have been instances during the last 200 years when rates were near or over 100 per hour. The average magnitude of the meteors is near 2.4 and the speed is described as rapid. About 15% of the meteors leave persistent trains.

    Unfortunately, the full Moon obstructs all but the brightest of the Lyrids this year. The best time to observe the Lyrids this year will be just before dawn on the 22nd.

  • "You might have just as much luck the morning of April 12. That’s when the minor Virginid shower peaks. With the Moon setting just after midnight, observers at dark sites could see up to five meteors per hour coming from near Spica." Astronomy Magazine, April 2016, p. 37.

    For more information about Meteor Showers, visit Gary Kronk's Meteor Showers Online web page.

    Meteor Scatter (or Meteor burst communications) - "is a radio propagation mode that exploits the ionized trails of meteors during atmospheric entry to establish brief communications paths between radio stations up to 2,250 kilometres (1,400 mi) apart." Tune your shortwave or your HF amateur radio to 54.310 MHz SSB and see if you can hear any pings.

  • Comets

  • Comet Ikeya-Murikami (P/2010 V1) passes through the constellation of Leo this month shining around 10th magnitude. On the evenings of the 24th and 25th, Comet Ikeya-Murikami passes within 0.5° of 1st magnitude Regulus (the heart of the Lion).

  • For information, orbital elements and ephemerides on observable comets, visit the Observable Comets page from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

    For more information about Comets, visit Gary Kronk's Cometography.com webpage.

  • Eclipses

    Solar Eclipses

  • No solar eclipse activity this month.

    Lunar Eclipses

  • No lunar eclipse activity this month.
  • Observational Opportunities

  • Jupiter is still at near its best this year, visible almost all night long.
  • Look for Jupiter, Mars, Saturn, Pluto, and Neptune before sunrise, although Neptune and Pluto are not visible with the naked eye.
  • Asteroids

    (From west to east)
    Ocultations

    IOTA Logo

  • Information on various occultations can be found by clicking the IOTA logo.
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    Subscriber Gallery

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    Member Meteor Sightings

    This is a new section where I will post meteor, fireball, etc sightings that have been published on the American Meteor Society's web site. I want to make this an active section of the web pages and newsletter and would like to publish the links to member sightings. If you have any published sightings, please provide me with the links and I will post them here for all to enjoy.

    Event ID Date/Time Location Observer Link
    3587-2015 2015-11-22 17:38 MST CO Kevin S 3587aw
    3829-2015 2015-12-05 18:06 MST Highlands Ranch, CO Burness A 3829a
    3871-2015 2015-11-13 01:55 MST CO Charles N 3871a

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    Planetary/Lunar Exploration Missions

    (Excerpts from recent JPL mission updates)
    Cassini - March 28, 2016
    Dark Moons, Dark Rings

    Full-Res: PIA18360

    "When taking images in directions opposite from the sun, most objects appear dark. Surprisingly, however, some of Saturn's rings get brighter.

    Parts of Saturn's main rings appear dark in backlit views, particularly the dense B ring (as can been seen in A Splendor Seldom Seen). However, some rings are comparatively tenuous and made up of dust particles that tend to scatter light in roughly the original direction it was traveling. This is called "forward scattering." Because of forward scattering, rings like the F ring, which encircles the outer edge of the main rings, appear to glow brightly at this large viewing angle.

    Two moons hover above the rings from this perspective -- Enceladus (313 miles or 504 kilometers across), at left, and Janus (111 miles or 179 kilometers across), at right.

    This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 0.5 degrees below the ring plane. The image was taken in visible light with the Cassini spacecraft narrow-angle camera on Dec. 21, 2015.

    The view was acquired at a distance of approximately 750,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers) from Saturn and at a Sun-Saturn-spacecraft, or phase, angle of 136 degrees. Janus' brightness was enhanced by a factor of two to improve its visibility in this image."

    The Cassini-Huygens mission is a cooperative project of NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the mission for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington.

    Raw images are available at http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov/photos/raw/index.cfm.

    More information about Cassini is available at the following sites:
    http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov Check out the new updated website as of April 22, 2016.

    http://www.nasa.gov/cassini

    Cassini Imaging Team - Archives from Dec. 2015 and earlier.

    New Horizons - March 03, 2016
    Methane Snow on Pluto's Peaks

    Full Image

    "A chain of snow-capped mountains stretches across the dark expanse on Pluto informally named Cthulhu Regio.

    Cthulhu (pronounced "k-thu-lu") extends nearly halfway around Pluto's equator, starting to the west of the great nitrogen ice plains informally named Sputnik Planum (see color image of Pluto below). Cthulhu measures approximately 1,850 miles (3,000 kilometers) long and 450 miles (750 kilometers) wide, and with an area of more than 700,000 square miles (1.8 million square kilometers) it's a little larger than Alaska.

    Cthulhu's appearance is characterized by a dark surface, which scientists think is due to it being covered by a layer of dark tholins - complex molecules that form when methane is exposed to sunlight. Cthulhu's geology exhibits a wide variety of landscapes, from mountainous, to smooth, to heavily cratered and fractured."


    It's always Pluto Time somewhere, and NASA wants to see your view.

    What is Pluto?

    On Video: How Do We Get to Pluto? Practice, Practice, Practice

    Part I: The Encounter Begins
        - Small mp4 (38 MB, 640x360)
        - Large mp4 (116 MB, 1280x720)

    Part II: Passing Pluto
        - Small mp4 (34 MB, 640x360)
        - Large mp4 (102 MB, 1280x720)"

    LORRI Looks Back

    New Horizons gallery

    Find New Horizons in the iTunes App Store here.

    For more information on the New Horizons mission - the first mission to the ninth planet - visit the New Horizons home page.

    Dawn - March 22, 2016
    Bright Spots and Color Differences Revealed on Ceres

    Full Image

    "Scientists from NASA's Dawn mission unveiled new images from the spacecraft's lowest orbit at Ceres, including highly anticipated views of Occator Crater, at the 47th annual Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in The Woodlands, Texas, on Tuesday.

    Occator Crater, measuring 57 miles (92 kilometers) across and 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) deep, contains the brightest area on Ceres, the dwarf planet that Dawn has explored since early 2015. The latest images, taken from 240 miles (385 kilometers) above the surface of Ceres, reveal a dome in a smooth-walled pit in the bright center of the crater. Numerous linear features and fractures crisscross the top and flanks of this dome. Prominent fractures also surround the dome and run through smaller, bright regions found within the crater."

    Take a tour of weird Ceres!

    "Visit a 2-mile-deep crater and a 4-mile-tall mountain in the video narrated by mission director Marc Rayman. Get your red/blue glasses ready for the finale - a global view of the dwarf planet in 3D."

    Ceres Topographic Globe Animation

    Ion propulsion isn't something found only in science fiction. Ion engines are a real deal and drive NASA's Dawn spacecraft, en route to dwarf planet Ceres. Big things do come in small packages.

    Dawn's Virtual Flight over Vesta

    Ceres Fly By

    A gallery of images can be found online.

    For more information on the Dawn mission, visit the Dawn home page.

    MESSENGER - March 07, 2016
    MESSENGER Data May Reveal the Remains of Mercury's Oldest Crust

    Video Animation

    "Mercury's surface is unusually dark, an observation that until recently had planetary scientists mystified. But in a new study published today in Nature Geoscience, a team of researchers provides evidence that the darkening agent is carbon, a finding that offers important clues to the nature of the planet's original crust.

    Patrick Peplowski, a research scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland, and lead author of the paper, explains that earlier measurements of the chemistry of Mercury's surface only added to this mystery because they indicated that Mercury's surface has low abundances of iron and titanium, important constituents of the most common darkening agents on the Moon and other silicate bodies.

    "A process of elimination led prior researchers to suggest that carbon may be the unidentified darkening agent, but we lacked proof," he said. "Spectral modeling of MESSENGER color imaging data suggested that weight-percent levels of carbon, likely in the form of graphite, would be required to darken Mercury's surface sufficiently. This level is unusually high, given that carbon is found at typical concentrations of only ~100 parts per million on the Moon, Earth and Mars."

    Whatever the darkening agent, the scientists surmised that it was most concentrated in Mercury's low-reflectance material (LRM), which generally appears as deposits excavated from depth by impact cratering. The researchers examined MESSENGER Neutron Spectrometer measurements of LRM and surrounding materials, and they found that increases in low-energy neutrons are spatially correlated with LRM. Such increases require that the LRM have higher concentrations of an element that is inefficient at absorbing neutrons. Carbon is the only darkening agent suggested for Mercury that is also an inefficient neutron absorber."

    The MESSENGER app is available for download from iTunes.

    For more information on the MESSENGER mission, visit the MESSENGER home page.

    Pack Your Backpack

    Calling all explorers! Tour JPL with our new Virtual Field Trip site. Stops include Mission Control and the Rover Lab. Your guided tour starts when you select a "face" that will be yours throughout the visit. Cool space images and souvenirs are all included in your visit.

    Past, Present, Future and Proposed JPL Missions - http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/missions

    Visit JPL's mission pages for current status.

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    Mars Missions

    Be A Martian

    Mars website mobile version is here!

    Mars on the Go! NASA Be A Martian Mobile App
    If you want the latest news as it happens, try our Be A Martian app.
    Download on Mobile Devices
    Android | iPhone | Windows Phone
    JMARS

    JMARS is an acronym that stands for Java Mission-planning and Analysis for Remote Sensing. It is a geospatial information system (GIS) developed by ASU's Mars Space Flight Facility to provide mission planning and data-analysis tools to NASA's orbiters, instrument team members, students of all ages, and the general public.

    Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics

    "The Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder (CU) began in 1948, a decade before NASA. We are the world's only research institute to have sent instruments to all eight planets and Pluto. LASP is an affiliate of CU-Boulder AeroSpace Ventures, a collaboration among aerospace-related departments, institutes, centers, government labs, and industry partners."

    MAVEN - March 09, 2016
    Close Comet Flyby Threw Mars' Magnetic Field Into Chaos

    "Just weeks before the historic encounter of comet C/2013 A1 (Siding Spring) with Mars in October 2014, the MAVEN spacecraft entered orbit around the Red Planet. To protect sensitive equipment aboard MAVEN from possible harm, some instruments were turned off during the flyby; the same was done for other Mars orbiters. But a few instruments, including MAVEN's magnetometer, remained on, conducting observations from a front-row seat during the comet's remarkably close flyby.

    The one-of-a-kind opportunity gave scientists an intimate view of the havoc that the comet's passing wreaked on the magnetic environment, or magnetosphere, around Mars. The effect was temporary but profound.

    "Comet Siding Spring plunged the magnetic field around Mars into chaos," said Jared Espley, a MAVEN science team member at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "We think the encounter blew away part of Mars' upper atmosphere, much like a strong solar storm would."

    Unlike Earth, Mars isn't shielded by a strong magnetosphere generated within the planet. The atmosphere of Mars offers some protection, however, by redirecting the solar wind around the planet, like a rock diverting the flow of water in a creek. This happens because at very high altitudes Mars' atmosphere is made up of plasma layer of electrically charged particles and gas molecules. Charged particles in the solar wind interact with this plasma, and the mingling and moving around of all these charges produces currents. Just like currents in simple electrical circuits, these moving charges induce a magnetic field, which, in Mars' case, is quite weak."

    Visit LASP and MAVEN for more information.

    Mars Science Laboratory - Curiosity - March 28, 2016

    Curiosity Mission Updates
    Sols 1296-1297: Driving Across Rough Terrain

    Image 1            Image 2
    Image 1            Image 2

    "MSL drove about 17 meters on Sol 1294, continuing over rough terrain. Some of the images that have been recently received show delicate features (Image 1) that have apparently been formed by windblown sand abrasion. The path ahead is over more rough terrain (Image 2), but it looks like we will be able to drive ~50 meters on Sol 1296. Before driving, ChemCam and Mastcam will observe bedrock targets "Bloedkoppie," "Blaubeker" and "Blaubock," and Mastcam will acquire mosaics of ridges and outcrops of the Stimson sandstone. Planning is restricted, so we are planning untargeted remote sensing observations on Sol 1297: The RMI will acquire a mosaic of a distant target toward the northwest, Mastcam will measure the amount of dust in the atmosphere by imaging the Sun, and Navcam will search for dust devils. Finally, early on Sol 1298, the Left Mastcam will acquire another mosaic of the Stimson sandstone on the Naukluft Plateau."

    To follow the Mars Curiosity rover and NASA on Foursquare, visit: http://www.foursquare.com/MarsCuriosity and http://www.foursquare.com/NASA

    For information about NASA's partnership with Foursquare, visit:http://www.nasa.gov/connect/foursquare.html.

      Mars Rover Landing - Free for the Xbox (requires Kinect)

      Visit the Mars Science Laboratory page.

    Mars Exploration Rover Mission (Spirit and Opportunity) - March 22, 2016

    SPIRIT UPDATE: Spirit Remains Silent at Troy - sols 2621-2627, May 18-24, 2011:

    "More than 1,300 commands were radiated to Spirit as part of the recovery effort in an attempt to elicit a response from the rover. No communication has been received from Spirit since Sol 2210 (March 22, 2010). The project concluded the Spirit recovery efforts on May 25, 2011. The remaining, pre-sequenced ultra-high frequency (UHF) relay passes scheduled for Spirit on board the Odyssey orbiter will complete on June 8, 2011.

    Total odometry is unchanged at 7,730.50 meters (4.80 miles)."

    OPPORTUNITY UPDATE: Opportunity Moves to New Locations to the Southwest - sols 4317-4323, March 16, 2016-March 22, 2016: :

    "Opportunity is exploring the south side of 'Marathon Valley' located on the rim of Endeavour crater. The rover is up on the slopes of 'Knudsen Ridge.'

    The objective is to identify specific outcrops for evidence of clay minerals. Opportunity recently backed down off of some of the steepest slopes of the mission and has begun the move to new locations to the southwest. Supporting Navigation Camera (Navcam) and Panoramic Camera (Pancam) images were collected on Sols 4318 and 4319 (March 17 and March 18, 2016), to identify future targets and drive paths.

    On Sol 4320 (March 19, 2016), the rover drove about 31 feet (9.5 meters) to the southwest towards areas of putative phyllosilicate clays. Again, supporting Navcam and Pancam panoramas were collected after the drive to set up for the next drive. On Sol 4323 (March 22, 2016), Opportunity headed due west about 41 feet (12.5 meters). An atmospheric argon measurement with the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS) was sequenced for that evening.

    As of Sol 4323 (March 22, 2016), the solar array energy production was 576 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.423 and an improved solar array dust factor of 0.764.

    Total odometry is 26.53 miles (42.69 kilometers), more than a marathon."

    Landing sites

    Visit the Mars Exploration Rover page.

    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission - March 21, 2016
    New Gravity Map Gives Best View Yet Inside Mars

    "A new map of Mars' gravity made with three NASA spacecraft is the most detailed to date, providing a revealing glimpse into the hidden interior of the Red Planet.

    "Gravity maps allow us to see inside a planet, just as a doctor uses an X-ray to see inside a patient," said Antonio Genova of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Cambridge, Massachusetts. "The new gravity map will be helpful for future Mars exploration, because better knowledge of the planet's gravity anomalies helps mission controllers insert spacecraft more precisely into orbit about Mars. Furthermore, the improved resolution of our gravity map will help us understand the still-mysterious formation of specific regions of the planet." Genova, who is affiliated with MIT but is located at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, is the lead author of a paper on this research published online March 5 in the journal Icarus."

    Simulated Flyover of Mars Canyon Map

    This animation simulates a flyover of a portion of a Martian canyon detailed in a geological map produced by the U.S. Geological Survey and based on observations by the HiRISE camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. The landforms include a series of hills called Candor Colles.

    MARS RECONNAISSANCE ORBITER HIRISE IMAGES
    All of the HiRISE images are archived here.

    More information about the MRO mission is available online.

    Mars Odyssey Orbiter - March 30, 2016
    'Mixed Reality' Technology Brings Mars to Earth

    "What might it look like if you were walking around on Mars? A group of researchers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, has been working on methods to take this question from the realm of imagination to the mind-bending domain of mixed reality.

    As a result, NASA and Microsoft have teamed up to offer the public a guided tour of an area of Mars with astronaut Buzz Aldrin this summer in "Destination: Mars," an interactive exhibit using the Microsoft HoloLens mixed reality headset. "Mixed reality" means that virtual elements are merged with the user's actual environment, creating a world in which real and virtual objects can interact.

    The "Destination: Mars" exhibit will open at NASA's Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida this summer. Guests will "visit" several sites on Mars, reconstructed using real imagery from NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover, which has been exploring the Red Planet since August 2012. Buzz Aldrin, an Apollo 11 astronaut who walked on the moon in 1969, will serve as "holographic tour guide" on the journey. Curiosity Mars rover driver Erisa Hines of JPL will also appear holographically, leading participants to places on Mars where scientists have made exciting discoveries and explaining what we have learned about the planet."

    See the Mars As Art Gallery

    Dulles Airport Full News Release

    Global Martian Map

    "A simulated fly-through using the newly assembled imagery is available online.

    The fly-through plus tools for wandering across and zooming into the large image are at THEMIS."

    Daily Mars Odyssey THEMIS Images
    Can be found at the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) website.

    The Odyssey data are available through a new online access system established by the Planetary Data System.

    Visit the Mars Odyssey Mission page.

    Journey to Mars - March 09, 2016
    InSight - Revealing the Heart of Mars
    NASA Targets May 2018 Launch of Mars InSight Mission

    "NASA's Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) mission to study the deep interior of Mars is targeting a new launch window that begins May 5, 2018, with a Mars landing scheduled for Nov. 26, 2018.

    InSight's primary goal is to help us understand how rocky planets -- including Earth -- formed and evolved. The spacecraft had been on track to launch this month until a vacuum leak in its prime science instrument prompted NASA in December to suspend preparations for launch.

    InSight project managers recently briefed officials at NASA and France's space agency, Centre National d'Etudes Spatiales (CNES), on a path forward; the proposed plan to redesign the science instrument was accepted in support of a 2018 launch.

    "The science goals of InSight are compelling, and the NASA and CNES plans to overcome the technical challenges are sound," said John Grunsfeld, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "The quest to understand the interior of Mars has been a longstanding goal of planetary scientists for decades. We're excited to be back on the path for a launch, now in 2018."

    NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, will redesign, build and conduct qualifications of the new vacuum enclosure for the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), the component that failed in December. CNES will lead instrument level integration and test activities, allowing the InSight Project to take advantage of each organization's proven strengths. The two agencies have worked closely together to establish a project schedule that accommodates these plans, and scheduled interim reviews over the next six months to assess technical progress and continued feasibility."

    Learn more about the InSight Mission.

    Mars Missions Status

    New Mars missions are being planned to include several new rover and sample collection missions. Check out the Mars Missions web page and the Mars Exploration page.

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    Astronomy Links and Other Space News

    (If you have a link you would like to recommend to our readers, please feel free to submit it.)

    Green Laser

    Colorado Astronomy Links

    Radio Astronomy Links

    Other Astronomy Links

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    Astronomical Lexicon

    Definitions of astronomical terms. Many of the astronomical terms used in this newsletter are defined here.

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    UT Logo

    Read the Universe Today Newsletter by clicking on the logo.

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    Acknowledgments and References

    Much of the information in this newsletter is from Astronomy® Magazine (Kalmbach Publishing), JPL mission status reports, the Internet, "Meteor Showers - A descriptive Catalog" by Gary W. Kronk, Sky & Telescope web pages, and other astronomical sources that I have stashed on my bookshelves.

    The author will accept any suggestions, constructive criticisms, and corrections. Please feel free to send me any new links or articles to share as well. I will try to accommodate any reasonable requests. Please feel free to send questions, comments, criticisms, or donations to the email address listed below. Enjoy!

    More Acknowledgements and References

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