Astronomy News for the Month of October 2015


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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, 29436 and 40764 (linked to the RMRL 449.875 Eldorado Mountain repeater). 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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Special Notice to Denver, CO residents and visitors to the area:

The Plains Conservation Center in Aurora hosts Full Moon Walks every month weather permitting on or near the night of the full Moon. Visit The Plains Conservation Center for more information and directions.

S&S Optika hosts Backyard Star Parties in Littleton several times a month, weather permitting. Come down and enjoy the fun and check out their fine selection of optical instruments.


 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.
(Click on the logo to link to the JPL SSA homepage.)


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.


On the evening of June 17, 1991, Venus gleamed above Jupiter while fainter Mars shone to their left.
The same three planets converge in October's morning sky. (Astronomy Magazine, October 2015, p. 36)
Credit: Alan Dyer


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


15

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 October

Again, begin your autumn viewing before dawn when Venus, Mars and Jupiter are visible. Venus climbs to its highest point above the eastern horizon by the end of the month still shining brightly. Evening viewers, start in the west and spot Saturn in the early evening soon after sunset. Neptune and Pluto can be spotted once the skies get dark to the south. Uranus is at its best this month as it reaches opposition. The Orionids meteor shower peaks this month though predictions for this year are for weaker than normal rates.

Mercury

Is stationary on the 8th. Mercury is at greatest western elongation (18° above the eastern horizon) on the 15th. Mercury rises at 6:51 a.m. on the 1st and about 6:36 a.m. by month's end. Mercury is very low on the eastern horizon and will be difficult to spot without binoculars or a small telescope. Mercury lies about 8° above the western horizon for northern hemisphere observers just 45 minutes before sunrise. Mercury is in the constellation of Virgo shining at magnitude -0.5 on the 15th.

Venus

Rises at 3:25 a.m. on the 1st and about 3:36 a.m. by month's end. Venus reached greatest western elongation (46° above the eastern horizon) on the 26th. Look for Venus in the early morning skies before sunrise. Venus is still shining near its brightest. See if you can still see Venus after the Sun rises in the early morning. Venus is in the constellation of Leo shining at magnitude -4.6 on the 15th.

Earth

N/A.

Mars

Rises at 4:05 a.m. on the 1st and about 3:39 a.m. by month's end. Mars is visible to the east in the morning before dawn. Mars is in the constellation of Leo this month shining at magnitude 1.8.

Jupiter

Rises at 4:41 a.m. on the 1st and about 3:08 a.m. by month's end. Jupiter is visible in the early morning sky before sunrise. Look for Jupiter in the east before dawn. Jupiter is in the constellation of Leo shining at magnitude -1.8.

Saturn

Sets at 9:14 p.m. on the 1st and about 7:22 p.m. by month's end. Saturn is well placed for early evening viewing, appearing low to the west after the Sun sets. Saturn moves from the constellation of Libra into Scorpius shining at magnitude 0.6.

Uranus

Is at opposition on the 11th, rising as the Sun sets. Uranus rises at 7:03 p.m. on the 1st and about 4:59 p.m. by month's end. Uranus is at its best for the year. Uranus is visible almost all night long. Uranus is in the constellation of Pisces shining at magnitude 5.7.

Neptune

Rises at 5:25 p.m. on the 1st and about 3:22 p.m. by month's end. Neptune is fairly well above the eastern horizon once the skies get dark enough to spot. Neptune is in the constellation of Aquarius shining at magnitude 7.8.

Dwarf Planets

Ceres

Rises at 5:14 p.m. on the 1st and about 2:24 p.m. by month's end. Ceres will be difficult to spot for those living in the more northerly latitudes. Ceres is in the lower part of the constellation of Sagittarius shining at magnitude 8.9.

Pluto

Sets at 12:05 a.m. on the 1st and about 10:01 p.m. by month's end. Look for Pluto to the southwest just above the handle of the teapot asterism in the late evening. 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 Draconids - This shower is associated with periodic comet Giacobini-Zinner. The duration may extend from October 6 to 10, though the point of maximum is very sharply defined within a 4-hour interval on October 9, but the annual maximum hourly rates are not consistent. The radiant rarely produces any recognizable shower except during years especially close to the parent comet's perihelion passage. The meteors are slow and tend to be relatively faint. They are generally yellow.

  • The Orionids - The duration of this meteor shower extends from October 15 to 29, with maximum occurring on (the morning of) October 21. The maximum hourly rate is usually about 20 and the meteors are described as fast.

  • The Southern Taurids - This meteor shower is active from September 10 to November 20. Maximum occurs on the morning of October 10. Maximum hourly rate is 5 meteors per hour. The meteors are described as bright and move more slowly than typical meteors, making them prime subjects for imaging and viewing.

    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 55.25 MHz SSB and see if you can hear any pings.

  • Comets

  • Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko passes through the constellation of Leo this month. Comet 67P may brighten to magnitude 10 if we're lucky and may be spotted under dark skies with a 4 inch telescope; however, it may not brighten much more than 12th magnitude and would require at least an 8 inch telescope to spot.

  • 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

  • Look for Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Mercury before sunrise.
  • Observe Saturn in the evening sky.
  • Try to spot Neptune and Uranus later in the evening.
  • Enjoy the Orionid meteors later in the month.
  • Asteroids

    (From west to east)
    Ocultations

    IOTA Logo

  • Information on various occultations can be found by clicking the IOTA logo.
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    Planetary/Lunar Exploration Missions

    (Excerpts from recent JPL mission updates)
    Cassini - September 28, 2015
    Veiled Worlds

    Full-Res: PIA18335

    "Titan and Saturn have few things in common, but a hazy, clouded appearance is one feature they share. Although their faces seem similar in images like this, appearances can be misleading.

    Both Saturn and Titan have thick atmospheres, in a relative sense. But Saturn is a gas giant, covered in clouds, with no solid surface to speak of. Titan's atmosphere is a blanket of dense haze -- a photochemical smog -- surrounding an icy, solid body. Even their atmospheric compositions are different; Saturn is mostly hydrogen and helium with clouds of water, ammonia and ammonium hydrosulfide. Titan's atmosphere is primarily nitrogen and methane, with occasional methane clouds.

    This view looks toward Saturn from the unilluminated side of the rings, 0.3 degrees below the ring plane. The image was taken in visible green light with the Cassini spacecraft wide-angle camera on May 22, 2015.

    The view was obtained at a distance of approximately 1.4 million miles (2.2 million kilometers) from Saturn. Image scale is 81 miles (130 kilometers) per pixel."

    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.

    More information about Cassini is available at the following sites:
    http://www.nasa.gov/cassini
    http://saturn.jpl.nasa.gov

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

    Cassini Imaging Team

    For the latest mission status reports, visit Cassini Mission Status web page. The speed and location of the spacecraft along its flight path can be viewed on the Present Position webpage.

    New Horizons - October 1, 2015
    Pluto's Big Moon Charon Reveals a Colorful and Violent History

    "NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has returned the best color and the highest resolution images yet of Pluto's largest moon, Charon - and these pictures show a surprisingly complex and violent history.

    At half the diameter of Pluto, Charon is the largest satellite relative to its planet in the solar system. Many New Horizons scientists expected Charon to be a monotonous, crater-battered world; instead, they're finding a landscape covered with mountains, canyons, landslides, surface-color variations and more.

    "We thought the probability of seeing such interesting features on this satellite of a world at the far edge of our solar system was low," said Ross Beyer, an affiliate of the New Horizons Geology, Geophysics and Imaging (GGI) team from the SETI Institute and NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, "but I couldn't be more delighted with what we see!"

    High-resolution images of the Pluto-facing hemisphere of Charon, taken by New Horizons as the spacecraft sped through the Pluto system on July 14, and transmitted to Earth on Sept. 21, reveal details of a belt of fractures and canyons just north of the moon's equator. This great canyon system stretches across the entire face of Charon, more than a thousand miles, and probably around onto Charon's far side. Four times as long as the Grand Canyon, and twice as deep in places, these faults and canyons indicate a titanic geological upheaval in Charon's past."


    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 - September 30, 2015
    Dawn Team Shares New Maps and Insights about Ceres

    Full image and caption

    "Mysteries and insights about Ceres are being discussed this week at the European Planetary Science Conference in Nantes, France. NASA's Dawn spacecraft is providing scientists with tantalizing views and other data about the intriguing dwarf planet that they continue to analyze.

    "Ceres continues to amaze, yet puzzle us, as we examine our multitude of images, spectra and now energetic particle bursts," said Chris Russell, Dawn principal investigator at the University of California, Los Angeles.

    A new color-coded topographic map shows more than a dozen recently approved names for features on Ceres, all eponymous for agricultural spirits, deities and festivals from cultures around the world. These include Jaja, after the Abkhazian harvest goddess, and Ernutet, after the cobra-headed Egyptian harvest goddess. A 12-mile (20-kilometer) diameter mountain near Ceres' north pole is now called Ysolo Mons, for an Albanian festival that marks the first day of the eggplant harvest.

    Another new Ceres map, in false color, enhances compositional differences present on the surface. The variations are more subtle than on Vesta, Dawn's previous port of call. Color-coded topographic images of Occator (oh-KAH-tor) crater, home of Ceres' brightest spots, and a puzzling, cone-shaped 4-mile-high (6-kilometer-high) mountain, are also available. Scientists are still trying to identify processes that could produce these and other unique Cerean phenomena."

    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 - August 3, 2015
    MESSENGER Team Celebrates 11th Anniversary of Launch

    "Eleven years ago today -- at 2:15:56 am EDT -- NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft was launched aboard a Boeing Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, and after more than 6 1/2 years in transit it became the first spacecraft to orbit the innermost planet in our solar system.

    The spacecraft is no more; on April 30 it impacted the surface of Mercury, as expected. But the team of scientists and engineers who built and operated the probe continues to analyze the many terabytes of data acquired.

    "MESSENGER the spacecraft may be no more, but the information it provided about Mercury continues to expand what we know about the planet and the origin of our solar system," said James Green, Director of NASA's Planetary Science Division. "The spacecraft already far exceeded our expectations, and we look forward to more fabulous results that will come from the analysis of the archived data."

    In a video released today, "Making Mercury Whole," MESSENGER team members recount some highlights of the mission, originally planned to orbit Mercury for only one year, but ultimately orbiting the planet for more than four years."

    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 - September 22, 2015
    MAVEN Celebrates One Year at Mars

    "NASA's MAVEN spacecraft has been in orbit around Mars for one Earth year. MAVEN was launched to Mars on Nov. 18, 2013 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and successfully entered Mars' orbit on Sept. 21, 2014.

    "The success of the mission so far is a direct result of the incredibly hard work of everybody who is working and has worked on MAVEN. This one year at Mars reflects the tremendous efforts over the preceding dozen years," said Bruce Jakosky, MAVEN's principal investigator from the University of Colorado's Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics in Boulder.

    Some of the highlights of the first action-packed year include:

    • Performing the orbit insertion maneuver
    • Surviving the encounter with Comet Siding Spring
    • Commissioning the spacecraft
    • Carrying out ten months of observations during MAVEN's primary mission
    • Carrying out four deep-dip campaigns

    "The team has done a fantastic job of adapting to spacecraft operations in the Martian environment," said Richard Burns, MAVEN project manager at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. "All systems on MAVEN remain in excellent working condition."

    MAVEN began its primary science mission on Nov. 16, 2014, and is the first spacecraft dedicated to understanding Mars' upper atmosphere. The goal of the mission is to determine the role that loss of atmospheric gas to space played in changing the Martian climate through time. MAVEN is studying the entire region from the top of the upper atmosphere all the way down to the lower atmosphere so that the connections between these regions can be understood."

    Visit LASP and MAVEN for more information.

    Mars Science Laboratory - Curiosity - September 11, 2015

    Mars Panorama from Curiosity Shows Petrified Sand Dunes
    Full interactive image

    "The next rock target to be drilled by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover may be sandstone that was deposited by wind, unlike previous rock targets deposited by water.

    Some of the dark sandstone in an area being explored by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover shows texture and inclined bedding structures characteristic of deposits that formed as sand dunes, then were cemented into rock.

    A panorama from Curiosity's Mast Camera (Mastcam) that includes a ridge made of this sandstone is online at:

    http://mars.nasa.gov/msl/multimedia/images/?ImageID=7468

    This sandstone outcrop -- part of a geological layer that Curiosity's science team calls the Stimson unit -- has a structure called crossbedding on a large scale that the team has interpreted as deposits of sand dunes formed by wind. Similar-looking petrified sand dunes are common in the U.S. Southwest. Geometry and orientation of the crossbedding give information about the directions of the winds that produced the dunes.

    The Stimson unit overlies a layer of mudstone that was deposited in a lake environment. Curiosity has been examining successively higher and younger layers of Mount Sharp, starting with the mudstone at the mountain's base, for evidence about changes in the area's ancient environment.

    The dozens of individual Mastcam images combined into this panorama were taken on Aug. 27, 2015. Curiosity has driven about 103 yards (94 meters) in the subsequent two weeks, generally southward. Outcrops of the Stimson unit sandstone are still accessible to the rover, and researchers plan to use the rover to collect and analyze a drilled sample of Stimson unit sandstone this month."

    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) - September 22, 2015

    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)."

    OPPURTUNITY UPDATE: Rover's Current Location Makes Communications a Challenge - sols 4140-4146, September 16, 2015-September 22, 2015: :

    "Opportunity is within 'Marathon Valley' on the west rim of Endeavour Crater conducting a walk-about survey for clay minerals.

    The rover's current location within Marathon Valley with its high walls to the north and west presents a challenge for low-elevation Ultra-High-Frequency (UHF) relay passes to the west. On Sol 4141 (Sept. 17, 2015), no data were received as the orbiter's flight path was below the elevation on the valley ridgeline. On that sol, the rover did successfully perform an in-situ science campaign on the surface target, 'Pvt. George Gibson' that included a Microscopic Imager (MI) mosaic and the placement of the Alpha Particle X-ray Spectrometer (APXS). Some of those data were received on subsequent sols. On Sol 4144 (Sept. 20, 2015), another MI mosaic was taken and the robotic armed stowed for a future drive. Once again, the high ridgeline of the valley obscured the low-elevation pass on Sol 4145 (Sept. 21, 2015), and little data were received.

    On Sol 4146 (Sept. 22, 2015), Opportunity was configured from RAM-only operation to Flash as a planned test of the non-volatile storage system. The drive on that sol completed successfully, but an amnesia event with Flash prevented a return of drive-related data on that sol. Those data are expected to be received on subsequent sols. The plan forward is to continue to operate in Flash for one week in order to gain information and statistics on the state of the Flash storage system.

    As of Sol 4146 (Sept. 22, 2015), the solar array energy production was 335 watt-hours with an atmospheric opacity (Tau) of 0.539 and a solar array dust factor of 0.569.

    Total odometry is (26.43 miles) 42.53 kilometers, more than a marathon."

    Landing sites

    Visit the Mars Exploration Rover page.

    Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter Mission - September 28, 2015
    NASA Confirms Evidence That Liquid Water Flows on Today's Mars

    Full image and caption

    "New findings from NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) provide the strongest evidence yet that liquid water flows intermittently on present-day Mars.

    Using an imaging spectrometer on MRO, researchers detected signatures of hydrated minerals on slopes where mysterious streaks are seen on the Red Planet. These darkish streaks appear to ebb and flow over time. They darken and appear to flow down steep slopes during warm seasons, and then fade in cooler seasons. They appear in several locations on Mars when temperatures are above minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius), and disappear at colder times.

    "Our quest on Mars has been to 'follow the water,' in our search for life in the universe, and now we have convincing science that validates what we've long suspected," said John Grunsfeld, astronaut and associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington. "This is a significant development, as it appears to confirm that water -- albeit briny -- is flowing today on the surface of Mars."

    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 - September 2, 2015
    What Happened to Early Mars' Atmosphere? New Study Eliminates One Theory

    Rocks Here Sequester Some of Mars' Early Atmosphere
    This view combines information from two instruments on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter to map color-coded composition over the shape of the ground in a small portion of the Nili Fossae plains region of Mars' northern hemisphere.
    Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/JHUAPL/Univ. of Arizona

    "Scientists may be closer to solving the mystery of how Mars changed from a world with surface water billions of years ago to the arid Red Planet of today.

    A new analysis of the largest known deposit of carbonate minerals on Mars suggests that the original Martian atmosphere may have already lost most of its carbon dioxide by the era of valley network formation.

    "The biggest carbonate deposit on Mars has, at most, twice as much carbon in it as the current Mars atmosphere," said Bethany Ehlmann of the California Institute of Technology and NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, both in Pasadena. "Even if you combined all known carbon reservoirs together, it is still nowhere near enough to sequester the thick atmosphere that has been proposed for the time when there were rivers flowing on the Martian surface."

    Carbon dioxide makes up most of the Martian atmosphere. That gas can be pulled out of the air and sequestered or pulled into the ground by chemical reactions with rocks to form carbonate minerals. Years before the series of successful Mars missions, many scientists expected to find large Martian deposits of carbonates holding much of the carbon from the planet's original atmosphere. Instead, these missions have found low concentrations of carbonate distributed widely, and only a few concentrated deposits. By far the largest known carbonate-rich deposit on Mars covers an area at least the size of Delaware, and maybe as large as Arizona, in a region called Nili Fossae."

    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 - August 18, 2015
    InSight - Revealing the Heart of Mars
    Send Your Name to Mars on NASA's Next Red Planet Mission

    "Mars enthusiasts around the world can participate in NASA's journey to Mars by adding their names to a silicon microchip headed to the Red Planet aboard NASA's InSight Mars lander, scheduled to launch next year.

    Our next step in the journey to Mars is another fantastic mission to the surface," said Jim Green, director of planetary science at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "By participating in this opportunity to send your name aboard InSight to the Red Planet, you're showing that you're part of that journey and the future of space exploration."

    Submissions will be accepted until Sept. 8. To send your name to Mars aboard InSight, go to:

    http://go.usa.gov/3Aj3G

    The fly-your-name opportunity comes with "frequent-flier" points to reflect an individual's personal participation in NASA's journey to Mars, which will span multiple missions and multiple decades. The InSight mission offers the second such opportunity for space exploration fans to collect points by flying their names aboard a NASA mission, with more opportunities to follow."

    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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