Lunar mission involving CU-Boulder finally coming to an end on April 21

first_imgShare Share via TwitterShare via FacebookShare via LinkedInShare via E-mail Categories:AcademicsScience & TechnologyCampus CommunityNews Headlines A team of CU-Boulder faculty and students designed and built an instrument for NASA’s 2013 LADEE mission to the moon known as the the Lunar Dust Experiment, or LDEX, to study the behavior of moon dust and how it is affected by ultraviolet sunlight. Images courtesy NASA. “We have beautiful data,” said CU-Boulder physics Professor Mihaly Horanyi of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, principal investigator for the Lunar Dust Experiment, or LDEX, onboard LADEE. “We discovered that a cloud of dust permanently engulfs the moon, and that the dust density dramatically increases toward its surface.” center_img A NASA spacecraft studying the moon’s atmosphere and dust environment, which is carrying a $6 million University of Colorado Boulder instrument, is slated to crash into the lunar surface April 21 following a successful 130-day mission.The $280 million mission, known as the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer, or LADEE, was launched Sept. 6, 2013, to orbit the moon to better understand its tenuous atmosphere and whether dust particles are being lofted high off its surface. The spacecraft was designed, developed, integrated and tested at NASA’s AMES Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. It took a month to reach the moon and another month to enter the proper elliptical orbit and for the instruments to be commissioned.NASA held a media teleconference today to discuss the extended mission operations, science and planned impact of the LADEE spacecraft on the moon.“We have beautiful data,” said CU-Boulder physics Professor Mihaly Horanyi of the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics, principal investigator for the Lunar Dust Experiment, or LDEX, onboard LADEE. “We discovered that a cloud of dust permanently engulfs the moon, and that the dust density dramatically increases toward its surface,” said Horanyi, who was not involved in the media teleconference.The CU-Boulder team, which has charted more than 11,000 impacts from dust particles since LADEE arrived at the moon in October 2013, also discovered that dust particles are regularly hurled from the lunar surface in response to impacts by tiny, high-speed interplanetary meteoroids. “When people on Earth see shooting stars, the same stream of particles also hit the moon, knocking off bursts of small particles that are detected by our instrument,” Horanyi said.While the LADEE mission successfully completed its planned 100-day science mission in March, NASA chose to stretch the mission into an extended science phase. The spacecraft is expected to make science observations at progressively lower and lower altitudes until it drops to about three miles above the lunar surface on April 21, then makes its planned impact.About the size of a small toaster oven, the LDEX instrument has been charting the size and individual velocities of tiny dust particles as small as 0.6 microns in diameter. For comparison, a standard sheet of paper is about 100 microns thick. A collision between a dust particle and a hemisphere-shaped target on LDEX generates a unique electrical signal inside the instrument, allowing scientists to detect individual particles, he said.Horanyi said the dust behavior and processes discovered on the moon with LDEX are likely occurring on all other objects in the solar system that don’t have atmospheres, including Mercury, Phobos and Deimos — the two moons of Mars — as well as on asteroids and dormant comets. Both Phobos and Deimos have been suggested by experts as possible initial landing posts for crewed missions heading for Mars.The success of CU-Boulder’s LDEX experiment may pave the way for new and more sophisticated dust-detecting instruments that could be developed and flown to such objects in the solar system, said Horanyi.“Imagine if we could fly a new generation of dust experiments that could tell us not only the mass and speed of the particles being ejected from the moon or asteroid surfaces, but also their composition,” he said. “That would allow us to make a surface map of the object that would be incredibly useful if we were looking for particular resources to mine, like water or titanium.”Horanyi also said dust-laden objects like the moon or an asteroid can be used as enormous “magnifiers,” since a gram of material hitting a surface at about 14 miles per second blasts thousands of times that amount off of the surface. “Learning about the frequency of larger and larger dust impacts will help us to predict the frequency and learn more about even bigger impacts, those in the centimeter to meter sizes, greatly improving our hazard estimates for sending spacecraft on long journeys.”He said LASP makes a point of involving students at every level for all of its space missions. The relatively short duration and rich science return from the LADEE mission is well suited for graduate students like Jamey Szalay, for example, who plans to use the data as part of his doctoral thesis at CU-Boulder with Horanyi as his advisor.  Horanyi also is the principal investigator on CU-Boulder’s Student Dust Counter, a simpler instrument flying on NASA’s New Horizons mission that was launched in 2006 to explore Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, a massive region beyond the planets containing icy objects left over from the formation of the solar system.Contact: Mihaly Horanyi, [email protected] Jim Scott, CU-Boulder media relations, [email protected] Published: April 3, 2014 last_img read more

The Song that Never Ends

first_imgLet’s give the last word in this Mount Rushmore edition of he said/he said to Tiger Woods. It seems Sergio Garcia didn’t know all the facts. It turns out Woods did hear a marshal say that El Nino had already hit his second shot at the par-5 second hole early on Day 3 at The Players Championship. It also seems virtually certain that Woods could not see Garcia in the fairway when he pulled a club from his bag and approached his golf ball that was in the trees left of the second fairway. “From where (Woods) was there is no way he could have seen Sergio,” marshal John North told on Tuesday. We’ve seen the split-screen footage of this episode more times than the Zapruder film – Woods eying his lie and the trees ahead, Garcia poised over his ball, Woods slipping a head cover off a fairway wood which caused the crowd to react. The timing is all right there in HD quality. What has been open to viral, and sometimes vicious, debate for five days is what happened next. Author When Round 3 was suspended by Saturday’s storm, Garcia told Golf Channel’s Steve Sands: “I think he must have pulled a 5-wood or 3-wood out and obviously everybody started screaming, so that didn’t help very much. It was unfortunate. I try to respect everyone as much as possible out there. I try to be careful what I do to make sure it doesn’t bother the other players.” Woods responded when play ultimately ended in twilight on Saturday: “He doesn’t know all the facts. The marshal said he’d already hit and I pulled the club . . . I heard his comments afterwards. It’s not surprising he’s complaining about something.” But it was North – the chief marshal for the first, second and third holes at TPC Sawgrass last week – who turned the episode into a bona fide controversy, however unwittingly. “Nothing was said to us and we certainly said nothing to (Woods),” North told Sports Illustrated. “I was disappointed to hear him make those remarks. We’re there to help the players and enhance the experience of the fans. He was saying what was good for him. It lacked character.” On Tuesday night, however, North was not as certain that no marshal had advised Woods that Garcia had already played. Although he said he wasn’t misquoted by Sports Illustrated he did say his quotes were taken “slightly” out of context. “I didn’t want to impugn the character of Tiger Woods or the Sports Illustrated writer. I was just answering a hypothetical question,” said North, who has been a marshal at The Players for 30 years. “I cannot unequivocally say nothing was said (to Woods).” Less than 12 hours later, Brian Nedrich could equivocally say that Woods received the “all clear” from a marshal. “I was the one Tiger heard say that Sergio had hit,” Nedrich told the Florida Times-Union. While the timing remains somewhat unclear, Nedrich – who said he was 10 to 12 feet away from Woods – informed a fellow marshal that Garcia had played his second shot. “There was a lot going on, as usual, when Tiger plays,” he said. “Then, he’s trying to have the concentration he needs to win a tournament. It’s easy to get small details out of whack when things happen so fast.” At the risk of playing both judge and jury, the witness may step down, the case is dismissed. If this doesn’t clear up at least this portion of the controversy for the conspiracy theorist then nothing will. Although the timing is suspect, Woods heard the marshal say Garcia had already played. We’ve learned from this ugly episode that, in this case, it seems it is the marshals who needed a “Quiet, please” sign; and that the smallest amount of contrition could have gone a long way. Woods supporters say he did nothing wrong, therefore he had nothing to apologize for. While that may follow the letter of the law it does little to promote good will within the ropes and stretches the boundaries of courtesy. In this case, Woods accidently and inadvertently pulled a club while Garcia was preparing to hit and caused a distraction. Regardless of intent or culpability, a quick apology as the two headed up the second fairway may well have cut short a needless controversy. That, however, was never option. Not with this two-ball. “We didn’t do a lot of talking,” Woods said on Saturday when asked if he and Garcia discussed the incident. Woods and Garcia don’t like each other. In related news, the sun will set in the west. Still, would this issue not have faded like Saturday’s sunset had both players shown a modicum of civility? But then it’s hard to blame Woods for going lock-jaw considering Garcia’s take on the row on Sunday, some 24 hours after the fact. “I’m not going to lie, he’s not my favorite guy to play with,” Garcia told Sky Sports. “He’s not the nicest guy on Tour.” Passion is one thing, petulance is an entirely different animal. Competing personalities butt heads in all walks of life, but on Sunday, on Mother’s Day, the Spaniard violated a central theme of civilized society – he had nothing nice to say, and yet he kept talking.last_img read more