Back from the Planetary Defense Conference – May is going to be CRAZY!


I am back from Granada where I enjoy this very inspirational conference called Planetary Defense Conference (see my previous post). I would like to spend some time to discuss in this blog the technologies presented by various colleagues about the deflection of a potential asteroid threat. I realized listening to their talks that the limit between science and science-fiction is getting fuzzier as I am getting older.:-)

Back from LPSC (what is that?)

First of all sorry for the long absence, since I updated my SAFARI to the 4beta version, I lost capabilities to access and write this blog. So I switched back to Firefox. I should have waited the final version of Safari instead of becoming a beta tester…

End of March is a busy month for astronomers who want to access to telescopes. All the deadlines for Fall-Winter 2009-2010 telescope time are concentrated during this period. This year I decided to focus on a few proposals aimed at studying binary asteroids instead of submitted a lot of them. Quality vs Quantity let’s see in a few months if this strategy will pay off.

The Phoenix mission on Mars


Yesterday at UC-Berkeley, I attended a talk given by Peter Smith, PI of the the Phoenix mission. Peter gave us an overview of the mission, its concept and a few information about the scientific results. A serie of articles will be most likely published soon in a special issue of Science, so i will not go through the scientific results in  details in this post. To summarize them and to impress people during your next dinner, you should know that the mission allows the detection of water ice in the soil, shows the absence of sulfate on the surface but the presence of a weird salt called perchlorate and detected falling snow in the atmosphere. More details can be found in the wikipedia web page which is quite impressive in quality and completeness. The team is using the remaining funding to analyze gigabytes of data/images which were received, so more discoveries will be announced in the following months and years. The key result is that no life was detected in the Arctic soil of Mars. 🙂