The French Pyrénées becomes the second-largest international dark sky reserve in the world
Published 12/19/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Adapted from  IDA press release http://www.darksky.org TUCSON, AZ, AND TOULOUSE, FRANCE, 19 December 2013 – The International Dark-Sky Association (IDA) announced today the designation of the first International Dark Sky Place in France. In naming the Pic du Midi International Dark Sky Reserve (IDSR), IDA is pleased to recognize the immense local efforts to preserve and protect the exceptionally dark night skies over the Pyrénées Mountains “In creating the Reserve, the Pic du Midi team has not only protected a vanishing resource, they have made it better than it was,” said IDA Executive Director Bob Parks. “We commend and celebrate their exceptional... read more ❯

Kepler is Sick and Resting: "Mountain View, we have a problem"
Published 1/17/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
"Mountain View, we have a problem..." NASA Kepler Manager at NASA Ames, Mountain View announced today that they interrupted the science operation of the spacecraft, due an issue with one of the reaction wheels.  Kepler is equipped with four reaction wheels which are used to accurately point the telescope. One failed in July 2012 and today the team announced that they detected issues with a second one. Kepler needs three reaction wheels to be used properly, if this one fails the mission is most likely over. That's not good news. The team detected an increase of friction on reaction wheel #4 on January... read more ❯

An update on the Siding Spring Observatory
Published 1/13/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
A short followup of my post sent last night with a good news through an official announcement by the Australian National University  posted today. In a nutshell, no telescopes have suffered major damages from the bush fire, but the astronomer's lodge, the visitor's center and several staff houses have been destroyed or seriously damage. The NSW rural fire service posted several pictures of the observatory taken on the morning.  It could have been worst, since it is visible from the pictures that the fire approached dangerously the telescope domes. Hopefully, after the reconstruction of the staff... read more ❯

Siding Spring Observatory is being threatened by a bush fire.
Published 1/13/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
This is definitely not the kind of news that astronomers like reading about... The Siding Spring Observatory in New South Wales, Australia, is currently threatened by a large uncontroled bush fire. Siding Spring Observatory part of  Australian National University (ANU)  is home of several telescopes including the Anglo-Australian Telescope (AAT), a 3.9m optical telescope, and the largest one in Australia, but also the 2.0 m Faulkes Telescope South of Las Cumbres Observatory (LCOGT), and the exoplanet finder HAT-south telescope. Thankfully, the people who worked at the observatory have been evacuated on time... read more ❯

Live-Tweets of Jim Green Presentation at OPAG
Published 1/10/2013 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
A few days ago, I received in my email the following message from the Division for Planetary Sciences. Community Urged To Hear NASA's Jim Green Presentation On 10 January There has been much discussion of NASA's Planetary Science Division (PSD) budget in recent weeks (about R&A in particular). Next week, Jim Green will give a presentation at the OPAG meeting in Atlanta about this, at 8:30 am on 10 January 2013. We strongly encourage our membership to call in via webcast to hear what he has to say, and to educate themselves about the current and upcoming PSD budget, including R&A. You... read more ❯

End of world predictions: a wasted moment of our collective resources
Published 12/21/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
It is amazing the amount of money and time wasted in 2012 on this "end of the world" prediction. We can blame ignorance of the people or sensationalism from the media, but we should also discuss the role of educated people, such as scientists, who have been spent time writing books & websites, answering interviews and debating on this non-sense. They promoted this myth until it was deemed a truth in the mind of people. This energy could have been spent to do something good for this world, something useful to make it... read more ❯

China joined the interplanetary club by successfully imaging the asteroid Toutatis
Published 12/14/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
This exceptional result was brought to my attention late on Friday evening, but it clearly deserves a short post on this blog. Chang'E 2, a chinese mission dedicated to the exploration of the moon was recycled to explore the Near-Earth Asteroid (4179) Toutatis  and succeeded. Launched on  October 1, 2010 aboard a Long March 3C rocket, the probe was in lunar orbit until August 25, 2011. The spacecraft is equipped with several instruments, such as stereo camera, Laser altimeter, Gamma/X-ray Spectrometers and a Microwave Detector. To date, no... read more ❯

AGU Fall Meeting - Internal Structure and Composition of Small Solar System Bodies
Published 12/4/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Third day of the 2012 AGU Fall Meeting tomorrow, Wednesday December 5, and I anticipate another busy day. Julie Castillo from Jet Propulsion Laboratory and myself organized a session on the internal structure and composition of small solar system bodies (SSSBs). This session will give us an opportunity to discuss recent results on the compositions and physical properties of asteroids and comets.  The discussion and results should be new since our view on the internal structure of SSSBs has changed drastically over the past decade thanks to the exploration with spacecrafts and the discovery of satellites around several asteroids. [caption id="attachment_1477"... read more ❯

A Lecture at UC-Berkeley on Science and Ethical Dilemmas in the Blogosphere
Published 11/27/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
On November 26 2012, I gave a lecture at a UC-Berkeley for the course "Ethics for Astronomers" led by Paul Kalas, Professor in this university and colleague of mine for several years. I think this kind of courses is extremely important for graduate students who will face ethical issues in their career and need to learn early how to address them. In my lecture, I discussed first how my career was modified when I started blogging for the  Cosmic Diary of the International Year of Astronomy in January 2009 and some highlights in my work which are direct consequences of this... read more ❯

New NASA Institute - The NASA-Armstrong Space Exploration Institute?
Published 10/22/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
NASA made a request for input to name the new NASA Science and Exploration Institute.  You can propose your own name on this web site. I just submitted a proposed name for this virtual institute, which will include other destinations beyond the Moon, stemming from NASA’s flexible path strategy for human exploration. I propose to name this new NASA center the "NASA-Armstrong Space Exploration Institute" (or NASEI). Here why... Neil Armstrong, the first person to walk on the Moon, was also a hero for several generations of American... read more ❯