NASA announced key pre-selected Discovery Missions
Published 5/6/2011 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Today NASA announced three future key missions preselected as part of the Discovery program named GEMS, TiME and Comet Hopper. This is an important announcement, which was anxiously eagerly expected by our community. The NASA Discovery program is a low-cost mission ($425 million FY2010) program aimed at developing and support well-defined and narrow-range science mission in the field of planetary exploration. Discovery is a dynamic and highly valuable program which had led to a lot of well-known missions with a wide range of scientific goals including (adapted from Visions & Voyages Decadal survey): - NEAR Showmaker (Feb 1996) to rendezvous the Near... read more ❯

A Valentine night with Tempel-1 ?
Published 2/15/2011 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Today is the night of Valentine day, I am not particularly romantic but I always tried to do something special for this day. Unfortunately, this year Valentine day is a disaster since I have several deadlines including an important paper which needs to be submitted before midnight. At 10:50pm PST, my student (E. Enriquez) and I found out that Icarus Journal changed the rules of publication and we have to submit a final, high quality version, of each figure of this paper about the binary asteroid (90) Antiope. While my student is driving back to our office to make those... read more ❯

SETI REU students 2010 - "This is the end..."
Published 9/8/2010 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Three weeks ago was the final week of  the SETI REU students. It was a busy time for all of us since they had to wrap-up their work, write their report, and give their final presentations.  Keaton Burns from UC Berkeley and Bill Freeman from LSU, who worked under my supervision in this program, did a fantastic work over this 10-week internship. Since SETI Institute is a non-profit organization, it is not easy for the SETI researchers to find, attract... read more ❯

A picture of our home taken from Mercury's orbit
Published 8/17/2010 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Just a short post today. I am still recovering from the SETIcon. I will tell you more about it soon. An image is worth a thousand words so just look at this picture taken by Messenger Spacecraft. The Messenger spacecraft is looking for Vulcanoids, an hypothetical population of asteroids which could be orbiting between Mercury and the Sun. Messenger is a space mission currently in orbit around the Sun which a perihelion nearby the... read more ❯

Venus: Another volcanically active world?
Published 4/21/2010 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Dear Planetary enthusiasts, Over the past week, we may have heard a lot about a famous volcano in Iceland, named Eyjafjallajokull, which forced more than 64,000 flights between Europe and the rest of the world to be canceled and affected the vacation and business trips of several millions of people. But have you heard about the Idunn Mons, Hathor and Innini Montes and Mielikki Mons? These are other exotic names for volcanoes located on another planet,  a world that we suspected for a long time to be volcanically active as well. A recent discovery may have confirmed the existence of active volcanoes on Venus. Venus, often... read more ❯

Five exoplanets discovered by Kepler - a discussion and a movie
Published 1/14/2010 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
I mentioned on this blog on several occasions (see "the first light") the Kepler mission which aims at detecting exoplanets through the transit method (a.k.a the small attenuation of light due to the passage of the exoplanet between us and the host star). Last week, during the AAS  (say "double 'A' 'S'") conference, the Kepler team announced the discovery of the first 5 exoplanets.You may remember that shortly after its first light, the Kepler team published an exquisite lightcurve of a known exoplanet transit called HAT-P-7b. This exoplanet was discovered from the ground by the HATnet survey and was reported by... read more ❯

Some news of the planet Mercury from the AGU Fall conference
Published 12/16/2009 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Fifteen days ago, I wrote a short post on this blog to let you know that I was flying to Cleveland, OH to meet colleagues interesting in space mission design. Without realizing it, this project has been taking over all my time and my energy (including nights of work and thinking) and produced a roller-coaster of excellent and bad news. Because it is still uncertain what exactly it is going to happen I will not mention it today, but I will keep you posted as soon I see the light at the end of the tunnel. :-) Today I will... read more ❯

We really walked on the Moon...
Published 7/20/2009 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Hello, We all heard about this conspiration rumors which claimed that the Apollo missions were never a success and nobody ever walked on the Moon. Just be reassured, I am not going to advertise this crazy theory :-) It is based on deformed facts and today we have some obvious proofs collected  by the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and its high resolution camera. Look at this picture released a few days ago: The arrow indicates the position of the Eagle, the lunar module of the Apollo 11 mission. And now this one: This image shows the landing  side of the Apollo 14. The lunar module (Antares)... read more ❯

International Space Station - some news.
Published 6/27/2009 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Hello, We rarely talk about the International Space Station and what kind of study or experiments are done over there. Most of us forgot that for more than 10 years, we have been investing money and time to build a gigantic station where several astronauts live and work. You can follow the progress of the building of the space station on one of the NASA page. I was surprised to discover today the complexity and size of the ISS. For instance, the European module (named Columbus) and 16 large solar panels were attached to the station provided more space and... read more ❯

The end of Kayuga in HD!
Published 6/23/2009 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
A brief update about my previous post into which I described the demise of the Kayuga mission. The crash on the lunar surface was indeed recorded by the High Definition TV and can be seen on the JAXA channel in youtube.<!--more--> click on the following image to start the movie and enjoy the ride... Unfortunately the last seconds before the impact are lost since the spacecraft entered in the dark side of the moon. Remember that it was planned to be able to detect the plume and determine by spectroscopy the composition of the interior of the moon. Franck M. [caption id="attachment_331" align="aligncenter"... read more ❯