Space Mission

A Snapshot of Exoplanet Study
Published 5/2/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
The study of exoplanets is without any doubt the most active and disrupting field in today astronomy. I had often blogged about it since it is my little obsession. Unfortunately, I have a hard time to keep up with the amount of discoveries and announcements being made every week over the past 3 years. This post is a snapshot of the recent study of exoplanets: what we know, what have been recently discovered and what is coming soon. Source: via Franck on Pinterest Today (May 2 2012) the Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia lists the characteristics of 763 exoplanets.  Exoplanet App contains 760 discovered exoplanets. The NASA Planet... read more ❯

Next-gen Suborbital Missions: a talk and a Conference
Published 2/25/2012 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Join us on Wednesday, February 29, 2012 - 7:00pm at the Colloquium room of the SETI Institute to hear a talk by Andrew Nelson, Chief Operating Officer of XCOR. Title: The Trillion Dollar Space Enterprise --> Or How The Lynx Suborbital Vehicle Will Change The World by Andrew Nelson, Chief Operating Officer of XCOR Abstract: Fully resuable spacecraft are the critical enabler for regular, low cost and safe access to space, and such access will enable space utilization in ways we've only dreamed about in the past. Much as the early ARPANET laid the foundation... read more ❯

AGU Fall Session - Evolution and Exploration of Asteroids
Published 12/5/2011 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
There will be an oral session on Evolution and Exploration of Asteroids tomorrow from 8am to 10am, followed by a poster session from 1:40pm to 6pm, at the AGU Fall Conference, San Francisco, CA. Ben Weiss, Linda Elkins-Tanton (both from MIT) and myself are conveners of this session. It will be chaired by A. Mainzer (JPL) and myself. I am attaching the schedule of the session below. We will discuss the recent and future space missions dedicated to the Exploration of asteroids in the main-belt, the contribution of space-based and ground-based telescopes, and new ideas on the evolution of asteroids and... read more ❯

Kepler-16: Exoplanets around binary star systems DO exist
Published 9/15/2011 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Kepler-16 is another great discovery coming from the Kepler telescope, the 10th NASA Discovery mission which is devoted to finding Earth-size exoplanets by monitoring variations of brightness due to transit. Today the Kepler team found a circumbinary exoplanet, an exoplanet orbiting a binary star system. Did they find Tatooine? In the large 105 deg2 field of view of the Kepler spacecraft, ~156,000 stars are being almost continuously observed by the 0.95m telescope. In 2010, the star number KIC... read more ❯

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 ❯

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 ❯

Happy Earth Day 2010 - Earth"Spheres" from Space
Published 4/22/2010 in Franck Marchis Blog Author itops
Today is the 40th Earth Day, a great opportunity to remind us that our planet is unique and should be taken care of. Each of us can help by small actions which could save energy, water and other resources. Recent studies clearly indicate that we, our society and our way of life, are having an impact on our planet. The emission of carbon dioxide due to human activities which is increasing the temperature, the so-called global warming, is one of them. The massive extinction of animal and planet species or... 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 ❯

How will be Earth if it has rings? tomorrow at the NASA-GRC!
Published 11/29/2009 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
How will be our planet if it has a ring? I found this interesting video on the web that I wanted to share with you. Surprisingly I wrote this 7 days ago and apparently forgot to publish it. Find below the video. Interesting isn't it? I think it is amazing that people are now able to create such animation. They are extremely useful to help us explaining in a classroom what is the Roche limit, and how does the effect of the tilt of the planet act on the season. On a completely irrelevant topic, I have some great news! I am going... read more ❯