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 ❯

Two new missions toward the moon in one rocket
Published 6/19/2009 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Dear readers, Yesterday June 18 2009 at 21:17 GMT (2:17 PDT) an Atlas V rocket lifted off carrying two missions designed by NASA and dedicated to the exploration of the moon, our closest space neighbor. if you have read my previous posts on Kayuga, Chang’e-1 and Chandrayaan-1, you must be asking yourself why do we need new missions  to explore the moon? These ones are led by NASA which has already a lot of experience in mission designed for the solar... read more ❯

The demise of a mission - Kayuga crashed on the Moon
Published 6/12/2009 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Hello, I am back from AAS in Pasadena, CA where I gave a talk on the use of Adaptive Optics to study Multiple Asteroid Systems. This is my last professional trip for the summer since I just hired 2 students to work with me until mid-Aug. Today I am writing a brief post about the demise of the Kayuga mission which was sent to crash on the moon surface. You may remember my previous post about the Kayuga mission, which is a lunar-dedicated mission developed by JAXA, the Japanese Space Agency. This mission was launched on September 14 2007  and aimed at... read more ❯

Back from the Planetary Defense Conference - May is going to be CRAZY!
Published 5/4/2009 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Hello, 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.:-) Most of you have heard already about the possibilities of using nuclear bombs to deflect an asteroid. This is technologically doable but only by an handful of countries. D. Dearborn from LLNL presented... read more ❯

Happy Day to Earth, our only home planet (so far...).
Published 4/23/2009 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Hello, Today is Earth Day. A lot of actions and initiatives have been taken around the world: cleaning the beaches and the streets, promote green energy to the public and in school, write your representatives to support green legislations, and so on... In my case, I do realize that I have my share of contaminating this planet, just based on the carbon emission of my frequent trips for conferences and other meetings. However I have been promoting a "greener" science over the last 4 years, using for instance video conferencing when it was possible such in our last Io workshop or our... read more ❯

Back from LPSC (what is that?)
Published 4/3/2009 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
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... read more ❯

The Phoenix mission on Mars
Published 2/21/2009 in Franck Marchis Blog Author Franck Marchis
Hello, 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... read more ❯