LPL Newsletter: December 2017

Friday, December 1, 2017

Welcome to the latest monthly edition of the LPL newsletter, featuring two articles that each represents the latest installation in very long-running stories.

The first is about water on Mars. A few years ago, a discovery by a UA undergraduate working with HiRISE was touted as the first good evidence that there could be liquid water flowing near the surface of Mars. But good scientists keep testing a theory, and LPL alum Colin Dundas and LPL Professor Alfred McEwen (HiRISE Principal Investigator) recently authored a well-publicized paper that puts that claim in doubt.

Meanwhile, although TV shows and movies imagine a shadowy government conspiracy acting on dangerous asteroids, the reality is that NASA operates a Planetary Defense Coordination Office that works with scientists, government agencies, and other space agencies to determine in advance how we might deal with that possibility. LPL's Vishnu Reddy led the latest exercise testing the system.

We hope you enjoy reading the real stories about careful, but still exciting, work. If you receive our monthly newsletter but are not on the LPL outreach events distribution, consider joining that list using the online form here.

Timothy D. Swindle, Ph.D.
Director and Department Head

Recurring Martian Streaks: Flowing Sand, Not Water?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Seasonal dark streaks on Mars have been described as possible signs of flowing water, but a new study shows they are a better fit to dry flow processes. The findings add to evidence that these environments may be too dry for microbes to thrive, despite the presence of water in hydrated salts.

Astronomers Complete First International Asteroid Tracking Exercise

Friday, November 3, 2017

An international team of astronomers led by NASA scientists successfully completed the first global exercise using a real asteroid to test global response capabilities. (JPL 2017-289)