CSC/SETI Institute Colloquium Series 2009

Video Lectures

Displaying all 48 video lectures.
Lecture 1
David Morrison: Mission to a Potentially Threatening Asteroid
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David Morrison: Mission to a Potentially Threatening Asteroid

01/07/2009



Mission to a Potentially Threatening Asteroid



David Morrison, senior scientist at the NASA Astrobiology Institute, NASA Ames Research Center



Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) are interesting to both planetary scientists and those who are concerned about protecting against their impacts. The first step, now well underway, is to find them (with the Spacegaurd Survey). Next we need to characterize NEAs using small spacecraft missions. We are especially interested in the sub-km NEAs, since they are the most likely to hit the Earth and also the most accessible targets for human flights beyond the Moon. This talk focuses on a low-cost rendezvous mission to NEA Apophis, with the goal of characterizing both the asteroid and its orbit.

Lecture 2
Laura T. Iraci: Laboratory Studies of Water Ice Cloud formation under Martian Conditions
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Laura T. Iraci: Laboratory Studies of Water Ice Cloud formation under Martian Conditions

01/14/2009

Laboratory Studies of Water Ice Cloud formation under Martian Conditions



Dr. Laura T. Iraci, NASA Ames Research Center



Water ice clouds are an important part of the martian hydrological cycle, influencing the water and energy budgets. Microphysical models can be used to study the connections between cloud formation and water distribution throughout the system (for example, as surface frost layers), but only if the intricacies of cloud formation and growth are understood and properly parameterized. To that end, we have performed laboratory studies of water ice nucleation on a variety of surrogate materials and have found that initiation of ice is more difficult than often presumed. We will report these results, along with preliminary growth rate observations.



SLIDES

Lecture 3
Jeffrey Van Cleve: The Race to Detect the First Earth-sized Planet
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Jeffrey Van Cleve: The Race to Detect the First Earth-sized Planet

01/21/2009

Roundup at the Kepler Corral: the Race to Detect the First Earth-sized Planet in the Habitable Zone of a Sunlike Star



Dr. Jeffrey Van Cleve, Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp



The Kepler Mission http://www.kepler.arc.nasa.gov is designed to detect transits of Earth-size planets orbiting in the "habitable zone" (HZ) around main-sequence stars of apparent visual magnitude 9 through 14, of F through M spectral type, by means of differential photometry of ~100,000 stars in the constellation Cygnus. Jeff will discuss the box in temperature-diameter space ("The Corral") that Kepler was designed to search, and show the population of extrasolar planets known from ground-based radial velocity and gravitational lensing observations. He will present a calculation of the distance between Earth and the nearest transiting planet likely to be discovered by Kepler, and compare it to results of an all-sky planetary transit survey mission similar to TESS (The TESS PI has commented that "...when starships transporting colonists first depart the solar system, they may well be headed toward a TESS-discovered planet as their new home"). He will end with some speculation on why the end of the nominal Kepler mission coincides with the end of the Mayan calendar (and possibly the end of the world as we know it) on Dec. 21, 2012.



SLIDES

Lecture 4
Ron Greeley: Surface modifications by winds on Earth, Mars, Venus, and Titan
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Ron Greeley: Surface modifications by winds on Earth, Mars, Venus, and Titan

01/28/2009

Surface modifications by winds on Earth, Mars, Venus, and Titan



Ron Greeley, Regent's Professor, Arizona State University



Windblown dunes, ripples, and erosional features are seen on Earth, Venus, and Titan, while on Mars these features are ubiquitous and reflect the dominant agent of surface modification. Although the fundamental process is similar, the environments on these planetary objects are substantially different. Simulations conducted in the Planetary Aeolian Laboratory at NASA-Ames, coupled with field work and modeling, enable analyses of wind-related features and processes on planetary surfaces.



SLIDES

Lecture 5
JoAnne Hewett: The Hunt for Hidden Dimensions
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JoAnne Hewett: The Hunt for Hidden Dimensions

02/04/2009

The Hunt for Hidden Dimensions



JoAnne Hewett, Professor at SLAC, Stanford University



Extra dimensions of space may be present in our universe. Their discovery would dramatically change our view of the cosmos and would prompt many questions. How do they hide? What is their shape? How many are there? How big are they? Do particles and forces feel their presence? This lecture will explain the concept of dimensions and show that current theoretical models predict the existence of extra spatial dimensions which could be in the discovery reach of present and near-term experiments. The manner by which these additional dimensions reveal their existence will be described.



SLIDES

Lecture 6
Franck Marchis: Multiple Asteroid Systems: New Techniques to Study New Worlds
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Franck Marchis: Multiple Asteroid Systems: New Techniques to Study New Worlds

02/18/2009

Multiple Asteroid Systems: New Techniques to Study New Worlds



Franck Marchis, UC Berkeley and the SETI Institute



Since the discovery of Ida’s companion Dactyl in 1993, the number of known multiple asteroids has been continuously increasing and ~165 of them are now known. Since 2003, Dr. Marchis and his colleagues have been conducting a large survey of these interesting and diverse populations using various ground-based telescopes and techniques, such as high angular resolution imaging, lightcurve photometry, and VIS/NIR spectroscopy, and also the Spitzer and Hubble space telescopes. Dr. Marchis ' talk will cover the latest insights into these multiple systems, such as the sizes and shapes of their components, their bulk-density and their orbital parameters, which are key to understanding how they formed and evolved.



SLIDES

Lecture 7
Interstellar and Early Solar System Organics in Samples from Comet Wild 2
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Interstellar and Early Solar System Organics in Samples from Comet Wild 2

02/25/2009

Interstellar and Early Solar System Organics in Samples from Comet Wild 2



Scott Sandford, NASA Ames Space Science Division



The Stardust mission successfully returned samples from Comet Wild 2 in 2006. Studies of these samples have confirmed the presence of organics, some of which appear to be similar to those found in meteorites and some of which looks unlike anything seen in extraterrestrial materials before. The presence of D and 15N excesses in many of the organics suggests they have an interstellar chemical heritage. The nature of these organics, and their possible relationship to interstellar environments will be discussed.



SETI

Lecture 8
Ross A. Beyer: Google Earth, now with Mars!
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Ross A. Beyer: Google Earth, now with Mars!

03/04/2009

Google Earth, now with Mars!



Ross A. Beyer, SETI Institute and NASA Ames



Google, Inc., has released Google Earth 5.0 which contains a Mars 3D mode. Working with engineers at Google, we helped collect, parse, and organize the vast store of Mars geospatial data available to the public into a form that could be used by Google Earth. The Mars mode presents data acquired both from orbit and on the surface, presented fully integrated into the Google Earth geospatial browser. Ross will cover a brief history of the project, take you on a detailed tour of all of the features, and answer your questions about using Mars mode for science, education, or fun, as well as answering questions about how to view your own data in the client. The team behind this talk includes NASA Ames engineers Matt Hancher and Michael Broxton.
Lecture 9
Jeffrey Scargle: Tools for Probing the Universe
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Jeffrey Scargle: Tools for Probing the Universe

03/11/2009

Tools for Probing the Universe: from the Smallest to Largest and All Scales In Between



Jeffrey Scargle, NASA Ames Space Science Division



Jeff Scargle will describe non-standard data analysis methods for extracting scientific information from time series and other data. Examples include large scale structure in the distribution of galaxies, detection of extrasolar planets, "meta-analysis" of clinical studies and psychic phenomena, variability of Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope sources, and the search for quantum gravity effects at the smallest possible space-time scales.



SLIDES
Lecture 10
Richard Muller: Discovery of Strong Cycles in Fossil Diversity
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Richard Muller: Discovery of Strong Cycles in Fossil Diversity

03/18/2009

Discovery of Strong Cycles in Fossil Diversity



Richard Muller, Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory, UC Berkeley



Richard Muller and his collaborators have recently analyzed the most complete record of marine animal fossils ever compiled, the "Compendium" of Jack Sepkoski, which lists all known fossil marine animal genera back 542 million years. When the fossil diversity (number of distinct genera) is plotted, it shows a very strong 62 Myr cycle. The cycle is particularly evident in the species that endured for relatively short times, as shown in the diagram below (published in Nature, vol 434, 208-210, 10 March 2005).



DIAGRAM

Lecture 11
Rachel Mastrapa: Weathering on Icy Satellites: Probing the Near Surface Using Infrared Spectroscopy
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Rachel Mastrapa: Weathering on Icy Satellites: Probing the Near Surface Using Infrared Spectroscopy

04/01/2009

Weathering on Icy Satellites: Probing the Near Surface Using Infrared Spectroscopy



Rachel Mastrapa, NASA Ames Space Sciences Division and SETI Institute



Infrared spectra of icy satellites contain information about the surface composition and the phase state of those materials. For example, the phase of H2O-ice can be used to interpret the temperature and radiation history of an icy surface. Optical constants derived from laboratory data are needed to create model spectra for comparison to observations and may lead to a new understanding of surface processes.



SLIDES

Lecture 12
John McCarthy: Convergent evolution of our own and extra-terrestrial intelligence
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John McCarthy: Convergent evolution of our own and extra-terrestrial intelligence

04/08/2009

Convergent evolution of our own and extra-terrestrial intelligence



John McCarthy, Professor Emeritus, Computer Science Stanford University



Convergent evolution is the phenomenon of two or more species of widely different origins evolving extremely similar features in response to the same environmental opportunity. Our intelligence and that of aliens with whom we might communicate are likely to have converged considerably and to converge further in the future. Much of this future convergence is likely to be artificial, i.e. electronic. Professor McCarthy will discuss some possibilities.
Lecture 13
Jasper Halekas: The Dynamic Lunar Environment
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Jasper Halekas: The Dynamic Lunar Environment

04/15/2009

The Dynamic Lunar Environment



Jasper Halekas, UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory



The lunar environment, serene and unchanging to the naked eye, seethes with plasma and electromagnetic activity. Plasma, photons, micrometeorites and energetic particles constantly bombard the lunar surface, producing a tenuous exosphere and a dynamic wake region, and charging the surface to electrostatic potentials reaching kilovolts, producing surface electric fields large enough to affect lunar ions and dust. Meanwhile, plasma interacts directly with crustal magnetic fields, producing perhaps the smallest magnetospheres in the solar system. Dr. Halekas will talk about how the Moon provides an ideal laboratory to study a variety of fundamental physics processes which are both interesting in their own right, and potentially applicable to Mars and other planets in the solar system.
Lecture 14
Tom Abel: First Things in the Universe
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Tom Abel: First Things in the Universe

04/22/2009

First Things in the Universe



Tom Abel, Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology Laboratory, Stanford University



The first structure to form in the Universe can now be predicted from ab initio simulations starting with the known initial conditions of our Universe. What is found is a rich history with massive stars, black holes, UV radiation, and hydrogen molecules among others playing significant roles. Using supercomputer simulations allows us to visually show the origin of the first stars, their demise and impact on their future, which is our past, in the Universe' first billion years.



SLIDES
Lecture 15
Julie Chittenden: Experimental determination of the effect of salts, regolith, and wind
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Julie Chittenden: Experimental determination of the effect of salts, regolith, and wind

04/29/2009

Experimental determination of the effect of salts, regolith, and wind on the stability of water under Martian conditions



Julie Chittenden, Post-doctoral associate at NASA Ames Research Center



Many fundamental processes on Mars require an understanding of the temperature and pressure conditions at the Martian surface. In particular, the stability of liquid water is a key factor in formation of gully features, and is significant to the possibly for life on Mars. Dr. Chittenden will discuss her experimental work on the stability of water under martian conditions, performed at the University of Arkansas in the Mars planetary simulation chamber. Her results suggests concentrated brine water may remain liquid on the Martian surface longer than previously thought. She will also report the effect of a regolith layer on subsurface ice sublimation and the effect of wind on the stability of surface water ice on Mars.



SLIDES
Lecture 16
Philip Russell: Aerosol particle roles in climate change
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Philip Russell: Aerosol particle roles in climate change

05/06/2009

Aerosol particle roles in climate change: How coordinated measurements from aircraft, satellites, & Earth surfaces are helping to reduce uncertainties



Philip Russell, NASA Ames Earth Science Division



The 2007 assessment by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reported that uncertainty in radiative forcing of climate had been reduced compared to the previous assessment, a result of improved understanding of aerosol radiative effects. This talk shows how field experiments by NASA and collaborators, which coordinate measurements from aircraft, satellites, and Earth's surfaces, have contributed to that improved understanding. Dr. Russell will talk about early results from the recent ARCTAS experiment in the Arctic and a look at the future, including next-generation satellites and advanced aircraft such as the Global Hawk.



SLIDES
Lecture 17
Edwin Kite: True Polar Wander and Climate on Late Hesperian/Amazonian Mars
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Edwin Kite: True Polar Wander and Climate on Late Hesperian/Amazonian Mars

05/20/2009

True Polar Wander and Climate on Late Hesperian/Amazonian Mars



Edwin Kite, UC Berkeley



True Polar Wander (TPW) can be a major driver of tectonics and climate change on one-plate planets, such as post-Noachian Mars. But did TPW actually occur? I will summarize work at Berkeley testing this hypothesis, and its place in understanding the last three billion years of climate change on Mars. I will also present results from an ongoing Berkeley/Ames collaboration using General Climate Models to further test late-stage polar wander. This talk may not turn your view of Mars upside down, but it could rotate it by about 8 degrees.



SLIDES

Lecture 18
Robert Landis: NEOs Ho!! The Asteroid Option
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Robert Landis: NEOs Ho!! The Asteroid Option

05/27/2009

NEOs Ho!! The Asteroid Option



Robert Landis, NASA Ames Intelligent Systems Division



In late 2006, NASA's Constellation Program (CxP) sponsored a study to examine the feasibility of sending a piloted Orion spacecraft to a near-Earth Object (NEO). One of the significant advantages of this type of mission is that it strengthens and validates the foundational infrastructure of the United States Space Exploration Policy and his highly complementary to NASA's planned lunar sortie and outpost missions circa 2020. Rob Landis will discuss how human expedition to a NEO would not only underline the broad utility of the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV) and Ares launch systems, but would also be the first human expedition to an interplanetary body beyond the Earth-Moon system.



SLIDES
Lecture 19
Terry Fong: Field Testing of Utility Robots for Lunar Surface Operations
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Terry Fong: Field Testing of Utility Robots for Lunar Surface Operations

06/03/2009

Field Testing of Utility Robots for Lunar Surface Operations



Terry Fong, Intelligent Robotics Group, NASA Ames Research Center



Since 2004, NASA has been working to return to the Moon. In contrast to the Apollo missions, two key objectives of the current exploration program are to establish surface infrastructure and an outpost. Achieving these objectives will enable long-duration stays and long-distance exploration of the Moon. To do this, robotic systems will be needed to perform tasks which cannot, or should not, be performed by crew alone. In this talk, I summarize our work at NASA Ames to develop "utility robots" for lunar surface operations, present results and lessons learned from field testing, and discuss directions for future research.



SLIDES
Lecture 20
Mikhail Kreslavsky: Geological record of recent climate change on Mars
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Mikhail Kreslavsky: Geological record of recent climate change on Mars

06/10/2009

Geological record of recent climate change on Mars



Mikhail Kreslavsky, UC Santa Cruz



Climate on Mars changes at a wide range of time scales; these changes leave observable traces in the geological record of the planet. Recent decade of intensive orbital imaging of Mars has revealed a fascinating set of geologically young features indicating different climate conditions: recent gullies, surprisingly dynamic high-latitude landscapes, a wealth of new information about the polar layered deposits, traces of huge extinct tropical mountain glaciers, impressive remnants of wide-spread mid-latitude glaciation, etc. However, the whole progression of the climate-related geological events remains rather opaque. Dr. Kreslavsky will systematically overview current ideas, points of emergent understanding and the key questions in reading the geological record of martian climate.



SLIDES
Lecture 21
Amos Nur: Apocolypse: Earthquakes, Archeology and the the Wrath of God
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Amos Nur: Apocolypse: Earthquakes, Archeology and the the Wrath of God

06/17/2009

Apocolypse: Earthquakes, Archeology and the the Wrath of God



Amos Nur, Emeritus Wayne Loel Professor of Earth Sciences & Professor of Geophysics, Stanford University



Abstract: ‘Earthquakes and Archaeology’ is an emerging field with impact on both earthquake science and archaeological and historical studies. It has been controversial as archaeologists and historians have traditionally rejected earthquakes as an important agent. But now with the advent of plate tectonics and modern instrumentation, this controversy is subsiding as we begin to offer answers to some key questions in both disciplines:



Some Significant Geophysics Questions:

1. Time/space pre-instrumental patterns of large earthquakes.

2. Maximum earthquake magnitude, maximum rupture length, etc.

3. One big event or several smaller ones?



Some Significant Archaeological Questions:

1. Why so many ruins?

2. Why so many layers/levels of destruction?

[Knossos-10, Jericho-22, Armageddon-30, Troy-45].

3. Who buried the Dead Sea Scrolls?

4. The nature of regional destructions and system collapse. A specific example Professor Nur will focus on is the catastrophic end of the bronze age @1200BC.



 
Lecture 22
Robert Lillis: Death of the Martian Dynamo
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Robert Lillis: Death of the Martian Dynamo

06/24/2009

Death of the Martian Dynamo



Robert Lillis, Planetary and Space Physics, UC Berkeley



Unlike Earth, Mars has no global dynamo-driven magnetic field. However, strongly magnetized crust tells us that such a field existed in the past. The reasons for, and timing and manner of, its demise is an important question in Mars science, with ramifications for the evolution of the atmosphere and the stability of liquid water on the Martian surface. Dr. Lillis will explain how mantle convection simulations of the effects of giant impacts, combined with observed magnetic field signatures and crater retention ages of the resulting impact basins, tell us that the dynamo likely died quickly and may have been killed off by the cataclysmic impact resulting in the Utopia basin.



SLIDES
Lecture 23
Brian Jeffs: Progress in phased array feed development for radio astronomy
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Brian Jeffs: Progress in phased array feed development for radio astronomy

07/01/2009



Progress in phased array feed development for radio astronomy




Brian Jeffs, Brigham Young University



Several groups are now working to develop hardware and algorithms for phased array feeds (PAFs) on mid to large sized dish telescopes. The potential benefits are significant, including wide field of view observations using a grid of simultaneously steered beams, single dish rapid imaging, fast survey times, and new methods for interference mitigation. However, there are some challenging problems to address, such as strong mutual coupling between array elements, increased system noise temperatures, hardware complexity at the telescope and beamformer back ends, practical calibration and beamformer design, and broadband operation. Dr. Brian Jeffs will discuss these issues and progress made to date by the Brigham Young University - NRAO Green Bank team.



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Lecture 24
Ray Kurzweil: The Implications of the Law of Accelerating Returns for the Search for ETI
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Ray Kurzweil: The Implications of the Law of Accelerating Returns for the Search for ETI

07/02/2009



The Implications of the Law of Accelerating Returns for the Search for ETI



Ray Kurzweil

The law of accelerating returns (which states that the key measures of information technology progress at an exponential not linear rate) has important implications for our interpretation of the Drake formula and the likelihood of finding ETI's in our light sphere. Ray Kurzweil will present this special lecture for the Singularity University (http://singularityu.org) and the SETI Institute.



- Poster

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Lecture 25
The impact and recovery of asteroid 2008 TC3
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The impact and recovery of asteroid 2008 TC3

07/08/2009



The impact and recovery of asteroid 2008 TC3



Peter Jenniskens
, SETI Institute

For the first time, astronomers tracked an asteroid in space, observed its size, reflection properties and how it tumbled, then saw it crash in Earth's atmosphere over Sudan on October 7, 2008. At first, no pieces were expected to survive because the entry resulted in a massive explosion at 37 km altitude that left most of the asteroid in dust.



SETI Institute astronomer Dr. Peter Jenniskens tells how he established contacts with Dr. Muawia Shaddad of the University of Khartoum and, in the company of 45 students and staff, traveled to the impact site in the middle of the Nubian Desert in early December, two months after the fall.

The recovered meteorites are the first from a known asteroid, and link rare ureilite meteorites to F-class asteroids.



Project Website: http://asima.seti.org. Dr. Jenniskens website: http://airborne.seti.org

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Lecture 26
Dr. Beth Ann Hockey: How to Speak to Your Computer
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Dr. Beth Ann Hockey: How to Speak to Your Computer

07/15/2009



How to speak to your computer - Spoken Dialogue Systems on the ISS and beyond



Dr. Beth Ann Hockey, Adjunct Associate Professor of Linguistics & Senior Research Scientist, UC Santa Cruz


Science fiction is clear that our future includes conversations with our machines; think of HAL or the Star Trek computer. In 2005, the Clarissa Procedure Assistant made a step toward that future, when its use on the ISS made it the first spoken dialogue system in space. Dr. Beth Ann Hockey, project lead for Clarissa, will describe the science and technology behind that system, and examine uses of this technology in space and on earth, interacting with robots, wheelchairs, cars and software. Dr. Hockey has been project lead and developer on dialogue systems such as Clarissa and the UCSC experimental in-car system for Ford Motors, a core developer of the Open Source Regulus tookit used to build these systems, as well as doing research on targeted help systems, language modeling, parsing and grammar development, prosody, turn taking and focus.



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Lecture 27
Janice Bishop: The Surface of Mars
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Janice Bishop: The Surface of Mars

07/22/2009



The Surface of Mars: Mineralogy as an Indicator of Water and Environmental Conditions



Janice Bishop, SETI Institute

PThe surface mineralogy of Mars provides clues to its geologic history, including aqueous processes. Phyllosilicates and sulfates are key indicators of water on Mars and appear to have occurred in the Noachian and Hesperian, respectively. Dr. Bishop will discuss what we know about Martian mineralogy from orbital and landed missions, meteorites, and terrestrial analog studies.



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Lecture 28
John Balboni: How do You Qualify Heat Shields on Earth?
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John Balboni: How do You Qualify Heat Shields on Earth?

07/29/2009



How do You Qualify Heat Shields on Earth? Plasma Reentry Wind Tunnel Research at NASA Ames



John Balboni, NASA Ames Thermal Protection Test Facility


Protecting spacecraft from severe heating during hypersonic flight is a challenging task that leaves no room for error. Likewise it is difficult to simulate on the ground the effects of flying at Mach numbers greater than 20. But that is what the NASA Ames arc jet facility does for designers of human spacecraft and robotic probes. It requires directing multi-megawatts of electrical power inside a tube less than 3 inches diameter containing hundreds of water cooled parts. All of that to perform a test on piece of heat shield material that you can hold in your hand. Come and hear how this capability developed, and how it is used every day. John Balboni has worked as a research engineer at NASA Ames Research Center at Moffett Field for 25 years in the thermal protection test facility. His work lately has influenced the heat shield designs of the Mars Science Laboratory mission and the crewed Orion capsules.



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Lecture 29
Kevin Zahnle: Earth After the Moon-forming Impact
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Kevin Zahnle: Earth After the Moon-forming Impact

08/05/2009



Earth after the Moon-forming Impact



Kevin Zahnle, NASA Ames Space Science Division


The Earth and Moon were formed by the unequal collision of two planets some 30-100 million years after the Sun was born. The smaller planet is remembered now mostly by its ghost, but the Earth has grown and prospered. Dr. Zahnle will address the hidden history of the Earth from after the Moon-forming impact until the emergence of a rock record ca 3.8 Ga.



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Lecture 30
Dave Brain: Atmospheric Escape and Aurora on Mars
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Dave Brain: Atmospheric Escape and Aurora on Mars

08/12/2009



Atmospheric Escape and Aurora on Mars



Dave Brain, UC Berkeley Space Sciences Laboratory


Measurements of magnetic fields and charged particles near Mars made over the past 4 decades teach us about its plasma environment, upper atmosphere, near-surface environment, subsurface, and deep interior. The upper atmosphere and plasma environment of Mars are of interest because they are the sites of energy exchange between the planet and its surroundings, dominated by the Sun and solar wind. It is difficult to understand the state and evolution of the Martian system without understanding this important upper boundary. A number of recent spacecraft observations demonstrate that the exchange of particles and energy between the solar wind and atmosphere is particularly dynamic at Mars. Dr. Brain will discuss two examples and their implications: the escape of atmospheric particles via bulk removal processes, and localized energy deposition characterized by ultraviolet aurora on the Martian night side.



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Lecture 31
Michael Carr: Mars - The Water Story and Prospects for Life
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Michael Carr: Mars - The Water Story and Prospects for Life

08/19/2009



Mars: The Water Story and Prospects for Life



Michael Carr, USGS Menlo Park


Recent missions to Mars have provided new evidence that early Mars was at least episodically earth-like with rivers, lakes and possibly oceans, and high rates of aqueous weathering and erosion. Life appears to have arisen early on Earth. Did some form of life start on Mars when conditions on the two planets were similar? Conditions on Mars subsequently changed to become much less hospitable but life, if started, may have maintained a tenuous foothold in isolated niches.



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Lecture 32
Risa Wechsler: Connecting Galaxies, Halos, and Star Formation Rates Across Cosmic Time
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Risa Wechsler: Connecting Galaxies, Halos, and Star Formation Rates Across Cosmic Time

08/26/2009



Connecting Galaxies, Halos, and Star Formation Rates Across Cosmic Time



Risa Wechsler, Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology and Physics Department, Stanford University


Numerous complementary observations over the past decade have pinned down the initial conditions for structure formation just a few hundred thousand years after the big bang, and also indicate that the matter density of the Universe is dominated by "cold" dark matter (CDM). The non-linear evolution of structures can then be followed using numerical simulations of the dark matter distribution, which indicate that dark matter quickly clumps into bound objects known as dark matter halos. Recent studies indicate that galaxy properties are tightly correlated with the masses of these dark matter halo hosts. Dr. Wechsler will present a new observationally-motivated model for understanding how halo masses, galaxy stellar masses, and star formation rates are related, and how these relations evolve with time. This provides a framework for understanding a wide variety of galaxy properties and their evolution in the the context of the evolution of dark matter structure.



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Lecture 33
Natalie Batalha: Kepler's First Peek
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Natalie Batalha: Kepler's First Peek

09/02/2009



Kepler's First Peek



Natalie Batalha, Physics Department, San Jose State University

The Kepler Mission is designed to find Earth-sized exoplanets by staring at the same star field for the entire mission and continuously and simultaneously monitoring the brightnesses of more than 100,000 stars for the life of the mission—3.5 or more years. In this way, it will determine the fraction of stars that have habitable planets - a key part of the Drake Equation. Kepler was launched on March 6th on a Delta II rocket. Dr. Batalha will talk about the first stunning results from Kepler showing the phases of the atmosphere of a known gas giant planet with incredible accuracy.
Lecture 34
Darlene Lim: Pavilion Lake - Diving Deep to Get Us to the Moon and Mars
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Darlene Lim: Pavilion Lake - Diving Deep to Get Us to the Moon and Mars

09/09/2009



Pavilion Lake - Diving Deep to get us to the Moon and Mars



Darlene Lim, SETI Institute and NASA Ames Space Science Division

The Pavilion Lake Research Project (PLRP) is an international, multi-disciplinary, science and exploration effort to explain the origin of freshwater microbialites [link] in Pavilion Lake, British Columbia, Canada. Fossil microbialites represent some of the earliest remnants of life on ancient Earth, and were common from ~2.5 billion to 540 million years ago. Today, microbialites are found in what have been deemed ‘extreme’ environments. However, the microbialites in Pavilion Lake have provided a new environment for the scientific community to study that demonstrates that large, and uniquely shaped structures can also occur in non-extreme environments that also supports a complex and thriving ecosystem. *The PLRP activities integrate real science and exploration field activities in a hostile environment, hence the challenges associated with the research are analogous to those we will encounter on the Moon and Mars. As such, the field program is also providing scientific, operational and technical learning relevant to future human planetary exploration.



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Lecture 35
Paul Kalas: HST Imaging of Fomalhaut
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Paul Kalas: HST Imaging of Fomalhaut

09/16/2009



HST Imaging of Fomalhaut: Direct detection of an exosolar planet and Kuiper Belt around a nearby star



Paul Kalas, SETI Institute and University of California, Berkeley

Advances in high-contrast imaging have produced a new sample of spatially resolved debris disks with morphologies attributed to the dynamical effects of planets. I will briefly review several cases, including our recent non-detection of Beta Pictoris b using Keck adaptive optics at L-prime. Then I will focus on the case for a planetary system around the nearby A star Fomalhaut. Optical coronagraphic observations using the Advanced Camera for Surveys aboard HST shows a vast dusty debris belt offset from the star and cleanly sculpted at its inside border. Follow-up HST images have further revealed a co-moving point source with apparent orbital motion 18 AU interior to the dust belt. I will discuss both the observational and theoretical evidence that the point source is a planet with < 3 Jupiter masses, making Fomalhaut b the lowest mass planet candidate detected via direct imaging. I will give alternate explanations and discuss future plans for the detailed mapping of Fomalhaut's planetary system.
Lecture 36
Reid Parsons: Where is Mars' Ice?
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Reid Parsons: Where is Mars' Ice?

09/23/2009



Where is Mars' Ice? Constraints from impact craters and lobate debris aprons on a mid-latitude reservoir




Reid Parsons, Earth and Planetary Sciences Department, UC Santa Cruz

Ancient features such as outflow channels and phyllosilicate mineral outcrops, suggest a large amount of water was once present on the Martian surface. The volume of water required to form these features exceeds the current inventory of water frozen at the Martian poles. Observations of surface craters and large flow features known as lobate debris aprons provide insight into the amount of water ice stored in mid-latitudes.



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Lecture 37
Markus Aschwanden: Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections Observed with STEREO
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Markus Aschwanden: Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections Observed with STEREO

09/30/2009



Solar Flares and Coronal Mass Ejections Observed with STEREO



Markus Aschwanden

The STEREO mission, launched in 2006, consists of two identical spacecraft with EUV and white-light imagers that circle around the Sun in opposite direction and provide us for the first time a true stereoscopic view of solar flares and coronal mass ejections. We show some scientific highlights of this mission, including 3D reconstructions of the coronal plasma in active regions, eruptive flares, and mass ejections that propagate through the heliosphere.



- Presentation
Lecture 38
Nathan Bramall: Detecting Organics Using Fluorescence Spectroscopy
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Nathan Bramall: Detecting Organics Using Fluorescence Spectroscopy

10/7/2009



Detecting Organics Using Fluorescence Spectroscopy



Nathan Bramall, NASA Ames Space Science Division

Many important organic molecules fluoresce strongly enough to allow for their detection in terrestrial soils at the ppm level or better. Dr. Bramall will discuss a method has advantages over other methods of detecting organics in that it requires no reagents, is very quick, requires no sample handling, and can be rather specific. He has have developed several instruments and instrument concepts that will be presented.



- Slides
Lecture 39
Dr. Stefan Funk: Fermi-LAT Observing the Universe With High-Energy Gamma-Ray Eyes
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Dr. Stefan Funk: Fermi-LAT Observing the Universe With High-Energy Gamma-Ray Eyes

10/14/2009



Fermi-LAT Observing the Universe With High-Energy Gamma-Ray Eyes



Dr. Stefan Funk, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Stanford University

The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope, formerly called GLAST, is a satellite mission designed to measure gamma-rays in the energy range 20 MeV to >300 GeV, with supporting measurements for gamma-ray bursts from 8 keV to 30 MeV. In addition to breakthrough capabilities in energy coverage and localization, the very large field of view enables observations of 20% of the sky at any instant, and the entire sky on a timescale of a few hours. With its recent launch on 11 June 2008, Fermi now opens a new and important window on a wide variety of phenomena, including pulsars, black holes and active galactic nuclei, gamma-ray bursts, the origin of cosmic rays and supernova remnants, and searches for hypothetical new phenomena such as supersymmetric dark matter annihilations. Dr. Funk will discuss early results and science opportunities of investigations of the Universe with high-energy eyes.



- Slides
Lecture 40
Special Panel: LCROSS Mission - The First Results of the Impact
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Special Panel: LCROSS Mission - The First Results of the Impact

10/21/2009



Special Panel: LCROSS Mission - The First Results of the Impact



Tony Colaprete, Jennifer Heldmann and Diane Wooden

The Lunar Crater Observation and Remote Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission will impact into the lunar polar region on October 9th. The panelists, consisting of the mission Principle Investigator and two Science Co-Investigators, will discuss the first results obtained from the cameras and spectrometers aboard the shepherding spacecraft, as well as pictures of the impact taken around the world and in space by the Hubble Space Telescope. Will the LCROSS mission detect water in the lunar regolith? Did the mission work as planned? The panel will let us know.
Lecture 41
Elmar Fuchs: The Inner Structure of a Floating Water Bridge
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Elmar Fuchs: The Inner Structure of a Floating Water Bridge

10/28/2009



The Inner Structure of a Floating Water Bridge




Elmar Fuchs, Wetsus - Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Water Technology, The Netherlands

When high voltage is applied to distilled water filled into two beakers close to each other, a water connection forms spontaneously, giving the impression of a floating water bridge (Fuchs et al. 2007 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. *40* 6112-4, 2008 J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys. *41* 185502, Woisetschläger et al. 2009 Exp. Fluids 2009 (accepted)). This phenomenon is of special interest, since it comprises a number of phenomena currently tackled in modern water science. The first data on neutron scattering of a floating heavy water bridge and the preliminary results of inelastic UV scattering seem to support the 'bubble hypothesis' suggested earlier (Fuchs et al. 2009, J. Phys. D: Appl. Phys *42* 2009 065502). These measurements can be interpreted in accordance with the presence of electrically induced cavitation nano bubbles. The quantum field theory prediction of coherent domains (Del Giudice, Vitiello, personal communication 2008) cannot be excluded either, since such domains would reveal similar neutron scattering characteristics. However, since both nano bubbles and coherent domains are said to carry charge, an electrostatic mesoscopic network formed by either of them can be held directly responsible for the stability of the bridge and may thus explain one key feature of the phenomenon. Dr. Fuchs will explain the phenomenon and his latest results.



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Lecture 42
Ben Zuckerman: The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe - Some Great Challenges for SETI
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Ben Zuckerman: The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe - Some Great Challenges for SETI

11/4/2009



The Search for Intelligent Life in the Universe: Some Great Challenges for SETI



Ben Zuckerman, Physics and Astronomy Department, UCLA

The union of space telescopes and interstellar spaceships guarantees that if technological extraterrestrial civilizations were nearby or common, then someone would have come here long ago. Dr. Ben Zuckerman will discuss how construction of telescopes such as NASA's proposed Terrestrial Planet Finder enormously strengthens the force of arguments against the existence of nearby intelligent civilizations.



- Slides







 
Lecture 43
David Hollenbach: Water, Molecular Oxygen and Ice in Star-Forming Molecular Clouds
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David Hollenbach: Water, Molecular Oxygen and Ice in Star-Forming Molecular Clouds

11/10/2009

[note: this week's seminar is on Tuesday due to Veterans Day on Nov 11]



Water, Molecular Oxygen and Ice in Star-Forming Molecular Clouds




David Hollenbach, SETI Institute


The Oxygen is the third most abundant element in the universe and its molecules (oxygen, water, carbon dioxide) a basic ingredient of life on Earth. Oxygen chemistry in the interstellar molecular clouds which form stars and planets has long been a mystery. We discuss that mystery and propose its resolution in this talk. Its resolution also suggests a way to synthesize complex carbon molecules in interstellar clouds and in protoplanetary disks.



- Slides
Lecture 44
Linda Spilker: The Rings of Saturn as seen by Cassini CIRS
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Linda Spilker: The Rings of Saturn as seen by Cassini CIRS

11/18/2009



The Rings of Saturn as seen by Cassini CIRS



Linda Spilker, Jet Propulsion Laboratory


An extensive set of thermal measurements of Saturn’s main rings has been returned by the Cassini Composite Infrared spectrometer (CIRS) over the past five years at a variety of ring geometries that are not observable from Earth. The largest temperature changes on the lit face of the rings are driven by variations in phase angle, including an unexpected thermal surge at low phase angles. Temperatures at equinox were retrieved for the first time, as the sun traversed from the south to north side of the rings in mid-August. Thermal phase curves, our preliminary equinox results and thermal modeling will be presented.
Lecture 45
Claudio Maccone: Deep Space Flight and Communications
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Claudio Maccone: Deep Space Flight and Communications

11/25/2009



Deep Space Flight and Communications: SETI, KLT and Astronautics in a 2009 Book



Claudio Maccone, Co-Vice Chair of the SETI Permanent Study Group, International Academy of Astronautics


Dr. Maccone's new technical book about SETI, KLT and space missions to the Sun gravity focus will be presented in this talk. This 400-page book is entitled "Deep Space Flight and Communications", costs (unfortunately) over $100, and is divided into two parts: (1) The first 200 pages describe the astrophysics of light-bending caused by the mass of the Sun. Since the minimal focal distance turns out to lie in between 550 and 1000 AU, any future space mission to exploit this effect must necessarily be a "deep space mission". These FOCAL space missions are studied in the book and a Phase A Proposal was submitted by Dr. Maccone to ESA back in 2000. He now argues that a similar Proposal should be submitted to NASA. (2) The second part of the book is devoted to the KLT as optimal telecommunication tool (better than the FFT). The KLT for SETI was presented by the author in various talks, but, in this book, the reader will find the relativistic KLT also. This is useful to keep the radio link between the Earth and any deep-space spacecraft, such as the FOCAL spacecrafts to 550 AU. Dr. Maccone discovered mathematically that the relativistic KLT eigenfunctions are Bessel functions of the first kind, and that the KLT eigenvalues are the zeros of such Bessel functions. All this paves the way to "Star-Trek-like" relativistic space flights of the future.



- Presentation
Lecture 46
Lauren Wye: Titan's Ontario Lacus
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Lauren Wye: Titan's Ontario Lacus

12/2/2009



Titan's Ontario Lacus: Smoothness Constraints from Cassini RADAR



Lauren Wye, Department of Electrical Engineering, Stanford University

The Cassini spacecraft has been orbiting Saturn since 2004, with frequent flybys of the largest moon Titan. With its thick atmosphere rich in nitrogen and hydrocarbons, it was once thought that Titan was covered in a global ocean of methane. Cassini optical and microwave imaging instruments have since revealed a world with a solid surface, strikingly similar in physical appearance to Earth, complete with lakes of liquid methane/ethane in the polar regions. Cassini RADAR altimetry data collected on the 49th flyby of Titan (2008 December 21) over Ontario Lacus, the largest lake in the south polar region, show signatures of a specular reflection so strong that it saturated the radar receiver. From the specular echo strength, which declines exponentially with increasing surface height variance, we are able to constrain the rms surface height variation to be less than 3 mm over the 100m-wide Fresnel zone. Lauren Wye will review her analysis of this data and the implications for wind speeds and surface material properties.



- Slides
Lecture 47
Steven S. Vogt: Finding Planets Around Nearby Stars
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Steven S. Vogt: Finding Planets Around Nearby Stars

12/9/2009



Finding Planets Around Nearby Stars: The Lick-Carnegie Extrasolar Planet Search Program



Steven S. Vogt, UCO/Lick Observatory, UC Santa Cruz

There are currently over 350 known extrasolar planets, the vast majority discovered through detection of periodic barycentric reflex motion of the planet's host star via high-precision Doppler radial velocity measurements. The Lick-Carnegie Extrasolar Planet Search Program is one such precision Doppler-based planet survey. It is currently monitoring over 1330 nearby F,G,K, and M stars for planets at 2-3 m/sec precision, and has contributed over 70% of the presently-known exoplanets. These extrasolar planetary systems display an unexpected diversity of orbital period, size, and eccentricity, and the emerging database is providing new insight into the origins and evolution of planetary systems. This talk will give a brief review of our program, reviewing details of the detection method, recent results, and future directions. The talk will also highlight the 2.4-meter Automated Planet Finder, nearing completion at Lick Observatory.
Lecture 48
Gerry Harp: Exploring Alternative SETI Search Algorithms with the ATA
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Gerry Harp: Exploring Alternative SETI Search Algorithms with the ATA

12/16/2009



Exploring Alternative SETI Search Algorithms with the ATA



Gerry Harp , SETI Institute

As a novel, many-element interferometer, the ATA supports radically different observing modes than any single-dish, yet performs very well in single-dish mode using beamformers. The cutting edge technology of ATA allows simultaneous data processing in 3 different modes: spectral imaging, ultra-high resolution single-point observing, and high speed data capture. The latter mode allows the application of any algorithm you can imagine on time-series data.



In this talk Dr. Harp describe several new or "almost new" SETI algorithms that have been explored or implemented on the ATA. Recent results from prototype SETI observations are shown. These new algorithms are contrasted with standard SETI analysis and Dr. Harp will show how they may augment the search on next generation of SETI analyzers.