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The Space Gazette

Space for Everyone      -      November 16, 2001     -         Vol. 1 No.10

Space Science

Mars Imaging
by Students

Student groups in grades 5-12 will soon begin submitting proposals to aim the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) camera on the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft, which recently entered orbit around the planet.

(See the first images from the Odyssey using the THEMIS camera.)

The Mars Student Imaging Project (MSIP) is a joint collaboration of NASA, JPL and the THEMIS team at Arizon State University.

In the MSIP program, students under the guidance of a teacher will choose a target site for the imager according to its scientific interest.

Winning teams go to ASU to carry out the project over a 3-5 day period or do the project over the internet.

See the MSIP FAQ for more details.

Note an earlier contest at the Planetary Society in which student winners selected targets for the Mars Global Surveryor camera: Planetary Society Students find Mars Mystery - Feb.22.01 * Budding young scientists set their sights on Martian soil - JPL - Feb.14.0

Space Controversies:
   Space & the Military

Space & War

Here are a few of the space related stories that have arisen in the past several weeks from the WTC destruction and the resulting war on terrorism:

Students & the expedition 3 crew discussed the events of Sept. 11 using the on-board ham radio station. Students from P.S. 234 in New York City near the WTC talked with the space station astronauts as the station raced overhead about what could be seen of the destruction from space and the impact it had on them.
Kids get a space perspective on war - MSNBC - Nov.7.01

Commercial spysats & the war: The Defense Department bought exclusive rights for the next couple of months to all imagery of the Afghanistan region by the Ikonos satellite, which is owned and operated by Space Imaging company, a subsidiary of of Lockheed-Martin. Military Buys Exclusive Rights to Space Imaging's Pictures of Afghanistan War Zone - Space.com - Oct.15.01

This avoided the constitutional problems if DOD had tried to apply "shutter control" and restrict access to commercial images.

Meanwhile, the Israeli based ImageSat International company has posted images of Afghanistan taken by its Eros-A1 satellite.

See more articles in Eyes in the Sky section.

Satellite phone assistance: The use of satellite phones at the WTC site, when most cell phone antennas in the area were destroyed, and now in Afghanistan have shown the value of such systems for emergency backup and for telecommunications in remote areas.

Iridium and GlobalStar companies distributed free phones to emergency workers at the WTC site. The $5 billion Iridium system was sold after bankruptcy for only $25 million. The system has now become viable due to a large contract with the US defense department and with increasing use by civilians who work in remove areas, e.g. ocean oil platforms, and for emergency backup.

Thuraya phones, which use a geostationary satellite to serve the region of Europe, Africa, and Asia, has become quite popular during the crisis, even with the supposedly anti-technology Taliban - Rumsfeld Says Taliban Have Satellite Telephones - Space.com - Nov.14.01

The Inmarsat based videophones have become essential tools for reporters in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Videophones give reporters an edge - CNET.com - Sept.12.01

See more sat phone related articles in the Investing section.

GPS & the war: The Global Positioning System was initially created by the Defense department for a number of military applications ranging from bomb guidance to soldiers locating themselves on the battlefield. Various civilian uses soon developed, such as navigation for ships and airplanes, and in the Gulf War, some soldiers even obtained civilian navigators due to a shortage of military units.

As the civilian applications have spread, a question has arisen as to what extent the system could be scrambled during wartime to reduce its benefits to the enemy but avoid chaos in the civilian systems that rely on it.

Apparently, in the current situation, the system is degraded just within the Afghanistan area. Pentagon is probably jamming GPS in Afghanistan, experts say - Computerworld - Oct.26.01 * Pentagon Denies GPS to Taliban - Wired - Oct.20.01.

The GPS is also being used to map out the WTC site: Satellites Aid Recovery at Trade Center - ABCNEWS.com - Nov.14.01

See more GPS related articles in the GPS section.

Previous space news:

Articles Index


See also  
Space Headlines
RLV News
News Links

Living Space * Multimedia

A Feeling of
Being There

Psychologists call it internalizing. That is, knowing something in your head is not the same as knowing it in your gut.

We see the occasional news clip of astronauts on the space station or images from Mars probes, but few of us in the general public know outer space as any more than an abstraction, not a place as real as the earth we live on.

I noticed this difference myself when I read Andrew Chaikin's famous A Man on the Moon history of the Apollo missions.

Inspired by his great storytelling talents, for the first time I felt like I knew what space was like. I could actually hear the ventillator fans and breakers clicking in the command module on the way to the Moon. I could really feel the crunch of the Moon dust under my feet as the astronauts explored the terrain.

Besides encouraging people to read this wonderful book, I've sought ways to bring this reality of space to a wider audience.

The Satellite Ground Station projects, for example, described in the Radio section can bring a sense of participation in the space telecommunication infrastructure around us.

The Living Space section is another attempt to encourage this internalizing by connecting people to what's happening right now in space.

It displays various images and data that are arriving in real or near-real time from various satellites and deep-space probes.

The new Space Viewers are framed pages that provide a more convenient way to display the various data from space weather sensors, deep space probes, and Earth observation satellites.

Of course, eventually space rides or capabilities such as controlling rovers on the Moon & Mars will serve to bring home the reality of space to a huge audience.


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