The Woodlands Waterway Marriott, North of Houston. This week March 7-11 was the big Lunar and Planetary Science Conference (LPSC) in the Woodlands. Monday afternoon scientist Robin Canup lectured on formation of planetary satellites. Later Monday the MESSENGER team reported on the spacecraft's approach to Mercury orbit, due this St. Patricks Day!
Tuesday afternoon we heard new results from the Mars meteorite team at Johnson Space Center. Study of the Nahkla Martian meteorite show sings of carbonates, a key indicator of life. Tuesday evening the Antarctic Meteorite search (ANSMET) reported on 1200 new meteorites recovered from Antarctica to JSC.
Thursday morning Japanese researchers reported that the Hayabusa spacecraft had returned tiny particles of asteroid regolith to Earth. The roundtrip journey to asteroid Itokawa took seven years! On the way three of the spacecraft's four ion thrusters failed. Finally in 2010 the sample capsule returned by parachute to Australia. We hope to learn more about asteroids for future human missions.
We also heard the first news about the enormous earthquake and tsunami in Japan. The more we understand Earth and the processes within its interior, the better prepared we will be. The source of Earth's core heat could be mysterious as a Black Hole.
In Woodlands you might also have heard this presentation:
Lunar Orbit Anomaly and GM=tc^3 Cosmology
INTRODUCTION: Studies of the Moon, made thanks to Johnson Space Center, have confirmed a large anomaly in lunar orbital evolution. The Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment (LLRE) has reported the Moon's semimajor axis increasing at 3.82±.07 cm/yr, anomalously high. Tidal data indicates a recession rate of only 2.9 ± 0.6 cm/yr. Additional observations independently measure a recession rate of 2.82 ± .08 cm/yr. A cosmology where speed of light c is related to time t by GM=tc^3 has been suggested to predict the redshifts of Type Ia supernovae. By this hypothesis, lunar orbital distance would appear to increase an additional 0.935 cm/yr. An anomaly in the lunar orbit may be precisely accounted for, shedding light on puzzles of "dark energy.'' This hypothesis may also explain the “faint young sun” paradox of astrophysics.