August 2, 2004Storm delays MESSENGER liftoff
The launch of the MESSENGER space probe to Mercury, scheduled for August 2, 2004, was scrubbed because of bad weather from Tropical Storm Alex. Flight controllers will next attempt to launch the spacecraft at 2:16 A.M.
, August 3rd. — Robert BurnhamVisiting Mars through the web
Initially a tool providing scientists with data and helping them select potential landing sites on Mars, a NASA web site has evolved to serve the general public. Marsoweb
allows all visitors to use tools to explore wide, immense regions or finer details of the Red Planet's surface.
Marsoweb changes occurred largely due to the overwhelming response the site received in January, after the Mars Exploration Rover Spirit landed on Mars. The site encountered over 26.7 million hits in the month following the landing.
"An interactive data map on Marsoweb allows users to view most Mars data including images, thermal inertia, geologic and topographical maps and engineering data that includes rock abundance," says Virginia Gulick from NASA's Ames Research Center.
"The engineering data give scientists an idea of how smooth or rocky the local surface is."
NASA researchers plan to encourage visitors to survey Mars virtually in search of significant geologic features hidden in thousands of surface images. Beginning in November 2006, researchers hope volunteers will help with imaging from an upcoming Mars imaging mission. Aboard the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) will image objects about a meter wide on the Red Planet's surface.
"We will ask volunteers to help us create geologic feature databases of boulders, gullies, craters any kind of geologic feature that may be of interest," says Gulick. "Scientists or students can use these databases to propose theories about Mars that could be proven by future exploration." — Jeremy McGovern