WUSTL-led Moon mission is finalist for NASA’s next big space venture

Nearly 40 years after the Apollo astronauts first brought samples of the Moon to Earth for study, researchers from Washington University in St. Louis are leading an effort to return to the Moon for samples that could unlock secrets of the early Solar System. Known as MoonRise, the proposed Moon mission is one of three finalists now bidding to become NASA’s next big space science venture, a $650 million mission that would launch before 2019.

NASA spacecraft read layered clues to changes on Mars

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona.Polar layered deposits exposed in a scarp at the head of Chasma Boreale, a large canyon on Mars.Mars climate history, recorded in ice-rich deposits near the poles, on crater-wall cliffs and ancient sand dunes, is being revealed by a trio of NASA instruments now flying over and rolling across the planet, suggest Washington University in St. Louis researchers playing key roles in the mission.

Washington University physicists begin measurement of Genesis samples

USAF 388th Range SqdGenesis was recovered in the Utah desert with fears that all data were lost.Scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have begun to measure noble gases present in the solar wind delivered to Earth by the Genesis spacecraft, the first sample return mission since the lunar Apollo missions in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Washington University CubeSat readied for NASA/Air force competition

David Kilper / WUSTL PhotoFailure at a university is a word with bad connotations, unless you are involved in building experimental satellites that the U.S. Air Force and NASA find interesting. An aerospace engineer at Washington University in St. Louis who works with students building experimental spacecraft says student-built spacecraft, which he calls “university-class,” have a strong advantage over aerospace industry-built spacecraft: the freedom to fail.

News coverage spotlights WUSTL’s role in Mars exploration

Courtesy NASA/JPL/CornellArtist’s rendition of the rover on Mars.Washington University faculty, staff and students are making critical contributions to the success of NASA’s ongoing rover mission to Mars. Visit here for links to the latest news on the 2004 Mars Rover Mission, as well as background on other Mars-related research at Washington University.

Student project flies with NASA

Courtesy photoThe Trans-Iron Galactic Element Recorder (TIGER) at the McMurdo base in Anarctica. Aria-9, a joint Washington University/NASA K-12 research project, is scheduled for mid-December; it involves measuring galactic cosmic rays.An estimated 1,000 students from 28 K-12 schools from Missouri, Illinois, Washington D.C., New Jersey, Montana, and Queensland, Australia are participating in Aria-9, student experiment packages that get tested on NASA space flights. The Aria-9 is the latest Washington University in St. Louis Project Aria’s “fly-and-compare” K-12 experiment packages, according to Keith Bennett, adjunct assistant professor of computer science and engineering at Washington University in St. Louis, and Aria project director.

50-year-old hypothesis validated as experiments show how liquid metals resist turning solid

A levitated droplet during heating by a laser to just above the melting temperature.Using the Electrostatic Levitator at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, a physicist at Washington University in St. Louis led a research team that validated a 50-year-old hypothesis explaining how liquid metals resist turning into solids. The research, led by Ken Kelton, Ph.D., a professor of physics in Arts & Sciences at Washington University, is featured in the July 2003 issue of Physics Today, including an image on the magazine’s cover of a solid drop of metal suspended inside the levitator. The NASA-funded research challenges theories about how crystals form by a process called nucleation, important in everything from materials to biological systems.”Nucleation is everywhere,” says Kelton. “It’s the major way physical systems change from one phase to another. The better we understand it, the better we can tailor the properties of materials to meet specific needs.”