Mars Updates, Saturn Additions and The Dawn and Rosetta Space Missions-From the Large to the Small

This talk will provide some of the recent information about Mars such as the discovery of organic compounds much like those that were formed from early life on Earth. Additional highlights include the likely existance of liquid water buried below the surface of Mars, the presence of methane gas on a yearly basis, and a new theory about Mar’s moons. In the case of Saturn there will be some beautiful videos, more information about Saturn’s moon’s, Saturn’s rings, and the “Grand Finale” plunge.

The NASA Dawn space mission was launched in 2007 to explore two of the three proto planets in the solar system, Vesta and Ceres which are located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The Dawn spacecraft entered in orbit around Vesta in July 2011 and the went into orbit around Ceres in March 2015 and is now in its last and lowest orbit at only 35 km above Ceres. Ceres contains 200 million cubic kilometers of water in its mantle which is more than all of the fresh water on earth. Vesta is 220km in size and in contrast is a water poor world with a metallic iron nickel core. In this talk the detailed images of these asteroids will be presented and the very interesting geography and geology of both asteroids will be discussed. Vesta for example has some massive craters with one called Rheasilvia being 19km deep with a central peak 23km above the crater floor.

The last part of the talk will be about the ESA’s Rosetta mission to the comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko. It is the only mission to orbit a comet and it was able to study the comet as it moved towards the sun. One of its notable results was determining that the comet has a Deuterium to Hydrogen ration 3x higher than on earth. This strongly indicates that earth’s water is not likely to have come from comets. Video