Space Notes
Volume: 4
Issue: 3
March 2006

 In this issue:
Center Research
New Funding

Vincent Chevrier, a postdoctoral researcher at the space center, has recently been approved for funding by the Arkansas Space Grant Consortium for a proposal entitled “The surface of Mars:  properties and evolution.”  The proposal is co-authored by Dr. Derek Sears, the director of the space center and a faculty member in the department of Chemistry & Biochemistry. 

The proposal details two experiments relevant to the physical and chemical activity of water on the surface of Mars.  The first experiment is to build a simulation chamber that simulates gully formation under Martian conditions (low pressure and low temperature).  The chamber data could better characterize water stability in Martian conditions, a highly pertinent problem in the current research about Mars.  The second experiment aims to study the effect of meteoritic impacts on clays, as a possible origin for the red dust color that colors the surface of Mars.  Indeed, clays have been found in the highly craterized southern Martian crust, making impact related products a possibly important contribution to the surface properties of Mars. 

The experiments would involve one or two undergraduate or graduate students to build the chamber, perform the experiments and analyze the results.

LPSC 2006

The Lunar and Planetary Science Conference in Houston from March 13-17 was attended by many of the space center’s faculty members, graduate students, and former REU students.  Below is a list of the people who attended the conference:

Faculty/staff:  Derek Sears (Chemistry & Biochemistry), Larry Lebofsky (Visiting Professor), John Dixon (Geosciences), Vincent Chevrier (Post-Doctoral Researcher)

Graduate students:  Melissa Franzen, Julie Chittenden, Katie Bryson, Lisa Billingsley, Jon Craig, Charles Cothren

Undergraduate students (REU 2005):  Jennifer Hanley, Jason Kramb, Lucija Rakocevic, Daniel Ostrowski, Zackery Smith, Jessica Haseltine

Below is a list of presentations made at the conference:

“Thermodynanics of Clay Minerals on Mars: Insight into the Geochemical Environment of Early Mars”  Vincent Chevrier

“Soil Effects on the Evaporation Rate of Pure Water Ice Under Martian Conditions”  Julie Chittenden, Derek W.G. Sears, Vincent Chevrier, Jennifer Hanley, Larry Roe

“Fluidization as a Potential Mechanism for Formation of Polar Surface Features on Asteroid Itokowa”  Melissa Franzen, Jessica Haseltine, Jason Kramb, Daniel Ostrowski, Derek W.G. Sears

“Fluidization from Continuous Outgassing as a Cause of Geological Structures on 433 Eros”  Jessica Haseltine, Melissa Franzen, Derek W.G. Sears

“Martian Sinkholes: Implications for Large Scale Evaporite Deposits”  Zackery Smith, Jason Tullis, Ken Steele, L. Malfavon

“STORI and ORION: Bringing Inquiry Into the Classroom”  Larry Lebofsky, Nancy Lebofsky, Derek W.G. Sears, B. Schmitt

“Digitization and Web Access of a Historic Collection of Remotely-Sensed Imagery”  Lucija Rakocevic, John Dixon, Charles Cothren, Jan Dixon

Public Outreach
Rick Ulrich

Rick Ulrich, a member of the space center and a faculty member in the department of Chemical Engineering, recently gave a public lecture entitled “Human and Natural Influences on Climate Change:  Who’s Doing What?” as part of the space center’s Arkansas Public Lectures in Space and Planetary Science series.The lecture focused on how our climate has changed in the past and if carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases play a role in global warming today.  Dr. Ulrich’s presentation can be viewed on the space center Web site on the public lecture archives page.

Public Outreach
Upcoming Public Lectures

  The first is the Barringer Lecture, which is sponsored by the Barringer Crater Company.  Guy J. Consolmagno will present this semester’s lecture, and his talk is entitled, “Meteorite Porosity and Asteroid Structure:  Are Asteroids Fluffy?”  He divides his time between Tucson, Arizona, where he observes asteroids and Kuiper Belt comets and the Vatican, where he serves as curator of the Vatican Meteorite collection.  He will discuss asteroid density and how asteroids are put together - with implications both for the origin of planets and for future human encounters with Near Earth Objects.

The second lecture is part of the Arkansas Public Lectures in Space and Planetary Science series, and it will be given by Tim Kral, a member of the space center and a faculty member in the department of Biological Sciences.  Dr. Kral’s talk is entitled “Life on Mars.”  He will discuss the new ways that scientists are searching for evidence of extinct or extant martian life.

Public Outreach
Good Shepherd Church

Recently, three space center graduate students gave a series of talks to a group of people at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Fayetteville as part of their Winter School series.  Sammy Grimes talked about extrasolar planets.  His mentor is Dr. Tim Kral (Biological Sciences).  Julie Chittenden talked about water on Mars.  Her mentor is Dr. Derek Sears (Chemistry & Biochemistry).  Kathy Gietzen talked about asteroids.  Her mentor is Dr. Claud Lacy (Physics).


Kathy Gietzen

Space Center Graduate Student


Sammy Grimes

Space Center Graduate Student


Julie Chittenden

Space Center Graduate Student