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Bruce's Blog

What's Up

with Bruce Betts

Our resident planetary scientist and Director of Projects will keep you up to date on all the exciting projects we are working on. From searching for dangerous asteroids to flying our very own solar sail spacecraft, Bruce will make sure you know what's going on plus enlighten you with his unique bits of space trivia with Random Space Facts, too!

Bruce Betts

Solar Sail Update: New Opportunities

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2009/04/01 12:00 CDT

At the beginning of this decade, we designed a mission to accomplish this goal. We launched Cosmos 1 in June 2005, but the Volna rocket that was to place the spacecraft in orbit failed, and we were never able to test our solar sail in flight. These days, The Planetary Society is working with colleagues at NASA and at the Russian Space Research Institute to put together a new solar sail mission.

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Mars Climate Sounder Collects 20 Millionth Sounding

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2008/03/10 12:00 CDT

Last week Mars Climate Sounder collected its 20 millionth sounding at Mars. Mars Climate Sounder is scanning without problems, collecting science observations of the atmosphere of Mars. Mars Climate Sounder has now been observing Mars for over 17 months (three quarters of a Mars year and also approximately three quarters of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter primary science mission).

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Planetary Society's Optical SETI Telescope Offers Online View of Night sky

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2007/10/30 12:00 CDT

The Planetary Society's Optical SETI Telescope was built solely to search for possible light signals from alien civilizations. Located at Oak Ridge Observatory in Harvard, Massachusetts, it is the first dedicated Optical SETI telescope in the world. Its 72-inch primary mirror also makes it larger than any optical telescope in the U.S. east of the Mississippi river.

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Millions of soundings yield clues to Mars' weather

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2007/04/03 12:00 CDT

Two months after the start of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's primary science phase, the Mars Climate Sounder instrument has already acquired more than four million soundings, building toward a vast data set on the three-dimensional structure of Mars' atmosphere over the full Martian year of the orbiter's nominal mission.

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Updates from Past Recipients of the Shoemaker NEO Grants

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2007/03/01 11:00 CST

Update as of March 4, 2007 Thanks to The Planetary Society Shoemaker Grant, the 1.06-meter KLENOT telescope optics was completed at the Klet Observatory. Regular observations of the KLENOT project started in March 2002 under the new IAU/MPC code 246, so we can now present results covering 5 years of this work.

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Updates from Past Recipients of the Shoemaker NEO Grants

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2006/07/18 12:00 CDT

Update as of July 13, 2006 Using the Shoemaker NEO Grant funds, Minor Planet Research has purchased a 1.7-terabyte data server for our Asteroid Discovery Station (ADS) education outreach program Through the generosity of Dr. Philip Christensen, this server is housed at the Mars Space Flight Facility (MSFF) at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.

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Telescope shows its Amazing Capabilities

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2006/07/11 12:00 CDT

During a few observation sessions in late April, the new Optical SETI Telescope was already demonstrating its amazing capabilities. Over three nights, the telescope completed 17 hours of observation, under the direction of Paul Horowitz and his team of Harvard graduate students. During that time, the telescope observed 1% of the sky, looking for the briefest flashes of light coming from outer space.

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The Planetary Society Optical SETI Telescope Opens

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2006/04/28 12:00 CDT

On April 11, 2006, a new era dawned in the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) with the dedication and beginning of operations of The Planetary Society Optical SETI Telescope in Harvard, Massachusetts. It is the first devoted optical SETI telescope in the world. The telescope was constructed by Paul Horowitz and his group at Harvard University using funding from Planetary Society members.

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Updates from Past Recipients of the Shoemaker NEO Grants

Posted by Bruce Betts on 2005/08/17 12:00 CDT

Update as of July 28, 2005 Following last year's Potentially Hazardous Asteroid and a few other non-main-belt discoveries, I looked into what improvements I could make to more efficiently image the sky. The major advance involved the design of a 3-lens corrector comprising 2 stock lenses and a custom lens I made myself.

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