NASA News: Seattle Museum Of Flight Hosts NASA Future Forum Dec. 9

WASHINGTON -- The second NASA Future Forum of 2011 will be held at The
Museum of Flight in Seattle on Friday, Dec. 9 from 9 a.m. to 12:30
p.m. PST. The forum will bring together NASA officials and local
business and commercial space leaders to discuss the agency's role in
advancing innovation, technology, science, engineering and education,
and NASA's benefit to the nation's economy.

The forum will feature panel discussions on the importance of these
areas to the nation's economic future as well as commercial space
investments and their benefits. Speakers will include NASA Deputy
Administrator Lori Garver, Seattle's Museum of Flight President and
CEO Doug King, and panelists from Aerojet, Blue Origin, Boeing,
Sierra Nevada, SpaceX, the University of Washington, Virgin Galactic
and the Washington Technology Industry Association.

Media representatives interested in attending the forum should contact
David Steitz at david.steitz@nasa.gov or 202-358-1730 by 3 p.m. PST
on Wednesday, Dec. 7. The forum is open to the public but
preregistration is required. Space is limited. Registration will
close after meeting space capacity has been met. Public registration
is available online at:


The forum will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed
online at:


Social media users can participate in the forum via Twitter using the
hashtag: #NASAFuture. During the event, Tweeps can submit questions
by including @NASA_Technology in their tweet.

For more information about the Seattle Museum of Flight, visit:


For more information about NASA and agency programs, visit:



NASA Named One of Best Places to Work in Government

WASHINGTON -- NASA remains one of the best places to work in the
federal government. In a survey released today by the Partnership for
Public Service, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization, the agency
retains its ranking of number five.

"Those of us at NASA know it's a great place to work." said NASA
Administrator Charles Bolden. "We are the world leader in space
exploration and cutting-edge science missions, and contribute to the
economic vitality of our great nation. We reach for new heights and
challenge our employees to carry out missions to benefit humankind.
What job could be better than that?"

The rankings draw on the U.S. Office of Personnel Management's
Employee Viewpoint Survey of more than 150,000 executive branch
employees. The evaluation helps job-seekers assess agencies and
federal managers improve their workplaces.

NASA this week opened up recruitment for the 2013 class of astronauts,
who will fly to the International Space Station and visit farther
destinations such as Mars. As the agency enters a new era of
exploration and develops new capabilities to explore the solar system
and beyond, workers with a wide range of skills and interests will be critical.

For more about NASA, visit:



NASA Probe Data Show Evidence Of Liquid Water On Icy Europa

WASHINGTON -- Data from a NASA planetary mission have provided
scientists evidence of what appears to be a body of liquid water,
equal in volume to the North American Great Lakes, beneath the icy
surface of Jupiter's moon, Europa.

The data suggest there is significant exchange between Europa's icy
shell and the ocean beneath. This information could bolster arguments
that Europa's global subsurface ocean represents a potential habitat
for life elsewhere in our solar system. The findings are published in
the scientific journal Nature.

"The data opens up some compelling possibilities," said Mary Voytek,
director of NASA's Astrobiology Program at agency headquarters in
Washington. "However, scientists worldwide will want to take a close
look at this analysis and review the data before we can fully
appreciate the implication of these results."

NASA's Galileo spacecraft, launched by the space shuttle Atlantis in
1989 to Jupiter, produced numerous discoveries and provided
scientists decades of data to analyze. Galileo studied Jupiter, which
is the most massive planet in the solar system, and some of its many moons.

One of the most significant discoveries was the inference of a global
salt water ocean below the surface of Europa. This ocean is deep
enough to cover the whole surface of Europa and contains more liquid
water than all of Earth's oceans combined. However, being far from
the sun, the ocean surface is completely frozen. Most scientists
think this ice crust is tens of miles thick.

"One opinion in the scientific community has been if the ice shell is
thick, that's bad for biology. That might mean the surface isn't
communicating with the underlying ocean," said Britney Schmidt, lead
author of the paper and postdoctoral fellow at the Institute for
Geophysics, University of Texas at Austin. "Now, we see evidence that
it's a thick ice shell that can mix vigorously and new evidence for
giant shallow lakes. That could make Europa and its ocean more habitable."

Schmidt and her team focused on Galileo images of two roughly
circular, bumpy features on Europa's surface called chaos terrains.
Based on similar processes seen on Earth -- on ice shelves and under
glaciers overlaying volcanoes -- they developed a four-step model to
explain how the features form. The model resolves several conflicting
observations. Some seemed to suggest the ice shell is thick. Others
suggest it is thin.

This recent analysis shows the chaos features on Europa's surface may
be formed by mechanisms that involve significant exchange between the
icy shell and the underlying lake. This provides a mechanism or model
for transferring nutrients and energy between the surface and the
vast global ocean already inferred to exist below the thick ice
shell. This is thought to increase the potential for life there.

The study authors have good reason to believe their model is correct,
based on observations of Europa from Galileo and of Earth. Still,
because the inferred lakes are several miles below the surface, the
only true confirmation of their presence would come from a future
spacecraft mission designed to probe the ice shell. Such a mission
was rated as the second highest priority flagship mission by the
National Research Council's recent Planetary Science Decadal Survey
and is being studied by NASA.

"This new understanding of processes on Europa would not have been
possible without the foundation of the last 20 years of observations
over Earth's ice sheets and floating ice shelves," said Don
Blankenship, a co-author and senior research scientist at the
Institute for Geophysics, where he leads airborne radar studies of
the planet's ice sheets.

Galileo was the first spacecraft to directly measure Jupiter's
atmosphere with a probe and conduct long-term observations of the
Jovian system. The probe was the first to fly by an asteroid and
discover the moon of an asteroid. NASA extended the mission three
times to take advantage of Galileo's unique science capabilities, and
it was put on a collision course into Jupiter's atmosphere in
September 2003 to eliminate any chance of impacting Europa.

The Galileo mission was managed by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in
Pasadena, Calif., for the agency's Science Mission Directorate.

For images and a video animation of the findings, visit:


For more information about the Galileo mission, visit:



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