CSExtra – Friday, March 9, 2012
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Friday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. The chair of the House appropriations panel with jurisdiction over NASA blocks an early effort by the agency to withdraw from a joint Mars exploration initiative with the European Space Agency. One of the largest solar storms in years delivers a less than anticipated punch as it reaches the Earth on Thursday. NASA’s technology investments boost small business, jobs. Shuttle Discovery’s flying days ended a year ago Friday, with some challenging moments for the pilots. Scientists offer an explanation for the moon’s irregular magnetic field.
1. From Aviation Week & Space Technology: NASA’s plans to immediately withdraw from a joint Mars exploration program with the European Space Agency are thwarted by Frank Wolf, the Virginian congressman who chairs the House appropriations panel with jurisdiction over the agency’s budget. Wolf’s refusal to support the withdrawal applies to the 2012, or current, fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30. The Administration’s proposed 2013 budget, which includes the withdrawal, has just started to receive its annual Congressional scrutiny, which Wolf believes is necessary before the collaboration is halted. http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news/awx/2012/03/08/awx_03_08_2012_p0-434301.xml&headline=Appropriators%20Blocking%20Mars%20Mission%20Move
2. From the New York Times: The powerful solar storm predicted to reach Earth early Thursday arrives with considerably less punch than anticipated. But there are more storms to come. http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/09/science/space/solar-storm-reaches-earth-and-experts-say-to-expect-more.html?_r=2&ref=science
A. From the Christian Science Monitor: Why the increase in intense solar flares? It’s part of a normal solar cycle, which typically takes between nine and 14 years to complete. The phenomena, still not well understood, may be tied to reversals of the sun’s north and south poles. http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0308/Why-are-there-so-many-solar-flares-these-days-video
B. From Space.com: The Earth’s magnetic field offers a natural shield to astronauts living aboard the International Space Station from the radiation unleashed during solar storms. http://www.space.com/14844-solar-storm-radiation-risk-astronauts.html
3. From the Huntsville Times: NASA’s use of Small Business Innovation Research Program contracts fosters new jobs through innovation, the agency’s chief technologist, Mason Peck, notes in a visit to one of the contractors. CFD Research supports about 100 jobs in bio medicine, biotechnology and engineering test and evaluation. http://blog.al.com/huntsville-times-business/2012/03/nasas_new_chief_technologist_t.html
4. From Spaceflightnow.com: The shuttle Discovery’s flying days ended a year ago Friday, as the winged spacecraft returned to Earth with a landing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The weather was dynamic, mission commander Steve Lindsay recalls. A year after touchdown, Discovery is weeks away from a ferry flight to Dulles International Airport near Washington D. C., where it will go on display under the care of the Smithsonian Institution. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/shuttle/sts133/anniversary/
5. From Space.com: The moon’s irregular magnetic field has puzzled scientists since the Apollo-era. New studies suggest the puzzle may be linked to one of the largest known impact craters in the solar system, the moon’s South Pole Aitken Basin. The nearly 1,400 mile wide depression was created by a massive asteroid strike that delivered the magnetic material, according to a study reported in the most recent issue of Science magazine. http://www.space.com/14836-asteroid-collision-moon-magnetism.html
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