CSExtra – Monday, May 14, 2012
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Monday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world, plus a roundup of weekend happenings. In Russia, U. S. and Russian astronauts prepare to lift off for the International Space Station late Monday. A look at NASA’s 2013 budget dilemma. Europe’s Exo-Mars mission plans are again in peril. Proponents sketch out a “low cost” Mars life detection mission. Scientists head for California’s Mojave Desert to prepare for the landing of NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission. The U. S., Europe and Japan restate intentions of working cooperatively in space. A crucial solar mission emerges from safe mode. Life bearing planets may be cosmic nomads. NASA’s Kepler space telescope demonstrates a new technique for identifying exo-planets. In Florida, NASA’s shuttle fleet is powered down for the final time. Insights from Shumann resonances. A look at major space related activities scheduled for the week ahead.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com, May 13: Russia prepares for a late Monday lift off of the 30 Soyuz mission to the International Space Station with a U. S. and two Russian crew members. Lift off for Gennady Padalka, Sergei Revin and Joe Acaba is set for 11:01 p.m., EDT. After a two day transit, the spacecraft would dock with the space station on Thursday at 12:38 a.m., EDT. The website will offer updates as the countdown unfolds. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/station/exp31/status.html
2. From Space.com: NASA’s budget dilemma, balancing the cost of operating the many complex missions it has under way with the expense of developing new technologies for future endeavors. At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where most of NASA’s planetary missions are operated and developed, the impacts of the changing environment is evident, says a top lab manager. http://www.space.com/15647-space-technology-innovation-nasa-budget.html
A. From Spacepolitics.com: A look at how the House, Senate and White House versions of NASA’s 2013 budget stand, following passage of the House version last week. They vary widely, and in part because the Senate version would hand NASA responsibilities previously assigned to NOAA. http://www.spacepolitics.com/2012/05/13/updated-nasa-budget-summary/
3. From Space News., May 11: The European Space Agency led Exo-Mars mission is again facing a challenge. NASA, faced with cost constraints, withdrew from the joint effort last year. Russia stepped in, but Space News reports the future of 2016 and 2018 missions are again on shaky ground. An ESA steering council will gather May 16 to assess the project’s fate. Exo-Mars includes landers, rovers and a telecommunication’s orbiter. http://www.spacenews.com/civil/120511-exomars-brink-collapse.html
4. From the Huffington Post:, May 11: In an op-ed, U. S. proponents tout a Mars mission they say balances cost and a high priority science objective, determining whether the planet hosts or once hosted some form of life. The proposed mission would drop a series of penetrators on the Martian surface to investigate the prospects. In 2013, NASA’s Mars program is facing cuts. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dirk-schulzemakuch-phd/bold-mars_b_1510355.html
A. From The Los Angeles Times, May 11: Top scientists associated with NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory discuss the mission’s science goals and operational challenges during a trip to California’s Mojave Desert, which serves as a Martian analog. MSL, also known as Curiosity, is headed for a landing in Gale Crater in early August. There, the mobile chemistry lab will attempt to scale a three mile rise in search of conditions that may be or once were favorable for Martian life. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/la-sci-mars-20120512,0,6625848.story
5. From Spacepolicyonline.com: The U.S., Europe and Japan re-express intentions to work cooperatively in space. The expression includes an offer of $100 million from the U. S. to play a “minor” role in the European Space Agency’s Jupiter Icy Moons Explorer program. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/esa-japan-continue-space-cooperation-with-u-s
6. From Space.com, May 11: SOHO, a joint NASA/European Space Agency mission to monitor solar activity, returned to action late last week following an operational problem. The mission has growing priority as the sun enters a period of increased activity. The difficulties sent the spacecraft into a protective “safe mode” for about a week. http://www.space.com/15660-sun-observing-soho-spacecraft-recovery.html
A. From the Washington Post, May 11: A giant sunspot rotates into an Earth facing position. The spot may be primed unleash a large cloud of charged particles toward the Earth. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/capital-weather-gang/post/space-weather-update-massive-sunspot-region-now-facing-earth-primed-to-hurl-out-solar-flares/2012/05/11/gIQAvUHQIU_blog.html
7. From The Coalition for Space Exploration: New studies suggest the best place to search for life bearing planets may be in the space between stars. http://spacecoalition.com/blog/it%e2%80%99s-crowded-out-there-life-bearing-earth-size-planets-%e2%80%93-new-study
8. From the San Francisco Chronicle: Astronomers turn to a new technique called transit timing variations to discover exo-planets using NASA’s Kepler space telescope. TTVs are small gravitational disturbances on the motion of a known planet. Kepler’s primary technique for planet discovery is a measured dip in brightness as a planet crosses the face of a star. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/05/14/BA2K1OGDED.DTL&type=science
9. From Collectspace.com, May 12 NASA’s preparations of the shuttle fleet for public display reach another milestone. Endeavour is powered down on May 11 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, the last of NASA’s three orbiters “to go dark.” Endeavour will be airlifted to Los Angeles later this year for display at the California Science Center. http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-051112a.html
10. From Discovery.com, May 12: Shumann resonances, an electromagnetic phenomena found on Earth, could offer new insights into some solar system planets. http://news.discovery.com/space/lightning-flashes-on-origin-of-solar-system-120512.html#mkcpgn=rssnws1
11. From Spacepolicyonline.com, May 13: A look at major activities scheduled for the week ahead. They include the late Monday launch of U. S. and Russian astronauts to the International Space Station and the SpaceX launch of the prospective first U. S. commercial cargo delivery to the space station early Saturday. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/events-of-interest-week-of-may-14-19-2012
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