CSExtra – Thursday, December 6, 2012
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Thursday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. The National Research Council finds NASA adrift and tasked with too many missions and insufficient resources. In Russia, the deputy prime minister calls for more space funding. U. S. and Russian astronauts say their one year mission to the International Space Station should contribute to future deep space expeditions. NASA’s GRAIL lunar mission orbiters find new similarities between the Earth and the moon. NASA’s plans to send a second Curiosity rover to Mars in 2020 should focus on gathering samples of soil and rock that could be returned to Earth, say scientist. Energy from a distant black hole reveals the early cosmic fabric. The NASA/NOAA Suomi spacecraft reveals the Earth in a new light.
1. From Spacepolicyonline.com: NASA’s strategic goals, especially plans for explorers to travel to an asteroid, lack a national consensus, a report compiled by the National Research Council and required by Congressional appropriators, concludes, The report, made public on Wednesday, says the absence of defined goals has left NASA unstable and without sufficient funding.
A. From USA Today: A National Research Council study finds a lack of enthusiasm for NASA’s efforts to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025, as part of a longer term effort to reach Mars. President Obama outlined the plans in 2010.
B. From The Los Angeles Times: NASA has been tasked with too many missions and too few resources, according to a National Research Council report requested by Congressional appropriators. The situation has placed the U. S. at risk of losing its leadership in space to other nations, the report concludes.
2. From Itar-Tass, of Russia: Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin calls for a larger staff and more money for Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency. Other arms of the Russian government call for reductions. More resources would attract the best talent, says Rogozin.
3. From Spaceflightnow.com: In late November, NASA and Roscosmos announced that astronauts Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko would train for the first year long mission to the International Space Station. On Wednesday, the two men said they hope the experience will prepare the two countries for future deep space missions. Their launch is tentatively scheduled for the spring of 2015.
A. From Ria Novosti: NASA astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko hope their year long flight to the International Space Station will help prepare their two countries for future deep space missions.
4. From Reuters via The Orlando Sentinel: NASA’s GRAIL lunar orbiters have detected cracks in the moon’s crust that may help to explain forces that transformed Mars from a once warm and wet planet to a cold dry realm. The Martian water may have seeped underground through similar cracks, where it remains today. GRAIL mission scientists outlined their findings at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco.
A. From Wired.com: GRAIL mission scientists say the moon offers a geological record of the conditions in the early solar system.
B. From Nature News: Findings from NASA’s GRAIL mission suggest the crust of the moon is thinner than once thought and that the moon’s host material is similar to the Earth’s.
5. From Space.com: NASA unveiled plans this week to launch a second Curiosity rover to Mars in 2020. The space agency should use the rover to gather rock and soil samples on Mars for eventual return to Earth, say some scientists attending an American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco this week.
6. From Physics World: A distant black hole is helping scientists understand conditions soon after the birth of the universe. The findings point to an abundance of neutral hydrogen gas, raw material for the first stars that forged the heavier elements.
7. From The Washington Post: Launched in October, the NASA/ NOAA Suomi NPP weather and climate satellite mission has captured revealing images of the Earth and moon, photos that reveal how the two objects glow.
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