CSExtra – Thursday, January 12, 2012
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Thursday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the globe. The Milky Way galaxy hosts billions of planets that scientists are only beginning to discover, according to new estimates by astronomers. NASA’s Kepler telescope detects the smallest alien worlds yet. Europe stretches resources to keep space spending steady in 2012. NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity mission carries out a critical in space maneuver to line the spacecraft up for an Aug. 6 landing. Joe Acaba prepares to become the first of NASA’s educator astronauts to tackle a long duration mission. A look at Space Exploration Technologies’ upcoming re-supply mission to the International Space Station.
1. From Space.com: Our Milky Way galaxy likely hosts 160 billion planets, many of them rocky and potentially Earth-like, according to a study led by Paris-based experts that appears in the journal Nature. So far, experts count just over 700 confirmed alien planets using two accepted detection methods involving space as well as ground-based observatories. http://bit.ly/wWbMCq
A. From the New York Times: Looks like planets that circle binary star systems may be common as well. The discovery of the first planetary system of the type was discovered in September. Now, two more have been found. The Star Wars film series raised the possibility of a single planet circling two stars. http://nyti.ms/AEfrvi
2. From Discovery.com: NASA’s Kepler space telescope detects the three smallest alien planets yet, including one that rivals Mars in mass. The findings were presented Wednesday at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Tex. The newly discovered planets circle their star so closely they are not considered habitable. http://bit.ly/zN4FYP
A. From Astronomy Now: The host star, KOI-961, lies 130 light years from Earth and is a red dwarf. http://bit.ly/wAlsBu
3. From Space News: The European Space Agency budgets $5.2 billion for 2012, essentially no increase over 2011 spending. The European Union steps in to make up for declines in contributions from member states. Germany surpasses France as the top contributor. http://bit.ly/xBdhjV
4. From Florida Today: Ground control teams successfully maneuver the Mars Science Laboratory on Wednesday toward an August encounter with the red planet. The probe, launched in late November, conducts eight thruster firings spaced over 175 minutes to aim the spacecraft on a course to land at Mars’ Gale Crater on Aug. 6. http://bit.ly/z0PIRu
5. From Florida Today: High and middle school science teacher Joe Acaba joined NASA in 2004 as one of three educator astronauts. On March 29, he’s scheduled to become the first of the three to launch on a long duration mission aboard the International Space Station. He’ll join two cosmonauts for a five to six month tour of duty. http://on.flatoday.com/xTczo1
6. From AmericaSpace.com: The website outlines NASA’s upcoming Commercial Orbital Transportation Services Demonstration 2-3 mission to the International Space Station by SpaceX. Tentatively scheduled for a Feb. 7 lift off, the flight of the SpaceX Falcon 9/Dragon spacecraft marks the first attempt to by a commercial provider to deliver supplies to station astronauts. Alan Lindenmoyer, NASA’s program manager, offers mission details. http://bit.ly/wx56Do
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