CSExtra – Top Space News for Friday, December 6
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA strives for new efficiencies by eliminating field center duplication. Boldly go where no one has gone before with slashed funding? New film depicts “scary side” of Mars landing. Apollo astronaut replicates NASA flight jacket. Planetary Society urges President Obama to fund NASA planetary science at $1.5 billion annually. Researchers grow anxious over proposed changes in NASA planetary science grants. Justifying the search for alien life. China’s Chang’e-3 lunar lander to reach moon’s orbit tonight. Plan to revive NASA’s Kepler planet hunting mission to get spring hearing. NASA observing campaign to look for comet ISON remnants. Astronomers find strangely large alien planet. California’s Mars Express plots commercial moon landing. NASA preps greenhouse for 2015 moon mission. United Launch Alliance boosts U.S. national security spacecraft. Addressing the menace of orbital debris. Space entrepreneurs, academics find common ground on skilled workforce, space access.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Aviation Week & Space Technology (12/5): In Washington, NASA is finding growing acceptance among its field center personnel that eliminating duplication is an essential strategy in a difficult economic environment. “We’ve got smart people all over the agency, and we need to take advantage of what they can bring to help us solve the problems that we’re trying to solve,” Robert Lightfoot, NASA’s associate administrator, told a Space Transportation Association audience this week.
Houston Press (12/6): Even though NASA is working on incredible projects – in addition to the warp drive they want to lasso an asteroid and bring it to the moon’s orbit so astronauts can land on it and study it – they’ve seen their budget brutally cut due to the sequestration and the Great Recession before that.
Los Angeles Times (12/6): New science fiction film depicts traumatic encounter with deadly bacteria during early human mission to Mars.
Collectspace.com (12/3): Apollo 15′s Al Worden partners to create Still the Right Stuff, a clothing company that is producing replicas of the NASA’s Apollo flight jacket for sale.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
The Planetary Society (12/6/): The pro planetary exploration group led by Bill Nye urges President Obama to fund NASA’s planetary science program at $1.5 billion annually. This week, NASA outlined changes to the program in response to smaller budgets. “Planetary science deserves special attention because it’s special,” writes Nye in a missive that will also go to Congress.
Space Politics.com (12/6): U.S. House and Senate negotiators meet to reach a 2014 budget deal that would avert another round of sequestration. The American Astronomical Society urges members to express support for increased R and D funding as a force for economic growth.
ScienceInsider.com (12/5): NASA’s plans to change the way it administer grants for planetary science studies draws fire. Existing research programs and salaries could be altered as NASA embraces five themes, emerging worlds, solar system workings, habitable worlds, exobiology, and solar system observations.
Discovery.com (12/5)- On Wednesday, Congress did something unusual. The House Science, Space and Technology Committee hosted a serious hearing on the future search for life in the universe. Experts told lawmakers the technologies to scan the atmospheres of alien planets like Earth for “biosignatures” is close.
South China Morning Post (12/6): China’s Chang’e-3 lunar lander with the Jade Rabbit rover is expected to maneuver into lunar orbit late Friday. Chang’e-3 was launched Monday. After a week in orbit, the spacecraft will attempt the first soft landing of a Chinese spacecraft on another planetary body.
Xinhuanet (12/5): China’s lunar lander control team was able to cancel a final maneuver in four day trek to lunar orbit. The decision was based on the accuracy of the launch trajectory and two early trim maneuvers.
Christian Science Monitor (12/5): NASA’s planet hunting Kepler space telescope science team is getting a favorable reception for a follow on “K2″ mission. The telescope was hobbled by pointing system issues in May that left it with two operating reaction wheels, one short of the mission design. Engineers have proposed a two reaction wheel observing strategy that will compete within NASA for funding. A decision is expected this spring.
NASA (12/5): There’s a consensus that comet ISON shattered as it brushed the sun on Nov. 28: However, something likely survived, small fragments or dust. NASA intends to continue observing the unusual events with the STEREO and MAVEN spacecraft as well as ground based radio telescopes. Hubble and the Chandra X-ray space telescope will join in by the end of December. The Spitzer infrared space telescope will observe in early 2014.
CBSNews.com (12/5): The April 28 breakup of comet ISON stirred questions among scientists like what caused the fragmentation, says Karl Battams, an astrophysicist and comet expert with the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington. Others include: When in the sequence of whipping around the sun did the breakup occur? How big was the distribution of the particles? Was it a mixture of big, sort of boulder-size chunks, all the way down to tiny fine dust? Or was it mostly just fine dust, and did that happen at different rates?
Los Angeles Times (12/5): Discovery of planet 11 times larger than Jupiter found circling 60 billion miles from its sun like star. HD 106906 b was discovered using an infrared telescope in the Atacama Desert of Chile.
Space.com (12/4): California based Moon Express unveils plans to place a commercial lander on the moon in 2015. The first flight is part of the $40 million Google Lunar X Prize, an international challenge to land a robot on the lunar surface, have it travel at least 1,650 feet (500 meters) and send data and images back to Earth.
National Geographic (12/5): NASA’s Ames Research Center is developing a “Lunar Plant Growth Habitat” with the expectation the automated greenhouse will launch to the moon to see if a crop of turnips, basil and flower seeds will sprout. The ride may come from a Google Lunar X-Prize contestant.
Low Earth Orbit
Spaceflightnow.com (Dec. 6): United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 carries U.S. National Reconnaissance Office satellite into orbit late Thursday from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.
Space News (12/2): In op-ed Marshall Kaplan urges a serious focus on the accumulation of manmade space debris in Earth orbit. The grown poses a threat to the spacecraft we increasingly depend on for communications as well as the emerging commercial space passenger business, writes Kaplan, a spacecraft systems engineer.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Space News (12/5): Young aerospace companies and academia find reason for closer ties. Delegates from the two arenas gathered in Washington to discuss the prospects under the sponsorship of Arizona State University. Developing a skilled workforce and lowering the cost of access to space were two of the common themes.
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