CSExtra – Top Space News for Thursday, December 5
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA Advisory Council faces re-structuring. Heat shield for Orion test flight delivered to Florida Launch site. Mars One to down select applicants to establish a Mars colony. Budget forcing NASA to deal with end of flagship planetary missions, those with a $1 billion price tag. NASA funding shuffle alarms scientists involved in planetary mission research and analysis. U.S. House panel ponders search for alien life. Europe to awaken Rosetta comet probe in January. New documentary features Mars discoveries. New supernova visible in Southern Hemisphere. NASA highlights Saturn photos. Drake equation altered to predict asteroids with valuable resources. Venus may host clues on moon’s origins. Colorado readies a native son for International Space Station mission. International Space Station corner stone modules joined in orbit 15 years ago this month. U.S. Air Force reusable X-37B orbiter flies toward a year in space. Rainbows and space shuttles. NASA mission unravels Van Allen Belt mysteries. Time for the Geminids, a major meteor shower.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Spacepolicyonline.com (12/4): NASA restructures the long standing NASA Advisory Council, a source of external advice from experts on the agency’s programs and direction. Three of eight committees are eliminated, including those focused on education and outreach. Advisers on commercial space will join those advising on human space exploration.
NASA (12/4): Heat shield for NASA’s Orion test capsule, the largest of its kind ever assembled, arrives at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center late Wednesday. The heat shield promises to receive a lot of attention during an unpiloted Orion flight test scheduled for September 2014.
Space.com (12/4): In London, Space.com checks in on Bas Lansdorp and his Mars One quest to start a colony on Mars. A pool of 200,000 applicants will be down selected next week.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Spacepolicyonline.com (11/5): The current U.S. budget climate will not support new flagship planetary science missions, like NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover, agency administrator Charles Bolden told the NASA Advisory Council, in session Wednesday in Washington, “We have to stop thinking about flagship missions,” said Bolden. “The budget doesn’t support that.” Bolden and NASA chief scientist Ellen Stofan will urge the science community to respond with smaller missions that launch more frequently.
Nature News (12/4): NASA’s planetary science division announces a restructuring of how it funds its various research and analysis programs. What sounded like a bureaucratic shuffle touched a raw nerve among U.S. planetary scientists, who already feel singled out in an era of shrinking budgets. Salaries from grants are destined to shrink.
Washington Post (12/4): The House Science, Space and Technology Committee ponders the prospects for alien life during a hearing Wednesday. If it’s microbial, yet to be launched missions may answer the question within the next decade, experts tell the panel.
Houston Chronicle (12/4): Experts urge House Science, Space and Technology Committee to advance NASA’s astrobiology program and the search for alien life with new technologies.
Coalition for Space Exploration (12/4): The European Space Agency’s Rosetta mission will be electronically awakened on Jan. 20, following a 957 day hibernation, for its encounter with the comet 67/p Chyryuov-Gerasimenko. Rosetta is to circle and map the comet, then dispatch the Philae lander in November.
New York Times (12/5): A look at how the ties between astronomy and photography have helped with the study of comet ISON.
PR Web via Houston Chronicle (12/4): New documentary compiles more than two decades of research and analysis of NASA and European Space Agency photos of planet Mars.
Universe Today (12/4): Australian astronomers detect Southern Hemisphere supernova visible in the constellation Centaurus.
Space.com (12/4): NASA highlights recent work by the Cassini spacecraft, which has been circling the ringed planet Saturn, since 2004.
The Houston Chronicle (12/4): Images taken by NASA’s Cassini mission probe reveal a hexagon-shaped vortex at the north pole of Saturn.
Space Scientist (12/4): Scientists adapt famous Drake equations to estimate numbers of asteroids with valuable resources. Frank Drake developed the original equation to calculate the prospects for intelligent life in the universe.
Space.com (12/4): Experts believe mission to determine the isotopic composition of Venus might help unravel collision sequence that produced the moon.
Low Earth Orbit
ABC 7 News, of Denver (12/3): NASA astronaut and Colorado native Steve Swanson is set to begin a six month tour of duty aboard the International Space Station in March. Swanson will serve as the station’s commander during his final three months.
NASA (12/4): The first modules on the International Space Station, Russia’s Zarya “sunrise” and NASA’s “Unity” were joined in orbit 15 years ago Wednesday.
Space.com (12/4): The U.S. Air Force X-37B, unpiloted, reusable winged space plane closes in on one year in orbit. The Pentagon has not disclosed specifics of the space plane’s latest mission.
Orlando Sentinel (12/4): A shuttle program favorite. A photo of a rainbow and the shuttle Endeavour as the winged spaceship stood ready to lift off on Dec. 4, 1998.
NASA (12/4): Earth’s radiation belts were famously discovered in 1958 and named for physicist James Van Allen. Launched in late 2012, NASA’s twin Van Allen belt probes have been unraveling sustained mysteries about the physics of the two fields.
Florida Today (12/4): Watch for the annual Geminid meteor shower on Thursday.
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