CSExtra – Top Space News for Thursday, October 24
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Thursday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visits NASA’s Stennis Space Center for a look at the B-2 Space Launch System test stand. The SLS heavy lift rocket is intended to start humans on new missions of deep space exploration. Crucial work under way at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center on hardware for 2014 Orion unpiloted test flight. NASA deep space laser demonstration promises to revolutionize deep space communications. Europe delays star mapping mission for satellite repairs. Texas astronomers announce discovery of most distant galaxy yet, a fete made possible with a 2009 upgrade to the Hubble Space Telescope by NASA shuttle astronauts. Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus supply capsule burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere on Wednesday following successful commercial cargo delivery to the International Space Station. NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg discusses life aboard the International Space Station with students from her old grade school. Alien planet count tops 1,000 in October. Testing of future spacecraft at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center might be slowed by just ended U.S. government shutdown. During U.S. government shutdown, NASA’s Opportunity rover begins to climb Solander Point on Mars. A progress report on the B612 Foundation’s asteroid search. Antarctic ozone hole shrinks as temperatures rise.
1. From the NEWS.GNOM.ES newswire service: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden visits the Stennis Space Center for a look at the B-2 Test Stand, which is being prepared to test the core stage of NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS), which is in development to start humans on future deep space missions. “Stennis continues to demonstrate that the road to space goes through Mississippi,” said Bolden. “I applaud the center’s continued work to help bring about a new era of exploration through its commercial partnerships and the ongoing essential work it does for us in testing new propulsion systems.”
A. From NASA: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden commends Stennis workforce during visit to Mississippi space center.
2. From the Huntsville Times, of Alabama: Tests to begin soon at NASA’s Marshall Space Center on critical Orion hardware, a stage adapter diaphragm that will separate the future crew capsule from the upper stage of a Delta IV rocket. The Delta is to launch an Orion capsule on an unpiloted flight test in September 2014. The adapter will also play a role in the unpiloted test flight of an Orion capsule atop NASA’s Space Launch System heavy lift rocket scheduled for 2017.
3. From the Los Angeles Times: NASA engineers hail the success of the laser communications experiment aboard the moon orbiting Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer mission. The demonstration set a new pace for deep space communications that exceeds that possible in the usual radio wavelengths. A 3-D transmission from Mars may be possible with the new technology.
A. From Federal Computer Week: Future optical communications systems will be able to transmit data 10 to 100 times faster than traditional radio using a quarter less power, which will allow scientists to add 3-D video to the catalog of data types future satellites or rovers could beam back to Earth.
4. From Spaceflightnow.com: The European Space Agency delays launch of Gaia, a $1.2 billion star mapping mission, to troubleshoot a pair of spacecraft transponders. The mission will miss a Nov. 17 to Dec. 5 launch window as a result. The next launch period extends from Dec. 17 to Jan. 5. Gaia, once launched from French Guiana, will head to the L2 Sun/Earth Lagrangian point, one million miles from the Earth.
5. From Space.com: Astronomers discover oldest most distant galaxy in the universe. The star system z8_GND_5296 formed within 700 million years after the beginning of the universe. It was spotted with the Hubble Space Telescope and the Keck Observatory in Hawaii.
A. From Discovery.com: Light from this old and distant star system has shifted to infrared wavelengths. To astronomers on Earth the galaxy appears as it did 13.1 billion years ago.
B. From the Houston Chronicle: In 2009, space shuttle astronauts equipped the Hubble Space Telescope with the infrared optics that spotted the distant star system.
6. From Spaceflightnow.com: Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus re-supply craft, filled with trash from the International Space Station, plunged destructively into the Earth’s atmosphere on Wednesday. The plunge marked a successful conclusion to the Dulles, Va., based company’s efforts to become a second U.S. commercial re-supply service for the space station. Cygnus was launched Sept. 18 and rendezvoused with the six person station on Sept. 29.
7. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune: Now a NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station, Karen Nyberg fields questions Wednesday from her former school, the K-12 Henning School, of Minnesota.
8. From Space.com: The alien planet count rises above 1,000 earlier this month. The first were discovered in 1992. The next goal is to describe the characteristics of these distant worlds.
A. From Scientific American: Habitable zone planets are likely to circle double stars, say astronomers.
B. From Space.com: Is Star Trek’s “Prime Directive” too harsh a doctrine for the first human encounter with alien life?
9. From Space News: At NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, director Chris Scolese cautions the 16-day U.S. government shutdown earlier this month may disrupt some testing schedules for spacecraft missions awaiting launch, including the James Webb Space Telescope. The Global Precipitation Measurement mission, a joint effort with Japan, is already facing a two week launch delay.
A. From Spaceflight Insider: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, make a post U.S. government shutdown visit to the Goddard Space Flight Center.
10. From Universe Today: NASA’s Opportunity rover on Mars prepares to trek up Solander Point in search of mineral evidence in the soil and rock that indicate past habitable conditions. Opportunity reached Mars in January 2004.
11. From PlanetSave.com: A look at the B612 Foundation, a nonprofit established to identify a class of asteroids that pose a potential collision threat to the Earth. These Near Earth Objects are 140 meters across or less. B612′s Sentinel, a private funded infrared telescope, will attempt to chart the location and movement of many more of these Near Earth Objects that could cause continent wide destruction.
12. From the Associated Press via the Washington Post: The Earth’s Antarctic ozone hole shrinks slightly in response to warmer temperatures at high altitudes, say scientists. High altitude ozone shields the Earth from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet radiation.
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