CSExtra – Top Space News for Wednesday, November 27
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. China displays growing space ambitions that include a future space station and lunar exploration. NASA looks to the International Space Station as the home for a Fruit Fly Laboratory that will help gauge the long term effects of spaceflight on humans. Comet ISON offers mixed signals on the fate of its encounter with the sun on Thursday. Russia weighs support for a space based asteroid and comet warning system. NASA and Moon Express test a lander for a future lunar observatory. New U.S. CubeSats transmitting data from Earth orbit; more on the way aboard next Orbital Science’s next cargo delivery to the International Space Station.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Aviation Week & Space Technology (11/25): China engages in an ambitious game of space catchup. China aims to place a Mir-class space station in Earth orbit by 2020, about the time the U.S. led International Space Station is currently scheduled for de-orbit. Europe and Russia may provide contributions. The moon and Mars are of interest to China as well.
Nature News (11/26): China readies the Chang’e-3 lunar lander mission for an early December lift off. If successful, it would be the first landed mission to the moon since Russia’s Luna 24 in 1976. The Chinese mission includes a six wheeled rover that will explore a near side lava flow. Chang’e-3 represents what appears to be the latest advance in China’s methodical and seemingly flawless space program, Nature News reports.
How fruit flies will get us to Mars: Studying fruit flies in space could provide NASA with the know-how to keep astronauts healthy during long space flights, such as during the 16-month travel time to and from Mars.
Christian Science Monitor (11/25): NASA intends to launch a Fruit Fly Lab to the International Space Station in 2014. While humans and these small flies look very different, they share important genetic similarities. Also, their small size and rapid life cycle make the flies ideal subjects for tests requiring large numbers of subjects. NASA’s Ames Research Center is spearheading efforts to explore the health challenges of spaceflight on the human heart, immune and other bodily systems with the insects.
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Associated Press via ABC News (11/27): Comet ISON will makes a much anticipated brush with the sun on Thursday. Even the experts are hesitant to predict whether it will survive and pursue a course out of the solar system and back to its origins, the Oort Cloud. The Oort Cloud is a haven for comets, which formed the building blocks of the planet.
European Space Agency (11/26): ESA offers updates and video links to comet ISON observation campaigns.
Itar-Tass, of Russia (11/26): The president of Russia’s Energia Rocket and Space Corp. urges the launching of a space sentry to watch for asteroids and comets on a course to strike the Earth. The network would function as a warning system, said Vitay Lopota. A 15-17 meter asteroid exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia on Feb. 15 without warning, with more than 1,000 people injured.
Huntsville Times (11/26): NASA and Moon Express complete testing of the Mighty Eagle, a power lunar lander, at the Red Stone Arsenal this week. Moon Express, of Silicon Valley, Calif., expects to use the lander to place a telescope on the moon in 2015.
Low Earth Orbit
Reviewed.com via USA Today (11/25): The six U.S., Russian and Japanese astronauts aboard the International Space Station will have traditional Thanksgiving Day fare for the U.S. holiday.
Computer World (11/26): A multi-mission fleet of 28 CubeSat satellites launched Nov. 19 by NASA and the U.S. Air Force from Wallops Island, Va., are circling the Earth and transmitting data, scientists report. The operations include a cross section of universities and high school programs.
Space.com (11/26): San Francisco-based Planet Labs readies 28 Earth imaging Cubesats for a Dec. 15 launch aboard an Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus rocket bound for the International Space Station on the company’s first contracted re-supply mission. The CubeSats will be deployed from the space station in early 2014.
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