CSExtra – Tuesday, June 12, 2012
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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space-related activities. Though dealing with a potential Teflon contamination issue, NASA pronounces its Mars Science Laboratory in good shape as it barrels toward an Aug. 6 landing. A team of multi-national astronauts descends to the Aquarius undersea base on Monday for a NASA-sponsored analog mission to an asteroid. One expert finds a legacy of assistance in a recent national security gift of two space telescopes to NASA; another essayist points to commercial enterprise as a key element of NASA’s prescription for future success. NASA turns to a young female physicist to lead a high energy mission. Orbital Sciences moves to the verge of its own re-supply mission to the International Space Station.
1. From CBS.com: NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory narrows the target for its Aug. 6 landing in Gale crater on Mars. The more precise landing target, an imaginary ellipse 12 miles long by 4 miles wide will place the six wheeled rover closer to Mt. Sharp, where it will carry out a two-year science mission. MSL/Curiosity was developed to look for evidence the Martian habitat was and possibly still is suitable for microbial life. http://www.cbsnews.com/network/news/space/home/spacenews/files/msl_june_update.html
A. From Space.com: As NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission barrels toward Mars, scientists are trying to sort out a potential contamination issue involving the spacecraft’s rock drill, one of the exploration tools. The drill assembly could deposit material from a Teflon seal in the rock samples it collects. http://www.space.com/16101-nasa-mars-rover-contamination-landing.html
2. From nasaspaceflight.com: U. S., European and Japanese astronauts descend Monday to the Aquarius undersea base off Key Largo, Fla., for a near two week analog mission to a near Earth asteroid. The NASA-sponsored exercise will evaluate astronaut mobility strategies and plans to overcome lengthy communications delays — issues explorers assigned to future missions to the small planetary bodies will face. http://www.nasaspaceflight.com/2012/06/neemo-16-real-nea-mission-outline-continues-worked/
3. Two essays From Monday’s The Space Review examine the National Reconnaissance Agency’s decision last week to present NASA with two Hubble class space observatories and the growing enthusiasm for the spirit of New Space.
A. In “Out of the Black,” contributor Dwayne Day finds precedent for the NRO’s telescope gift to NASA. The reconnaissance community has a history of sharing with NASA and astronomers, Day finds. Whether NASA has reciprocated is unclear. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2100/1
B. In “New Space is in the American Tradition,” essayist Gary Oleson finds NASA’s future rests with endeavors that foster new commercial enterprise. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2099/1
4. From The Washington Post: Cal Tech physics professor Fiona Harrison leads NASA’s NuSTAR science mission. Scheduled for launch from the Marshall Islands on Wednesday, NuSTAR will study black holes, supernova and other cosmic high energy sources. Missions led by women remain rare. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/nasa-mission-to-study-black-holes-supernovae-and-the-sun-is-led-by-a-woman/2012/06/08/gJQAkvqeUV_story.html
5. From Wired News: Virginia-based Orbital Sciences Corp. looks to match last month’s cargo mission to the International Space Station by SpaceX. Now 30, Orbital is a little older than its rival but both are teamed with NASA as partners in the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program. Orbital could be at the station later this year. http://www.wired.com/autopia/2012/06/orbital-to-iss/
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