CSExtra – Tuesday, November 13, 2012
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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. Tuesday brings a total solar eclipse, observable from parts of Australia, the South Pacific and by much of the globe through the Internet. Optimism grows in some circles that President Obama’s second term will include a surge in scientific research. An international astronomy team charts the adolescent universe. NASA’s aging Mars Odyssey spacecraft transitions to a backup computer. Two essays examine NASA’s evolving interest in future human missions to lunar gateways and the sticking points surrounding an orbital debris clean up.
1. From Space.com: Tuesday brings a total solar eclipse visible to a small portion of Australia and the South Pacific. However, the Slooh Space Camera and some other Internet sites plan live telecasts to global audiences. The eclipse begins at 3:35 p.m., EST. It’s the only total solar eclipse of 2012.
A. From Space.com: Williams College astronomer Jay Pasachoff, who will be in Australia for the eclipse, explains what to look for during Tuesday’s event.
2. From The New York Times: In the aftermath of U. S. elections, top scientists are hopeful President Obama will back science and education in his second term. There is enthusiasm for research on energy as well as health, climate change and advances in human space exploration.
A. From Space.com: Work on the Obama administration’s first term goals of reaching an asteroid with U. S. explorers by 2025 continues with the president’s re-election. One of the enabling technologies is NASA’s Multi-mission Space Exploration Vehicle. Once equipped with wheels for prospective lunar missions, the latest version of the SEV and its passengers would hover close to the surface of a low gravity asteroid. Funding, rather than technology will drive development, say planners.
3. From Reuters and the journal Astronomy and Astrophysics: Astronomers, using a new sky survey, have mapped the universe as it was 11 billion years ago. The effort fills in a gap between the big bang and the rapid expansion under way today. During this era, the forces of gravity were slowing growth. Sixty-three scientists from nine nations participated in the effort.
4. From Spaceflightnow.com: NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft, launched in 2001, is now operating on a backup main computer and subsystems, including the inertial measurement unit. Odyssey orbits Mars serving as a communications relay for NASA’s Curiosity and Opportunity rovers. The switch from the primary to backup systems was announced Monday, after several weeks of assessment.
5. From The Space Review: Essays assess the latest from NASA on plans for human missions to a lunar gateway and the obstacles to clearing away orbital debris.
A. In, “A glimpse at a gateway,” TSR editor Jeff Foust recounts NASA presentations from a student conference in Buffalo, N. Y., last weekend that outlined prospective human missions to the lunar environs in the 2019 time frame. These would take U. S. explorers to the lunar Lagrange points aboard Orion spacecraft launched aboard the Space Launch System and using International Space Station inspired habitats and docking modules.
B. In “Addressing the challenges of space debris, part 1: defining space debris,” Michael Listner addresses a fundamental challenge associated with cleaning up the accumulation of manmade space junk in Earth orbit. The UN Outer Space Treaty addresses some of the concerns, but there remains a lot of ambiguity over the definition of debris and the salvage rights. Listner, who has written on the topic previously, is an attorney who specializes in space law.
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