CSExtra – Wednesday, August 8, 2012
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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory/Curiosity rover dispatches its first color imagery, while the six wheeled robot undergoes a deliberate checkout before embarking on two years of Gale Crater scrutiny. The buzz over Curiosity’s successful landing and what it means for the nation’s future in space continues. Russia experiences a Proton launch failure that claims two communications satellites. President Obama looks to new leadership for the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency.
1. From Space.com: NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory snaps and transmits to Earth its first color image during its second day in Gale Crater. The image reveals an orange brown terrain to the north of the Curiosity rover. http://www.space.com/16964-mars-rover-curiosity-first-color-photo.html
A. From The Associated Press via The Washington Post: MSL’s best video and imagery of Mars are yet to come. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/nasa-rover-sends-back-video-and-first-color-picture-of-landscape-prettier-images-yet-to-come/2012/08/07/1841bf26-e0f2-11e1-8d48-2b1243f34c85_story.html
B. From USA Today: In an editorial, the national newspaper finds justification for the $2.5 billion MSL project despite a national unemployment rate exceeding 8 percent and a national debt greater than $16 trillion. “One of the main benefits of projects like this one is to promote a confident America,” notes the newspaper. “Those who would slash space program budgets apparently haven’t learned history’s lessons and don’t see the great possibilities that the future presents, possibilities reflected in every image transmitted back from the rover.” http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/story/2012-08-06/Curiosity-Mars-rover-NASA/56831796/1
C. From Mother Jones: NASA’s MSL’s two year mission promises more than an assessment of Martian habitability. Findings on the neighboring planet may help to explain climate change on the Earth. “…the more we know about Mars’ atmosphere, the better we can really understand our own,” said Mark Lemmon, a MSL project scientist from Texas A&M University. http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2012/08/curiosity-help-scientists-test-earths-climate-models
D. From the Los Angeles Times: NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission stirs the collective national psyche, but the buzz fails to find an early ramp into the 2012 presidential campaign. President Obama looks to long term ambitions amid budget constraints. His Republican challenger, MItt Romney, says little about the nation’s future in space. http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-pn-a-political-curiosity-selling-space-at-a-time-of-lost-jobs-20120806,0,1945367.story
E. From The Orange County Register of California. JPL’s flight control center gathered wide attention during the MSL/Curiosity landing. More than a little was focused on Bobak Ferdowski and his wild Mohawk haircut with the star field. The styling finds a following on the Internet. “If my Mohawk gets a few more people excited about science and this mission, that’s awesome,” Ferdowski explains. “That’s what it’s all about.” http://www.ocregister.com/entertainment/lander-367681-video-mars.html
F. From USA Today: Curiosity’s Twitter followers rise sharply following the rover’s dramatic landing early Monday. Within hours of the landing, the rover’s Twitter followers reach the 700,000 mark. Behind the scenes, three social media experts at NASA speak for the rover, ever mindful that a touch of wit is a valuable part of each Tweet. However, one notes, “Levity can’t get in the way of telling the real story.” http://www.usatoday.com/tech/science/space/story/2012-08-06/mars-curiosity-twitter/56831436/1
G. From Space.com: The Martian day stretches to 24 hours, 39 minutes — a little longer than a terrestrial day. It’s the NASA team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory who must adjust their schedules for the long haul as they watch over Curiosity. http://www.space.com/16975-curiosity-mars-rover-mission-control.html
2. From Spaceflightnow.com: Russia experiences a Proton rocket upper stage failure. Two commercial communications satellites, one Russian the other Indonesian, are stranded in useless orbits. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1208/07proton/
A. From Ria Novosti of Russia: Further flights of the Russian Proton with the troubled Briz-M upper stage are temporarily suspended. Vladimir Popovkin, chief of the Russian federal space agency, Roscosmos, denies reports of major staff changes in the aftermath of the launch failure. http://en.ria.ru/science/20120807/175049361.html
3. From Space News: President Obama nominates a new Missile Defense Agency director, U. S. Navy Rear Admiral James Syring. The nomination requires U. S. Senate confirmation. http://www.spacenews.com/military/120807-obama-nominates-syring.html
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