CSExtra – Wednesday, January 11, 2012
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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. A Nobel prize winning physicist, speaking before the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin, Tex., warns that federal budget constraints threaten to constrain future U. S. “big science” projects like the James Webb Space Telescope. Meanwhile, scientists at the AAS announce new discoveries, including early galaxy formation and the merging of galactic clusters. Elsewhere, scientists plot a new map of cosmic dark matter. NASA assesses a range of possible human deep space missions using hardware from the International Space Station and shuttle programs. NASA’s Opportunity rover finds a winter refuge on Mars. China launches a communications satellite. More on Russian suspicions of sabotage in the loss of the Mars Phobos Grunt mission launched in early November.
1. From Spacepolitics.com: Is the cost of big science projects — for example the James Webb Space Telescope — becoming too great for governments to pursue? Nobel Laureate Steven Weinberg raises the issue in remarks before the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin this week. http://bit.ly/zEkCzN
2. From Space.com: Using the Hubble Space Telescope, astronomers identify a cluster of five small galaxies at a record distance of 13.1 billion years. These star groups, formed about 600 million years after the big bang, offer a glimpse at the assembly of the early universe. U. S. and British researchers presented the findings at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin, Texas. http://bit.ly/xNeiYO
3. From Discovery.com: Astronomers spot a forceful collision of galactic clusters called El Gordo. The two large star groups are located 7 billion light years away. The discovery, presented at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Austin, Tex., was made using NASA’s Chandra X-ray and Spitzer space telescopes as well as the European financed Very Large Telescope in Chile. http://bit.ly/Asn662
4. From The Washington Post: The Canada France Hawaii Telescope Lensing Survey produces the largest map yet of cosmic dark matter, the unseen material theorized to comprise as much as 98 percent of the universe. The survey examined four quadrants of the sky and nearly 10 million galaxies to plot the gravitational clustering of dark matter. http://wapo.st/z5Xb00
5. From Space.com: At NASA, planners are assessing a range of exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit using hardware from the International Space Station and shuttle programs. Prospective destinations include the Earth-moon and Earth-sun Lagrange points and the moon’s far side. http://bit.ly/zaeZV9
6. From Spaceflightnow.com: NASA’s Opportunity rover, which landed on Mars in January 2004, finds refuge for the Martian winter at Endeavour crater. The rover will remain stationery in a place where there is sufficient sunlight for its solar arrays, for several months. http://bit.ly/AhtJpI
7. From Space News: China successfully launches a surveillance satellite for a U. S. firm. http://bit.ly/zUIhZW
8. From the New York Times: Vladimir Popovkin, the head of Roscosmos, Russia’s federal space agency, hints that an anti-satellite weapon may have contributed to the loss of the Phobos Grunt Mars probe. The probe, locked in Earth orbit since its launching in early November, could fall to Earth within the next week say experts. http://nyti.ms/xzAtUz
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