CSExtra – Wednesday, October 24, 2012
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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. Three U. S. and Russian astronauts lift off for the International Space Station. NASA’s Curiosity rover is poised to unravel a mystery over the presence of methane on Mars. The European Space Agency will consider a German-led lunar lander mission in November. Global warming? It’s a topic the presidential candidates prefer not to discuss. Essayists ponder the risks and promise of commercially sponsored space activities. A NASA contractor team explores a more efficient solar power system. A powerful solar flare. A small town Texas UFO festival reveals student interest in space exploration. An extended U. S. comet mission loses track of its destination.
1. From CBS News and Spacefightnow.com: U.S. and Russian astronauts lift off early Tuesday for the International Space Station from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. NASA’s Kevin Ford and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin are on course to dock with the orbiting science laboratory early Thursday. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/station/exp33/launch.html
A. From Collectspace.com: The U. S. and Russian Soyuz crew lifted off from Site 31 at Baikonur, a launch pad that has not been used for a human mission in nearly three decades. http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-102312a.html
2. From Space.com: The source of methane detected on Mars by robotic missions is a mystery. NASA’s Curiosity rover is equipped to look for new clues that would identify the source as geological or perhaps current or past biological activity. http://www.space.com/18188-mars-methane-curiosity-rover-clues.html
A. From The Los Angeles Times: On Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover probes the soil in Gale Crater for signs of overnight frost formation.
3. From Spaceflightnow.com: The European Space Agency is preparing a lander for a possible lunar south pole mission. The agency’s top officials will attempt to develop a consensus on further development at a meeting in November. The German-led project to assess technologies and resources for future human lunar activities would launch in 2018. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1210/23lunarlander/#.UIez-W_R7Lo
4. From The Associated Press via The Washington Post: The weather, which has produced record high temperatures in the U. S. of late, is a topic that both presidential candidates managed to avoid. Nonetheless, temps are rising, even if only a little. http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/why-it-matters-despite-the-weather-climate-change-gets-little-mention-in-the-campaign/2012/10/23/af1d31d2-1d42-11e2-8817-41b9a7aaabc7_story.html
5. Two commentaries from The Space Review ponder the risks and the promise of commercially sponsored space exploration.
A. In “Expensive, difficult and dangerous,” essayist Greg Anderson finds a synergy between those who faced risk to settle California and those now weighing the value of a human expansion into space. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2175/1
B. In “Fading skepticism of commercial spaceflight,” TSR editor Jeff Foust finds growing confidence in the commercial movement, anchored in great part by SpaceX’s re-supply missions to the International Space Station. Foust found confidence growing at the International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight (ISPCS) in Las Cruces, N. M., earlier this month.
6. From Space News: NASA turns to ATK to develop an advanced solar array. http://www.spacenews.com/contracts/121023-atk-develop-solar-array-nasa.html
7. From Spaceweather.com: The sun flared early Tuesday, but without unleashing a major coronal mass ejection. The eruption is unlikely to fuel new auroral activity on the Earth. More eruptive activity is expected. http://www.spaceweather.com/
8. From The Houston Chronicle: A UFO festival in Presidio, Tex., draws an enthusiastic few. But this border community’s high school students have already blazed a trail to the International Space Station with their experiments. http://www.chron.com/default/article/Festival-on-the-trail-of-UFOs-crowds-in-Presidio-3969656.php
9. From Scientific American: Following a successful 2005 encounter at Comet Tempel 1, NASA’s Deep Impact comet mission seeks a second destination. However, the comet it is aiming for has not been seen in years. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=comet-boethin-deep-impact
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