CSExtra – Top Space News for Wednesday, March 19, 2014
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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Taking man to Mars: Orion is prepping for its first journey. NASA, facing potentially tough budget choices over its planetary science program, looks to White House Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative for relief. Two NASA lunar missions characterize moon’s thin atmosphere, chart North Pole in new detail. Spare U.S. spy satellite optics could take on valuable astronomy mission, but disrupt other astrophysics pursuits, National Research Council reports. Key space discovery suggests this universe but one of many. European Venus mission hints at active volcanism. Atlas V selected for launch of joint U.S. and European solar mission. Small asteroid to eclipse bright star in Constellation Leo early Thursday. U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, influential on U.S. space matters, says tensions over Ukraine unlikely to affect U.S. and Russian space relations. Nelson urges full funding for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to end reliance on Russians for human space transportation. Europe weighs mods to Ariane 5 vs. development of new Ariane 6.
Deep Space Exploration
Mail Online (3/19): Orion is currently being bolted together and later this year, in September, it will be put through its paces in space for the first time. ‘Orion, along with SLS, is the future of human space exploration,’ says Brandi Dean, NASA’s spokesperson for Orion. ‘It’s the vehicle we are building to allow us to send humans farther than we’ve ever been able to go before.’
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Spaceflightnow.com (3/18): The longevity of NASA’s planetary missions could force some difficult budget decisions over which ones continue. Current missions are circling the moon, Mercury and Saturn, roving and orbiting Mars and wandering the asteroid belt. New missions are headed for the red planet, Jupiter and Pluto. NASA expected to announce mission extensions in June.
Spacepolitics.com (3/18): NASA’s planetary science program looks to president’s Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative for help with mission extension decisions.
America Space (3/18): NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer quietly characterizes the moon’s thin atmosphere by entering an extended mission phase. Launched in September, LADEE is measuring the dust from meteor impacts and the interactions between the solar wind and the lunar soil.
Los Angeles Times (3/18): NASA’s Lunar Orbiter Reconnaissance mission team presents high resolution interactive map of the moon’s North Pole. LRO was launched in 2009 to chart the lunar surface in new detail.
Spacepolicyonline.com (3/18): A report from the U.S. National Research Council looks at NASA’s options for the use of surplus American spy satellite optics for the Wide Field Infrared Space Telescope (WFIRST) mission, the next space observatory beyond the James Webb Space Telescope. Modifications will mean new complexity and cost for the mission tasked with studies of dark energy, searching for alien planets and undertaking a broad survey of the universe in infrared wavelengths. Mission costs could disrupt other NASA astrophysics objectives, according to the NRC.
Space.com (3/18): Research published this week affirming gravity waves and rapid inflation of the cosmos after the big bang suggests our university may be one of many.
Discovery.com (3/18): Venus Express, a European Space Agency mission, hints at current volcanism on the cloud shrouded planet.
Spaceflightnow.com (3/18): NASA selects the United Launch Alliance Alas V rocket for the launch of a joint solar study mission with the European Space Agency. A 2017 lift off is planned.
Associated Press via San Francisco Chronicle (3/18): Astronomers say a main belt asteroid will briefly eclipse the bright star Regulus in the Constellation Leo early Thursday, a rare event.
Low Earth Orbit
Orlando Sentinel (3/18): U.S. unlikely to react to tensions with Russia over the Ukraine on the space front, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, of Florida, predicted Tuesday. Nelson’s remarks followed a briefing from NASA officials at the Kennedy Space Center. “I don’t think that cooperation would be threatened,” Nelson told reporters.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Florida Today (3/18): U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, of Florida, urges full funding for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, while suggesting the U.S. and Russia will cooperate in space in spite of tensions over Ukraine. Nelson chairs a Senate subcommittee that oversees U.S. space policy.
Space News (3/18): Europe divides over modifying the Ariane 5 or developing the Ariane 6 rocket as a successor.
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