CSExtra – Tuesday, December 4, 2012
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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. After days of speculation, scientists report NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover has detected a hint of carbon on Mars, but the origins are not clear. NASA’s 35-year-old Voyager 1 spacecraft enters another chapter in its exit from the solar system. Congressional auditors question NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope costs estimates. Lockheed Martin, Orbital Sciences and SpaceX will share $900 million in Defense small satellite launch contracts awards. Spidernaut dies. Vintage televised public service announcements reveal the spin off value of NASA’s research. The Milky Way: heavier that it looks. Checking reports of a private lunar exploration mission. Russia launches a key communications satellite.
1. From CBS News and Spaceflightnow.com: After days of speculation about the findings from the first soil analysis performed by NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover, scientists find only traces of carbon, leaving unsettled the issue over whether the planet harbors organics — the carbon based elements that form the basis of life on Earth. The source of the Martian carbon is uncertain — it may have traveled with the spacecraft from Earth.
A. From the Washington Post: Establishing the proper context for Curiosity’s findings proves a challenge.
B. From The New York Times: Earlier rovers Spirit and Opportunity made similar findings elsewhere on the planet.
2. From The Coalition for Space Exploration: The European Space Agency’s Venus Express mission collects evidence of active volcanism on the Earth’s cloud shrouded twin.
3. From The Los Angeles Times: Launched in late 1977, NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft is making a surprisingly prolonged exit from the solar system, following earlier flybys of the solar system’s outer planets. There have been plenty of surprises, the latest being a magnetic highway that is ushering the probe along.
4. From Spacepolicyonline.com: The U. S. General Accountability Office challenges NASA’s latest cost estimates for the James Webb Space Telescope. The JWST is the designated successor to the 22-year-old Hubble Space Telescope. The new observatory carries an $8.8 billion NASA cost estimate and is scheduled for launching in late 2018. The GAO offered a half-dozen recommendations to control costs.
5. From Space News: The U. S. Department of Defense awards satellite launch contracts to Lockheed Martin, Orbital Sciences Corp. and SpaceX. The $900 million will support the launches of small orbital satellites and suborbital activities.
6. Two essays from The Space Review suggest something is missing from U. S. civil space policy and ponder the quiet end for a U. S. commercial small satellite launch strategy.
A. In “Inserting the ‘S’ word, a modest proposal,” contributor Derek Weber calls for settlements beyond the Earth as an essential element of a future U. S. space policy. Only that objective can gather up all the past investments in space exploration under an understandable context, writes Weber, a space tourism advocate.
B. In “A prize competition that fails to launch,” TSR editor Jeff Foust follows the demise of a NASA backed competition to develop an affordable launch strategy for the smallest satellites. NASA cancels plans to underwrite $2 million in prizes to encourage development with little explanation, he writes.
7. From USA Today: Nefertiti, a red-backed spider that starred in a student inspired experiment aboard the International Space Station earlier this year, died Monday at the Smithsonian Institution’s Natural History Museum. “Spidernaut” was given a home in the Washington D. C. mission last week following a 100-day mission to the station. Natural causes were responsible, the Smithsonian said. The spider’s age was placed at 10 months.
8. From Wired.com: A collection of vintage public service announcements explains the value of NASA’s research to valuable spin-off technologies. Created in the 1980s, the filmed announcements feature celebrity pairs from an earlier age. The Space Foundation sponsored the creative productions.
9. From Scientific American: With the help of the Hubble Space Telescopes, scientists determine the Milky Way galaxy is heftier than thought.
10. From Wired.com: The website sizes up prospects for a commercially supported human mission to the moon. More details are expected on Thursday.
11. From Ria Novositi, of Russia: Sea Launch successfully places the latest Eutelsat communications spacecraft into a geosynchronous transfer orbit.
Brought to you by the Coalition for Space Exploration, CSExtra is a daily compilation of space industry news selected from hundreds of online media resources. The Coalition is not the author or reporter of any of the stories appearing in CSExtra and does not control and is not responsible for the content of any of these stories. The content available through CSExtra contains links to other websites and domains which are wholly independent of the Coalition, and the Coalition makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, completeness or authenticity of the information contained in any such site or domain and does not pre-screen or approve any content. The Coalition does not endorse or receive any type of compensation from the included media outlets and is not responsible or liable in any way for any content of CSExtra or for any loss, damage or injury incurred as a result of any content appearing in CSExtra. For information on the Coalition, visit www.spacecoalition.com or contact us via e-mail at Info@spacecoalition.com.