NSS Phoenix Space News

Posts Tagged ‘The Planetary Society’

July 2010

Posted by drdave on August 6, 2010

31 July 2010

  • If you want to see Venice while keeping your feet dry, don’t go when the sun has lots of spots. Peaks in solar activity cause the city to flood more often, apparently by changing the paths of storms over Europe.

30 July 2010

  • Ground control teams began sending out a beacon for Spirit on July 26, but the rover has not yet responded. In a press release on Friday, NASA put out the word that it may never wake. “It will be the miracle from Mars if our beloved rover phones home,” Doug McCuistion, director of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program.
  • The shuttle Endeavour’s three main engines were installed this week as workers prepare the ship’s two solid rocket boosters.

30 July 2010

  • Orbital Sciences Corp. will continue its work with NASA’s small rockets program as prime contractor on a $125 million, five year contract.
  • The Planetary Society has this to say about the NASA authorization bill in the House of Representatives: “the proposed bill abandons any significant investment in exploration technology, effectively eliminates the Administration’s approach for engaging the commercial sector, establishes a program of loan guarantees that the Administration did not request, and seeks to reinstate programs that have been determined to be unsustainable.”

29 July 2010

  • Popular Mechanics thinks NASA is being set up for failure: “NASA is being asked to do too much with too little by Congress, and, once again, America’s space agency is set up for failure. If this plan goes forward, it will preserve jobs in Utah, Alabama, Texas and Florida, but contribute little to actually accomplishing things in space. And we can expect to have to assemble another panel of experts a couple of years from now to tell us once again what we already know, and what Congress will continue to ignore, because pork will always reign over progress.”

28 July 2010

  • Astronomers expect to find a number of planets with cozy, Earth-like properties. Which is why the TED lecture by Dimitar Sasselov, a member of the planet-hunting Kepler space telescope’s science team, created such a furor. The latest to weigh in on the TED event on 16 July is The New Scientist article. Whether its 38 or 140, the withholding of data until February 2011 is causing a ruckus.
  • A rare specimen of massive stars that live fast and die young has been photographed by a European observatory in Chile.
    The blazing hot star is called WR 22 and is shedding its atmosphere many millions of times faster than our own sun in outward blasts that unleash powerful radiation emissions.

27 July 2010

  • Yuri Artsutanov and Jerome Pearson will appear at this year’s Space Elevator Conference, to be held in Redmond, Washington (August 12-15). Yuri is traveling all the way from St. Petersburg, Russia.
  • Russian astronauts have completed a space walk at the International Space Station using their new “smart suits”. They replaced a badly performing camera and hooked up the automated rendezvous equipment for autopilot dockings using the Russian KURS system on the new Rassvet module, delivered in May.
  • The August 2010 issue of Scientific America has Kepler Co-Investigator Dimitar Sasselov’s article Planets We Could Call Home. This is the gentleman who Spilled the Beans at TED.

26 July 2010

  • Kepler Co-Investigator Spills The Beans: Lots of Earth-like Planets. Harvard’s Dimitar Sasselov gave an address at TEDGlobal at Oxford this month, announcing the discovery by the Kepler observatory of “hundreds” of earth like planets. The video is at TED.
  • The first of three Glonass satellites has arrived at Baikonur in preparation for launch on 2 September 2010. The remaining two satellites will arrive in August, and mated to the DM upper stage and Proton rocket.
  • Prelaunch processing of the Progress M-07M cargo vehicle is underway by RSC-Energia. The Progress is scheduled to fly from Baikonur aboard a Soyuz-U rocket on 8 September 2010 on a resupply mission to the International space station.
  • Dextre, the special-purpose dexterous manipulator sometimes described as the hand for Canadarm2 on the International Space Station (ISS), is almost ready to begin serving as a backup for spacewalking astronauts and cosmonauts.

25 July 2010

  • Researchers poring over Google Earth images have discovered one of Earth’s freshest impact craters — a 45-meter-wide (148-foot-wide) pock in southwestern Egypt that probably was excavated by a fast-moving iron meteorite no more than a few thousand years ago.

24 July 2010

23 July 2010

  • Curiosity, the next Mars rover grows by leaps and bounds.
  • The best Mars map ever made is now available online for planetary scientists and armchair astronauts alike. And citizen scientists are invited to help make it even better.
  • More Curiosity news: the rover took its first steps Friday inside a clean room at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, kicking off a test campaign to prove the $2.3 billion robot can operate on the surface of Mars.

22 July 2010

21 July 2010

  • NASA reports that the spacecraft Cassini has observed the formation of giant snowballs in Saturn’s F ring. The gravitational pull of the moon Prometheus creates wake channels, which trigger the formation of the snowballs. Some are as large as 20 km in diameter.
  • Scientists have completed installation of the Mars Descent Imager, or MARDI, on the new Mars Rover Curiosity. MARDI will return images of the descent and landing of Curiosity in 2012.
  • Workers started assembling twin solid rocket boosters this week to help power Endeavour toward orbit in February on the final scheduled launch of the space shuttle program.

20 July 2010

  • Preliminary data from the European Space Agency’s CryoSat-2 spacecraft has been released. A better understanding of how Earth’s ice fields are changing has come another step closer.
  • Politicians on the House Science and Technology committee continue to cling to “the sunk cost fallacy” as they endorse efforts to keep the Constellation program on track, despite the legislation worked out last week between the Senate and the White House. Citing the $9 Billion already wasted on the Constellation program, committee leaders claimed that it was “imperative that … [NASA] builds on the investments made to date”.
  • This will warm the cockles of the hearts over at ATK: “It (the US solid rocket motor industry) is over capacity right now,” Brett Lambert said at the Farnborough Airshow on Monday, adding a consolidation was long overdue.

19 July 2010

  • Scientists at CalTech have obtained data from the Cassini spacecraft documenting the drop in the level of two lakes on Saturn’s moon Titan. The decline is about one meter per year for the past four years.
  • The DragonEye (DE) relative navigation sensor – set to ride with Discovery on STS-133 – will be installed two weeks later than planned, following a laser rod failure during testing. Discovery – currently enjoying a smooth processing flow – will be conducting the second test for the sensor during her arrival at the International Space Station (ISS) in November.

18 July 2010

  • Following on the recent fly-by of Lutetia by the Rosetta spacecraft, Emily Lakdawalla has a discussion over at The Planetary Society blog about how Lutetia compare to the other asteroids and comets visited by spacecraft.

17 July 2010

  • NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) observatory has just completed its first full sky survey. The first release of WISE data, covering about 80 percent of the sky, will be delivered to the astronomical community in May of next year.
  • WISE has also discovered 95 new Near Earth Asteroids.

16 July 2010

  • Astronomers using NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have confirmed the existence of a baked object that could be called a “cometary planet.” The gas giant planet, named HD 209458b, is orbiting so close to its star that its heated atmosphere is escaping into space.
  • The Senate Commerce Committee approved bipartisan legislation July 15 that authorizes NASA funding levels through 2013.

15 July 2010

  • Three research articles have been published from the third and final flyby of Mercury in September 2009 by Mercury Surface, Space Environment, Geochemistry and Ranging spacecraft (MESSENGER). Data from the final flyby has revealed the first observations of ion emissions in Mercury’s exosphere; new information about the planet’s magnetic substorms; and evidence of younger volcanic activity than previously recorded.

14 July 2010

  • Scientists at Penn State released information on a blast of the brightest X-rays ever detected from beyond our Milky Way. The X-Ray burst temporarily blinded the eye on NASA’s Swift space observatory earlier this summer. The burst was 168 times brighter than the typical burst and five times brighter than anything previously seen.
  • The South Pole-Aitken (SPA) basin is the largest and oldest recognized impact basin on the moon. It’s diameter is roughly 2,500 km or 1,550 miles. The moon’s circumference is just under 11,000 km, meaning the basin stretches across nearly a quarter of the moon.

13 July 2010

  • The wheels on Curiosity that will touch down on Mars in 2012 are several rotations closer to spinning on the rocky trails of Mars. This video clip shows engineers in the JPL clean room where the rover is being assembled as they put all six wheels into motion for the first time.
  • Japan’s Kaguya spacecraft first photographed the enormous caverns last year. Now the powerful Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter Camera (LROC, the same camera that photographed Apollo landers and astronauts’ tracks in the moondust) is giving us enticing high-resolution images of the caverns’ entrances and their surroundings.

12 July 2010

  • India’s Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C15) successfully launches CARTOSAT – 2B Satellite
  • A total solar eclipse arced across the southern Pacific Ocean Sunday, blotting out the sun and offering stunning views to skywatchers.

11 July 2010

  • Movie” of the encounter between Rosetta and the asteroid Lutetia.

10 July 2010

  • Rosetta has completed her fly-by of Lutetia. Close up images should arrive about 21:00 UTC.
  • International Launch Services (ILS) have launched the EchoStar XV telecommunications satellite via their veteran Proton-M launch vehicle and Breeze-M upper stage.

9 July 2010

  • The place to be for the upcoming Sunday solar eclipse is French Polynesia (between 7:00 am and 10:30 am local time – 1700 and 2030 GMT). Come to think of it, the place to be has always been French Polynesia.

8 July 2010

  • The International Space Station (ISS) may live on until 2028, following confirmation by the Space Station Program Control Board (SSPCB) that partner agencies have been asked to produce an extension blueprint for continued operation until 2025, with the potential to push as far as 2028.
  • Rocketplane Global has filed for bankruptcy. It had been working on a suborbital rocket-jet hybrid plane that would have lofted paying passengers above the 62-mile (100-kilometer) altitude mark.
  • JAXA had the following announcement on the HAYABUSA main web page: “This summer, we are exhibiting a part of the capsule of the Asteroid Explorer “HAYABUSA,” which returned to the Earth on June 13, and other interesting things at the Sagamihara City Museum, JAXA Tsukuba Space Center, and at the OO square on the first floor of Marunouchi Oazo Building. Why don’t you come and witness the real capsule that came back to the Earth after seven years in space!”

7 July 2010

  • Puff the Magic Dragon?
  • The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said Wednesday it has found several dozen additional particles in a container inside a tiny capsule that the Hayabusa unmanned space probe released in June after a seven-year round-trip to the asteroid Itokawa. Results of analyses will probably not come until September.

6 July 2010

  • From the JAXA Hayabusa website: “Minute particles were confirmed in the sample container of the HAYABUSA, whose unpacking operation was started on June 24 (JST) at the Curation Center at the Sagamihara Campus. We are still unsure if those particles are something from the ITOKAWA or from the Earth, thus we will further examine them”.

5 July 2010

  • SpaceDaily.com is reporting that Japanese scientists have found “minute particles” inside the Hayabusa return capsule. The JAXA web site for Hayabusa has not yet posted the press release concerning this announcement.

4 July 2010

  • Following an aborted docking maneuver on Friday, the Progress M-06M resupply spacecraft completed its docking program this morning at 16:17 UTC.

3 July 2010

  • NASA and Shuttle managers have devised a forward plan to complete the mandatory Wing Leading Edge (WLE) Spar inspections on Atlantis – one of only a few mandatory safety inspections required for Atlantis before she can be cleared for flight next year.

2 July 2010

  • The Russian Progress resupply mission to the ISS experienced technical difficulties and failed to dock. A second attempt is tentatively scheduled for Sunday at 9:17 AM Phoenix time (1617 GMT).
  • New Horizons successfully executed a June 30 thruster-firing, which lasted 35.6 seconds just about one mile per hour. This will make sure that New Horizons makes its planned closest approach 7,767 miles (12,500 kilometers) above Pluto at 7:49 a.m. EDT on July 14, 2015.
  • NASA astronaut Douglas Wheelock snapped this picture of auroral lights as seen from the International Space Station.

1 July 2010

  • As has been expected for many weeks, NASA managers have approved the Change Requests (CR) for the launch dates of the next two shuttle missions. With STS-133 moving to November 1, STS-134 is targeting February 26 – although the threat of the program running out of funding may force Endeavour’s launch up by a week or so. A decision on adding STS-135 also appears to be no closer.
  • The Russian space freighter Progress M-06M will dock with ISS as scheduled

Posted in Earth, JAXA, Mars, Mercury, NASA, Pluto, Russian Space Agency, Space Shuttle, The Planetary Society | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

November 2009

Posted by drdave on August 4, 2010

30 November 2009

29 November 2009

  • “MOSCOW, November 30 (RIA Novosti) – A launch of a Zenit carrier rocket with a U.S. telecommunications satellite originally scheduled for Sunday midnight has been delayed for technical reasons, a spokesman for Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said”. From RIA Novosti.
  • From our neighbor down south, the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson has another report on Jupiter’s moon Europa, and the likelihood of finding life thereupon.

28 November 2009

  • Butterflies in Orbit. The butterfly habitat will be transferred to the Space Station within the first 2-3 days of the STS – 129 mission. “About 100 elementary and middle school classrooms across the U.S. are participating in a pilot study by setting up ground-based habitats. Students will replicate the space experiment and compare the growth and behavior of their butterfly larvae with those living in the microgravity environment of space,” said Dr. Greg Vogt, senior project manager at Baylor College of Medicine’s (BCM) Center for Educational Outreach.
  • The European Space Agency (ESA) has released beautiful spectra from the Herschel spacecraft situated at SEL-2. Detailed analyses of these spectra provide insight into the physical and chemical composition of the objects. For example, see the results of the SPIRE spectrum of Canis Majoris. Herschel covers the full far infrared and submillimetre waveband.

27 November 2009

26 November 2009

  • HiRISE image of Gullies and Flow Features on a crater wall on Mars
  • An update on the “Hole-in-the-Moon” discovered by the Japanese spacecraft Kaguya and the associated lava tube. A ready to use Moon Base?

25 November 2009

  • Dark Matter may power your journey to the stars.
  • The Space Shuttle Atlantis has undocked from the International Space Station and is scheduled to return to Earth on Friday, 27 November 2009.

24 November 2009

  • A long, but fascinating, article about how we may have acquired many of the stars in our Zodiac in a giant, violent event 30 Million years ago.
  • A beautiful image of the Crab Nebula, which exploded in 1054 AD. This is a composite image from the Chandra X-Ray orbital telescope, the Hubble telescope in visible light and the Spitzer Space Telescope in the infrared.
  • Operation Plymouth Rock.

23 November 2009

  • 40 minutes from now (10:50 PM Phoenix time) you can get the latest updates on the Atlas 5 launch of the Intelsat 14 at the Forum at NASASpaceFlight.com. If you miss the live launch, get the details at the Intelsat 14 link.
  • The New Scientist reports that a dark matter galaxy may be crashing through the Milky Way.

22 November 2009

21 November 2009

  • Cassini makes its eighth flyby of Enceladus where the Composite Infrared Spectrograph (CIRS) instrument will make a map of thermal emissions from the tiger stripe at Baghdad Sulcus.
  • The Astronaut Hall of Fame in Titusville, Florida was the sight of NASA’s Astronaut Glove Centennial Challenge contest yesterday. Peter Homer of Southwest Harbor, Maine, won $250,000 for his glove, and Ted Southern of Brooklyn, New York won $100,000. Congratulations.
  • Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and Pete Olson of Texas have dug in their heels and reiterated their backing of the doomed Constellation program. Even though Ares I is underpowered and technically challenged and Ares V is over weight and too costly to fly, both want to throw more money at it and hope for the best: “The United States needs to make clear to the rest of the world that we are not wavering” said Giffords. But costs will ultimately undo Constellation. Ares I has cost $8 Billion so far, and will ultimately cost four (4) times what human rating of commercial vehicles will cost, yielding a rocket with less capability than commercial vehicles. Apparently, the politicians are all-in to protect their constituents jobs and funding, but will likely lose the bet.

20 November 2009

19 November 2009

  • The first spacewalk of the mission began at 7:24 AM Phoenix time and will work on a number of maintenance tasks outside the International Space Station. Mike Foreman and Robert Satcher will install a spare communications antenna, route cables, and lubricate parts of the mobile base system and Kibo robotic arm.
  • NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE, is scheduled to roll to the pad on Friday, Nov. 20, its last stop before launching into space to survey the entire sky in infrared light, sometime on or after 9 December 2009.
  • The Wide Field and Planetary Camera 2 that spent 15 years taking amazing pictures on board the Hubble has been returned to Earth and will take up residence in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington.

18 November 2009

17 November 2009

  • Good Leonid shower this morning, even in Phoenix (4:30 AM). In 15 minutes we saw 10 streaks, including one blue-green and a very bright white trail that left glowing debris for 5-10 seconds. But nothing compared to this one. As pretty as meteor showers are from Earth, they can be deadly for satellites.
  • Ouch! Time magazine has named the Ares I “The Invention of the Year”. Unfortunately for Time, there was no Ares I rocket launch this year. There was a space shuttle solid rocket booster with a lot of dummy components on top painted to look like an Ares I that was shot off last 28 October. Buzz Aldrin wrote a scathing review recently concerning the Ares program, labeling the $450 million launch a political stunt.

16 November 2009

15 November 2009

  • The Leonid meteor shower is set to peak Tuesday night. A well placed observer in Asia or Eastern Europe should see hundreds of meteors per hour. North Americans should see the shower just before dawn on Tuesday.
  • Fall colors in the Eastern United States, as seen from the Terra (EOS AM) and Aqua (EOS PM) satellites using the MODIS (or Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer) instrument. Terra’s orbit around the Earth is timed so that it passes from north to south across the equator in the morning, while Aqua passes south to north over the equator in the afternoon.

14 November 2009

  • The Mars rover Spirit is stuck in a sand trap and may be doomed to remain there. The New Scientist has a review of the plucky life of Spirit.
  • The launch of the Atlas V carrying the Intelsat 14 communications satellite was scrubbed after a technical issue with its ORCA (Ordnance Remote Control Assembly).

13 November 2009

  • “We are ecstatic,” said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “Multiple lines of evidence show water was present in both the high angle vapor plume and the ejecta curtain created by the LCROSS Centaur impact. The concentration and distribution of water and other substances requires further analysis, but it is safe to say Cabeus holds water.”
  • Rosetta completed its third and last fly-by and is headed toward the outer Solar System and its rendezvous with comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

12 November 2009

11 November 2009

  • Armistice Day (for those of us who remember it). Veterans Day for all of us. A salute to all those who serve.
  • The Planetary Society has announced a series of three LightSail missions: “Our solar sail is back! The Planetary Society is building a spacecraft that will sail on sunlight alone by the end of 2010. “
  • Is Einstein’s theory of relativity wrong? Two spacecraft (Galileo and Rosetta) gained more speed on their past fly-bys of Earth than predicted. The next Rosetta fly-by on 13 November 2009 will be another test. A 1.1 millimeter per second of excess velocity has been predicted.

10 November 2009

  • A Soyuz rocket with the Poisk module for the International Space Station was successfully launched this morning. Docking is scheduled for Thursday at 10:44 EST.
  • Two missions are shaping up to explore the moons of Jupiter. See the discussion in this article in The New Scientist.

9 November 2009

  • A Soyuz rocket with the Poisk module for the International Space Station was erected Sunday for launch tomorrow at 9:22 EST (7:22 Phoenix). Docking is scheduled for Thursday at 10:44 EST.
  • Emily Lakdawalla of The Planetary Society will conduct two live classes in Space Image Processing: I. Images Are Data, tentatively scheduled for Friday, November 13, 2009 at 10:30 Pacific (18:30 UTC) and II. Getting Started with Space Image Data: Rover and Cassini Raw Images, tentatively scheduled for Thursday, November 19, 2009 at 10:30 Pacific (18:30 UTC). Reservations are limited, but the classes will be recorded and available for download.

8 November 2009

7 November 2009

6 November 2009

  • Wayne Hale comments on those who know “the price of everything and the value of nothing”.
  • Atlantis’ cargo, consisting of Express Logistics Carrier 1 and 2, holding about 28,000 pounds of supplies and spare parts for the International Space Station, are being loaded into the cargo bay, prior to the 16 November launch. These are critical parts.
  • Fast romp up the Space Elevator.

5 November 2009

  • Who says commercial launch vehicles are not human rated? NRO thinks several $Billion (with a $B) worth of satellites are safe with commercial ULA vehicles.
  • Gotta love a B-52 launching the X-38 lifting body. Check the mission decorations on the fuselage of the B-52.
  • The Mars Phoenix Lander has been imaged by HiRise in two images following the return of the Sun to the northern polar region of Mars – “July 30, 2009, (left image) and in Aug. 22, 2009 (right)”.

4 November 2009

  • While the concern is not new, the level of concern keeps rising – “A burgeoning blizzard of space debris is going to have a major impact on the future economics of space flight.”
  • Iron and Titanium on Mercury – the BBC reports on some of the results from the recent fly-by of Mercury by MESSENGER.
  • Astronomers have tracked down a gigantic, previously unknown assembly of galaxies. The filament is located about 6.7 billion light-years away from us and extends over at least 60 million light-years.

3 November 2009

  • You Tube has an aerial view of the Ares I-X flight.
  • The John Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory will conduct a conference today at 1 PM EDT on the recent MESSENGER flyby of Mercury. The press kit is available here.
  • Dark Matter Stars in the earliest universe? Super Black Holes?

2 November 2009

  • NASA’s Cassini spacecraft made its deepest plunge yet into the plumes of Saturn’s moon Enceladus on Monday. The dive might reveal complex organic molecules that could hint at life.
  • We Have A Winnah!! Masten Space Systems has officially won the Lunar Lander Challenge.
  • The National Space Society “Ad Astra” program helped engineer Jorge Rivera prevail with the “Beanie Cap,” which prevents ice from forming on the Space Shuttle External Tank LOX vent, avoiding harm during launch. The tool came about because of his enthusiasm.

2 November 2009

  • The Soil Moisture and Ocean Salinity, or SMOS, satellite was successfully launched early today aboard a Rockot launcher. The Rockot, made of retired ballistic missile parts, took off from Complex 133 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome about 500 miles north of Moscow.
  • “Does the Final Frontier Have a Future? Debating America’s Next Steps in Human Space Flight,” will be the topic being hosted today by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA). The discussion is free and open to the public, and takes place on Monday, November 2, at 1:00 p.m. in Room 106, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Constitution Ave. and 1st St. NE, Washington, D.C. Details.
  • The JAXA HTV-1 has de-orbited and burned up in the atmosphere after a successful 52 day stay.

1 November 2009

  • The Japanese Cargo Supply spacecraft HTV-1 undocked from the International Space Station and is scheduled to de-orbit and burn up in the atmosphere tomorrow with a load of trash.
  • The Soyuz TMA-17 was delivered by rail to Baikonur Cosmodrome for prelaunch processing. TMA-17 will launch the Expedition ISS-22/23 crew to the International Space Station. A large collection of photographs are at the link.
  • Interesting video from SOHO showing a class-C solar flare from sunspot 1029. From SpaceWeather.Com: “Last week alone, the sunspot produced ten C-class solar flares, more than tripling the number of flares in the previous 10 months. Sunspot 1029 is a member of long-overdue Solar Cycle 24.”

Posted in Asteroid, Comet, European Space Agency, International Space Station, Jupiter, Mars, Mercury, Moon, NASA, National Space Society, Russian Space Agency, Saturn, Space Shuttle | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

October 2009

Posted by drdave on August 4, 2010

31 October 2009

  • Headlines in the space news world will talk about Masten coming from behind with only minutes to spare to beat Armadillo. See the details. Also here for Jonathon Goff’s comments.
  • LROC continues with spectacular views of the Moon. Frozen Impact Melt on the far side of the Moon.
  • A NASA press release announced the upcoming transfer of the Tranquility pressurized module from the the European Space Agency to NASA. Tranquility will provide room for many of the station’s life support systems. Attached to the node is a cupola, a unique work station with windows on its six sides and top. The module will be delivered to the station during space shuttle Endeavour’s STS-130 mission, targeted for launch Feb. 4, 2010.

30 October 2009

  • The JAXA HTV-1 resupply spacecraft is set to depart the ISS with the latest garbage dump and burn up in the atmosphere.
  • NASA is working to recover the Ares I-X first stage. One of the three parachutes collapsed, and the lower segment of the rocket buckled, possibly on impact with the ocean.
  • BOOM. Two teams report in Nature on a gamma-ray burst that occurred a mere 630 million years after the Big Bang (that’s 13.1 billion years ago). It is the youngest gamma-ray burst ever seen. The previous youngest burst happened 825 million years after the Big Bang.

29 October 2009

  • LROC unveils Apollo 17 landing site. Great resolution.
  • The most distant object in the universe.
  • Give credit where credit is due. NASA launched its first new rocket in thirty years. Successfully. Lots to be learned from the data. Cheers.
  • “Ruh Roh”. Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is still in “Safe” mode after six weeks. Engineers are now working to create a safeguard against that worst-case scenario as well as finding the cause of the mysterious voltage signals.

28 October 2009

  • The scrubbed launch of Ares I-X is now scheduled for launch on Wednesday. There is a four-hour launch window, extending from 8 a.m. until 12 noon EDT. See NASA TV.
  • The number of close encounters between objects in orbit will rise 50 per cent in the next decade, and quadruple by 2059. Countermeasures will add greatly to the cost of future missions.
  • Good news for America’s Space Exploration program. “Representatives from most of the 27 member governments of the European Union (EU) on Oct. 23 expressed support for a major, if still undefined, financial investment in space exploration alongside the European Space Agency (ESA) but conceded it will take a year before they are ready to set firm budget and policy goals. Meeting here as part of the EU-ESA International Conference on Human Space Exploration, they said that by late 2010 they should be able to make initial decisions on a space exploration roadmap that includes robotic and manned missions in collaboration with the United States, Russia, Japan and other nations including China and India. They also acknowledged that the United States, which they view as the natural coordinator of a major exploration initiative, will need the next 12 months to align U.S. space exploration objectives with NASA’s likely budget.”

27 October 2009

  • Following the announcement of a hole on the Moon into a sub-lunar lava tube (see below 23 October), comes the announcement of a similar find on Mars. Glen Cushing, a physicist with the US Geological Survey, discovered the series of “collapse depressions” in extinct lava flows from a Martian volcano.
  • NASA publishes a list of upcoming launches.
  • In a case of being in the right place at the right time, the MESSENGER spacecraft was able to capture an average-sized solar flare, allowing astronomers to study high-energy solar neutrons at less than 1 astronomical unit (AU) from the sun for the first time.

26 October 2009

  • The Ares I-X is scheduled for launch on Tuesday. There is a four-hour launch window, extending from 8 a.m. until 12 noon EDT. If weather scrubs Tuesday’s attempt, the launch team will try again on Wednesday, maintaining the same launch window.
  • Jeff Foust has a discussion about political and other perspectives of the Augustine Commission Report on The Space Review.

25 October 2009

  • The Orlando Sentinel has an interview with Jeff Greason from the Augustine Commission: “It’s time to base U.S. space policy on the “truth”
  • “A plethora of boulders surrounds braided flows of impact melt along the inside wall of crater Epigenes A.” Latest LROC image.
  • Neat images on Astronaut Nicole Stott’s Blog.

24 October 2009

  • Follow NASA on your iPhone with the NASA App. The App delivers up-to-the-minute NASA content directly from Agency sources in one easy-to-use mobile platform.
  • Interested in the missions to Mars over the past 50 years? Check out this poster.
  • Two ESA satellites are set for launch on 2 November 2009 from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. SMOS will provide the data to produce global maps of soil moisture at least every three days and global maps of sea-surface salinity averaged over 30 days. Proba-2 incorporates a total of 17 technology developments and four scientific experiments that focus on solar and space weather.

23 October 2009

  • A deep hole on the Moon that could open into a vast underground tunnel has been found for the first time.
  • NASA has begun to shift focus toward longer range research in technology.
  • JPL has completed operational testing of procedures to extract Spirit from the soft sand it became trapped in five months ago. “Current plans call for an independent panel to review Spirit driving plans in late October, following analysis of results from the readiness test. Unless that review recommends any further preparations, Spirit will probably begin extraction moves within two weeks after the review.”

22 October 2009

21 October 2009

  • The New Scientist rates the five options of the Augustine Commission.
  • The Russians are preparing to launch the Mini-Research Module 2, or MRM 2, aboard a Soyuz rocket on Nov. 10 at 1422 GMT (9:22 a.m. EST) for attachment to the International Space Station

20 October 2009

  • NASA rolled out the Ares I-X rocket to the launch pad early this morning.
  • Ames Research Center has announced the winners of the Regolith Excavation Challenge, held on Oct. 17-18, 2009. Competitors were required to use mobile, robotic digging machines capable of excavating at least 330 pounds of simulated moon dirt, known as regolith, and depositing it into a container in 30 minutes or less. The winning excavator lifted 1,103 pounds within the allotted time.
  • The Orionid Meteor Shower will be in full swing tonight. Observers in the Northern Hemisphere will see around 20 meteors per hour at maximum, while observers in the Southern Hemisphere will see around 40 meteors per hour. Best viewing is thought to be around 3:00 AM Phoenix time.

19 October 2009

  • The Augustine Commission is expected to release its final report on Wednesday, 21 October 2009.
  • On Monday, Oct. 19 at 3pm PDT, Mr. David Thompson will join Conrad Foundation’s The Exchange webinar to discuss his thoughts on what innovation means for the Aerospace Industry, and the AIAA winners of Aerospace Exploration and Space Nutrition challenge categories. Registration is open to the public.
  • NASA postponed the roll-out of the ARES I-X from this morning to tomorrow morning. Live NASA Television coverage with commentary will start at 11:45 p.m., Oct. 19
  • It is expected that approval of the Range Safety waiver for the Flight Termination System on the Ares I-X rocket will be granted.

18 October 2009

17 October 2009

  • NASA announced that the shepherding spacecraft did capture the plume from the impact of the Centaur rocket. “With the spacecraft returning data until virtually the last second, the thermal and near-infrared cameras returned excellent images of the Centaur impact crater at a resolution of less than 6.5 feet (2 m). The images indicate that the crater was about 92 feet (28 m) wide.”
  • Sometimes progress is fast, but the results are slow coming to light. Hubble observations taken Dec. 9 and 10, 2005, showed Xena’s diameter as 1,490 miles (with an uncertainty of 60 miles), while Pluto has a diameter of 1442 miles. That makes the “tenth” planet the ninth largest.
  • NASA has released this Cassini image of Janus, one of the moons of Saturn.

16 October 2009

  • NASA has released the first all sky map from its Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) spacecraft, showing the solar System’s interaction with the Milky Way’s interstellar medium.
  • The 2009 Regolith Excavation Challenge Oct. 17-18, with a $750,000 prize, will pit 23 teams using robots they designed and built to excavate simulated lunar soil. To qualify, a robot must dig up at least 330 pounds of regolith and deposit it into a container in 30 minutes.
  • ESA astronaut Frank De Winne took over the command of the International Space Station – the first non-American and non-Russian to take on this role.
  • In an Op-Ed article in the Wall Street Journal, thirteen former astronauts urged NASA to let commercial space firms handle crew to low Earth orbit. They quote Sally Ride, from the Augustine Commission, “We would like to be able to get NASA out of the business of getting people to low Earth orbit.”

15 October 2009

  • Spectacular fireball over the Netherlands.
  • The Planetary Society has the latest Mars rover updates for Spirit and Opportunity.
  • European Space Agency (ESA) reports that an Engineering Test Unit (ETU), a test model of ESA’s Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec) for the James Webb Space Telescope has been completed and will be shipped to NASA.
  • Robert Bigelow’s open letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden about commercial cargo and crew launch.

14 October 2009

  • NASA has announced an update to the IBEX Mission (Interstellar Boundary Explorer). A briefing will be held Thursday, 15 October 2009
  • From the Orlando Sentinel: “People are very worried [our] efforts are a threat to Constellation rather than an enabler,” says Ken Bowersox, a former astronaut hired by Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). “We don’t want to compete like that. We want to enable. We want to provide a cheap way to get to station so you can spend money to do the exciting exploration things”. Liberate the NASA exploration program from mundane tasks.
  • Bunk: Apolinario Chile Pixtun, a Mayan Indian elder, is tired of being bombarded with frantic questions about the Mayan calendar supposedly “running out” on Dec. 21, 2012. “I came back from England last year and, man, they had me fed up with this stuff.”

13 October 2009

12 October 2009

  • National Geographic “Map of the Day” – 50 Years of Solar System Missions.
  • The Hubble Space Telescope was focused on the Moon Friday morning when the LCROSS Centaur stage and the shepherding spacecraft impacted the Moon. There was no immediate indication of the impact and additional processing is expected.
  • The 60th International Astronomical Congress will be held this week in Korea. NASA Administrator Gen. Charles Bolden will attend, although he has expressed his trepidation about being abroad when the Augustine Commission releases its final report.
  • Rockets and Such – we are back wandering in the desert

11 October 2009

  • Read Eric Berger’s interview with Neil deGrasse Tyson. Tyson says “The question is: What’s the value of visible projects by NASA in the overall portfolio to the hearts and minds of Americans? I think we have to do it, otherwise we should just close up shop and watch the rest of the world lead us into the future.”
  • A Russian cosmonaut, an American astronaut and the world’s first space clown departed the International Space Station and returned to Earth, winding up their expeditions to the orbiting outpost.
  • ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Frank De Winne has become the first European commander of the International Space Station this weekend. The current commander Russian cosmonaut Gennady Padalka has left the ISS on board Soyuz TMA-16.
  • Mars rover Spirit is in day 2049 of it 90 day mission and Opportunity is in day 2028 of its 90 day mission. Both are well outside their warranty date. Spirit has traveled 7,729.93 meters, and Opportunity has traveled an incredible 17,962.44 meters.

10 October 2009

  • ESA (European Space Agency) Director-General Jean-Jacques Dordain told the 18-nation agency’s ruling council he expects to finalize an agreement with NASA by mid-November for a 2016 launch of a 600-kilogram ESA lander that will include exobiology experiments, and a 2018 mission. NASA will supply two Atlas V rockets and will feature ESA’s rover deployed to the Mars surface by the same Sky Crane system — with the rover, attached by chord to the descent module, gently lowered to the surface — that NASA plans to use for its large Mars Science Laboratory rover to be launched in 2011.
  • The LRO Diviner instrument obtained infrared observations of the LCROSS impact this morning. LRO flew by the LCROSS Centaur impact site 90 seconds after impact at a distance of ~80 km.
  • Space Daily that the ocean on Jupiter’s moon Europa contains enough oxygen to support life.

9 October 2009

  • Prepare for the LCROSS impact on the Moon. Live NASA web coverage at 6:30 AM EDT, Friday (Yes, that’s 3:30 AM Phoenix time). Impact is at 4:31 AM Phoenix time.
  • NASA Administrator Charles Bolden: “We should not fool ourselves. We should not pretend that if we decide we’re going to take a break from human spaceflight that nobody’s going to do that. That’s not going to happen … China, Russia — they’re the natural leaders and they will ascend to leadership.”
  • The New Scientist reports that while Apophis is less likely to impact the Earth in 2036, 2068 is looming as a threat.

8 October 2009

  • The Augustine Commission holds its final public session via phone conference call at 10:00 AM Phoenix time. A link to the streaming audio may be found half way down on this page. Toll-free number: 1-888-373-5705 Participant Passcode: 190078
  • NASA has released the refined orbit of the asteroid APOPHIS. The risk of its hitting Earth in 2036 has been reduced dropped from one-in-45,000 to about one-in-250,000.
  • Masten Space Systems completed their Level 1 flight in the Lunar Lander Challenge and are awaiting a final ruling by the judges. All looks good.

7 October 2009

  • NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope has found a GIANT ring around Saturn. GIANT.
  • ITAR reform is needed to expand U.S. exports and competitiveness.
  • Boeing and Energia have announced plans to build a future common docking system.

6 October 2009

  • Dr. Steve Squyres (Cornell University) has been awarded the Carl Sagan Medal by the American Astronomical Society for his work explaining the Mars Exploration Rover mission to millions of people.
  • SpaceX has announced completion of acceptance testing of both the Falcon 9 first and second stages in preparation for the first flight of Falcon 9.
  • Opportunity, one of two Mars rovers and now in its fifth year of a 90 day mission, has discovered another meteorite on the Martian surface.

5 October 2009

  • World Space Week. “The theme this year is Space for Education. Teachers can inspire students by using the excitement of space. It’s a powerful tool to fuel their motivation to learn.”
  • Dr. David Livingston’s The Space Show – “The Monday, Oct. 5, 2009, 11 AM-12:30 PM PDT Program is the special AIAA/Space Show Augustine Commission panel discussion featuring Bob Dickman, “Doc” Horowitz, Frank Culbertson, John Klineberg, Elliot Pulham, and Harrison Schmitt.” Listen Live.
  • Humor – “Seti Fails

4 October 2009

  • Today is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Luna 3, the first to photograph the lunar farside. Details of Luna 3 are here.
  • The Star Wars in Concert has performances at 2 PM and 7 PM today, Sunday.
  • NASA has released the latest images from the Herschel Infrared space telescope. One of the images “reveals a cold and turbulent region where material is just beginning to condense into new stars. It is located in the plane of our Milky Way galaxy, 60 degrees from the center. Blue shows warmer material, red the coolest, while green represents intermediate temperatures. The red filaments are made up of the coldest material pictured here — material that is slightly warmer than the coldest temperature theoretically attainable in the universe”. Check in with Phil Plait and his observations at Bad Astronomy.
  • The European Space Agency (ESA) continues work on the Advanced Re-entry Vehicle. The vehicle is large enough to eventually give ESA access to the International Space Station for a crew of four.

3 October 2009

2 October 2009

  • The Soyuz spacecraft docked with the International Space Station at 1:35 AM Phoenix time today, Friday, after executing a rendezvous burn Thursday. Image of the combined members of expedition 20 and 21.
  • Jeff Greason, reflecting on his experience with the Augustine commission, said that with NASA overhead at $6-7 billion a year, “The bottom line is that they can’t afford to keep the doors open with they money they’ve got, let alone do anything with it.”
  • A German team – c-base Open Moon Team – has entered the Google Lunar X PRIZE.
  • The latest rumor about the release of the Augustine Commission final report comes from the Huntsville Times.

1 October 2009

  • The fifth Ariane 5 of the year is poised to launch between 14:59 and 16:10 Phoenix time today, Thursday. Watch live launch coverage.
  • Discover.com reports on a minor power glitch suffered by the Messanger spacecraft while making its third pass by Mercury prior to settling into orbit in 2011. glitch
  • Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) is working on a concept that replaces large satellites with clusters of wirelessly-linked modular spacecraft flying in loose formation has the potential to drive cultural change, Aviation Week reports.
  • NASA has released a study of the Scientific work done at the International Space Station during its first eight years.
  • Soyuz TMA-16, launched yesterday, is scheduled to reach the International Space Station tomorrow, Friday, 2 October 2009.

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