Felipe Aguilar points me to his short film Spacefaring in which he juxtaposes Indian village life with the country’s space aspirations:
NASA JPL releases a overview of several studies of measurements made by the Curiosity Mars rover during the time since it landed in August of 2012: NASA Curiosity: First Mars Age Measurement and Human Exploration Help – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
In a little more than a year on the Red Planet, the mobile Mars Science Laboratory has determined the age of a Martian rock, found evidence the planet could have sustained microbial life, taken the first readings of radiation on the surface, and shown how natural erosion could reveal the building blocks of life. Curiosity team members presented these results and more from Curiosity in six papers published online today by Science Express and in talks at the Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco.
This illustration depicts a concept for the possible extent of an ancient lake
inside Gale Crater. The base map combines image data from the Context
Camera on NASA’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and color information
from Viking Orbiter imagery.
Here’s an interesting post about clouds forming in low lying areas on Mars: The Mists of Mars – The Planetary Society
NASA / JPL / Malin Space Science Systems / Bill Dunford
The Clouds of Mars: A composite of global images of Mars taken on
November 29-30, 2013 by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. Water ice
clouds cling to the summits of the major volcanoes, and fill the
giant canyon of Valles Marineris (the long, horizontal feature in the south).
The Mars Society is pleased to announced the beginning of the 2013-14 Mars Desert Research Station (MDRS) Field Season, with crew 131 from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University arriving earlier today at the Mars hab in southern Utah. A chilly start to the field season has the MDRS facility covered in snow and ice with temperatures well below freezing.
Commander Report (12/07/13)
Crew 131 arrived on Mars today after a long journey from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach. Upon arrival the crew immediately began
settling into their rooms, cleaning the Hab and organizing the laboratory and upstairs living area. Two crew members went to get the food and supplies for the crew’s two-week stay on the Red Planet. Once the supplies were brought back, they were inventoried and organized in the upstairs cabinets. Currently, the crew is finishing up making dinner and writing reports.
Tomorrow Crew 131 will be officially entering sim (simulation) after some outdoor orientation activities and a crew photo. The crew will also be making all final preparations for the studies they will be conducting while on Mars. These studies include a usability study on an aeroponics device that was built by students in the Human Factors undergraduate program at Embry-Riddle as well as a usability study on a pair of space suit gloves provided by a private space suit design company called Final Frontier Design.
Additionally, the crew will be conducting an exercise study looking at the effect of exercise on stress and mood as well as a sleep pattern study looking at how the crew’s sleep patterns change when in an isolated and confined environment. Finally, the last study will involve testing out a variety of behavioral questionnaires to determine which are best for monitoring crew function and cohesion. Data collection for these studies will begin on Monday.
Overall, the crew is settling in to their new home for the next two weeks and is excited to begin their research. The crew is also eagerly awaiting the opportunity to explore Mars in their first EVA, which will be on Monday.
The earth observation satellite company DigitalGlobe is holding a contest to selected their top image of the year: Vote For DigitalGlobe’s Best Satellite Photo Of The Year – Popular Science
DigitalGlobe saw many changes in 2013, including our combination with GeoEye in February. The combination grew our constellation to five satellites, adding the capability to collect more than one billion square kilometers of imagery to our archive this year alone!
Dunalley, Australia, Jan. 6, 2013 – fires, false color image (red = healthy vegetation)
Digital Globe Facebook
As 2013 comes to a close, we’re looking back in the archive and choosing our favorite images captured byIKONOS, QuickBird, WorldView-1, GeoEye-1 and WorldView-2. Our DigitalGlobe team members helped to narrow the image selections from trillions of pixels to 20 images. Now we’re looking to you to help us select the top image from these chosen 20.
Please join us in voting for DigitalGlobe’s third annual Top Commercial Satellite Image of the Year contest. To vote, simply go to DigitalGlobe’s Facebook page to see the Top Image Contest – 2013 Top 20 album. You can “like” as many images as you want, but only the five images with the most likes will make it to the final round. You have two weeks to vote, campaign for, and promote the images you want to see in the top five.
On December 17 we will announce the five images with the overall most “likes.” The images will be added to a new album, Top Image Contest – 2013 Top 5 album, where you can “like” your favorite image.
Want additional votes in this final round? Follow DigitalGlobe on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+ to retweet, repin, and +1 your favorite images. We will announce the winning image of 2013 in early January 2014.
We want you to be the judge, so join the conversation and vote for the Top Image of 2013!
1. Monday, Dec. 9, 2013, 2-3:30 PM PST (5-6:30 PM EST, 4-5:30 PM CST): We welcome back MICHELLE EVANTS for updates regarding X-15 and her book on the subject, The X-15 Rocket Plane: Flying the First Wings into Space.
2. Tuesday, Dec. 10, 2013, 7-8:30 PM PST (10-11:30 PM EST, 9-10:30 PM CST): We welcome back DR. WENDELL MENDELL. Dr. Mendell is a planetary scientist at NASA JSC. We will be discussing the Moon and much more during this program.
3. Friday, Dec. 13, 2013, 9:30-11 AM PST (11:30- 1 PM CST, 12:30PM-2:00 PM EST): We welcome DR. DAVID BRAIN to the program to discuss the MAVEN mission, Mars, and more.
4. Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, 12-1:30 PM PST (3-4:30 PM EST, 2-3:30 PM CST). We welcome back ERIC LERNER of Focus Fusion. We will be discussion fusion energy updates with our guest.
The Space Show is a project of the One Giant Leap Foundation.
Rand Simberg writes about the impact on big aerospace and NASA by SpaceX‘s recent successful launch of the geostationary telecommunications satellite SES-8: The Dinosaurs Of The Launch Industry – Transterrestrial Musings.
BTW: Rand’s new book on spaceflight risk is now available at Amazon: Safe Is Not an Option ”Overcoming the futile obsession with getting everyone back alive that is now killing our expansion into space“.
More space policy links:
- Space Policy Events for the Week of December 9-13, 2013
- The new space race: It’s not just the U.S. and Russia anymore: There are now many space programs, both national and private. And that’s good for science - Louis Freedman/LA Times
- You must watch the US Congress’ hearing on alien life—it’s so good – gizmodo
- The House astrobiology hearing: remarkable or mostly harmless? – Space Politics
- Legislator presents spaceport idea to Black Belt committee – The Selma Times‑Journal
- The ASRG Cancellation in Context – Future Planetary Exploration
- NASA Wants Role In Europe’s Astrophysics Missions – Aviation Week
The forces that keep federal money flowing to the sugar industry are very similar to those that keep $3B per year going to the SLS/Orion boondoggle : Sugar protections prove easy to swallow for lawmakers on both sides of aisle – The Washington Post.
On Tuesday the 10th of December Mars One will announce at a press conference in Washington DC that we contracted Lockheed Martin and SSTL for our first unmanned mission to Mars. The press conference will be followed by a Tweetup.
We’re very excited about contracting Lockheed Martin and SSTL. Lockheed Martin has a distinct legacy of participating in nearly every NASA mission to Mars. SSTL has an impressive track record in small, affordable satellite missions.
Livestream Press conference
The press conference will take place from 10:30am – 12:00pm (EST) in the National Press Club in Washington DC and will be live streamed. Several hours before the conference starts, you’ll find more information on the live stream on this page.
The press conference will be followed by a Tweetup and Q&A. It will start at 1:30 pm and will last until 2:30 pm (EST). We invite anyone interested to join the Tweetup live at the National Press Club in Washington DC, or online using the hashtag #AskMarsOne. You will be able to submit questions on that hashtag and the frequently asked ones will be answered by the Mars One, Lockheed Martin and SSTL panel.
If you’re interested in joining the Tweetup live, please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know your Twitter handle.
ANS 342 Weekly AMSAT Bulletin – Dec.7, 2013:
* WD9EWK releases videos of working AO-73
* AO-73 added to LoTW list of recognized satellites
* South Africa ZACube-1 Tshepisosat Telemetry Requested
* New Award from The Star Comm Group
* Listening Help Requested for Trailblazer and DragonSat
* CAPE-2 Tracking Information Updated
* Successful Launch of NROL-39 CubeSats
* NASA Enhances ‘Space Station Live’ and Launches New Weekly Web Series
* NASA Education and Virginia Space Grant Opportunities Available
* See What You Are Missing if You Don’t Receive Your Own AMSAT Journal
* ARISS News
* Satellite Shorts From All Over
More about the Chinese Chang’e 3 lunar spacecraft going into orbit around the Moon: Chinese probe arrives in lunar orbit for moon landing – Spaceflight Now.
See also the earlier post here.
The vehicle is expected to land on December 14th.
Here’s a discussion of China’s goals for its lunar program: Why is China targeting the moon — and should NASA as well? – Fox News.
[ Update: Two other NASA cubesat reports:
- NASA Initiative Helps Launch Student-Built Satellites - NASA
- Thinking Inside the Box, Launching into Space - NASA
NASA Ames reports on their latest PhoneSat:
PhoneSat 2.4, NASA’s next generation smartphone cubesat has phoned home. The tiny spacecraft that uses an off-the-shelf smartphone for a brain has completed checkout and sent back data confirming all systems are “go” for the spry spacefarer.
consumer devices can lead to new space exploration capabilities.
PhoneSat 2.4, a cube approximately four inches square, weighs only about 2.2 pounds, and was developed at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. It is first of the PhoneSat family to use a two-way S-band radio, allowing engineers to command the satellite from Earth. It is confirming the viability of using smartphones and other commercially available electronics in satellites destined for low-Earth orbit.
“It’s great to hear from NASA’s most recent cubesat spacecraft,” said Michael Gazarik, NASA’s associate administrator for space technology in Washington. “NASA is committed to opening up the high frontier to a new generation of explorers who can take advantage of these sorts of small satellites to do science and technology development at a fraction of the cost of larger, more complex spacecraft.”
In April, NASA successfully demonstrated a one-week mission with PhoneSat 1.0. With an expected orbital lifetime of up to one year, PhoneSat 2.4 will measure how well commercially developed components perform in space over a long period of time. This innovative application of commercially developed technologies for use in space provides for low-cost, low-risk, highly repetitive missions to meet some unique NASA science and exploration needs.
The spacecraft was among 11 agency-sponsored cubesats deployed Nov. 19 by a NASA-built Nanosatellite Launch Adapter System aboard an Orbital Sciences Minotaur 1 rocket for the U.S. Air Force from the Mid-Atlantic Regional Spaceport at NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia.
PhoneSat 2.4 also will test a system to control the orientation of the cubesat in space. Like the earlier PhoneSat 1, PhoneSat 2.4 uses a Nexus S smartphone made by Samsung Electronics running Google’s Android operating system. Santa Clara University in California is providing the ground station for the mission.
The smartphone provides many of the functions the satellite needs to operate, such as computation, memory, ready-made interfaces for communications, navigation and power, all assembled in a rugged package before launch. Data from the satellite’s subsystems, including the smartphone, the power system and orientation control system are being downlinked over amateur radio at a frequency of 437.425MHz.
The next PhoneSat, version 2.5, is scheduled to launch in February, hitching a ride aboard a commercial SpaceX rocket. That spacecraft also is expected to perform in Earth orbit for several months and continue testing the two-way radio and orientation systems. The PhoneSat Project is managed by the Engineering Directorate at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif.
The PhoneSat series of missions are pathfinders for NASA’s next Small Spacecraft Technology mission, the Edison Demonstration of Smallsat Networks (EDSN). The EDSN mission is composed of eight identical 1.5-unit cubesats, which are each approximately 4 inches by 4 inches by 6 inches in size and weighing about 5.5 pounds, that will be deployed during a launch from Kauai, Hawaii in 2014.
The EDSN mission will demonstrate the concept of using many small spacecraft in a coordinated cluster to study the space environment and space-to-space communications techniques. The eight EDSN satellites each will have a Nexus S smartphone for satellite command and data handling, with a scientific instrument added as a payload on each spacecraft.
During EDSN, each cubesat will make science measurements and transmit the data to the others while any one of them can then transmit all of the collected data to a ground station. This versatility in command and control could make possible large swarms of satellites to affordably monitor Earth’s climate, space weather and other global-scale phenomena.
The PhoneSat Project is one of many development projects within NASA’s Small Spacecraft Technology Program, one of nine programs within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. The Small Spacecraft Technology Program develops and matures technologies to enhance and expand the capabilities of small spacecraft, with a particular focus on communications, propulsion, pointing, power, and autonomous operations.
For more information about PhoneSat, the Small Spacecraft Technology Program and NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/spacetech
For more information about Ames, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ames
On Nov 24th and 28th, 2013, Kevin Fetter of Brockville, Ontario captured imagery of the U.S. Air Force’s X-37B space plane in the night sky. Orbiting Earth for over year, the mission’s purpose and capability is “in the black.” — Read more about the secret mission here: http://goo.gl/A9Tkz9
This article about the Atlas V launch this week of a NRO spysat discusses the tracking of these sorts of secret vehicles by amateur spacecraft observers: Atlas Launch Report | Government spy satellite rockets into space on Atlas 5 – Spaceflight Now
Ted Molczan, an experienced amateur satellite watcher in Canada, believes Thursday’s launch lofted the third radar satellite in the Topaz series.
“Am I convinced? I would say I am 80 percent confident NROL-39 is Topaz,” said Jonathan McDowell, a scientist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics who tracks global satellite and launch activity.
It is “always possible there is a one-off vehicle in a somewhat similar orbit. Let’s see the amateurs pick it up and get its orbit, then we’ll make a final conclusion,” McDowell said before Thursday’s launch.
Find more about tracking spacecraft in the HobbySpace Satellite Observing section.
At a TED event this week, Prof. Dava J. Newman of MIT spoke about her skin-tight Bio-Suit designs that would allow for much greater freedom of motion and comfort for walkers in space, on a moon, on Mars, etc.:
- A recap of TEDWomen 2013 session 1 | TED Blog
- Meet Dava Newman, the Universe’s Leading Space Fashion Designer – Liz Gannes/AllThingsD
“Behold, a slim-fitting spacesuit to let astronauts move in space.”
Farming in space and on earth: Air, water, energy and food in a nutshell: Space exploration as driver for sustainable robotic agriculture - Robohub
In the final installment in the serialization of the updated version of the book The Rocket Company by Patrick J. G. Stiennon and David M. Hoerr, with illustrations by Doug Birkholz, you can obtain the last four chapters and the two epilogues:
- Updated Forward by David Hoerr (pdf)
- Chapter 24 (pdf)
- Chapter 25 (pdf)
- Chapter 26 (pdf)
- Chapter 27 (pdf)
- Epilogue I (pdf)
- Epilogue II (pdf)
Download these within the next week or so.
See also the electronic version of the updated book is available at The Rocket Company eBook by Patrick Stiennon, David Hoerr, Peter Diamandis, Doug Birkhol: Kindle Store/Amazon.com
Here’s the latest “This week @ NASA” video report:
And here is another cool video of Saturn’s hexagon polar storm:
With help from NASA, four student-built CubeSat research satellites launched into space Friday from the California coast as part of the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative.
The CubeSats were included as auxiliary payloads aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket that lifted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, Calif., at 11:14 p.m. PST Dec. 5 (2:14 a.m. EST Dec. 6) carrying the National Reconnaissance Office’s NROL-39 satellite. The CubeSats, are a part of the Educational Launch of Nanosatellite (ElaNa) mission, NASA’s fifth ElaNa mission launch into space. The miniature satellites deployed from their protective cases into Earth orbit about three hours after liftoff.
The teams responsible for the satellites are beginning to receive signals as the CubeSats come online. Although it could take several days for full confirmation, all of the spacecraft appear to be doing well in their new home in low-Earth orbit.
“This was another great moment for the ELaNa mission and the CubeSat community,” said Jason Crusan, director of NASA’s Advanced Exploration Systems Division, which oversees the CubeSat Launch Initiative. “With each successful mission, we are demonstrating that frequent access to space provides a great opportunity for NASA to gain engineering results at a low cost while affording students real-world exposure to spaceflight.”
The CubeSats were prepared by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and students at Medgar Evers College at the City University of New York; Montana State University in Bozeman; and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor in collaboration with the University of New Hampshire in Durham.
CubeSats are a class of research spacecraft called nanosatellites. The cube-shaped satellites measure about 4 inches on each side, have a volume of about 1 quart and weigh less than 3 pounds. CubeSat research addresses science, exploration, technology development, education or space missions.
ELaNa missions, conducted under NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, give students, teachers and faculty hands-on experience developing flight hardware by providing access to a low-cost avenue for research. Since its inception in 2010, the CubeSat Launch Initiative has selected more than 90 CubeSats from primarily educational and government institutions around the United States. NASA chose these miniature satellites from respondents to public announcements for the agency’s CubeSat Launch Initiative. NASA will announce another call for proposals in August.
For additional information about NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/cubesat
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Today’s selection of space policy/politics related links:
- Committee delays consideration of termination liability bill until next week – Space Politics
- House Committee Delays Vote on NASA Termination Liability Bill – spacepolicyonline.coml
- As budget endgame approaches, scientists make another lobbying push – Space Politics
- Bill Nye’s Open Letter to President Barack Obama – Evadot
- When it comes to planetary science will NASA soon stand for NADA? – SciGuy
- NASA’s Planetary Science Shift Rattles Researchers 0 Science/AAAS
- NASA Trying To Balance Efficiency, Lessons Learned – Aviation Week
- Bill Nye’s Open Letter to President Barack Obama – YouTube
- China’s Moon rover: Yutu or me-too? China’s probe will add a bit to science and a lot to the country’s swagger – The Economist
- Does Australia Have A Space Future? – Forbes
The Chinese Chang’e 3 lunar lander and rover spacecraft has gone into orbit around the Moon. It is expected to land on December 14th.
- Chang’e 3 has arrived in lunar orbit – The Planetary Society
- Chang’e-3 enters lunar orbit – Xinhua
- China’s Moon rover: Yutu or me-too? China’s probe will add a bit to science and a lot to the country’s swagger – The Economist
- China’s lunar probe will reach moon orbit tonight – South China Morning Post
This animation shows how the rover leaves the lander and explores the lunar surface:
Below is a photo provided by Anthony Galván of the launch last night of a spysat on a ULA Atlas V 501 rocket from Vandenberg AFB in California: Atlas Launch Report | Government spy satellite rockets into space on Atlas 5 – Spaceflight Now
© Anthony Galván III. Photo taken from Goleta, CA. 104 second time exposure
shows the rocket heading down range in a southwest direction.
Kristian von Bengtson of Copenhagen Suborbitals describes progress on building the TDS80 capsule that they plan to launch next summer ona HEAT2X rocket: Visual Guide – the Making of DIY Space Capsule TDS80 – Wired Science
The article includes lots of diagrams and pictures, e.g.