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Friday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. SpaceX completes a countdown rehearsal as it lines up for the first U. S. commercial supply mission to the International Space Station. The General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, urges NASA to adopt a more business-like approach to mission planning in a review of 21 major agency projects. Scientists find the oldest Arctic ice disappearing at a rapid clip. The Earth’s beginnings are more than they seem, according to a new study. A look at five places in the solar system that may host some form of microbial life. The Air and Space Museum readies test orbiter Enterprise for its move from the Washington D. C. area to New York City for public display. An update on the petition to win distant Pluto a U. S. Postal Service stamp. Mars finds a prominent place in the night sky.
1. From Spaceflightnow.com: SpaceX carried out a successful countdown rehearsal on Thursday for an late April launching of the Falcon9/Dragon combination on the first U. S. commercial supply mission for the International Space Station. The rocket will be rolled back from its Cape Canaveral, Fla., launch pad for additional preparations. A test firing of the first stage main engines is planned when the rocket and capsule return to the pad. An official launch date has not been scheduled. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/falcon9/003/120301wdr/
2. From Spacepolicyonline.com: In a new report the General Accountability Office, the investigative arm of Congress, urged NASA not to embark on new missions without a sound business case. The GAO examined 21 NASA projects as part of an annual review that found a 140 percent overrun on the James Webb Space Telescope and 84 percent overrun on the Mars Science Laboratory. http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/gao-slams-jwst-msl-cost-overruns
3. From CBSnews.com: Scientists find “multi-year” or the oldest Arctic ice declining, following a three-year recovery from a record minimum in 2008. The loss corresponds to warmer temperatures, which limit new ice formation. A NASA Goddard Space Flight Center scientist led the assessment published in the Journal of Climate. The findings are based on data collected by NASA and military weather satellites. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-205_162-57388909/arctics-old-ice-vanishing-rapidly-nasa-study-finds/
4. From Space.com: The Earth is made up of a more diverse assortment of cosmic building blocks that previously believed, according to a new study. The coming together of material left over from the formation of the sun took place 4.5 billion years ago. http://www.space.com/14752-earth-formation-meteorite-history.html
5. From the Christian Science Monitor: Scientists are finding that microbial life on Earth is much hardier than once believed. From underground caves to thermal vents on the sea floor, bacteria find a way to thrive. The Monitor looks at what the could mean for the prospects of life in the solar system and offers five candidates, starting with the Martian surface and ending with the high altitude clouds encircling Venus. http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2012/0229/Five-places-we-might-find-life-in-our-own-solar-system/Mars
6. From Collectspace.com: Test Orbiter Enterprise is scheduled to make its way from Washington D. C. to New York City on April 23, days after NASA ferries orbiter Discovery from the Kennedy Space Center to Dulles Airport. In both cases, a NASA Boeing 747 carrier aircraft will transport the spacecraft to the nation’s capital and the Big Apple for public display. http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-030112a.html
7. From Wired.com: NASA’s New Horizons team is backing a petition to win acclaim for Pluto with a new U. S. Postal Service stamp. The team needs 100,000 signatures and has a ways to go. Wired has a link to the petition at change.org. The New Horizons spacecraft is traveling toward the first ever spacecraft flyby of distant Pluto in July 2015 http://www.wired.com/geekdad/2012/02/give-pluto-your-stamp-of-approval/
8. From Space.com: Mars, with its reddish cast, is primed for night time viewing as the Earth and red planet reach their closest point to one another the next several days. Look to the East an hour after sunset. http://www.space.com/14753-mars-skywatching-tips-earth-opposition.html
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