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Friday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. In the U. S., scientists present major findings from NASA’s Dawn mission: the asteroid Vesta appears to be a rocky Earth-like planet in the making. An update on the House version of NASA’s 2013 budget. SpaceX and Bigelow Aerospace announce a partnership to transport commercial passengers to Bigelow’s future orbital space stations. Op-eds urge the world’s wealthiest nations to do more to monitor and protect the Earth’s environment. NASA’s deep space Orion spacecraft undergoes ground testing. A newly uncovered version of the Mayan calendar reveals no signs of impending disaster. China launches an Earth observing satellite. A NASA astronaut returns to television’s Big Bang Theory for a cameo.
1. From Discovery.com: Asteroid Vesta graduates to baby planet status in findings published in the journal Science this week. Round and differentiated, Vesta is closely related to the inner solar systems rocket planets, Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars, say scientists. NASA’s Dawn mission will wrap up an extended stay at Vesta and soon depart for a second large asteroid, Ceres.
A. From the New York Times: Vesta has been around for a long time, has an iron core, gravity and possibly once had a weak magnetic field.
2. From Spacepolicyonline.com: A look at the House version of NASA’s 2013 budget, following passage on Thursday. It includes a $126 million cut from cross agency support.
3. From The Los Angeles Times: Bigelow Aerospace and SpaceX partner to market commercial spacecraft missions to low Earth orbit. Bigelow’s inflatable space stations will offer a destination. SpaceX fill furnish the Falcon 9 rocket and the Dragon space capsule for transportation under the arrangement. Bigelow’s stations may include orbiting hotels for space tourists.
4. From the Economist: An op-ed from the magazine takes note of the European Space Agency’s confirmed loss of Envisat, a large and capable Earth observing satellite, earlier this week. There’s no replacement. The U.S., Europe, China, India and Brazil should be doing more to ensure a steady flow of data gathering to inform the global debate over climate policy, the Economist writes.
A. From the New York Times: Canadian oil reserves, high in carbon dioxide, pose a serious new global warming threat, writes James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, in an op ed. Hansen urges the White House to do more to prevent drilling of Canada’s vast tar sand oil reserves.
5. From The Huntsville Times: NASA’s Orion/Multipurpose Crew Vehicle service module undergoes ground tests at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center. The structural loads tests show the SM can survive launch and space travel loads, the Times reports.
6. From Space.com: The Mayan calendar is often the topic of dire speculation. The oldest known version is discovered in Guatemala, and there’s no indication of the world coming to an end.
7. From Xinhuanet of China: China launches an Earth observing satellite atop a Long March 4B rocket.
8. From Collectspace.com: NASA astronaut Mike Massimino joins the cast of the Big Bang Theory for Thursday’s episode.
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