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Thursday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. In Switzerland, physicists offer evidence for the discovery of the Higgs boson. Characterization of the long predicted sub-atomic particle may help to explain how the universe formed and evolved. China surges to the front in the number of rocket launches for the first half of 2012. A new solar eruption will reach the Earth this weekend. ATK takes a versatile approach to its proposed U. S. commercial crew spacecraft. Veteran astronaut Steve Robinson leaves NASA for a university professorship. Tracking from space the major windstorm that struck the U. S. East Coast last week. NASA’s test orbiter Enterprise to go on public display in New York City this month. Space News sells. The Earth reaches the furthest point in its annual journey around the sun.
1. From The New York Times: Scientists at CERN’s Large Hadron Collider in Geneva announce a prospective milestone in particle physics, the identify of a subatomic particle that fits the predicted Higgs boson. The finding may help to explain how the universe began, why elemental particles have mass, the observed cosmic diversity as well as the existence of life. For now, experts are calling their discovery a Higgs-like particle, while saying more work is needed describe its properties.
A. From Physics World: After their announcement, scientists at CERN in Geneva say they will need more time to complete their analysis of the subatomic particle whose existence has been sought for a half century. “We have reached a milestone in our understanding of nature,” says CERN director general Rolf-Dieter Heuer, who further described the new particle as being “consistent with the Higgs boson”.
B. From Science News: The U. S. science publication leaves little uncertainty in the Higgs boson discovery. “Finally, physics’ zoo of subatomic particles is full,” the publication reports. “It really is an incredible thing that it’s happened in my lifetime,” said Peter Higgs of the University of Edinburgh, who proposed the particle’s existence 50 years ago.
C. From Discovery News and AFP news service: Famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking touts Peter Higgs for a Nobel Prize. Hawking loses a $100 bet that the Higgs boson particle would never be found.
2. From Ria Novosti of Russia: During the first half of 2012, China rushes to the lead in number of rockets launched, 18. Russia trailed with 9 and the U. S. with 8. The total number of global launches during the six month period was 35, according to the report.
A. From The Wall Street Journal: China’s recent strides in human spaceflight may be misguided, according to a WSJ senior editor in a commentary. Catching up to Russia and the U. S. is too expensive and less impressive than cleaning the air, pursuing solar power and other breakthroughs that preserve the environment, writes Bob Davis from Beijing.
B. From the Air & Space Magazine and The Once and Future Moon: Lunar expert Paul Spudis finds the U.S. too willing to give up its leadership in space exploration as he traces the steps leading up to the proposed Space Exploration Initiative of 1989 and the Vision for Space Exploration in 2004. In each instance, a blue print for the human exploration of the moon and Mars was overturned with the election of a new presidential administration.
3. From Spaceweather.com: A major sunspot unleashes four solar flares. One, a “minor” Coronal Mass Ejection heads toward a collision with the Earth’s magnetosphere on Saturday. More eruptions are expected.
4. From Spaceflightnow.com: In its bid to develop a commercial crew transportation system for NASA, ATK announces its Liberty spacecraft will offer a range of crew and cargo options. Up to seven astronauts as well as 5,000 pounds of pressurized and unpressurized cargo could be launched on a single mission, company officials report. NASA is expected to announce a third round of funded crew transportation development later this year.
5. From Collectspace.com: Veteran NASA astronaut Steve Robinson leaves NASA for the University of California, Davis, where he becomes a professor of engineering this fall. Robinson spent 36 years with the space agency.
6. From Spacepolicyonline.com: This week, NOAA released a weather satellite video of the major windstorm that struck the U. S. East Coast last week. Many in the Washington/Baltimore region are still without power as a result. The release coincides with warnings from the General Accountability Office of a looming lapse in satellite coverage in 2016-17.
7. From Collectspace.com: New York City’s Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum will place NASA’s test orbiter Enterprise on public display July 19.
8. From Space News: The 23-year-old aerospace publication announces its sale. Imaginova Corp., sells SN to Space News, Inc., which says it intends to retain the current staff and explore new digital products.
9. From Space.com: The Earth reaches the furthest point in its year long journey around the sun on Thursday.
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