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Thursday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. Will NASA administrator Charles Bolden remain at the agency’s helm for President Obama’s second term? Sizing up the speculation surrounding an upcoming announcement from NASA’s Mars Curiosity science team. Experts point to misinterpretations of a Mayan calendar as the basis for fears the world will end on Dec. 21. A new candidate for largest black hole emerges. Solar scientists brace for limited budgets. Why do ancient Japanese cedar trees sport a strong carbon 14 signature? Achieving warp drive to visit the nearest star.
1. From The Orlando Sentinel: The Florida newspaper poses the question from Washington: Who will lead the space agency during President Obama’s second term? http://www.orlandosentinel.com/os-bolden-nasa-future-20121127,0,5968179.story
2. From Spacepolicyonline.com: Sizing up what a key NASA scientist meant by “historic” when he looked ahead to an announcement scheduled for next week on a mysterious discovery by the agency’s Curiosity rover on Mars. Amelia Earhart? Lost socks? http://www.spacepolicyonline.com/news/tamping-down-those-mars-expectations-grotzinger-quote-a-misunderstanding-UPDATE
A. From the Pasadena Star News of California: As some speculate, Curiosity may have identified organic compounds in the Martian soil. Organics represent the building blocks of biological activity. However, organics do not necessarily have a biological origin. Clarity on Curiosity’s activities may come Monday at a science conference in San Francisco. http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/breakingnews/ci_22082786/jpl-director-mars-rover-curiosity-life-compounds-organic
B. From The Huntsville Times: NASA’s Curiosity rover has not made an Earth shattering discovery, according to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden during a visit to Alabama on Wednesday. No proof of live on the red planet, he says. http://blog.al.com/breaking/2012/11/no_proof_of_life_on_mars_yet_n.html
3. From Space.com: NASA astrobiologist David Morrison and others from the space agency offer assurances the world will not come to an end on Dec. 21, as some are predicting. The predictions are based on interpretations of a Mayan calendar, say experts. http://www.space.com/18678-2012-mayan-apocalypse-fears-nasa.html
4. From Space.com: A strong candidate for the most massive black hole identified to date, equal in mass to 17 billion suns, looms 250 million light years from Earth. http://www.space.com/18668-biggest-black-hole-discovery.html
5. From Space News: NASA’s solar science community prepares to adapt to future restrictive budgets. http://www.spacenews.com/article/nasa-anticipates-gradual-shift-toward-smaller-heliophysics-missions#.ULbX9eRjp49
6. From Nature via Space.com: What led to a concentration of carbon 14 in the rings of Japanese cedar trees dating back to 774 A. D?. The source may have been a Coronal Mass Ejection unleashed by a very active sun, according to evidence gathered by a U. S. astronomy team. http://www.space.com/18667-ancient-solar-flare-tree-carbon.html
7. From The Atlantic: Dreams of space travel at warp speed. At NASA, scientists raise the possibility of warp bubbles that could accelerate explorers to Alpha Centauri B, the nearest star, in two weeks. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/11/what-if-nasa-could-figure-out-the-math-of-a-workable-warp-drive/265655/
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