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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. Scientists characterize radiation levels at Martian surface, which will have implications for future human exploration. Readings from NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover also suggest the spacecraft is exploring the rock bed of an ancient fresh water lake that could have supported microbial life 3.5 billion years ago. Scientists meeting at American Geophysical Union fall conference also suggest Curiosity’s focus may shift to a search for organic evidence of past Martian life. China exercises soft power with moon mission. Time for U.S. and other space faring nations to work out a property rights incentives. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s book rises to 4th on New York Times list of science best sellers. Fewest possible barriers for space station research. Time for U.S. launch liability regulations to fall away for good? Chinese rocket launch fails with Brazilian Earth observation satellite. Orbital Sciences names mission for Gordon Fullerton. Virgin Galactic looks to 2014 to begin passenger paying suborbital flight.
Human Deep Space Exploration
Space.com: (12/9): Readings gathered from Gale Crater by NASA’s Curiosity rover find radiation readings within limits for a human mission to the red planet, say scientists. Long mission carries 5 percent increase in risk of cancer, vs. NASA’s 3 percent standard.
Curiosity measures radiation at Martian surface: The first measurement of radiation at Mars’ surface has implications for a human mission to the Red Planet, as well as for where Mars’ missions might find traces of Martian life if it was ever there.
Christian Science Monitor (12/9): Scientists wrestle with implications of radiation readings from the Martian surface gathered by NASA’s Curiosity rover. Could humans make the long round trip journey without a significant elevated risk of cancer?
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
New York Times (12/10): About 3.5 billion years ago, Mars hosted a freshwater lake in Gale Crater that may have supported some form of life. The time frame coincides with the rise of life on the Earth. The findings come from NASA’s Mars Curiosity rover, which landed on Gale in early August 2012.
Washington Post (12/10): Ancient Martian lake filled Gale Crater. Water was considered “drinkable” and suitable for microbial life to establish a foothold. Rocks in now dry lake bed date back 4.2 billion years. Lake itself was present 3.5 billion years ago.
USA Today (12/10); “Is this the smoking gun that says there was life on Mars? No,” according to one NASA scientist involved in the new research. “Is this a smoking gun that this was a habitable environment? There’s pretty good evidence for that. We have an environment that is very much like on Earth.”
Science News (12/9): Scientists offer evidence at the fall meeting of the American Geophysical Union that Mars hosted life friendly conditions for up to a million years. Findings come from NASA’s Curiosity rover mission.
National Geographic (12/9): NG’s takeaways from Monday’s major news about Mars at the American Geophysical Union conference in San Francisco include: Mars was habitable, water flowed, and radiation from the sun and deep space reaches the planet’s surface.
From Xinhuanet, of China, (12/10): Ancient fresh water lake on Mars capable of supporting life, say scientists linked to NASA’s Curiosity rover mission.
From Science Now (12/10): NASA’s Curiosity rover now to look for organic signatures of past Martian life.
The Space Review (12/9): China exercised an effective soft power demonstration as it launched the Chang’e-3 lunar lander mission on Dec. 1, complete with live television programming devoid of self-promotion, according to essayist Dwayne Day. China’s openness about the Chang’e-3 mission stood in contrast to regional tensions in the East China Sea instigated by China over air defense identification zone. “…it is yet another reminder that the peaceful actions of nations in space are still governed and often overshadowed by their interests back on Earth,” notes Day.
The Space Review (12/9): The lack of an internationally agreed-to regime for the commercial development of the moon and other celestial bodies is arguably the most significant barrier to more rapid commercial development beyond Earth orbit, writes Vid Beldavs. The Latvian futurist offers proposals to establish effective incentives.
Low Earth Orbit
New York Times (12/9): An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, penned by Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfeld, reaches 4th place on the NYT’s list of science best sellers.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Space News (12/9): In an editorial, the trade publication urges U.S. policy makers to remove every barrier possible to private sector use of the International Space Station.
Space News: In an op-ed, space consultant James Muncy urges policy makers to extend launch indemnifications to U.S. commercial launch services providers on a permanent basis. Enough of the year to year extensions, writes Muncy. Muncy explains how taxpayers benefit.
Space News (12/9): Brazilian-built Earth observing satellite destroyed in the launch failure of a Chinese Long March 4B rocket early Monday.
South China Post (12/10): China’s space arc blemished by satellite lost.
Collectspace.com (12/9): Orbital Sciences Corp names its upcoming commercial re-supply mission to the International Space Station in honor of C. Gordon Fullerton, the late NASA astronaut and test pilot. Launching is set for Dec. 18 from Virginia’s Eastern shore.
Flightglobal.com (12/13): Virgin Galactic affirms intentions to begin launching commercial passengers in 2014. The company is preparing the WhiteKnightTwo and SpaceShipTwo for the flights.
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