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Today’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden: Successful planet search foundational to NASA’s plans for human exploration of asteroids and Mars. NASA funds Florida research for future human asteroid, Mars missions. As China’s space program rises, will NASA rise again? Hobbled by worn out pointing system, NASA’s Kepler space telescope to get second chance at alien planet search. SETI astronomer lauds Kepler’s achievements. India’s first Mars mission off to successful start but prompts debate about cost and objectives. U.S., Russian and Japanese astronauts prepare for late launch to International Space Station with Olympic torch, weekend spacewalk. Space station robotics prompt advance in breast cancer detection. Sally Ride Science expands educational mission online. Taurid meteor shower peaks. Kazakhstan hints at use of Baikonur by the West. Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield’s new book surprises. NASA partners with University of Cincinnati to establish Neil Armstrong Space Institute.
Human Deep Space Exploration
NASA (11/5): In a blog NASA Administrator Charles Bolden points to a productive science conference at NASA Ames Research Center on findings from the Kepler space telescope mission and its ties to the agency’s human deep space exploration plans. ” Although the Kepler mission ceased operation earlier this year, we’ve already confirmed 167 planets orbiting stars in other solar systems, with the planet candidates list currently standing at 3,538,” Bolden noted. “As NASA plans missions to an asteroid and Mars, and just marked 13 years of continuous habitation aboard the International Space Station, we’re learning to live and work off planet for the long term.”
Sunshine State News (11/6): Researchers at the University of Central Florida funded will to take key role in NASA research initiative for the planning of human and robotic missions to asteroids and the Martian environs. “We look forward to collaborative scientific discoveries from these teams,” said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate, on Tuesday. “These results will be vital to NASA successfully conducting the ambitious activities of exploring the solar system with robots and humans.”
Houston Chronicle (11/6): China looks at opportunity to advance in space exploration, perhaps forcing the U.S. government to step up spending on NASA programs, according to the report. “Shift the focus to the present and they are merely unsettling,” noted John Hickman, a Berry College international studies professor, in Foreign Policy recently. “But look to the future, and there are unmistakable warning signs that China may surpass the United States and Russia to become the world’s pre-eminent space-faring power.”
Unmanned Deep Space Exploration
Space.com (11/5): During a California science conference on NASA’s Kepler mission, officials announce the 4-year-old observatory may be able to resume its search for alien planets, though at an altered pace. In May, Kepler was hobbled by a reaction wheel loss. The gyro’s enable the observatory to be aimed precisely.
Discovery.com (11/5): Experts suggest they can circumvent the pointing system issue that hobbled Kepler earlier this year by pointing the telescope at swaths of the sky with stars that host planets in very compact orbits.
Coalition for Space Exploration (11/5): A statistical analysis of Kepler space telescope observations by experts at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Hawaii point the way to a bounty of potential new destinations.
The Huffington Post (11/5): In an op-ed, SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) astronomer Seth Shostack explains why NASA’s Kepler mission search for Earth-like planets is so significant. “Before the Kepler mission, no one knew what fraction of stars would have hospitable planets. So this work is both important and encouraging. Why encouraging? Well, consider the numbers that tumble from this result — the quantitative consequences,” he writes. “One in five sun like stars probably has an Earth-like planet.”
Time (11/5): India’s Mars Orbiter Mission launch early Tuesday signals major advance for the Indian Space Research Organization.
Times of India (11/6): India’s Mars Orbiter Mission embarks for the red planet with hopes of addressing the question of methane in the Martian atmosphere. How much methane is there? Is the origin biogenic or a product of Martian geology.
Low Earth Orbit
Florida Today (11/6): A symbolic Olympic torch will join a multinational crew on a six-hour sprint to the International Space Station, then perform a synchronized spacewalk Saturday and attempt to stick a landing back on Earth the next day. Lift off for NASA’s Rick Mastracchio, Russia’s Mikhail Tyurin and Japan’s Koichi Wakata is set for tonight at 11:14 p.m., EST.
AmericaSpace.com (11/5): A six member crew aboard the International Space Station expects to welcome three newcomers early Thursday. U.S. astronaut Rick Mastracchio, Russia’s Mikhail Tyurin and Japan’s Koichi Wakata are scheduled to launch Wednesday at 11:14 p.m. EST, and arrive at the space station within six hours with a symbolic Olympic torch. The unlit ceremonial torch will accompany cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy on a space on Saturday and return to Earth late Sunday with NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano and Russia’s Fyodor Yurchikhin late Sunday.
NASA (11/6): Russia readies a Soyuz crew transport for a launch from Kazakhstan at 11:14 p.m., EST, with new crew members Rick Mastracchio of NASA, Russia’s Mikhail Tyurin and Japan’s Koichi Wakata. They should reach the International Space Station early Thursday with a symbolic Olympic torch commemorating the 2014 Winter Games.
The Associated Press via The Washington Post (11/5): The Olympic torch destined for a first spacewalk. Launch of three new space station crew members, symbolic torch set for launch at 11:14 p.m., EST, from Kazakhstan
Space.com (11/5): The Image-Guide Autonomous Robot, based on International Space Station robotics, promises to bring new precision to breast cancer detection.
Public relations web via Houston Chronicle (11/5): A teacher training and professional development program, named for the late astronaut Sally Ride and previously open to educators in select school districts, expands to nationwide participation. The goal is wider support for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), the online training is now available to all educators, nationwide.
Space.com (11/5): Annual meteor show peaks through Nov. 12. Comet Encke, which is currently passing through the inner solar system, is the source of the bright streaks.
Commercial to Low Earth Orbit
Ria Novosti, of Russia (11/6): The Baikonur Cosmodrome, long leased by Russia for space launches could be opened to Western launch providers.
The Los Angeles Times (11/5): Canada’s first International Space Station commander, Chris Hadfield, explains his new book, An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth: What Going to Space Taught Me About Ingenuity, Determination, and Being Prepared for Anything.
Associated Press via Houston Chronicle (11/6): The University of Cincinnati says the Neil Armstrong Space Institute will promote research, offer education in space science and engineering, and manage space-related data. An initial focus for research will be unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones.
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