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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the globe. NASA’s Kepler space telescope mission finds Earth-sized planets plentiful in the Milky Way Galaxy as well as prospects for habitable moons. NASA’s NuSTAR X-ray observatory, launched in 2011, finds black holes and supernova aglow. Lengthy journeys to Mars may leave astronauts lacking in sleep and lethargic, according to a new study. Science draws new focus aboard the International Space Station in 2013. Two essays suggest the approach of even a restrained Solar Max will remind us of our vulnerability to the sun’s fury and that forging a global space code of conduct will present obstacles. The Andromeda Galaxy challenges long held theories about the evolution of star systems. On Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover brushes off a rock.
1. From The Coalition for Space Coalition.com: Stars hosting Earth-sized planets are plentiful in the Milky Way, according to astronomers with ties to NASA’s nearly 4 year-old Kepler space telescope mission. Scientists discuss their findings, which include estimates of 17 billion Earth-sized planets in the Milky Way, at the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, Calif. http://spacecoalition.com/blog/new-celestial-census-17-billion-earth-sized-worlds-out-there
A. From Space.com: Most of these Earth-like worlds, however, do not circle their host stars in the “habitable zone” a region where water, if present, could exist in liquid form. http://www.space.com/19160-alien-earth-size-planets-population-infographic.html
B. From USA Today: Kepler space telescope data turns up a Jupiter-sized planet in the “habitable zone” of a distant start. The find raises the prospect similarly large planets may host habitable moons. The find is among a cache of planets found in the Kepler data by citizen astronomers. http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/sciencefair/2013/01/07/citizen-science-kepler/1812963/
C. From The Los Angeles Times: So far, NASA’s Kepler’s mission has produced 2,740 candidate planets orbiting 2,036 stars. Thus far, 105 of the candidates have been confirmed to be planets. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-habitable-zone-exoplanets-planet-hunters-20130107,0,6369952.story
D. From Space.com: William Borucki, of NASA’s Ames Research Center, receives special recognition from the National Academy of Sciences for his role as principal investigator of NASA’s Kepler planet hunting mission. http://www.space.com/19164-kepler-planet-hunting-scientist-borucki.html
2. From The Los Angeles Times: Scientists gathered for the American Astronomical Society meeting in Long Beach, Calif. provide a range of stunning imagery. The lineup includes oddly bright photos of glowing black holes and supernovae captured by NASA’s NuSTAR X-ray observatory. The high energy telescope mission was launched last summer. http://www.latimes.com/news/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-aas-nustar-black-hole-supernova-cassiopeia-x-ray-telescope-20130107,0,2452596.story
3. From Science Magazine: Astronauts on a long journey to Mars may struggle to get enough sleep, according to a study involving participants in the Mars 500 simulation hosted by Russia and the European Space Agency in Moscow. The findings are headed for publication in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The lack of sleep produced a troublesome lethargy, the lead U. S. researcher reports. http://news.sciencemag.org/sciencenow/2013/01/mars-mission-could-turn-astronau.html?ref=hp
4. From The Orlando Sentinel: International Space Station crews plan to turn up the science in 2013. The objectives will move the U. S.-led 15 nation partnership towards the original goals, according to agency officials. Robots, fish, the Earth and the astronauts themselves are among the objects of featured science studies involving a global lineup of researchers. http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/space/os-nasa-station-science-outlook-20130106,0,623312.story
A. From The San Francisco Chronicle: Fruit flies may hold a key to the cardiovascular risks to humans associated with long duration spaceflight. The insects may reflect the ill effects of weightlessness and radiation exposures. A fruit fly experiment is destined for the International Space Station next year. http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Studying-space-travel-with-fruit-flies-4171653.php
5. Two essays from The Space Review examine the challenges of living with a variable sun and the challenges involved in shaping a global space code of conduct.
A. In “Storm preparations,” TSR editor Jeff Foust notes that the approach of the current Solar Max, the peak of an 11-year activity cycle, appears unusually mild. However, for a culture that relies on communications satellites and big power grids, the threat of even a mild Solar Max could bring unwanted disruptions. A look at what civilian and military space agencies are doing to keep their eyes on solar activity over the long term. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2214/1
B. In “Separation of powers battle continues over the Code of Conduct,” attorney Michael Listner weighs the obstacles that loom for a global code of conduct in space. In the U. S. who speaks? Congress? the White House. The issues include restrictions on sovereign powers to move freely in space, protect themselves militarily, even to clean up the growing threat from space debris. http://www.thespacereview.com/article/2215/1
6. From The Christian Science Monitor: The neighboring Andromeda galaxy and 13 dwarf star systems rotating around it are confounding the prevailing views of galaxy formation. http://www.csmonitor.com/Science/2013/0104/What-s-going-on-around-Andromeda-Curious-structure-puzzles-scientists
7. From Discovery.com: On Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover brushes dirt from a large rock that will soon get a much closer look from instruments on the mobile lab’s robot arm. http://news.discovery.com/space/curiosity-really-cleans-up-130108.html
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