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Wednesday’s CSExtra offers a roundup of the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden outlines NASA’s budget strategy in an op-ed. Orbital Sciences looks to a late June test flight of the Antares rocket that could begin cargo missions to the International Space Station later this year. Administrator Bolden names new leadership for the Goddard Space Flight Center. NASA identifies $500,000 for commercial suborbital missions. Scientists make a puzzling find — the rare chemical element Tellurium in ancient stars. Astronomers point to a rocky exo-planet with water but in a seemingly inhabitable zone. NASA’s Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity breaks a wintry silence. An Italian company teams with NASA for a new Angry Birds game.
1. From Space News: In an op-ed, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden touts the forward lean of the agency’s 2013 budget. The spending blue print underwrites U. S. commercial orbital space transportation services for astronauts shuttling to and from the International Space Station, revives the James Webb Space Telescope, continues work on the Space Launch System and Orion/Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle for future human deep space missions. Though tough on planetary science, NASA’s budgetary course re-organizes the initiative in a way that is intended to keep the U. S. at the forefront of Mars exploration, according to Bolden. http://www.spacenews.com/commentaries/120220-nasa-recharting-its-path-mars.html
A. From Space News: In an op-ed, House members from California and Texas urge a re-consideration of NASA’s plans to cut spending on planetary science. http://www.spacenews.com/commentaries/120220-dont-gut-planetary-science.html
B. From The Atlantic: The magazine takes NASA to task for proposing cuts to the agency’s planetary science budget. http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/02/all-hail-science-unless-there-is-a-heroic-astronaut-involved/253333/
2. From Spaceflightnow.com: Orbital Sciences Corp. looks to late June for the inaugural launch of its Antares rocket. Orbital is one of two companies participating in NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services program to develop commercial re-supply services for the International Space Station. Orbital’s first cargo delivery mission using an operational Antares moves toward late 2012. http://www.spaceflightnow.com/news/n1202/21antares/
3. From Space.com: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announces management changes on Tuesday. Chris Scolese will depart NASA’s Washington headquarters to become director of the Goddard Space Flight Center. Robert Lightfoot, director of the Marshall Space Flight Center, will head for Washington to replace Scolese as NASA’s associate administrator. http://www.space.com/14640-nasa-shakeup-senior-management-staff.html
4. From Aviation Week & Space Technology: NASA sets aside $500,000 for the commercial suborbital launch industry. The funds will pay for engineering and science projects with merit to make a hop into space. http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_channel.jsp?channel=space&id=news/awst/2012/02/20/AW_02_20_2012_p18-424630-01.xml&headline=NASA%20Puts%20Up%20Money%20For%20Suborbital%20Research
5. From Discovery.com: Astronomers using the Hubble Space Telescope spot the rare element Tellurium in a trio of 12 billion year old stars in the Milky Way galaxy. Convention says Tellurium would have been synthesized in much more recent supernova. The finding suggests there was a kind of early stellar collapse that was capable of creating heavier elements like Tellurium. http://news.discovery.com/space/rare-earth-element-discovered-inside-ancient-stars-120221.html
6. From Sky & Telescope Magazine: Astronomers identify a planet, GJ 1214b, circling a small star that is 40 light years distant and almost certainly composed of rock and water. http://www.skyandtelescope.com/news/GJ-1214b-A-Steam-Bath-World-139855143.html
7. From Universe Today: NASA’s Opportunity Rover checks in with Earth, while wintering over in Endeavour Crater on Mars. The communication includes a self-portrait. http://www.universetoday.com/93683/opportunity-phones-home-dusty-self-portraits-and-ground-breaking-science/
8. From Collectspace.com: Italy’s Rovio Mobile teams with NASA to create a new Angry Birds video game. http://www.collectspace.com/news/news-022112a.html
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