CSExtra – Friday, December 23, 2011

December 23rd, 2011

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Friday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting on space related activities from across the globe. A Russian Soyuz spacecraft with U. S., Russian and Dutch astronauts prepares to dock with the International Space Station at mid-morning, returning the orbital outpost to sustained six person crew operations. China launches a reconnaissance satellite. NASA’s Orion/Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle clears a milestone parachute drop test. Authorities in Namibia report space debris recovery. Asteroid Vesta looks planet-like in new imagery. Jupiter’s shrinking core.

1. From A Russian Soyuz spacecraft is on course to dock with the International Space Station on Friday. The arrival of Russia’s Oleg Kononenko, NASA’s Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers of the European Space Agency will return the station to sustained six crew operations for the first time since mid-September. The link up is scheduled for 10:22 a.m., EST.

A. From National Geographic: In an interview with a Detroit television station on Thursday, International Space Station commander Dan Burbank describes an unexpected visual surprise. Three days ago, he witnessed the comet Lovejoy dive toward the sun. It was the most amazing site he’s seen as a space traveler, says Burbank.

B. From the Oregon Statesman Journal: The state of Oregon celebrates the space journey of native NASA astronaut Don Pettit.

2. From of China: China launches a high resolution reconnaissance satellite. Authorities say the spacecraft will be used to manage natural resources and deal with natural disasters.

3. From Wired NASA’s Orion/Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle passes a milestone parachute test. The results demonstrate backup features of the landing strategy.

4. From Authorities in Namibia, a republic in southern Africa, report the finding of a spherical piece of what appears to be space debris in a remote region. Tests conclude the object, which fell to Earth in November leaving a small crater, is not harmful, they report.

5. From Universe Today: NASA’s Dawn spacecraft gathers its first low altitude images of the asteroid Vesta.

6. From New Scientist: The core of planet Jupiter appears to be shrinking, while the giant planet’s atmosphere changes. Chinese scientists are among those with intriguing explanations.

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