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Monday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world, including a roundup of weekend activities. North Korea prepares to launch an Earth observing satellite, among concerns the mission is actually a test of an intercontinental ballistic missile. New studies refine the age of the universe and its makeup. The number of close approaches of space debris to the six person International Space Station increases. A prominent NASA climate scientist finds a correlation between recent temperature records and climate change. Updates on Russia’s plans for a human lunar base. Collaborations with Europe on Mars missions and the reconnaissance of a notorious near Earth asteroid. Ohio lawmakers urge NASA to re-examine its Florida CASIS choice. A rodent experiment on the space station reveals a prospective intervention for bone loss. Some promising figures leave NASA as the funding levels off. Could distinct program offices like the one established for the James Webb Space Telescope help NASA reign in costs? Bringing solar power down to Earth. United Launch Alliance secures weather satellite launches. Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ fascination with space got an early start. Russia de-orbits a military satellite.
1. From the BBC, April 9: Nuclear armed North Korea nears the launching of its first satellite. Neighboring nations along with those in the West share concerns the mission is actually a veiled intercontinental ballistic missile test. The lift off is scheduled between April 12 (Thursday) and 16. The payload is an Earth observing satellite, according to North Korea.
A. From Chinadaily.com: Foreign journalists are among the guests invited by the North Koreans to observe the launch site and witness the launching of the Unha-3 rocket.
2. From Discovery.com, April 6: New studies of the distant universe place its age at 13.75 billion years, lining up with previous estimates, while suggesting that ordinary matter comprises only 4 percent of the overall composition. Nearly 25 percent is cold dark matter and the remainder is dark energy. The findings come from the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey.
3. From Spaceflightnow.com, April 5: NASA correlates a recent rise in collision threats posed to the International Space Station with three key incidents, a 2007 Chinese anti-satellite weapons test; a 2008 Russian satellite explosion; and a 2009 collision between U. S. and Russian satellites. The number of monthly conjunctions by the station with space debris increased three-fold between 2006 and 2008, according to a NASA assessment.
4. From the New York Times, April 8: NASA climatologist James Hansen finds the signature of global warming in recent weather extremes, including the record high temps in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Russia in 2010.
A. From the Associated Press via the Washington Post, April 9: One climatologist compares the warm temperatures prevalent through much of the U. S. in March to an athlete on steroids.
5. From RiaNovositi, April 7: Russia plans the launching of lunar rovers in 2020 as part of an initiative to establish a future human lunar base.
A. From Xinhuanet of China, April 6: Russia and the European Space Agency agree to collaboration on a Mars mission envisioned for 2016 and 2018. NASA, facing budget challenges, pulled out of the European project.
B. From RiaNovosti, April 7: Russia intends the unpiloted reconnaissance of the asteroid 99942 Apophis, which is on trajectories to make close passes by the Earth in 2029 and 2036. The mission will gauge the collision threat posed by the infamous space rock.
6. From Space News: A U. S. House delegation from Ohio urges NASA to release Florida-based CASIS from responsibility for the oversight of science activities aboard the U. S. National Laboratory segment of the International Space Station. The non profit’s science chief resigned earlier this year, citing a range of difficulties with the start up.
A. From New Scientist, April 7: A long running mouse experiment run aboard the International Space Station –91 days– suggests ingestion of the protein supplement, Pleiotrophin, could drastically reduce the bone loss experienced by astronauts on long missions.
7. From Bloomberg Business Week, April 7: As NASA adjusts to steady budgets, some of the agency’s best and brightest leave to start lucrative new ventures. Their expertise embraces fields ranging from computing, to robotics to advanced materials and spaceflight.
8. From Space News, April 6: NASA’s considers establishing distinct program offices for each of its flagship missions. The step was taken with the James Webb Space Telescope as the agency confronted cost increases and schedule delays.
9. From Space.com, April 6: A breakthrough in long running efforts to develop a strategy for turning solar energy into a terrestrial power source emerges. The Santa Maria, Calif., company behind the plan outlined the strategy before the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts Conference, March 27-29.
10. From the Denver Post, April 6: NASA chooses United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket for the launchings of new weather satellites in 2015 and 2017. The value of the contract is $446 million.
11. From the Los Angeles Times, April 7: The Times examines Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and his long fascination with space flight. His company, Blue Origins, is among a small number of U. S. companies currently partnered with NASA to develop commercial space transportation services.
12. From Itar-Tass, April 7: Russia’s Moliniya 189 military satellite re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere, with fragments falling into the Pacific Ocean.
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