CSExtra – Tuesday, March 27, 2012

March 27th, 2012

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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from around the world. North Korea’s plans for an April ballistic missile test launch cause regional concerns. NASA’s ambitious space agenda in need of bi-partisan Congressional leadership. A break in the weather permits a series of visible Washington area sounding rocket launches. More on filmmaker James Cameron’s Pacific Ocean descent. Can NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission clear up a 35-year-old mystery? Montana 4th graders prove themselves able lunar photographers. Two essays assess NASA’s issues with planetary scientists and some in  Congress over proposed cuts to the Mars program and Brazil’s long running efforts to establish a self sustaining foothold in space. Former NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez faces a credential challenge in his California Congressional race. Archaeologists in England address the mystery surrounding a carefully positioned stone.

1. From Many of the world’s most powerful  nations have urged nuclear armed  North Korea to cancel an April ballistic missile test. South Korea is warning it may attempt to shoot the missile down if the launcher cross South Korean borders.

A. From Rianovosti of Russia: Japan’s Defense Ministry will have its missile interceptors on alert in April as North Korea launches a ballistic missile test that many in the region as well as the United States have urged the nuclear armed state to cancel.

2. From The Washington Times:  NASA’s needs the bi-partisan leadership of Congress to carry out an ambitious post-shuttle agenda, writes Texan Nick Lampson, who is running for Congress. Lampson expresses concern that a lack of Congressional support could send the wrong signal about NASA’s future, weaken national security, and undermine future economic strides.

3. From the Associated Press via The Houston Chronicle: NASA launches a series of five sounding rockets from Virginia’s Atlantic shore early Tuesday. The launchings, part of the Anamolous Transport Rocket Experiment to study the jet stream, overcame a series of weather delays.

4. From Spacepolicyonline: Academy award winning movie maker James Cameron’s one man submarine reached a seven mile depth in the Pacific Ocean on Sunday. However, the trek faced several major problems and was cut short. The difficulties may provide some “lessons learned” for scientists eager to gather samples of the Martian terrain and return them to Earth.

A. From The New York Times: James Cameron’s successful seven mile Pacific Ocean descent suggests we should devote more resources globally to exploring the sea depths, Tony Haymet, professor and director of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, writes in an op-ed.

B. From A blow by blow account of James Cameron’s dive to the Pacific depths. The filmmaker overcame a  cracked viewing glass and hydraulic leaks.

5. From MSNBC’s The Cosmic Log: Now barreling toward Mars for an August landing, NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory mission may help solve a controversy started by the space agency’s twin Viking missions. The Viking landers touched down on the Martian surface in 1976. One lander experiment may have detected signs of organic activity. MSL, also known as Curiosity, is a mobile chemistry lab that will attempt to characterize the habitability of its Gale crater landing site.

6.  From USA Today: NASA’s releases the first student inspired images of the moon taken by the lunar orbiting probes, Ebb and Flow. The two lunar orbiters were launched last September as GRAIL A & B, and designed to study the moon’s interior. Each was equipped with a MoonKAM to image targets selected by students. Emily Dickinson Elementary School 4th graders, from Bozeman, Mont.,  had the honor of selecting the first photo target, the moon’s far side.

A. From European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers captures an intriguing ringed feature on the West African landscape from his camera perch aboard International Space Station earlier this month.  The origin of the large feature is a mystery.

7. Two essays from Monday’s The Space Review examine the legislative battle over planetary science program funding in NASA’s proposed 2013 budget and Brazil’s space ambitions.

A. In “Fighting for Mars,” TSR editor Jeff Foust recounts efforts by the U. S. planetary science community to thwart a proposed cut in NASA’s 2013 budget affecting the Mars exploration effort. So far, scientists have not been been able to pinpoint the reason for the cut or who called for it. Meanwhile, members of the Mars community are urging members to wage a united fight to reverse the reduction without going after another part of NASA’s wider mission.  Some in Congress support deeper NASA cuts, possibly a reduction in the Commercial Crew Development initiative.

B. In “Brazil in Space,” regular TSR contributor Dwayne Day examines the South American nation’s space ambitions, which surprisingly date back to 1961. Forced by failures to put aside ambitions for a self-sufficient launch capability, Brazil is currently teaming with the Ukraine to field a launch capability by 2013.

8. From Former NASA astronaut Jose Hernandez faces an unusual challenge in  his bid for a California congressional seat. Can the shuttle flier call himself an “astronaut.”.

9.  From An ancient stone marker near Manchester, England, is likely a crude 4,000 year old astronomical marker, according to archaeologists.

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3 Responses

  1. Nensi says:

    remeebmr all those things too. I remeebmr the fire that killed the astronauts. On the pad. Horrific. And the other awful catastrophic events. From each one, the space program learned and got better. Tough lessons, though.The space shuttle program is moving to the private sector, for the most part. Already there are some companies that have developed similar air craft. Of course, the *rides* can only be purchased by the very very very wealthy. But one of those companies may go commercial to fill in this niche. Haven’t needed to until now.The space program is looking at Moon again and Mars! The space station is still operational, so there is still the need for transportation to and from there.

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