Today’s Deep Space Extra

August 8th, 2017

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Accomplished former NASA astronaut looks to the Apollo era for a promising strategy to reach and remain at Mars in the 2030s.

Human Space Exploration

Ex-astronaut offers bold three-step plan to put humans on Mars (8/7):  Retired NASA astronaut Terry Virts looks to NASA’s Mercury/Gemini/Apollo strategy for reaching Mars in the late 1960s. A similar strategy could put humans on Mars in the 2030s. “First and most important, we need a vision. In the 1960s it was to put a man on the moon. Now it should be to send humans to Mars and back beginning in the 2030s, with increasingly long-duration missions to the planet’s surface,” writes Virts.

The National Space Council gets to work

The Space Review (8/7): A revived National Space Council is to hold its first meeting by summer’s end, according to Vice President Mike Pence, who will chair the council. A mid-July meeting of experts themed on “Ensuring U.S. Space Leadership” prompted discussion of the council’s role. After establishing working relationships with the Office of Science and Technology Policy, Office of Management and Budget and the National Security Council, suggestions for space council priorities included identifying national priorities and strategic imperatives.

SLS ‘racing stripes’ replaced with photogrammetry targets (8/8): NASA plans to dress the Space Launch System and its Orion capsule with checkerboard like photogrametric markings as an engineering tool to more easily measure distances like ground clearances as well as vehicle motion.


Space Science

9-year-old wants to be NASA’s ‘Planetary Protection Officer’

Association Press via New York Times (8/7): NASA responds to a New Jersey nine-year-old’s interest in the agency’s Planetary Protection Officer job opening. “We are always looking for bright future scientists and engineers to help us,” noted James Green, NASA director of planetary science, in a written response that was posted online.

Life in the Saturn system? Cassini has shown it’s possible (8/7): With its long mission nearing an end, the NASA led Cassini journey at Saturn has unveiled evidence for potentially habitable environments on the ocean moons Enceladus, Titan and Dione. NASA is partnered with the European Space Agency and Italian Space Agency for the mission that began with a launch in 1997. opens its telescope views of space to the public for free (8/7): is raising its pay wall for public viewing of telescope live feeds. The move allows people to watch the feeds without any preconceived desire or knowledge to pull out a credit card and say, ‘I want this’,” said Michael Paolucci, founder of, in an interview with


Other News

Coast-to-coast ka-ching! Eclipse tourism bringing in millions from Oregon to South Carolina

USA Today (8/7): From hotel and airline reservations to protective eyewear, the rare total solar eclipse that will be visible Aug. 21 along a swath of the U.S. stretching from Oregon to South Carolina has sparked a business boom.

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