Today’s Deep Space Extra

January 11th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Some astronomers and engineers believe astronauts should play a significant role in the assembly and servicing of future space telescopes. NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has achieved a significant pre-launch milestone thanks to lengthy thermal vacuum chamber testing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Human Space Exploration

Scientists and engineers push for servicing and assembly of future space observatories

Space News (1/10): At the American Astronomical Society meeting in Maryland this week, a group of astronomers and engineers urged NASA to consider the in space assembly and servicing of future space telescopes by astronauts. They suggest NASA’s proposed Deep Space Gateway, a lunar orbiting human outpost, could play a significant role.

How to keep humans from ruining the search for life on Mars

Science News (1/10): Exploring Mars with humans should happen with an appropriate concern and respect for the red planet as a destination with possible habitable environments. Reckless exploration might contaminate those environments with Earthly microbes before scientists can determine whether life arose on Mars independently. “That’s bad for science; it’s bad for the Martians. We’d be real sad about that,” says astrobiologist John Rummel, of the SETI Institute in Mountain View, California.


Space Science

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope passes critical milestone

Coalition Member in the News: Northrop Grumman

CBS News (1/10): NASA officials, speaking from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston on Wednesday, said the James Webb Space Telescope has successfully concluded a key milestone in pre-launch testing. The observatory was enclosed within a thermal vacuum chamber over the summer and fall for 100 days of extremely low temperature evaluations. By early February, the James Webb is to move on to Northrop Grumman facilities in Redondo Beach, California, for a final round of tests simulating launch and deployment conditions before it is scheduled to depart for French Guiana and a liftoff for deep space in the spring of 2019. The powerful space observatory is to study the earliest star systems and assess the atmospheres of extra solar planets for biomarkers.

Researchers probe origin of super powerful radio blasts from space (1/10): Astronomers are focused on the source of a particularly intense and repeating fast radio burst. It may be a neutron star, perhaps situated in an unusual stellar environment dominated by a powerful magnetic field, perhaps linked to a massive black hole.

‘Totally wrong’ on Jupiter: What scientists gleaned from NASA’s Juno mission (1/10): Before NASA sent its Juno spacecraft to explore Jupiter, astronomers were “totally wrong” about much of what they thought they knew about the planet, the mission’s principal investigator, Scott Bolton, said during a lecture here at the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society on Tuesday (Jan. 9).  Juno, which launched in 2011 and is currently orbiting Jupiter, is not the first spacecraft to study the gas giant up close.

NASA’s new frontiersmen (12/22): A little over once a decade, through its New Frontiers program, NASA hosts a battle-royale lottery that sets the tone for the agency’s focus on the future of exploration throughout the solar system. This year, in terms of planetary exploration, NASA decided on sending drones to Titan and a claw-machine to a familiar asteroid. NASA’s missions are largely split into three camps: the inexpensive missions, a wide assortment of  $600- to $700-million missions like the Discovery endeavors, and then there are Flagship missions that set the agency back a cool $2 billion, which launch around every decade or so. The New Frontiers program is somewhere in between; it’s sort of an engineering Hunger Games for space exploration.


Other News

Live coverage: ULA’s first launch of 2018 rescheduled for Thursday

Coalition Member in the News: United Launch Alliance (1/10): United Launch Alliance’s 2018 launch campaign is to kickoff Thursday with the launch of a Delta 4 rocket with a national security payload from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, at 4 p.m., EST.

End signaled for European Ariane 5 rocket

BBC (1/10): Say goodbye to the European Ariane 5 launch vehicle. The workhorse rocket is soon to be succeeded by the Ariane 6 that could be flying by mid-2020 and fully operational three years later, according to the French Ariane Group consortium’s CEO.

Chinese expert denies claims of Tiangong-1’s uncontrolled re-entry (1/10): The demise of Tiangong-1, China’s initial human tended space station, poses no threat to the people of Earth as it re-enters the atmosphere at some point in the first half of 2018, according to Zhu Congpeng, a spaceflight engineer at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp. His reassurance comes amid reports from Western experts who caution an uncontrolled re-entry could occur during the early Spring.

New jobs on the way? Stennis Space Center adding technology corridor

New Orleans Times Picayune (1/10): The 5,000 member workforce supported by NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi is expected to grow through the establishment of a new business corridor called Enterprise Park. NASA recently called on potential non-federal partners to submit interest in occupying a 1,100 acre technology corridor aligned with the Stennis rocket engine testing facility.

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