Today’s Deep Space Extra

September 5th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA backs Russia’s investigation into the cause of a small International Space Station (ISS) pressure leak last week. A prominent planetary scientists believes Saturn’s moon Enceladus is being slighted in the search for habitable environments beyond the Earth. United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Delta II launch vehicle nears retirement.

Human Space Exploration

Rogozin wants to know who made the hole in Soyuz MS-09, NASA to support investigation (9/4): A small hole was plugged after an internal International Space Station (ISS) pressure drop last week was traced by cosmonauts and astronauts to damage within one of two Soyuz crew transport capsules docked to the orbiting science lab. Dmitry Rogozin, the deputy director of Roscosmos, the Russian federal space agency, has pledged to unravel the mystery. A spokesperson for NASA said the agency backs the Russian inquiry. The pressure loss was small, and NASA said the six astronauts and cosmonauts on board the Station were not in danger.

Russia says air leak at Space Station caused by drill hole

Associated Press via ABC News (9/4): A top Russian space official points to a drill hole in a Soyuz crew transport as the source of a small leak in the habitable volume of the International Space Station (ISS) last week. The hole was plugged by Space Station cosmonauts.


Space Science

A fading Martian Opportunity

The Space Review (9/4): A raging global dust storm on Mars has silenced NASA’s Opportunity rover for nearly three months, as the haziness in the atmosphere prevented sunlight from recharging the rover’s power storage batteries. Opportunity landed in January 2004 for what was to be a 90 day mission, but kept on going and going. Communication with the Earth may yet be re-established, but the communications loss has raised concerns that future Mars missions may have to contend with an absence of Mars orbiting communications relay assets.

NASA’s search for alien life needs serious rejiggering [Op-ed]

Houston Chronicle (9/5): Saturn’s moon Enceladus deserves more attention in the search for habitable planetary environments beyond Earth, writes scientist Carolyn Porco in an op-ed. Porco served on the science team for the joint NASA/European Space Agency led Cassini mission that orbited Saturn between 2004 and 2017 and conducted multiple flybys of Enceladus. Some were close enough to fly through plumes of water rising geyser like from the surface. Though Enceladus is a promising target, far more resources are being focused on a multiple flyby and possible lander missions to Jupiter’s ice and ocean covered moon Europa, writes Porco.

Bizarre hexagon on Saturn may be 180 miles tall (9/4): Scientists have further characterized an odd looking atmospheric feature identified at the north pole of Saturn by the NASA/European Space Agency Cassini mission in 2012.  It may look like a hexagon, but it also springs 180 miles over the planet’s cloud tops.


Other News 

Delta II: End of an era

Coalition Member in the News – United Launch Alliance

The Space Review (9/4): September 15 is to mark the final mission for a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Delta II rocket, a workhorse launch vehicle whose first mission dates to Valentine’s Day 1989. There’s been just one failure in 154 flights, while the payloads have ranged from NASA planetary science to military to commercial satellite missions. The final payload is to be NASA’s ICESat-2, an Earth orbiting satellite with a laser sensor to measure changes in the land and sea ice on a global scale.

Airspace usage a priority for new commercial industry group chairman

Space News (9/4): Taber MacCallum, co-founder of World View Enterprises, is the new chairman of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation. He’s excited for the coming rise of U.S. commercial human space flight capabilities and as chair of the organization he intends to emphasize a need for the commercial launch industry and the airlines to safely share the air space.

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