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Today’s Deep Space Extra

January 29th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Might human space exploration benefit from regular 10-year priority assessments by the National Academies of Sciences?  NASA workers return to their jobs following a record partial shutdown.

Human Space Flight

Europe’s Space Station module has hundreds of tiny dents from ‘marauding’ debris

Space.com (1/28): The European Space Agency (ESA) has released results of a camera scan of the exterior of the agency’s 11-year-old Columbus module contribution to the International Space Station (ISS). The scan revealed many small dents from small bits of orbital debris, both natural and man-made. The findings will be folded into a European orbital debris model. So far, the ISS, which has housed astronauts from a range of countries since late 2000 has weathered the debris environment of Earth orbit.

Would a decadal survey work for human space exploration? (Op Ed)

The Space Review (1/28): The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has been conducting priority setting assessments in astronomy, astrophysics, heliophysics and Earth observations, starting with astronomy since the 1960’s. The National Academies’ decadals were widely respected by NASA, Congress and other policymakers, yet the Congressionally chartered nonprofit has yet to assess human spaceflight priorities. “This is by no means an argument that science is better than human exploration; it is just different from the perspective of its community of participants,” the author writes. “Consequently, the great diversity of purposes for human exploration plus the narrowness of its major participants lead me to conclude that trying to accomplish a classical decadal survey for human spaceflight would be an enormous, and probably intractable, challenge.”

 

Space Science

NASA’s Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG) meets Today (webcast available)

NASA.gov (1/29): The Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG) is NASA’s community-based forum designed to provide science input for planning and prioritizing the exploration of small bodies throughout the solar system for the next several decades. It also provides input on how small bodies can be utilized in support of human space activities. The SBAG is chartered by NASA’s Planetary Science Division and reports its findings at meetings of the Planetary Science Subcommittee of the NASA Advisory Council’s Science Committee. https://ac.arc.nasa.gov/sbag20

You may also dial-in (domestic 888-324-3909/ International 1-415-228-4970~ Enter passcode: 7571356)

All systems go as Parker Solar probe begins second Sun orbit

NASA.gov (1/28): On Jan. 19, 2019, just 161 days after its launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, NASA’s Parker Solar Probe completed its first orbit of the Sun, reaching the point in its orbit farthest from our star, called aphelion. The spacecraft has now begun the second of 24 planned orbits, on track for its second perihelion, or closest approach to the Sun, on April 4, 2019.

Curiosity snaps epic ‘selfie’ on Mars as it moves on to new Martian sights

Space.com (1/28): At Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover is moving on from Vera Rubin Ridge, its home on the Red Planet and site for more than a year of ground investigations. Scientists on Earth commanded the rover, which has been on Mars since August of 2012, to mark the transition with a self-portrait.

What would be the benefits of an interstellar probe?

Universe Today (1/25): Cost and an absence of political will represent the obstacles to sending robotic probes far beyond the solar system, perhaps to the nearest stars, Proxima and Alpha Centauri, according to Kelvin F. Long, co-founder of the Initiative for Interstellar Studies. He’s a proponent of Breakthrough Initiatives’ Project Starshot, which would send a probe weighing a gram and equipped with a light sail and propelled by a laser on the first journey to the nearest star.

Curiosity snaps epic ‘selfie’ on Mars as it moves on to new Martian sights

Space.com (1/28): At Mars, NASA’s Curiosity rover is moving on from Vera Rubin Ridge, its home on the Red Planet and site for more than a year of ground investigations. Scientists on Earth commanded the rover, which has been on Mars since August of 2012, to mark the transition with a self-portrait.

 

Other News

Kennedy Space Center (KSC) employees go back to work as government shutdown ends

Florida Today (1/28): NASA federal employees returned to work on Monday, following a record partial U.S. government shutdown ended, at least temporarily late Friday. In addition to returning to work, furloughed and workers assigned to work or on call during the shutdown are looking forward to back pay. They also face the prospect of another shutdown on February 15, if the White House and Congress are unable to reach an agreement on immigration issues.

Foust forward | Space tourism’s image problem

SpaceNews.com (1/28): The future of space tourism may have a problem as 2019 looks to be the year that Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic approach the launches of suborbital passengers. Some see the opportunity as restricted to an economic elite, amid growing concerns over income inequality.

This company wants to use reentry heating to roast coffee beans

Ars Technica (1/28): The company is Space Roasters, and their plan is to roast their coffee beans, nearly 700 pounds per mission, as they float inside a payload container after a suborbital launch and during the container’s re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. This game changer could change the taste and likely the cost of a cup of coffee.

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