Today’s Deep Space Extra

September 13th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA’s science, economic and inspirational impact are far reaching. In Las Vegas, Bigelow Aerospace and NASA are evaluating an expandable space habitat. Another extra solar object, Comet Borisov, may have moved into the neighborhood. 

Human Space Exploration

The International Space Station (ISS) is more valuable than many people realize Op-Ed
Coalition Member in the News – Boeing
Scientific American (8/30): The International Space Station (ISS) took 12 years to build with support from 16 nations and has been populated continuously since November 2000. By any measure, the assembly and science operations seem a colossal achievement.

Bigelow Aerospace and NASA test earthly mockup of interplanetary space station
Coalition Members in the News – Boeing, Lockheed Martin, NanoRacks and Northrop Grumman (9/12): In Las Vegas, Bigelow Aerospace on Thursday unveiled its ground prototype for a space station or possibly a deep space habitat. For two weeks, the Mars Transporter Testing Unit, an all-steel mockup of the company’s expandable, fabric-covered B330 space module will undergo testing by a NASA-Bigelow team.

Comptroller visits Johnson Space Center, announces institutions large economic impact
KPRC-TV of Houston (9/13): NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC), home to the agency’s astronaut corps, Mission Control and lead for the International Space Station (ISS), Orion crew capsule and future lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway has a $4.7 billion annual impact on the Texas economy, enough to support more than 52,000 high tech jobs with incomes well above average for the region, state comptroller Glenn Hager announced Thursday during a visit.

Space Science

Newly discovered comet is likely interstellar visitor
NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (9/12): Comet C/2019 Q4, also known as Comet Borisov, was discovered on August 30, 2019, by Gennady Borisov at the MARGO observatory in Nauchnij, Crimea. Strangely, perhaps, it appears unofficially to have wandered from afar into the solar system. If so, Borisov joins the strange object Oumuamua as the first extra solar object in the solar system, a discovery made in October 2017. Comet Borisov is now working its way toward the sun from a distance of about 260 million miles.

NASA lunar orbiter to image Chandrayaan 2 landing site next week (9/12): The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) lost contact with the Chandrayaan-2 Vikram lunar lander late on the afternoon of September 6, U.S. time, as it attempted an automated landing at the Moon’s south pole. NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), launched in 2009, is to pass over the landing site on September 17 and will attempt to image the region to help determine the spacecraft’s fate. Vikram and a small companion lunar rover were launched to further establish the presence of water ice and valuable minerals in the south pole region.

TESS team is awarded NASA’s Silver Achievement Medal
MIT News (9/12): NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, or TESS, was launched in April 2018 to continue a productive extra solar planet search began with its predecessor, the Kepler space telescope. Earlier this month, NASA’s TESS team was honored with the Silver Achievement Medal.

Einstein’s gravitational lenses could clear up debate on expanding cosmos (9/12): Experts continue to debate the fate of the universe, though it appears to be expanding at the distant outskirts at an ever increasing rate. However, it might be that gravitational lensing, or the ability of massive objects in the foreground to magnify the light of objects at greater distances may provide a resolution. Two techniques in use now, the monitoring of the brightness of Cepheid variable stars and observing the cosmic wave background, or light left over from the big bang, offer different estimates for the expansion rate, which is known as the Hubble constant. Thus some place the age of the universe at 13.7 billion years and others at 11.4 billion years.

Other News

Earth observation companies plan new satellites and seek new customers (9/12): Providers of commercial Earth observation satellites are prepared to upgrade their offerings with spacecraft that feature higher resolution imagery and more frequent revisit opportunities. However, key commercial players in the sector seem to disagree on demand, according to presentations Thursday at the Euroconsult’s World Satellite Business Week conference in Paris.

NASA parody of Ariana Grande song ‘NASA’
Florida Today (9/12): Got three minutes? Tune into a NASA intern parody of Ariana Grande’s song “NASA,” as a tribute to Artemis, NASA’s initiative to return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers on an accelerated schedule in 2024.

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