Today’s Deep Space Extra

March 16th, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… U.S. House and Senate appropriators are working on a new 2018 budget continuing resolution to prevent a possible March 23 shutdown. Scott and Mark Kelly are still identical twins. NASA close to a decision on whether to include a drone on its Mars 2020 rover mission.

Budget Update

Negotiations continue on final 2018 omnibus spending bill

Space News (3/15): The U.S. government is still without a budget for the 2018 fiscal year that began last October 1. The latest in a series of budget continuing resolutions intended to keep federal agencies, including NASA, operating expires on March 23. Negotiations for an extension without a government workforce shutdown are continuing between members of the House and Senate.


Human Space Exploration

No, Scott Kelly’s year in space didn’t mutate his DNA

National Geographic (3/15): Scores of stories reporting that Kelly’s DNA is substantially different now are missing some basic facts about how biology works. The stories misrepresent the results of a study NASA commissioned on the effects of spaceflight by confusing changes in genetic sequence with changes in gene expression levels.


Space Science

NASA to decide soon whether flying drone will launch with Mars 2020 rover (3/15): NASA’s 2020 rover mission to Mars will investigate the terrain for signs of habitability, including the collection and caching of samples for eventual return to Earth. Soon mission engineers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will decide whether to equip the rover with a drone equipped with rechargeable batteries for multiple reconnaissance flights.

Kepler Space Telescope is almost out of fuel

Popular Mechanics (3/15): Launched in 2009, NASA’s Kepler space telescope has succeeded in confirming the presence of more than 2,500 planets circling stars beyond the solar system. After recovering from difficulties with its reaction wheel steering system, Kepler is consuming the last of its fuel. New NASA missions, including the planned 2019 launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, will continue the pursuit of Earth-like planets.

If we do hear signals from aliens, they’re probably long gone

Universe Today (3/15): For decades, the astrophysicist Frank Drake’s “Drake Equation” stood as a test of the likelihood the universe supports intelligent life beyond Earth. Recently, experts have been working on an equation update. Their efforts conclude that even if signals from an intelligent civilization are detected, the originators are likely long gone.


Other News

ULA to focus more attention on commercial launch market

Coalition Member in the News: United Launch Alliance

Space News (3/15): In remarks before the 2018 Satellite Conference in Washington earlier this week, United Launch Alliance president and CEO Tony Bruno said the Boeing/Lockheed Martin joint venture intends to increase its presence in commercial launch markets.

SpaceX and ULA win over half a billion dollars in new Air Force launch contracts

Coalition Member in the News: United Launch Alliance

CNBC (3/15): The U.S. Air Force awarded launch services contracts this week. United Launch Alliance will receive $355 million for a pair of U.S. Air Force Space Command spacecraft launches. SpaceX is to receive $291 million for the launch of GPS satellites.

Putin pledges Russian Mars mission in 2019, ahead of Musk and Trump

Moscow Times (3/15): Russian president Vladimir Putin made a Mars mission pledge in a video released ahead of his re-election bid. The Russian leader also said his country will send a mission to the lunar poles in search of water ice. The timing of the red planet mission launches is guided by favorable alignments between the Earth and Mars.

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