Today’s Deep Space Extra

March 23rd, 2018

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… An omnibus 2018 spending bill, with additional funds for NASA and other federal agencies, moves to the White House for the president’s signature. New science continues to emerge from the long running Cassini mission to Saturn.

Human Space Exploration

Congress passes $1.3 trillion FY 2018 omnibus spending bill: Includes NASA, NOAA (3/22): A compromise 2018 omnibus government appropriations measure, worked out in lieu of a formal federal budget earlier this week by U.S. House and Senate appropriators, passed both chambers on Thursday and early Friday to await President Trump’s signature. The $1.3 trillion measure would fund the entire government through September 31, the end of the current federal fiscal year, and end concerns of a government shutdown Friday at midnight. It includes $20.7 billion for NASA, $1.6 billion more than the original request.

Kennedy Space Center, NASA could get billion-dollar boost

Orlando Sentinel (3/22): The 2018 Omnibus appropriations bill passed by the U.S. House and Senate on Thursday and early Friday would significantly increase NASA’s budget for 2018. Spending on NASA Kennedy Space Center facilities supporting future human deep space exploration activities would double.


Space Science

Omnibus bill increases funding for NOAA weather satellite and space weather programs

Space News (3/22): Plans by NOAA to step up its polar space satellite weather coverage receives a boost in the 2018 omnibus appropriations bill passed by the U.S. House and Senate on Thursday to avert a midnight Friday federal government shutdown, potentially the third of 2018.

SpaceX launch last year punched huge, temporary hole in the ionosphere

Ars Technica (3/22): SpaceX’s quite vertical August 2017 Falcon 9 launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California, included an unusual encounter with the Earth’s high altitude ionosphere.

5 things we’ve learned about Saturn since Cassini died

Science News (3/20): New details of NASA’s long running Cassini mission to Saturn emerged this week at the Lunar Planetary and Science Conference in the Houston suburb of The Woodlands. Colorful cloud bands penetrate deep into Saturn’s atmosphere.  Ice grains are clawing away at the inner most ring. The reddish hue of Saturn’s rings appear due to the presence of organic chemicals. Plus more about findings from the moons Titan and Enceladus, which may host habitable environments. Launched in 1997, Cassini’s mission ended last September.


Other News

Tennis star and astronaut to help dedicate new Sally Ride postage stamp (3/22): A U.S. Postal Service ceremony marking the issuance of a new stamp commemorating Sally Ride, the first U.S. female astronaut, is planned for May 23 at the University of California, San Diego. Ride, who died of cancer nearly six years ago, launched aboard NASA’s shuttle Challenger in June 1983 and was among the first women astronauts selected by NASA in 1978.

Space junk could be this company’s treasure (3/21): Startup Astroscale, based in Singapore, has a business plan that would scrape low Earth orbit of mounting manmade debris, which poses a significant threat to commercial activities.

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