Today’s Deep Space Extra

April 25th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… China’s space chief outlines plans to reach the Moon’s south pole with human explorers in a decade. College students offer a strategy to shield astronauts on deep space missions from harmful radiation. The Hubble Space Telescope marks its 29th year in orbit.

Human Space Exploration 

China to build moon station in ‘about 10 years’ (4/24): China plans to reach the Moon’s south pole with human explorers in 10 years to establish a lunar research base, according to China National Space Administration head Zhang Kejian in a speech marking “Space Day,” the official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday. The inaugural launch of China’s Long March 5B rocket carrying the core element of a new space station is planned for the first half of 2020.

China to build scientific research station on Moon’s south pole
Xinhua Net (4/24): China aims to build a scientific research station in the south polar region of the moon and realize manned lunar exploration mission in about ten years, said a senior space official on Wednesday. Zhang Kejian, head of the China National Space Administration, made the remarks at the opening ceremony of China’s Space Day in Changsha, capital of central China’s Hunan Province. China will launch the Chang’e-5 lunar probe to collect and return lunar samples back to Earth at the end of 2019.

College students hatch nuclear-powered magnetic plan to protect Marsonauts from cosmic rays (4/24): Undergrads from Iowa’s Drake University have devised an Earth-like magnetic shield plan to protect astronauts assigned to future missions of deep space exploration from the hazards of solar and cosmic radiation, which could pose significant health threats. The strategy involves shield like fabrics and superconducting magnets to divert powerful gamma rays. The Earth’s magnetic field acts as a natural shield for life on Earth.


Space Science

Stern to chair NASA Planetary Protection Review Board (4/24): Alan Stern, who leads the NASA New Horizons science mission team that carried out the first ever close flybys of Pluto and Ultima Thule, will chair a new NASA review board assessing the nation’s planetary protection guidelines. Those are measures intended to detect, track and defend the Earth against impacts from Near Earth Objects, including asteroids and comets.

Chunk of the Lafayette Meteorite from Mars returning to Purdue

Coalition Member in the News – Purdue University

Purdue University (4/23): A segment of the Lafayette Meteorite that once resided at Purdue, but was on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago for decades, will return officially to Purdue on Thursday (April 25) during a Giant Leaps Sesquicentennial event. In 1929, this rock was found in a drawer in Purdue’s Biology Department.  Recognized as something different from typical rocks found in Indiana it was sent to the Field Museum in Chicago for identification.  “In the 1980’s, gases trapped in this and other similar rare meteorites were found to match those measured in the Martian atmosphere by the Viking landers.  This rock came from Mars,” said Andy Freed, Purdue professor of earth, atmospheric and planetary sciences. “It would have been blasted off the Martian surface millions of years ago by an asteroid impact and orbited for a time around the sun until it came across Earth’s orbit. It then plunged into the atmosphere as a fiery meteor, with this fragment surviving all the way to the surface.”  [Editor’s NOTE: The meteorite will be presented at the beginning of the Purdue Ideas Festival event “What IF We Blaze a Path to Mars?” at 6:30 p.m. this evening featuring a panel discussion with Mr. Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations; Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, President and CEO of the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration; and Professor Jonathan Lunine, planetary scientist at Cornell University. Purdue President Mitch Daniels is moderating the event.]

Hubble’s 29th year in orbit

NASA Goddard (4/24): The Hubble Space Telescope, a joint NASA and European Space Agency space observatory, marked the 29th anniversary of its space shuttle launch. A special Hubble video offers first ever views of the Southern Crab Nebula. Launched April 24, 1990 aboard the shuttle Discovery, Hubble was deployed by the shuttle’s crew of astronauts on April 25, 1990.

The best Hubble Space Telescope images of all time! (4/24): NASA, European Space Agency and the Space Telescope Science Institute offer a collection of Hubble’s best images, so far…


Other News

NASA social media efforts win two Webby Awards (4/23): NASA’s social media presence, which has grown from a few accounts more than a decade ago to dozens of channels with millions of followers, was honored Tuesday with a pair of Webbys and People’s Voice awards as part of the 2019 Webby Awards. Established in 1996, The Webby Awards are presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences. This year there were more than 13,000 entries, and more than 3 million votes were cast for the People’s Voice awards.

Public deserves less secrecy and more information about SpaceX capsule ‘anomaly’ | Editorial

Orlando Sentinel (4/24): In an editorial, the Orlando Sentinel urges the release of more information regarding an incident last Saturday at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., where SpaceX was testing SuperDrago thrusters for an upcoming in flight abort test planned for this summer. The test, which would pull an uncrewed Crew Dragon capsule from its Falcon 9 launch vehicle during an emergency in the early stages of flight, is part of a NASA Commercial Crew Program certification effort to prepare SpaceX for the regular transportation of astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

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