Today’s Deep Space Extra

May 15th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine cheers efforts to accelerate the return of human explorers to the surface of the Moon by 2024 in remarks before the Human to Mars Summit and in a town hall meeting with agency employees. A new model of the Martian water cycle may explain how the atmosphere was stripped away from the Red Planet.

Human Space Exploration

Bridenstine says $1.6 billion at “low end” of funding needed to keep 2024 lunar landing on schedule (5/14): Accelerating a human return to the surface of the Moon from 2028 to 2024 means reaching Mars with astronaut explorers could happen sooner than later, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told attendees at the 2019 Humans to Mars Summit.  Bridenstine warned, however, that the that a $1.6 billion White House NASA supplement budget request presented to Congress late Tuesday is at the lower end of the financial “boost” that will be needed to achieve that goal established by the White House in late March, adding that if Congress does not support the request the risk to the overall effort will increase significantly. 

Accelerating Moon landing to 2024 may make it more achievable, NASA chief says (5/15): NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine spoke with agency workers Tuesday, explaining why efforts to advance a human return to the surface of the Moon from 2028 to 2024 may make a sustained return more achievable. The effort faces both technical and political risks, said Bridenstine, who expressed confidence the agency can meet the technical challenge. Advancing the timeline reduces the risks posed by changing political leadership, budgets and legislative oversight said Bridenstine, a former Oklahoma congressman.

Why Apollo 10 stopped just 47,000 feet from the Moon

New York Times (5/13): In July, the world will mark the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 Moon landing, the first time humans landed on and walked on the surface of another planetary body. However, the July 20, 1969 lunar touchdown by Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin was the culmination of previous flights. Launched on May 18, 1969, the crew of Apollo 10 – Tom Stafford, John Young and Gene Cernan – conducted a critical dress rehearsal.


Space Science

New water cycle discovered on Mars

Cosmos (5/15): Images of the Martian terrain suggest that water flowed and pooled on a much warmer Red Planet billions of years ago. Studies of the thin Martian atmosphere show that it has been slowly stripped away by processes not seen on Earth. Now, researchers have developed a model that may help to explain the loss, which could be linked in part to the planet’s elliptical orbit around the sun.

How Earth life could come back from a sterilizing asteroid impact (5/14): A large and potentially devastating impact by a large asteroid could jeopardize the future of life on Earth. But it is possible that some forms of life could survive. Rocks and debris laced with biological activity from the Earth’s surface could be thrust into orbit then fall back to the surface, allowing small forms of life to emerge again, according to participants in a recent Breakthrough Discuss conference.


Other News

SpaceX’s Starlink could cause cascades of space junk

Scientific American (5/13): Today SpaceX plans to launch the first wave of its Starlink small satellite network, developed to provide greater global access to the Internet. However, some are worried the large fleet of satellites may join many thousands of pieces of man-made space debris and aged satellites already in orbit that pose a collision threat to functioning spacecraft.

Florida is no longer in the running to host the U.S. Space Command for now

Florida Today (5/14): Florida is currently not in the running to become the home to a new U.S. Space Command, according to Space Florida, a state chartered economic development agency, on Tuesday. Sites in the running are located in Colorado, California and Alabama.

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