Today’s Deep Space Extra

June 27th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Japan sets July 11 as the date for a second landing of its Hayabusa 2 spacecraft of the surface of the asteroid Ryugu to collect samples for return to Earth. Well preserved Moon rocks collected by the Apollo astronauts will be subjected to study using new generations of laboratory equipment. 

Space Science

Hayabusa2 to attempt second landing on asteroid
NHK of Japan (6/25): Hayabusa2, Japan’s asteroid sample return mission to Ryugu, will make a second attempt to land and collect a sample of a primitive planetary body that may have provided water and organics to the planets as the solar system formed about 4.6 billion years ago. With difficulty, Hayabusa 2 landed briefly on Feb. 22 for its first surface sample. In April, it descended to drop an explosive impactor on the surface to expose subsurface material for a second possible sample collection attempt. After assessing whether it could land safely a second time, the mission team announced this week it will attempt to land on July 11 to gather some of the exposed material near the 10 meter impact crater.

NASA selects planetary mission proposals large and small (6/27): NASA is preparing to announce the selection of a major new planetary science mission late Thursday. Two candidates under NASA’s New Frontiers program that have been under review are CAESAR, a comet sample return mission, and Dragonfly, a mission to the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan.


NASA opening Moon rock samples sealed since Apollo missions
Associated Press via Houston Chronicle (6/26): Much of the rock body collected by NASA’s Apollo mission astronauts has been locked away, preserved by NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC). Some of the 842 pounds of rocks gathered by the 12 NASA astronauts that walked on the Moon between 1969 and 1972 has been carefully preserved. Scientists are ready to examine some of the long preserved materials using new generations of lab technology.

Anomolous noctilucent clouds (6/26): Earlier this week, Paris joined the western U.S. in receiving a lively night time display of the glow of a thin bluish cloud layer that scientists attribute to an unusually moist mesosphere.

Other News

Europe says SpaceX “dominating” launch, vows to develop Falcon 9-like rocket
Ars Technica (6/26): The European Commission this month backed with money its push to catch up with U.S. launch services companies and their focus on hardware reuse to limit launch costs, a bit of a pivot.

Small launch vehicle companies seek improvements in government contracting (6/26): Small launch services companies Rocket Lab, Vector and Firefly Aerospace are among those seeking streamlined regulations. All were participants in a June 6, National Space Society International Space Development Conference in Arlington, Virginia.

UFOs remain elusive despite decades of study (6/26): The Irvine California based Mutual UFO Network turns 50 in July. The voluntary search for an explanation of the occasional mysterious aerial phenomena continues, as does the pursuit of the technologies that would make the phenomena possible.

Apollo 11

After Apollo: Budget realities limit NASA options
Houston Chronicle (6/27): After Apollo’s first Moon landings, policymakers believed the public’s interest in the missions was declining and that budget realities dictated a less expensive change in focus. NASA was directed by President Nixon to focus on low Earth orbit and the development of a reusable space shuttle. The shuttle would then enable the assembly of an International Space Station (ISS).

HBO is relaunching ‘From the Earth to the Moon’ with new HD effects (6/26): HBO has digitally remastered its 1998 release of From the Earth to the Moon in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 first landing of human explorers on a planetary body this July 20. The HBO curtain rises on July 15.

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