Today’s Deep Space Extra

December 3rd, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Spacewalking astronauts advanced efforts to upgrade the thermal control system of the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) outside the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday. Images gathered by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) reveal the crash site of India’s Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lunar lander.  

Human Space Exploration

Astronauts perform third spacewalk to fix cosmic ray detector via CBS News (12/2):  U.S. and European astronauts Drew Morgan and Luca Parmitano on Monday completed the third of four planned spacewalks to overhaul the thermal control system on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS), a cosmic ray observatory on the outside of the International Space Station (ISS). The tasks included the installation of a new pump package and splicing eight small stainless steel liquid carbon dioxide cooling lines. One more spacewalk in the series to check for leaks remains, but the date has yet to be set. As the spacewalk came to an end, Parmitano’s airlock colleagues noted a small water leak in his spacesuit.

Japan designs lunar rover as U.S. plots return to Moon
Nikkei Asian Review (12/2); The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will work with NASA to develop a pressurized rover for use by astronauts assigned to the Artemis initiative, an accelerated effort to return humans to the surface of the Moon in 2024. JAXA also plans an unmanned cargo vessel capable of transporting supplies from the Earth to the lunar orbiting, human tended Gateway from which astronauts will descend to the Moon’s surface.

Space Science

Found! NASA spots crash site and debris from India’s lost Moon lander (12/2): Late Tuesday, NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) science team and its associates announced they’ve identified the crash site of India’s Chandrayaan 2 Vikram lander at the Moon’s south pole The lander was minutes away from an automated landing on September 6, U.S. time, when communications ceased. Late Monday, NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center released images taken November 11 by the agency’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) that point to debris and changes in the lunar regolith that suggest an impact.

Hayabusa2 now on return journey to Earth
NHK World Japan (12/3): Japan’s Hayabusa 2 asteroid sample return mission spacecraft is on its way back to Earth, a journey that will require most of 2020, using its ion propulsion system. Launched in December 2014, Hayabusa 2 reached the asteroid Ryugu in June 2018 to deploy small rover/hoppers and touch down twice to gather samples of surface and subsurface material. Once near Earth at the end of next year, Hayabusa 2 is to deploy a sample canister into remote Australia for recovery. Scientists hope the samples can help to explain how water ice and organics, the building blocks of life, were distributed during the solar system’s planet forming process.

Is the universe curved? Not so fast (12/2): The shape of the universe could decide its fate. If flat, it could theoretically expand forever. If curved, it is predisposed to collapse. Data from missions like the European Space Agency (ESA)/NASA Planck mission hints at “curved,” though not all experts in the field agree.

Op Eds

Boldly go: America needs NASA, Artemis program to succeed
Orlando Sentinel (12/1): In an op-ed, Christian Zur, who directs the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s procurement and space industry council, argues the U.S. stumbled in space when it retired NASA’s shuttle fleet without a successor. Turning to deep space will offer economic growth and resources vital to the future of the Earth, he writes. On December 3, Zur will host LAUNCH: The Space Economy, the Chamber’s second annual commercial space summit in Washington, D.C.

Other News

Funding Europe’s space ambitions
The Space Review (12/3): Every three years, European Space Agency (ESA) ministers gather to establish and fund space priorities, including such cooperative programs as the International Space Station (ISS) and a NASA led initiative to accelerate a human return to the surface of the Moon in 2024. The process is complex and requires a full time commitment, as last week’s gathering of ministers from 22 European states revealed. “NASA has one government,” said Jan Wörner, ESA’s director general, at the end of the ministerial meeting. “We have 22.”

China to build space-based solar power station by 2035
Xinhuanet of China (12/2): The China Academy of Space Technology intends to develop a space based solar power station to microwave energy back to Earth by 2035.

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