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Today’s Deep Space Extra - Explore Deep Space
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Today’s Deep Space Extra

December 11th, 2019

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… NASA leadership suggests Artemis 3, an accelerated effort to return to the surface of the Moon with human explorers in 2024, hinges on more than the Artemis 1 Space Launch System (SLS)/Orion test mission. Earth science mission participants encouraged by growing number of launch alternatives. 

Human Space Exploration

Bridenstine and Loverro: Artemis 1 launch date important, but not the whole story
Spacepolicyonline.com (12/11): At a SpaceNews.com hosted Washington event on Tuesday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Doug Loverro, the agency’s newly appointed associate administrator for human exploration and operations, urged supporters to look beyond Artemis 1, the first joint test launch of the Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion crew capsule, in their assessments of efforts to achieve an accelerated human return to the surface of the Moon in 2024. Earlier this week, the two executives marked assembly complete of the SLS core stage for Artemis 1, which will take the uncrewed Orion around the Moon and back to Earth. But a new launch date for the much delayed, multi week mission remains under review. Artemis 2 is to follow a similar course with astronauts, setting the stage for the Artemis 3, the 2024 landing with a female and male crew at the Moon’s south pole.

Space Science

Data from the International Space Station (ISS) confirms: Lightning is insane
Arstechnica.com (12/10): Scientist are unraveling the mysteries of lightning with a European Space Agency (ESA) instrument on the outside of the International Space Station (ISS) called the Atmospheric-Space Interaction Monitor. As it turns out, lightning is frequent and extreme, energetic enough to expose antimatter, transform atoms and radioactive clouds. Findings were published in the journal Science.

OSIRIS-REx engineers pull off a daring rescue of a monumental asteroid mission
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center (12/10): NASA’s Osiris-Rex asteroid sample return mission to Bennu responded quickly on October 11, when team members experienced a communications interruption just as the distant spacecraft was to recon at low altitude one of four landing sites under consider for a brief landing in mid-2020 to gather a surface sample for return to Earth in 2023. NASA offered the dramatic account two days before mission managers are to announce primary and backup landing site selections as part of the American Geophysical Union meeting underway this week in San Francisco.

Blue Origin resets timing for suborbital test flight to space, due to weather concerns
GeekWire.com (12/9): Poor weather, prompted Blue Origin to delay from Tuesday to Wednesday plans for the 12th New Shepard suborbital launch from West Texas. Many of the science and technology payloads are flying under NASA’s Flight Opportunities program. Liftoff is set for Wednesday at 10 a.m., EST, weather permitting.

NASA Earth Science leaders anticipate low-cost launch options
SpaceNews.com (12/10): Scientists gathered for the American Geophysical Union annual conference in San Francisco this week expressed confidence Tuesday that growing launch alternatives and competitive launch costs will increase opportunities for new Earth science research.

Other News

University of Arizona takes lead on new asteroid hunting mission for NASA
Arizona Daily Star (12/10): University of Arizona (UA) astronomers are helping NASA prepare for the next phase of near Earth object surveillance and tracking, an effort to detect and monitor asteroids and comets whose course around the sun pose a potential impact threat to the Earth. The Near Earth Object Surveillance Mission could be launched in the mid-2020’s. Equipped with infra-red optics, the mission would succeed NASA’s NEOwise surveillance efforts and take planetary defense to a new level.

Europe is launching a suicide robot to ‘hug’ space trash out of orbit
Space.com (12/10): The European Space Agency (ESA) is prepared to engage in a growing concern over the Earth orbit space debris environment and the impact it could have on future commercial and science activities. Slated for launch in 2025, the Clear Space-1 mission will rendezvous with and clutch a defunct satellite and steer it into a destructive re-entry onto the Earth’s atmosphere.

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