Today’s Deep Space Extra

June 9th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… Returning to the Moon with human explorers won’t be the same as new leadership, international partners and commercial space operations emerge.  

Human Space Exploration

Meet the woman who will direct the next Moon landing
Air & Space Magazine (6/20): It was nearly two years ago that Holly Ridings moved up to the Chief Flight Director’s position at NASA’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) and Mission Control. Ridings was the first woman to hold the post. Now, she’s in line to join an elite circle of personnel who’ve led a team of flight controllers to oversee the return of human explorers to the Moon.

Commercial crew success prompts congratulations and criticism from Russia (6/8): Yes, NASA and SpaceX received congratulations from Dmitry Rogozin, the chief of Russia’s space agency, for the May 30/31 launch and docking of the Demo-2 mission at the International Space Station (ISS). But there’s more: NASA is achieving a human space transportation capability lost when the shuttle fleet was retired in July 2011. If all goes well, the U.S. will no longer have to pay Russia more than $90 million for each astronaut launched on a Soyuz spacecraft.

Science News

The 1st stars in the universe formed earlier than thought (6/8): A search for the earliest stars in the universe with the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes and an advanced European space telescope in Chile, have found no evidence of star formation during the first 500 million to 1 billion years of a 13.8 billion year old universe. The study led by a European researcher raises expectations the NASA led, European and Canadian James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) due for launch as soon as March 2021 can detect just how early star formation got underway.

Three new views of Mars’ moon Phobos
NASA/Jet Propulsion Laboratory (6/8): Launched in April 2001, NASA’s Mars Odyssey orbiter offers new views of the strange small moon Phobos as it circles through the shadow cast by Mars. Scientists are curious about what Phobos is made of. Odyssey has also imaged the Jezero Crater landing site for the Perseverance Mars 2020 rover that is to launch to the Red Planet in July and serves as a communications relay for NASA’s InSight lander, which touched down in November 2018 to study the Martian crust, mantle and core.

Jupiter and Saturn form a triangle with the Moon tonight. Here’s how to see it (6/8): Walk out under the evening sky, just before midnight, turn south toward the Moon and gaze up a bit to see Saturn and to the right Jupiter. Jupiter and Saturn form a triangle with the Moon tonight. Here’s how to see it.

Op Eds

Ford v. Ferrari in space!
Issues in Science and Technology (6/2): In light of the May 30/31 NASA/SpaceX Demo-2 launch of NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station (ISS), what exactly is the significance of privately led human spaceflight in the larger context of the American space enterprise? “Determining which activities would benefit from having the private sector play a greater role should be a matter of data and analysis – not dogma. It will be necessary to carefully analyze when solutions-based approaches work better. Indeed, there will be times when a Ford won’t do, and a Ferrari is necessary and appropriate,” writes Bhavya Lal, of the IDA Science and Technology Policy Institute.

Imagining safety zones: Implications and open questions
The Space Review (6/8): In May, NASA introduced the Artemis Accords, a draft set of principles linked to the human exploration of the Moon and other planetary bodies and the acquisition of resources to further exploration. Though rooted in the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, they still raise questions about how to conduct operations, among them how to implement proposed “safety zones” meant to avoid harmful interference among the activities of other nations that have agreed to implement the Accords.

Other News

NASA to announce selection of company to fly VIPER rover to Moon (6/8): NASA will announce the commercial provider selected to deliver NASA’s new water-hunting mobile robot, the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER), to the South Pole of the Moon during a media teleconference at 2:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday, June 10. As the first resource-mapping mission on the surface of another world, VIPER will help pave the way for a new era of human missions to the lunar surface and will bring NASA a step closer to developing a sustainable, long-term robotic and human presence on the Moon as part of the Artemis program.

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