Today’s Deep Space Extra

September 11th, 2020

In Today’s Deep Space Extra… The components of NASA’s Artemis 3 Orion spacecraft are beginning to come together for a planned 2024 mission that is to return human explorers to the surface of the Moon. NASA unveils a plan to establish space resources rights by purchasing lunar surface material gathered by private companies.  

Human Space Exploration

First segment of Orion capsule delivered for assembly ahead of Artemis 3 mission
Coalition Member in the News – Lockheed Martin (9/10): NASA’s Artemis 3 mission is to return human explorers to the surface of the Moon in 2024. The initial elements of the Orion capsule that will transport the crew away from Earth and return them for an ocean splashdown after a mission to the lunar south pole are starting to come together at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. More elements are expected to arrive in the next several months.

Space Science

Mystery of Jupiter’s persistent geometric storms may be solved (9/10): NASA’s Juno mission, which maneuvered into orbit around giant Jupiter in July 2016, may have solved a mystery, how giant cyclone like storms spin up around the planet’s poles. It’s not so clear, though, how these storms formed in the first place.

Jupiter probably has 600 small, irregular moons
Universe Today (9/10): Canadian researchers are offering evidence that the giant planet Jupiter may have more than 600 small moons. Their claim is based on archival data gathered using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and dating back to 2010.

New gravitational-lensing study hints at problems for dark matter models
Ars Technica (9/10): A gravitational phenomenon has helped astronomers explore the reach and nature of dark matter, a component of the universe recognized because of its intense gravitational influence. New studies involving data from the Hubble Space Telescope as well as the ground based Very Large Telescope in northern Chile, however, suggest the presence of dark matter may be more lumpy and compact than believed earlier.

How big money is powering a massive hunt for alien intelligence
Science (9/10): The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, or SETI, has had its ups and mostly downs over six decades. Russian born physicist and American businessman Yuri Milner, however, is fighting to keep the struggling pursuit of evidence for extraterrestrial intelligence alive with his $100 million, 10 year Breakthrough Listen initiative.

Other News

NASA offers to buy lunar samples to set space resources precedent (9/10): NASA is offering to buy lunar samples collected by companies for a token sum primarily to set a precedent for space resource rights on the Moon. In a solicitation issued September 10, NASA requested quotations from companies willing to go to the Moon and sell between 50 and 500 grams of lunar rocks or regolith. Once the company collected the sample and provided evidence of doing so, NASA would take ownership of the sample and pay the company. The company would not have to return the sample to Earth, instead letting NASA collect it on a future mission.

Space Force: Too early to say if military will need ‘super heavy’ launch vehicles
Coalition Members in the News – Northrop Grumman, United Launch Alliance (9/8): For the foreseeable future, the U.S. Space Force can meet its space national security needs with United Launch Alliance’s (ULA) Vulcan Centaur and the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy. However, the military’s newest branch has not ruled out a future need for a reusable heavy lift, SpaceX’s Starship or Blue Origin’s New Glenn, for instance. “We start with requirements and architectures, understanding the threats and determining what the requirements and architectures are to meet those threats,” Brig. Gen. D. Jason Cothern, who oversees launch services procurement for the U.S. Space Force, told a Rand Corp. sponsored virtual forum earlier this week.

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