December 29 News Items

Google Lunar X Prize’s Micro-Space Wins NASA SBIR Award (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Google Lunar X Prize competitor Micro-Space has been selected for one of NASA’s Small Business Innovation Research award. The Denver-based company will develop an automatic system for Solar and Celestial Navigation for use on the moon and Mars. (12/29)

President Signs Commercial Launch Liability Bill (Source: Space Policy Online)
President Obama yesterday signed into law the Commmercial Space Launch Liability Indemnification extension. That was the last space-related law waiting for signature from the first session of the 111th Congress. Check out Space Policy Online's updated fact sheet on major space-related legislation of the 111th Congress, first session. (12/29)

JPL Space Telescope Will Get First Glimpse at the Sky (Source: Pasadena Star-News)
For the first time since NASA's Wide-field Infrared Satellite Explorer (WISE) blasted off two weeks ago, the space telescope will be getting its first glimpse of the sky. The highly-sensitive infrared telescope aboard WISE is housed inside a cryostat filled with solid hydrogen that works like a thermos. Until Tuesday, this thermos had a cover that protected it from heat from the Earth and the sun until the satellite could be launched into orbit and get its bearings.

The Jet Propulsion Laboratory-managed mission has to stay cool extremely cool - just a few degrees above absolute zero - so that it can observe the heat coming from dim objects that might otherwise fade into the darkness of space - like asteroids, brown dwarfs and distant ultraluminous galaxies. (12/29)

Sustainable Aliens: A New Theory On Why E.T. Hasn't Arrived (Source: NPR)
Part of a scientist's job is to read scientific papers -- lots and lots of scientific papers. You don't just read them: you also skim, peruse, look through, glance at and, occasionally, pore over them. There are just so many papers and just too much else going on. Still, some ideas just stick in your head and, with that in mind, I would like to present my Sort-Of-Best-Unheralded-Scientific-Paper of 2009.

People who think about extraterrestrial life have been bothered for a long time by a rather obvious fact: There isn't any here. This is sometimes called the Fermi Paradox. Its an old conundrum that asks "If space-traveling ETs exist, why aren't they with us already?" The idea is simple. Start with a civilization that colonizes one world. Then that world colonizes two more planets. Those worlds go on and do their own colonization. Follow this logic and you end up with a very, very rapid expansion of even a single star-faring civilization. Even one ET with space travel can, in a pretty short time, lead to a galaxy teeming with intelligent life.

One answer to the Fermi Dilemma is simple. Civilizations, even extraterrestrial ones, can't grow without limits. Instead of using the question the Fermi Paradox raises to infer that we are the only intelligent species in the galaxy, Haqq-Misra & Baum us it to infer that these civilizations have learned a lesson which we are just starting to grasp. You have to pace yourself. You have to live within your means and exponential growth is not likely to be sustainable. Click here to view the article. (12/29)

Google Lunar X Prize’s Omega Envoy Adds SolidWorks as Sponsor (Source: Earthrise Space)
The Omega Envoy Project has gained SolidWorks as a sponsor for the only student-led entry in a $30 million international competition, sponsored by Google, to land a robot on the moon. The addition of SolidWorks will allow Omega Envoy’s lunar rover development program to accomplish far more than it is currently capable of. SolidWorks is a division of Dassault Systemes, and will be sponsoring the effort of landing a rover on the moon by supplying the Omega Envoy team with CAD and analysis software.

The end goal is to win Google’s $30 million Lunar X PRIZE which will be awarded to the first team to safely land a robot on the surface of the Moon, travel 500 meters over the lunar surface, and send images and data back to the Earth. Omega Envoy's primary sponsor is Earthrise Space, Inc., a non-profit organization that is founded by students and professionals at the University of Central Florida with the common goal of advancing private and commercial space exploration. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is also supporting the Omega Envoy initiative. (12/29)

Japan Announces Proof of Civilization on Earth's Moon (Source: Examiner)
Is this evidence of film manipulation to deceive the public? Are there truly major structures on the Moon? We came across this new footage submitted to You Tube which depicts more evidence of structures and buildings on the moon. Our crew has seen many such illustrations and mind blowing collections of recently released images of buildings on the Lunar surface which were leaked out by NASA operatives and real citizens with the aim of disclosing the lies regarding such projects. According to many of you investigative enthusiasts who have submitted information about the structures on the Moon, some of the building are ancient old belonging to extraterrestrial civilizations and others are new structures built by covert entities based here on Earth. Use your imagination on that one. Click here to read the article. (12/29)

Chinese Scientists Seek Support for Dark Matter Mission (Source: Xinhua)
Chinese scientists are lobbying for greater government support for a groundbreaking project that would see the launch of a satellite to investigate mysterious dark matter in space. The Center for Space Science and Applied Research (CSSAR) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences was focusing on developing China's first astronomical satellite to prove the existence of dark matter.

Dark matter and dark energy represent the vast majority of the mass in the observable universe, but their presence is only inferred from their gravitational effects on visible matter. Dark matter is believed to play a central role in galaxy evolution and the formation of universe. They had no schedule for the satellite project, but supporters are appealing for greater investment from the state. (12/29)

Commercial Satellite Photos Find Wide Range of Applications (Source: AIA)
With three satellites in orbit and another one coming soon, "No place on Earth can escape our gaze," says an official with Virginia-based GeoEye, which provides high-resolution satellite photos to customers ranging from governments to Google. GeoEye-1, launched in September 2008, can spot objects as small as 16 inches, while GeoEye-2, currently in development, promises the ability to identify even smaller subjects. Images provided by GeoEye have helped to track global warming, identify underground nuclear test sites and estimate the crowd size at President Barack Obama's inauguration. (12/29)

A Space Odyssey for California Astronaut (Source: San Joaquin Record)
Stockton has produced a Hollywood star (Janet Leigh) and a famous singer-songwriter (Chris Isaak), but never had a Stockton resident traveled into space. Until 2009. In August, Jose Hernandez made San Joaquin County history by becoming the first astronaut from the county to be part of a U.S. space mission.

Hernandez, 47, was born in French Camp to migrant farm workers Julia and Salvador Hernandez. They are now retired in Lodi. Jose Hernandez grew up in Stockton, helping his parents work in the fields while aspiring to fly into space one day. As a student, he excelled in math and science. Hernandez is a graduate of Franklin High School and University of the Pacific's mechanical engineering program. The engineer's dream of space travel never changed. (12/29)

Russia Launches US Satellite (Source: AFP)
Russia launched a US telecommunications satellite from Kazakhstan on Tuesday. "The launch went as planned, the satellite will reach its orbit at" 0932 GMT, an official from Russia's Roskosmos space agency was quoted as saying by the RIA Novosti news agency. The DirectTV-12 satellite is due to provide communications, Internet and satellite television services for US customers. (12/28)

Texas Senator's Fight to Cut Debt Carries Political Price (Source: Houston Chronicle)
When Texas Sen. John Cornyn recently voted against legislation funding NASA, with its thousands of jobs at Houston’s Johnson’s Space Center, it caused a bit of a stir back home. After all, the Republican senator always prided himself on being a champion of home-state interests. Even Cornyn readily admits that his vote is an about-face. But there’s a clear explanation for the change: Cornyn says he’s trying to strike a balance between his dual roles as a senator seeking federal spending in Texas and as an emerging GOP congressional leader fighting to cut government expenditures. (12/27)

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