October 19, 2010

Mysterious 'Hot Spot' Seen on Distant Exoplanet (Source: Discovery)
The science of exoplanets has exploded in recent years with astronomers able to directly image these worlds, analyze their atmospheres and deduce whether they're habitable (or not). Now, in a new study by the NASA team operating the infrared Spitzer Space Telescope a strange feature has been spotted in the atmosphere of a "hot Jupiter" exoplanet.

As an exoplanet orbits its parent star, one would expect the star-facing side of the world to be the hottest. Hot Jupiters live up to their name as they orbit so close to their stars that their gaseous atmospheres can reach scorching temperatures of a thousand degrees Celsius (1,800 degrees Fahrenheit) or more. With this glowing heat comes a flood of infrared radiation being emitted by the exoplanet and this is the kind of radiation that Spitzer could see.

When watching the gas giant exoplanet Andromedae b, Spitzer scientists noticed something awry: the location of maximum temperature isn't on the star-facing side of the exoplanet. The region where it is hottest is offset. Slight temperature maximum offsets have been seen before on other exoplanets, explained by the possibility of fierce winds ripping around the world, carrying the high temperature atmosphere away from the star-facing side. (10/19)

Purdue University to Open Office at NASA Ames (Source: San Francisco Business Times)
Purdue University will open an office at the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View this month. The West Lafayette, Ind., school calls the new facility a “West Coast Partnership Center” meant to connect Purdue’s engineering and technology programs with Silicon Valley. It’s also meant to draw California companies’ money back to the university for research projects. (10/19)

Earthrise Space Lands $10M NASA Contract (Source: Orlando Business Journal)
Earthrise Space Inc. of Orlando was awarded a $10 million contract from NASA for any data the organization collects in its developments for commercial lunar landing technology. The contract was one of six that NASA awarded to companies. (10/19)

Russia Launches Six U.S. Satellites (Source: Xinhua)
Russia on Tuesday night sent six U. S. communications satellites into space, said the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos). An upgraded Soyuz-2.1a carrier rocket with the Fregat upper stage blasted off from the Kazakh Baikonur space center carrying six Globalstar-2 satellites. (10/19)

Planetary Defense Coordination Office Proposed to Fight Asteroids (Source: Space.com)
A new report calls on NASA to establish a Planetary Defense Coordination Office to lead national and international efforts in protecting Earth against impacts by asteroids and comets. The final report of the Ad-Hoc Task Force on Planetary Defense of the NASA Advisory Council was delivered to the Council this month, proposing five recommendations that suggest how the space agency should organize, acquire, investigate, prepare, and lead national and international efforts in planetary defense against near-Earth objects. (10/19)

Lockheed Martin Says 3Q Profit Fell 28 Percent (Source: AP)
Lockheed Martin reported net income of $571 million for the quarter that ended Sept. 30, down from $797 million a year ago. The company spent $178 million on the voluntary buyout program for executives during the quarter. Lockheed Martin has cut about 10,000 jobs since the beginning of 2009, and said on Tuesday that it employs about 133,000 people. Revenue rose to $11.38 billion from $10.8 billion a year ago. (10/19)

Discovery Fuel Leak Appears to Have Stopped (Source: Florida Today)
A fuel leak in Discovery's orbital engine system appears to have stopped, but leak checks continue this morning, according to Kennedy Space Center officials. Overnight, technicians checked the torque of six bolts on a flange where propellant lines meet in the rear section of Discovery, near the Orbital Maneuvering System pod, or OMS pod, on the right side of the orbiter's tail fin. (10/19)

ADI Warns Russia Space Agency Against Primate Experiments (Source: ADI)
Animal Defenders International (ADI), the leading animal welfare organization that works globally for the protection of animals, launched a campaign to secure public support to prevent the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) from performing radiation experiments on monkeys as part of plans to travel to Mars. This follows a major ADI public and Congressional drive in the U.S. to try and prevent NASA from proceeding with similar experiments on squirrel monkeys. (10/19)

Why Mars? Buzz Aldrin Wants a Lunar Base First (Source: FOX News)
The road to Mars leads right past the moon. So why isn't a return trip on the agenda? That's what Buzz Aldrin wants to know. President Obama recently green-lighted a brand new mission and a new budget for NASA, including a grand long-term goal: a manned mission to Mars. But Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, says the moon is much more essential to American space efforts.

In its haste to make new policy, Aldrin and other experts say, NASA is overlooking a critical component of space travel: a permanent, manned base on the moon that would make reaching Mars a much easier task. Establishing a lunar base could provide a safe source of water and a site for fuel depots, which would reduce the cost of transporting fuel from Earth for an eventual Mars mission, Aldrin told Fox News.com. (10/19)

Buzz Aldrin Dreams of Mars (Source: FOX News)
Picture a sign post next to a remote building: Last gas for the next 50 million miles. A second sign sits beneath it, clarifying the location: Next stop, Mars. Last week, President Obama signed the NASA Authorization Act of 2010, which charts the space agency's trajectory and will shape the nation’s science, aerospace and information technology development for decades to come. And the moon is not a key factor in the plan.

"I just have to say pretty bluntly -- we've been there before," Obama told reporters in April when critics first argued that the moon should not be sidelined. "There's a lot more space to explore and a lot more to learn when we do," he said. You'll hear nothing but agreement from Buzz Aldrin. Aldrin argues that while putting Americans back on the moon is misguided, our lunar sibling is still important for the next big project NASA will tackle: Mars. (10/19)

New Harris Contract Worth $273 Million (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Melbourne-based Harris Corp. has bagged a contract potentially worth $273 million to maintain and otherwise support fighter-jet weaponry and avionics for the Canadian military. Harris said Monday the deal calls for it to provide repair, engineering-support, program-management and other services for the electronics and weapons systems on Canada's fleet of CF-18 Hornet aircraft. Harris' Canadian subsidiary, part of its IT Services unit, is prime contractor on the contract, which includes six base years and three option years that will extend it to the year 2020. (10/19)

Space Station Partners Release International Docking Standard (Source: NASA)
The International Space Station Multilateral Coordination Board (MCB) has approved a docking system standard. The international standard will provide guidelines for a common interface to link future spacecraft ranging from crewed to autonomous vehicles and from low-Earth orbit to deep-space exploration missions. The interface definition document is available at: http://www.internationaldockingstandard.com. (10/19)

Bigelow Aerospace Begins Testing Life Support Systems with Crew (Source: SpaceRef.com)
Bigelow Aerospace has begun the process of human rating its Environmental Control and Life Support System. The testing is in preparation for the 2015 launch of Sundancer - an expandable module approximately 27ft long, 22ft in diameter, with an internal volume of 180m3 and supports a crew of three. When completed, the process will have demonstrated the life support system's ability to safely support a crew of three persons for extended durations.

Company owner Robert T. Bigelow commented, These tests are an initial foundation that verifies safety and performance of our systems. This validation process gives our customers and ourselves confidence that we are heading in the right direction and our flight systems will be safe and reliable. The development of our modules is progressing and should align with the development of commercial crew transportation. The tests are being conducted at the facilities of Orbital Technologies Corporation (ORBITEC) in Madison, WI. (10/19)

New Kazakh Space Program is Ambitious but Within Reach (Source: Central Asia Newswire)
Kazakhstan is looking to the heavens: Its cabinet on Monday approved a draft version of an ambitious new space technology development program to be implemented over the next four years. Under the new program, the government will devote funds to further develop the scientific and technical knowledge of those working in the space agency as well as scientists working within applied science research. Kazakhstan also hopes to expand its fixed satellite communications and its satellite navigation services. (10/19)

Australian Early Warning Systems Reliant on Foreign Satellites (Source: Spatial Source)
Australia is heavily reliant on space-based international systems for early warnings of impending natural disasters, according to evidence given to a UN committee last week. The committee is examining the importance of international cooperation in the peaceful uses of outer space. David Windsor, acting deputy permanent representative to the UN, said Australia was reliant on others for satellites and launch facilities, and on properly functioning international systems of cooperation. (10/19)

Kosmas Visits with 8th Graders During Volusia County Space Week (Source: SpaceRef.com)
Congresswoman Suzanne Kosmas (D-FL) visited with local 8th graders during Volusia County Space Week at the KSC Visitor Complex. Kosmas welcomed the 8th graders to the event and met with students as they spent the day learning about science and space exploration at the Visitor Complex. Volusia County Space Week is part of NASA's efforts to increase student interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) education. All 8th grade students in advanced science classes in Volusia County enjoyed full day field trips to KSC that included space exploration activities designed to emphasize the importance of math and science. (10/19)

TerreStar Considers Chapter 11 Protection (Source: Wall Street Journal)
TerreStar Corp., a mobile-communications business trying to launch a far-reaching wireless network using satellite smart phones, is preparing a possible filing for bankruptcy protection, said people familiar with the matter. TerreStar, laboring under more than $1 billion in debt, could file for bankruptcy protection in coming days, these people said. They cautioned the filing could be delayed. A filing had been expected as early as Sunday. (10/19)

Spaceport America Moves Ahead After Successful Test Flight (Source: KFOX)
Spaceport America Executive Director Rick Homans admits it was a gamble investing millions of New Mexico taxpayers' money into the world's first commercial spaceport, but he said the spaceport and Virgin Galactic get closer and closer to proving doubters wrong. "Five years ago, the list of reasons of why this project could fail was much longer than it is today," said Homans.

That became even more so after the first commercial spaceship flew for the first time a week ago over California's Mojave desert. "To land so absolutely smoothly on a runway, it showed that all of the R&D that had led up to that moment, all the simulations that had led up to that moment, everything was on target and working just as expected," said Homans. (10/19)

Vandenberg AFB Change of Command Set (Source: Lompoc Record)
The 14th Air Force and the Joint Functional Component Command for Space, both with headquarters at Vandenberg Air Force Base, will bid farewell to one leader and greet another. Air Force Lt. Gen. Larry D. James will be replaced by Air Force Maj. Gen. Susan J. Helms, who also has been confirmed for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general. Helms is currently serving as director of plans and policy at U.S. Strategic Command Headquarters. The former astronaut also served as 45th Space Wing commander at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. (10/19)

NASA Working to Fix Shuttle Fuel Leak (Source: Florida Today)
NASA this week hopes to repair a fuel leak aboard Discovery without delaying the shuttle's planned Nov. 1 launch to the International Space Station. "It's not expected to interfere with the targeted launch date," said a NASA spokeswoman. Failure to launch in the first week of November would likely result in an extended delay because of other traffic to the station, periods when station temperatures can't support a docked shuttle mission and other local launches.

But NASA believes the problem can be fixed within a four-day cushion available to handle technical problems and still be ready to launch at 4:40 p.m. Nov. 1. Editor's Note: The next SpaceX Falcon-9 launch, on Nov. 8, would be impacted by a Shuttle launch delay, as SpaceX plans to use a NASA SRB retrieval ship to recover the Falcon-9 first stage. (10/19)

Delta-2 Launch Planned From California on Oct. 29 (Source: SpaceFlightNow.com)
A United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket will deploy the fourth Italian COSMO-SkyMed radar Earth-imaging satellite. The X-Band Synthetic Aperture Radar payload on the spacecraft will be used for civil and military applications. The rocket will fly in the 7420-10 vehicle configuration. ULA will conduct this commercial launch for Boeing. The launch window opens at 7:20 p.m., Pacific Time. (10/19)

SpaceTEC Welcomes Patti Grace Smith to Review Committee (Source: SpaceTEC)
SpaceTEC, a national center for aerospace technical training certification sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), has added Patti Grace Smith to its National Visiting Committee (NVC). Smith is a former director of the FAA Office of Commercial Space Transportation. She will join other NSF NVC members in reviewing SpaceTEC goals and progress for establishing a national training certification regime for space industry technicians. (10/19)

Industry Leaders Gather in Las Cruces for Spaceflight Symposium (Source: Las Cruces Sun-NewS)
Southern New Mexico is on the cusp of a seismic change, and many hope it will give a shot in the arm to the business scene. Do you want to work for a company that builds components for engines for spaceships? Would you like to sell or lease office space to a space tourism company? Maybe you'd like to sell a house to an engineer or open a restaurant to cater to the influx of tourists. No one has a crystal ball to see exactly what the future holds, but many of the folks who will shape the future are in town this week.

As completion of Spaceport America looms, excitement has continued to build, and more and more people seem to accept that commercial space flight will be a reality in southern New Mexico in the not-too-distant future. This week will offer another chance for those who are interested in the business to hobnob with many of the powers that be from around the world. The sixth International Symposium for Personal and Commercial Spaceflight will attract more than 400 attendees. (10/19)

No comments: