March 22, 2013

Meteor Sighting on East Coast (Source: Daily Beast) Those looking to the skies Friday night were treated to a fiery sight as a "large, vibrant" meteor streaked through the sky shortly after 7:50 p.m. ET. Eyewitnesses from the Washington D.C. area as well as New York City and New England reported sightings of the meteor traveling from west to east. Eyewitness accounts also describe the meteor as "very bright green with a yellow tail," suggesting that it meets the criteria of a fireball, which is a larger than normal meteor. (3/22)

FAA Tower Closure List Includes Space Coast Regional (Source: Florida Today)
The FAA announced Friday it would close 149 air-traffic control towers, including the one at Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, that direct flights at smaller airports across the country. The towers will close April 7, as part of $85 billion in federal spending cuts across the government. The closures are part of $627 million that FAA must cut by Sep. 30. The FAA has also announced that most of its 47,000 workers will have unpaid furloughs one day for every two-week pay period through the end of September.

Editor's Note: This finalized list of closures no longer includes the Cecil Field airport/spaceport, or Ellington Field in Texas or the Front Range Airport near Denver, both of which, like Space Coast, are pursuing spaceport designations by the FAA. Space Coast Regional is part of a bid by the Titusville-Cocoa Airport Authority to take over day-to-day management of NASA's Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF), including a concept that would use the Space Coast tower and air traffic management team to support SLF operations. (3/22)

Hagel Pressed to Add East Coast Missile Defense Site (Source: Bloomberg)
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel should include funds in the Pentagon’s next budget request to start work on a U.S. East Coast site for 20 anti-missile interceptors as a defense against Iran, House Republicans said. The plea for “not less than $250 million” in the fiscal 2014 budget to be presented next month was made yesterday in a letter from 19 Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee, led by Representative Howard P. “Buck” McKeon of California, the committee’s chairman.

For the second consecutive year, the lawmakers are pushing for an East Coast array of interceptors to complement the 30 already deployed in a $34 billion system on the West Coast. They seized on Hagel’s announcement March 15 of plans to add 14 more in Alaska by fiscal 2017 to counter escalating threats from North Korea as it seeks to develop nuclear weapons. The anti-missile array’s effectiveness remains in question. Since the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency began testing it in 1999, interceptors have struck dummy targets in eight of 16 tests.

Editor's Note: Several years ago, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station was considered to become the East Coast test site for missile defense systems. Accommodating this type of "quick response" launch requirement at the Eastern Range was viewed as a pathway to more responsive and streamlined range services for commercial and government space launches. Unfortunately, this latest Congressional push for an East Coast capability focuses on Northeast U.S. sites for an operational (not test-oriented) missile defense system. (3/22)

Shiloh Concerns as Governor's Fund Gets Cut (Source: SPACErePORT)
The Florida Legislature has thus far reduced to $16 million a fund requested by Gov. Rick Scott for business recruitment and expansion. Scott had requested about $200 million for the fund (which is separate from other Florida incentive programs). Texas Gov. Rick Perry reportedly has $140 million available for deals in his state. Both states have identified space and aerospace as targeted industries for economic development, and both are courting SpaceX to establish a new space launch complex.

It is unknown how much either state might put on the table for SpaceX, or whether a Texas site will be feasible at all under FAA's spaceport licensing regime (not to mention the international overflight approvals that may be necessary). If Florida's incentive funding falls short, the state's competitiveness may rely on other factors, like the availability of Shiloh, NASA's interpretation of the Webb-McNamara agreement, the Cape's wider array of available launch azimuths, and workforce and infrastructure synergies at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

NASA is still considering the Shiloh request, but is trying to find alternatives to a title transfer to Space Florida. (Some might question whether KSC is more interested in luring SpaceX to use Launch Complex 39A than in allowing Space Florida to build competing facilities to the north.) Space Florida, meanwhile, has been meeting with local environmental, city, and county organizations to promote Shiloh, and they've seen a surprising level of support from organized labor groups, which normally might oppose a land transfer on the basis of its impact on Davis-Bacon and other labor regulations that might be applicable only on federally controlled launch sites. (3/22)

Who Will Replace Lt. Governor Carroll? (Source: BayNews9)
Politicians, members of the media, and some Florida residents have started guessing on who Gov. Rick Scott will pick to replace Lt. Gov. Jennifer Carroll. Scott says he plans to start looking as soon as the current legislative session ends in May. The Tampa Bay Times, suggests a Hispanic from an urban district who focuses on education would make a good selection. Editor's Note: Another candidate rumored to be under consideration is Space Coast Sen. Thad Altman, who chairs the Military, Veterans Affairs, Space and Domestic Security Committee. (3/22)

Dinosaur-Killing Space Rock 'Was a Comet' (Source: BBC)
The space rock that hit Earth 65 million years ago and is widely implicated in the end of the dinosaurs was likely a speeding comet. That is the conclusion of research which suggests the 180km-wide Chicxulub crater in Mexico was carved out by a smaller object than previously thought. Many scientists consider a large and relatively slow moving asteroid to have been the likely culprit.

But other researchers were more cautious about the results. "The overall aim of our project is to better characterise the impactor that produced the crater in the Yucatan peninsula [in Mexico]," Jason Moore said. The space rock gave rise to a global layer of sediments enriched in the chemical element iridium, in concentrations much higher than naturally occurs; it must have come from outer space.

However, in the first part of their work, the team suggests that frequently quoted iridium values are incorrect. "You'd need an asteroid of about 5km diameter to contribute that much iridium and osmium. But an asteroid that size would not make a 200km-diameter crater," said Dr Moore. "So we said: how do we get something that has enough energy to generate that size of crater, but has much less rocky material? That brings us to comets." (3/22)

Removing Orbital Debris With Less Risk (Source: GAC)
This article compares in-orbit debris removal options regarding their potential risk of creating new orbital debris or disabling working satellites during deorbit operation. Deorbit devices have been proposed for dealing with the growing problems posed by orbital debris. The authors describe these devices that can use large structures that interact with the Earth's atmosphere, magnetic field or its solar environment to deorbit large objects more rapidly than natural decay.

Some devices may be better than others relative to the likelihood of collisions during their operation. The authors also characterize two types of collision risk, that is, the risk of creating new debris-generating objects in hypervelocity impacts by high-energy collisions and the risk of disabling operational satellites by low-energy collisions. The implication of this new approach to determining risk indicates that ultra-thin, inflation-maintained drag enhancement devices pose the least risk of creating new debris or disabling operating satellites, while electromagnetic tethers are shown to have a very large risk for disabling operating satellites. Click here. (3/22)

New Space Innovation Center Launches (Source: General Dynamics)
The new EDGE Space Innovation Center is officially open following a ribbon-cutting ceremony on March 22. Housed within the General Dynamics' Seabrook, Md., facility, the 13th and newest EDGE Innovation Center is less than two miles from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. General Dynamics C4 Systems sponsors the EDGE Innovation Network.

Offering an open, collaborative environment, the new Space Innovation Center will connect NASA and other government agency professionals with more than 350 EDGE Innovation Network members from industry and academia.  The facility comprises meeting rooms and demonstration space designed to encourage the free-flow of ideas and solutions for next-generation spacecraft, scientific instruments, in-flight operations and the critical ground systems that keep missions on course. (3/22)

Thuraya Ringing Up Higher Sales after 4-Year Slide (Source: Space News)
Mobile satellite services provider Thuraya Telecommunications Co. has reversed a four-year slide in revenue and posted an 83 percent increase in sales of its dual-mode telephone handset in 2012, Thuraya Chief Executive Samer Halawi said. Halawi said total revenue growth in 2012 was about 4 percent, with recurring revenue — meaning revenue not resulting from specific events like the Arab Spring uprisings — growing by 9 percent from 2011. (3/22)

Is Earth Rarer Than We Think? (Source: Discovery)
“It is dangerous to assume life is common across the Universe.” These were the words of Charles Cockell at a Royal Society event on March 11 this year. While many people have freely debated the existence of extraterrestrial life, Cockell’s words carry a bit more weight than most. He happens to be the director of the U.K. Center for Astrobiology, based at the University of Edinburgh.

Bringing to mind the argument made by Fermi’s paradox — if the universe is teeming with life, where exactly is everyone? — this may seem at first to be a slightly pessimistic outlook. Evidently, however, the intention is not so much to pour cold water on the astrobiology research community, but to call into question our assumptions in the search for life elsewhere. As Cockell went on to explain, ”People are encouraged to think that not finding signs of life is a ‘failure’ when in fact it would tell us a lot about the origins of life.” (3/22)

NASA Awards Contract Modification for Support at Michoud Facility (Source: NASA)
NASA has signed a one-year contract option with Jacobs Technology to continue manufacturing support and facilities operations at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans. The one-year contract option increases the contract's value by approximately $38 million, and the IDIQ potential maximum order value increases by $100 million for a new maximum potential contract value of approximately $477 million.

The contract will support critical operations under way at Michoud to advance the nation's human spaceflight endeavors, including work on the Orion spacecraft and modifications to manufacture the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System rocket. (3/22)

Asteroid-Smashing Space Probes Set for Cosmic Crash in 2022 (Source:
Scientists in Europe and the United States are moving forward with plans to intentionally smash a spacecraft into a huge nearby asteroid in 2022 to see inside the space rock. The ambitious European-led Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment mission, or AIDA, is slated to launch in 2019 to send two spacecraft — one built by scientists in the U.S, and the other by the European Space Agency — on a three-year voyage to the asteroid Didymos and its companion.

Didymos has no chance of impacting the Earth, which makes it a great target for this kind of mission, scientists involved in the mission said. Didymos is actually a binary asteroid system consisting of two separate space rocks bound together by gravity. The main asteroid is enormous, at 800 meters across. It is orbited by a smaller asteroid about 150 meters wide. The Didymos asteroid setup is an intriguing target for the AIDA mission because it will give scientists their first close look at a binary space rock system while also yielding new insights into ways to deflect dangerous asteroids that could pose an impact threat to the Earth. (3/22)

Mars Colony Challenger Ready to Play (Source: Hobby Space)
Mars Colony Challenger is a 3D first / third person game that offers you the challenge of setting up a remote base on the surface of Mars. At its core, the game was derived from a simulator where everything is interactively tied together. You will have to setup and maintain the equipment that supplies pressure and a breathable atmosphere to the base. You are also tasked with growing food, setting up communications and extracting resources in order to make the base self-sufficient.

The game offers three zones, each with their unique challenges. There are 7 phases to each mission. Each of the phases expands the base and offers a new set of orders for you to complete. You advance through the ranks as you score points for your performance. Click here. (3/22)

Temporary Spending Bill Pushes Back DOD Furloughs (Source: Politico)
Furlough notices for civilian Pentagon employees are on hold for two weeks as the department combs through a continuing resolution spending bill just passed by Congress. The measure appears to free up some funds that could shrink the number of furlough days for Pentagon workers. The delay means the first furlough notices are set to go out April 5. (3/21)

Defense Analysts: DOD Must Carry Out Sequester Cuts (Source: Reuters)
The Pentagon should begin tackling the factors that drive up spending and start planning for sequestration cuts, defense analysts say, rather than hoping Congress will reverse the sequester. The Defense Department must work to contain and shrink the climbing costs of acquisition, payroll and overhead, they say. "The reality is they need to start planning for this staying in effect, and even if they start right now it's a little too late," said Todd Harrison, a defense budget analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. (3/21)

Attorney: Former NASA Contractor Subject of 'Witch Hunt' (Source: Daily Press)
A local attorney has accused a Northern Virginia congressman of spearheading a "witch hunt" against his client, a Chinese national facing charges of lying to federal investigators last weekend. Bo Jiang, a former NASA Langley Research Center contractor, was stopped by the FBI on Saturday before getting on a plane to China. He was charged with lying to federal investigators after allegedly telling them that he was carrying fewer computer storage devices than he really was.

But Jiang's lawyer, Fernando Groene — a former federal prosecutor who now practices out of Williamsburg — said he's not going to let Wolf misportray Jiang. Groene briefly spoke to reporters after a federal court hearing Thursday in which Jiang's bond hearing was continued until next week. When asked by a reporter if Jiang was going to plead not guilty to the charges next week, Groene answered with his own question: "To the witch hunt for which he's being made a scapegoat, or the (allegations) for which he's charged?"

Groene challenged Wolf to come to the trial in Newport News federal court to present his evidence against Jiang. If Congressman Wolf testifies as a government witness, Groene said, "We'll be glad to cross-examine him." Asked why Jiang was going to China, Groene said, "He was going home." Groene said Jiang had lost his job at the National Institute of Aerospace in Hampton in January, for reasons that Groene said were not performance related. (3/21)

Bo Jiang to Plead Not Guilty (Source: Washington Post)
A former contractor arrested while trying to fly to China will plead not guilty to lying to federal authorities about what electronics he was taking with him. Bo Jiang was arrested at Dulles International Airport on Saturday while trying to fly to Beijing on a one-way ticket, according to court records. An affidavit signed by an FBI agent says Jiang was under investigation for possible violations of the Arms Control Act when he was approached by federal agents and asked what electronics he was taking with him to China.

The affidavit says he told Homeland Security agents that he had a cellphone, a memory stick, an external hard drive and a new computer. However, the affidavit says when agents conducted a search they found an additional laptop, an old hard drive and a SIM card for a cell phone. The affidavit says Jiang previously traveled to China with a laptop belonging NASA that is believed to contain sensitive information. Jiang’s attorney Fernando Groene said Jiang was unfairly targeted and is looking forward to being vindicated. (3/21)

Lightfoot Will Lead Foreign Security Probe (Source: Huntsville Times)
NASA Associate Administrator Robert Lightfoot will lead a new in-house probe of foreign access to NASA field centers in the wake of the arrest of a Chinese national allegedly attempting to smuggle data out of the U.S. to China. Lightfoot was director of the Marshall Space Flight Center before being promoted in 2012 to the top civil service position in the agency. (3/21)

Stratolaunch to Scale (Sources: Parabolic Arc)
Ever wonder just how big the Stratolaunch carrier aircraft will be when it gets built? This picture provides a pretty good idea. That’s one of the two Boeing 747-422 jetliners that Scaled Composites is stripping for parts parked in front of the Stratolaunch hangar in Mojave. The white doors show the outline with clearance of the Stratolaunch aircraft, which will have a 385-foot wingspan.

It makes that 747 look pretty small. And that plane is the third largest civilian jetliner ever built behind the 747-800 and the Airbus A380. It will be really interesting to see the Stratolaunch rolled out of that hangar a few years from now. Carbon Goose? Space Goose? Birdzilla? I don’t know if those nicknames will be adequate once this thing starts flying. And here's a graphic of the evolved design for the Stratolaunch carrier aircraft and an Orbital Sciences Corp. launch vehicle underneath its wing. Stratolaunch is expected to fly from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport.

Editor's Note: Let's not forget that Stratolaunch has identified the Cape Canaveral Spaceport (specifically the KSC Shuttle Landing Facility) as the frontrunner site for future launch operations. (3/22)

Way, Way, Way Over the Rainbow: Space Travel (Source: Huffington Post)
It's not the most colorful place on the planet, but that's only because it isn't on the planet. Space tourism is going to happen. In fact, it's happening as we speak -- and far be it from me not to jump on this bandwagon. But contrary to popular grumblings, it is not the providence of NASA to get private citizens into orbit (it'd be nice, of course, but NASA is ultimately a science-driven organization).

No sort of legal prohibition exists to keep astro-tourists on the ground; rather it is the cost and the lack of necessary infrastructure -- the launch/landing sites, and most importantly, the vehicles themselves -- that snarls up the plans of many a Starfleet wannabe. In somewhat-belated honor of Sally Ride, quite possibly the first lesbian in space, here are what really are the very first steps into the Final Frontier. Click here. (3/21)

Off-Road Robot Could Help Revolutionize the Exploration of Other Planets (Source: io9)
This is the future of space exploration: a robot who can move fast though slippery, sandy terrain. With the help of new experimental techniques, robots inspired by this one could one day be used for search-and-rescue missions, or exploring the surface of Mars, with unprecedented speed and mobility. This robot is the spawn of a new field called "terradynamics," devoted to exploring how legs and bodies (like those of animals and robots) move through granular media like sand. Click here. (3/21)

Mitsubishi (Melco) Completes Satellite Factory Expansion (Source: Space News)
Mitsubishi Electric Co. (Melco) of Japan on March 22 said it has completed a major expansion of its satellite production facility in Kamakura that will double production capacity to eight large satellites per year. The investment, of 3 billion Japanese yen ($36 million) was made in 2011 to capture what Melco says will be increased demand, in Japan and internationally, for telecommunications, navigation and Earth observation satellites. (3/22)

Cosmonauts Prove Mars Travelers Can Land (Source: Space Safety)
You might have thought that cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin had completed their mission when they returned to Earth on March 16 following 143 days aboard the International Space Station. But the duo still had one important job left: landing on Mars. The Russian Space Training Center announced that the day they landed, Novitsky and Tarelkin successfully simulated a manual landing on Mars in the Center’s centrifuge.

“Because it takes at least half a year to reach Mars, we had no data until yesterday, whether cosmonauts will be fit and capable of conducting a manually controlled landing on Mars in the future,” said Boris Kryuchkov, a deputy head of the Space Training Center. “We now know that it is real, because for the first time in history cosmonauts Oleg Novitsky and Yevgeny Tarelkin, who returned from the ISS on March 16, have confirmed such possibility.” (3/22)

Embry-Riddle Trustees Give Final Approval for Space Operations Degree (Source: SPACErePORT)
The final OK has been given for Embry-Riddle's Daytona Beach campus to start offering bachelor's degrees in Commercial Space Operations. The university's Board of Trustees (which includes Astronaut Nicole Stott) met on Thursday and approved three new degree programs. Plans for the space operations degree were unveiled in February at the FAA Commercial Space Transportation Conference in Washington DC. The first classes under the program will begin in the fall semester of 2013. Click here. (3/21)

Saturn Engines Return to the Cape (Source: Collect Space)
The Apollo F-1 engines that were recovered from the ocean floor by founder Jeff Bezos arrived on shore in Florida on Thursday, more than 40 years after they were last at Cape Canaveral attached to a Saturn V rocket poised for launch. The parts for two of the colossal engines were offloaded by workers from the Seabed Worker, the multi-purpose vessel that for three weeks served as the platform for the privately-funded expedition. The Apollo engines will now be restored to halt the effects of corrosion and prepare them for display. Click here. (3/22)

Return to the Cape: The Apollo F-1 engines that were recovered from the ocean floor by founder Jeff Bezos arrived on shore in Florida on Thursday, more than 40 years after they were last at Cape Canaveral attached to a Saturn V rocket poised for launch. The parts for two of the colossal engines were offloaded by workers from the Seabed Worker, the multi-purpose vessel that for three weeks served as the platform for the privately-funded expedition. The Apollo engines will now be restored to halt the effects of corrosion and prepare them for display.

Ex-Im Satellite Financing Push May Mitigate Defense Downturn, Foreign Competition (Source: Space News)
The U.S. Export-Import Bank has financed 60 percent of all U.S. commercial satellite exports over the past two years and will maintain that effort as U.S. manufacturers turn to the commercial markets in a declining defense spending environment, Ex-Im Bank President Fred P. Hochberg told satellite industry officials March 18.

In a speech demonstrating just how aggressive Ex-Im has become as it vies with its French counterpart, Coface, to promote its domestic industry, Hochberg said financing will no longer be an issue for U.S. satellite exporters. “We don’t want you to lose a sale due to a lack of financing,” Hochberg said. “You may lose it on price, or schedule, or for some other reason — but not on financing.

Ex-Im’s awakening to the satellite sector as a source of economic growth and job creation in the United States has been dramatic. The bank financed about $50 million per year in satellite project loans in the eight years through 2009. In 2010, it watched helplessly as U.S. mobile satellite services provider Iridium Communications secured a $1.8 billion loan guarantee from Coface, meaning Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy is building Iridium’s 81 satellites. (3/22)

Shuttle Suborbital Prototype Listed on National Register (Source: Florida Today)
The Orbiter Enterprise, OV-101, (now on display at the Intrepid Museum in New York City) is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places in the context of the U.S. Space Shuttle Program (1969-2011) under Criterion A in the areas of Space Exploration and Transportation and under Criterion C in the area of Engineering. As Enterprise has achieved exceptional significance within the past 50 years, Criteria Consideration G applies.

The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation's historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America's historic and archeological resources. (3/22)

Moon Express Raises $500,000 (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Moon Express has raised $500,000 in equity, debt and convertible promissory notes from a single investor, according to a March 12 filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). The half million dollars is part of a $2 million offering. This is the first time in four attempts that the company has hit pay dirt in its offerings, according to SEC filings summarized here. (3/21)

Astrium Poised To Partner with MDA Corp. on Earth Observation (Source: Space News)
Astrium expects to strike a strategic partnership on radar Earth observation satellites by June with Canada’s MDA Corp. under which MDA would build a ground segment to be interoperable with Canada’s future RCM C-band and Germany’s future TerraSAR-X 2 X-band radar Earth observation satellites. The dual-feed ground network would transform separate national projects into a de facto constellation, making it easier for Astrium to justify the purchase of TerraSAR-X 2. (3/21)

Dragon Gets 'Go' for Return to Earth on Monday (Source: Florida Today)
International Space Station managers gave a “go” for SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule to depart the outpost early Monday. Station astronauts Tom Marshburn and Chris Hadfield plan to pull the Dragon from its docking port with a robotic arm at 5:05 a.m. EDT, then release it into space at 7:49 a.m. Packed with 2,668 pounds of equipment and science experiments, the Dragon is expected to re-enter the atmosphere and splash down in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Baja California at 1:19 p.m. EDT. (3/21)

Big Bang’s Afterglow Shows Universe is Older Than Thought (Source: Washington Post)
A new examination of what is essentially the universe’s birth certificate allows astronomers to tweak the age, girth and speed of the cosmos, more secure in their knowledge of how it evolved, what it’s made of and its ultimate fate. Sure, the universe suddenly seems to be showing its age, now calculated at 13.8 billion years — 80 million years older than scientists had thought. It’s got about 3 percent more girth — technically it’s more matter than mysterious dark energy — and it is expanding about 3 percent more slowly.

But with all that comes the wisdom for humanity. Scientists seem to have gotten a good handle on the Big Bang and what happened just afterward, and may actually understand a bit more about the cosmic question of how we are where we are. All from a baby picture of fossilized light and sound.

The snapshot from a European satellite had scientists from Paris to Washington celebrating a cosmic victory of knowledge Thursday — basic precepts that go back all the way to Einstein and relativity. The Planck space telescope mapped background radiation from the early universe. The results bolstered a key theory called “inflation,” which says the universe burst from subatomic size to its vast expanse in a fraction of a second just after the Big Bang that created the cosmos. (3/21)

Combating the Perception of a Lack of Consensus (Source: Space Politics)
In December, the National Research Council issued a report on NASA’s strategic direction that concluded that there was “no national consensus” on NASA’s strategic goals, including a lack of widespread acceptance of plans for a human asteroid mission by 2025. I asked NASA administrator Charles Bolden if he agreed with that conclusion. Before I could complete the question, though, he offered a one-word answer: “No.”

What, then, can NASA do to combat the perception of that lack of consensus identified in the report? “All we can do is to present to people over and over and over again what the President and Congress have told us to do, and that establishes the national consensus,” he said. “NASA has been under this kind of budget pressure from the time of [former administrator] Mike Griffin and even before Mike Griffin,” he said.

Bolden said he wasn’t bothered that some even at NASA weren’t fond of a human asteroid mission. “Show me an organization where 100 percent of the people agree on anything,” he said. “We are all smart people. We all have an idea of where we ought to be going.” “That’s what the President told us to do, and that’s what the Congress told us to do,” he said of the 2025 asteroid mission. (3/21)

Europe Addressing Space Weather Effects on Aviation (Source: Space Safety)
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Eurocontrol, the European Organization for the Safety of Air Navigation that coordinates air traffic control for all Europe, organized a workshop on March 20 in Cologne to specifically address the effects of the space water on aviation and find an appropriate response.

“We don’t want that experience [disruptions of flights caused by volcano’s ashes] again,” said EASA Deputy Director of Strategic Safety, John Vincent. “This workshop has been organized to understand where expertise lies in Europe.” Space weather refers to perturbations in Earth’s magnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere coming from the Sun and solar wind. (3/22)

Pentagon: Russian Satellite Was not Hit by Chinese Orbital Debris (Source: Space News)
An experimental Russian-laser ranging satellite that at least one prominent scientist suggested was hit in January by debris from a 2007 Chinese anti-satellite test most likely broke apart for an entirely different reason, according to the Pentagon. Lt. Col. Monica Matoush, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, said it is unlikely that Russia’s Ball Lens in the Space, or BLITS, satellite was hit by debris from the test, in which China destroyed one of its own satellites. (3/21)

Latest Landsat Mission Returns First Images (Source: Space News)
The Landsat Data Continuity Mission (LDCM), the eighth in a series of Earth-orbiting satellites that have been observing the planet since 1972, returned its first images from space on March 18, NASA and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) said in a joint press release. LDCM’s two main instruments, the Operational Land Imager and Thermal Infrared Sensor instruments simultaneously captured an image of the intersection of the United States Great Plains and the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming and Colorado. (3/21)

NASA Hosts Its First Google+ Hangout in Spanish (Source: NASA)
NASA is expanding its reach to the nation's growing Spanish-speaking population by holding its first-ever Google+ Hangout en Espanol on March 28. As part of Science4Girls, a NASA initiative to partner with libraries during National Women's History Month, participants will be able to learn more about the life and career of two prominent Hispanic women at NASA. (3/21)

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