December 6, 2014

Pulsars with Black Holes Could Hold the 'Holy Grail' of Gravity (Source: Space Daily)
The intermittent light emitted by pulsars, the most precise timekeepers in the universe, allows scientists to verify Einstein's theory of relativity, especially when these objects are paired up with another neutron star or white dwarf that interferes with their gravity. However, this theory could be analysed much more effectively if a pulsar with a black hole were found, except in two particular cases, according to researchers from Spain and India. Click here. (12/5)

Mini Rovers Hold Big Promise for Community College Students (Source: Space Daily)
Four miniature rovers will go head-to-head this week at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, as community college students across the state - and one from Hawaii - get a first-hand look at what it's like to work on a robotic space mission. (12/5)

Not Everyone Is Impressed By NASA’s Orion Launch (Source: Bloomberg)
NASA’s Orion spacecraft safely completed its first test flight on Friday. And despite the program's price tag, even congressional deficit hawks are willing to overlook government spending when it comes to space travel and the jobs it creates. In a statement, Senator Orrin Hatch called the launch “a major step towards deep-space exploration that is long overdue,” while Senator Marco Rubio called it “an exciting new chapter for America’s space program and for Florida’s continuing role as the nation’s spaceport.”

When the NASA Authorization Act came up in June, only two representatives voted against it—Paul Broun and Mark Sanford. In response to a request for comment on Friday’s launch, Sanford’s office referred to his earlier post on the NASA vote, in which he argued that, as impressive as space travel is, it would be cheaper in the private sector. Sanford has a point—despite the two private sector disasters this year, the private sector has spent less money developing its own passenger space shuttles. (12/5)

SSL Takes Hispasat Contract Away from Orbital Sciences (Source: Space News)
Satellite fleet operator Hispasat of Spain has selected Space Systems/Loral (SSL) to build the Ku- and Ka-band Amazonas 5 satellite for broadband and telecommunications services in Latin America in a move that cancels the planned Amazonas 4B satellite that Orbital Sciences Corp. was expected to build. (12/5)

Star-Gazing Tourists Flock to Africa's Darkest Place (Source: Space Daily)
Not many tourist spots boast of being dark and difficult to get to, but the Namib desert is one of a number of remote "Dark Sky Reserves" drawing in stargazers for a celestial safari. In the cool night air, an urbane Austrian tourist climbs rocky steps behind a chic hotel lodge and peers into a matt-black metal cylinder containing a spine of mirrors and lenses that reveal the universe.

"My mum wanted to set him on fire yesterday when he said, 'We are looking ten million years in the past!'" he joked, pointing at the resident astronomer. Not everyone is ready to face the enormity of the universe laid out so starkly by powerful magnification and the crisp desert sky. But across the starkly beautiful Namib, hotels and lodges are betting that the stars will lead to more business rather than a spike in Galileo-esque witch hunts. (12/5)

UN Passes Resolution Banning Arms Race in Outer Space (Source: Space Daily)
The United Nations General Assembly passed a draft resolution on No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space (NFP) proposed by Russia, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Thursday. "Such a bright result that the international community's will has vividly shown that our initiative is important, modern and enjoys broad support," a statement published on the Russian Foreign Ministry's website said.

The draft resolution was adopted during the assembly's 69th session with 126 votes in favor and 4 votes against. Georgia, Israel, Ukraine and the United States were the four countries that opposed the draft resolution. The document was drafted as a continuation of the original Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS) resolution submitted by Egypt and Sri Lanka. The resolution is passed annually by the majority of UN member-states. (12/5)

U.S. To Expedite Orbital Collision-avoidance Warnings to China (Source: Space News)
The Chinese government has asked the U.S. Air Force to send warnings of potential satellite collisions directly to its space operators, with no detour through the U.S. State Department, the service’s top space official said. Gen. John Hyten said the Air Force has long provided data on any potential on-orbit collisions to the parties involved. In the case of China and Russia, however, that data must be routed through the State Department, and often through the Chinese and Russian foreign ministries, before reaching their military satellite operators.

China recently asked that the data be sent directly to its satellite operators in the name of expediency and Hyten said the Air Force would comply the next time it spots a potential collision involving Chinese space hardware. “It takes a long time to get through that process. Sometimes too long,” Hyten said. “The Chinese just a little while ago said, ‘We’d very much like that data direct.’” (12/5)

Iridium Says Satellite Working Fine Despite USAF Debris Sighting (Source: Space News)
Mobile satellite services operator Iridium Communications on Dec. 5 reaffirmed that its Iridium 91 satellite was fully operational in orbit and had experienced no breakup or other anomalies despite a U.S. Air Force assessment to the contrary. Via the Space Track orbit-determination service, the U.S. Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) on Dec. 4 identified several new pieces of debris as coming from Iridium 91.

An Iridium spokeswoman said the company had no reason to believe Iridium 91 was struck by a piece of debris insofar as the satellite was working fine. T.S. Kelso, a senior research astrodynamicist for Analytical Graphics’ Center for Space Standards and Innovation, said JSpOC cannot track objects below around 10 centimeters in diameter. To have registered four objects as Iridium debris, the objects would need to be fairly large. (12/5)

Fun New Documentary ‘America’s Animal Astronaut Heroes’ is a Perfect Holiday Gift (Source: PR Web)
This is a must-see documentary, not only for space enthusiasts, but also for anyone interested in history and in search of the perfect family viewing and discussion experience. If your child loves animals or loves space, they will love America's Animal Astronaut Heroes. Click here. (12/5)

Uwingu Offers Crater Naming Rights for Mars One Mapping (Source: Daily Camera)
If the Mars One mission to put a permanent human settlement on Mars succeeds, its pioneers could be carrying a map that currently Earth-bound folks helped create. And the work of building that map now comes with a holiday-season tie-in.

Uwingu, a Boulder-based company aimed at helping people connect with space exploration and astronomy, has created what it bills as a "worldwide. first-ever" opportunity to celebrate the holidays by naming a feature on Mars as a gift — for as little as $5. (12/5)

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