October 31, 2015

First Shots of Cassini's Enceladus Flyby (Source: WIRED)
Thirty miles is not very far. Shoot, on vast cosmic scales where distance is measured in terms of how far light travels in a year, being thirty miles from anything is basically like touching. And yet thirty miles is all that was between the spacecraft Cassini and the Saturnian moon Enceladus on October 28. Or more importantly, 30 miles was the minuscule distance between Cassini’s camera and the moon’s icy, fractured surface. That space was not a vacuum. Enceladus is constantly spewing water from a subsurface ocean—or oceans. Click here. (10/30)

NASA's GRACE Satellites Evaluate Drought in Southeast Brazil (Source: Space Daily)
Empty water reservoirs, severe water rationing, and electrical blackouts are the new status quo in major cities across southeastern Brazil where the worst drought in 35 years has desiccated the region. A new NASA study estimates that the region has lost an average 15 trillion gallons of water per year from 2012 to 2015.

Augusto Getirana, a hydrologist at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, in Greenbelt, Maryland, analyzed the amount water stored in aquifers and rivers across Brazil from 2002 to 2015, interested in understanding the depth of the current drought. (10/29)

NASA Finds Mass Gains of Antarctic Ice Sheet Greater Than Losses (Source: Space Daily)
A new NASA study says that an increase in Antarctic snow accumulation that began 10,000 years ago is currently adding enough ice to the continent to outweigh the increased losses from its thinning glaciers. The research challenges the conclusions of other studies, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) 2013 report, which says that Antarctica is overall losing land ice.

According to the new analysis of satellite data, the Antarctic ice sheet showed a net gain of 112 billion tons of ice a year from 1992 to 2001. That net gain slowed to 82 billion tons of ice per year between 2003 and 2008. (10/31)

For DigitalGlobe, Government Business Steady But Commercial Disappoints (Source: Space News)
Satellite geospatial imagery and services provider DigitalGlobe on Oct. 29 said it is revamping its commercial strategy in the face of disappointing sales and would focus on profitability and share repurchases to bolster its sagging stock price.

The company said that while its business with the U.S. and other government defense and intelligence agencies was doing well, its investments in specific commercial vertical markets had not paid off and would be scaled back. (10/30)

Boeing Building Mobile Broadcasting Satellite for Chinese Market (Source: Space News)
Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems has begun construction of an L-band mobile broadcasting satellite for the Chinese market under a contract with a New York-based company acting on behalf of a Cayman Islands-based, Hong Kong-traded company affiliated with China Telecom. (10/30)

The Real Story of The Secret Space Station (Source: Daily Beast)
In the late 1960s, the Air Force came close to completing a spacecraft capable of snapping photos of the Soviet Union in unprecedented detail. But this wasn’t just another satellite. As its name indicates, the Manned Orbital Laboratory was designed to carry a crew of two military astronauts who would have lived aboard the spacecraft during its 40-day missions orbiting hundreds of miles over Earth, pointing the craft’s huge, powerful telescopes and sophisticated radar at targets down below. Click here. (10/31)

Lowe's Teams with Made in Space on 3D Printer (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Lowe’s Innovation Labs has partnered with Made in Space, to become the first to launch a commercial 3D printer to space. The printer, the first permanent additive manufacturing facility for the International Space Station (ISS), will bring tools and technology to astronauts in space. At the same time here on earth, Lowe’s is launching the next-generation Lowe’s Holoroom – an in-store and at-home virtual reality design tool that enables customers to envision the room of their dreams. (10/30)

Coalition for [Deep] Space Exploration Restructures with New Leader (Source: Parabolic Arc)
The Coalition for Space Exploration, an ad-hoc organization of space industry businesses and advocacy groups, today announced it is taking formal steps to provide a single, unified voice for the deep-space exploration industry. The organization is seeking 501 (c) 6 status, appointing an executive director and changing the name of the organization to the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration.

“Continued investment in deep-space exploration systems and science missions is critical to U.S. leadership at home and abroad. Because it is multi-faceted, it requires long-term assurance from the nation, industry, suppliers and advocacy groups to push for future missions and to sustain robust support,” said Dr. Mary Lynne Dittmar, the Coalition’s new executive director.

Dittmar is a 25-year veteran of the space industry specializing in strategy, public engagement and space policy. She was a member of the Human Spaceflight Committee at the National Research Council, and currently serves as a member of the Space Studies Board of the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. As CEO of her own consultancy firm, she has guided defense, aerospace and technology firms while providing insight into legislative, regulatory and political processes at national and regional levels. (10/29)

Government Investment in Space to Top $80 Billion by 2024 (Source: Parabolic Arc)
According to Euroconsult’s newly released report, Government Space Programs: Strategic Outlook, Benchmarks & Forecasts, a new growth cycle in government space spending is expected to start and average 2.1% over the next ten years worldwide, reaching $81.4 billion by 2024. Click here. (10/28)

Atlas V Rocket Blasts Off From Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: MyNews13)
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launched from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport Saturday afternoon. The Atlas V carried a GPS satellite for the U.S. Air Force into orbit. It’s called the GPS IIF-11 and is the 11th in a series of 12 satellites designed to improve navigational data for troops around the world. (10/31)

What Makes a Volcano Sacred? (Source: The Atlantic)
Mauna Kea, on the Big Island of Hawaii, is a tremendous shield volcano, the second largest in our solar system. Measuring from its base on the ocean bed, it is the tallest mountain on Earth. But Mauna Kea is just a baby by geologic standards, among the newest volcanoes on a 40-million-year-old archipelago’s youngest island.

At the time when Mauna Kea formed, the global population of human ancestors numbered in the tens of thousands. And it wasn’t until sometime between 300 A.D. and 800 A.D. that ocean-faring voyagers crossed the Pacific in double-hulled canoes to make their home in the Hawaiian Islands. To subsequent generations of Native Hawaiians, Mauna Kea was and had always been a temple.

In the Kumulipo, the ancient chant that tells the story of how the Hawaiian Islands and the Hawaiian people came to be, the volcano is considered kino lau, the physical form of the gods. Mauna Kea is the son of Wākea, the sky father, and of Papahānaumoku, the Earth mother. (10/30)

Google, Facebook, SpaceX, OneWeb Plan to Beam Internet Everywhere (Source: CNN)
About 57% of the world population is offline — mostly because of unavailable Internet in poor or rural countries. The United Nations set a goal of getting that number down to 50% by the end of 2020. But the U.N. now admits, that's not going to happen. In fact, overall Internet access growth is expected to dip by .5% this year.

For advocates like Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, that's bad news. His goal of "connecting everyone" via Internet is "one of the fundamental challenges of our generation," he said. Internet access, he believes, could end extreme poverty. Now Google, Facebook, SpaceX and other outfits plan to beam the Internet from either low-orbiting satellites or high-flying drones and balloons. Here's a quick rundown of four big players. (10/30)

Atlas Price Cut Helps Orbital ATK Shake Off Antares Failure (Source: Space News)
Satellite and rocket builder Orbital ATK on Oct. 27 said it had already benefited from price cuts to the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket in its contract for a March 2016 launch of Orbital’s Cygnus space station cargo transporter.

Orbital Chief Executive David W. Thompson declined to detail the reductions the company was able to secure for the launch but said ULA’s announced effort to bring Atlas 5 prices down from $150 million to something closer to $100 million was confirmed with the new contract. ULA is “serious about getting Atlas down to [those] levels. … We certainly saw some of that” in booking the March 2016 flight, Thompson said. (10/28)

NASA Picks Atlas for TRDS Launch from Cape Canaveral Spaceport (Source: NASA)
NASA has selected United Launch Services LLC of Centennial, Colorado, to provide launch services for the agency’s Tracking and Data Relay Satellite-M (TDRS-M) mission. The mission will launch in October 2017 aboard an Atlas V 401 rocket from Launch Complex 41 at the Cape Canaveral Spaceport. The total cost for NASA to launch TDRS-M is approximately $132.4 million, which includes the launch service, spacecraft processing, payload integration, tracking, data and telemetry, and other launch support requirements. (10/30)

Balloon-Based Space Tourism a Big Step Closer to Becoming a Reality (Source: Space.com)
Arizona-based World View Enterprises, which aims to loft paying customers to the stratosphere beneath a giant balloon, launched an uncrewed test flight on Oct. 26. The company sent a 10-percent-scale version of its passenger capsule to an altitude of 100,475 feet (30,624 meters) above the town of Page in northern Arizona. You can see an amazing video of the flight here. (10/28)

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