November 28, 2015

UH Confirms TMT to be Last Telescope Site on Mauna Kea (Source: Hawaii Tribune)
The University of Hawaii has made it official: the Thirty Meter Telescope site will be the last spot on Mauna Kea to be developed for astronomy.

UH in a statement Monday announced it sent state Department of Land and Natural Resources Chairwoman Suzanne Case a letter confirming no new telescope sites will be used after the giant telescope, which has faced strong opposition from Native Hawaiians, is complete. (The $1.4 billion project’s land use permit is being challenged in Hawaii Supreme Court.) (11/24)

NOAA Weather Satellite Breaks Up in Orbit (Source: Space News)
A U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration satellite retired in 2014 has suffered an apparent breakup, the second time in less than a year that a polar-orbiting weather satellite has generated orbital debris. The Joint Space Operations Center (JSpOC) announced Nov. 25 that it had identified a possible breakup of the NOAA 16 satellite. (11/27)

NASA Announces Awards for ‘Tipping Point’ Technologies (Source: Space News)
NASA awarded contracts and unfunded agreements Nov. 19 for 22 projects to advance space technologies that the agency believes are on the verge of significant advancement.

NASA awarded nine projects to advance technologies in four satellite technology areas. The contracts are fixed-price, milestone-based deals valued at between $1 million and $20 million each over two years, with each company required to contribute at least 25 percent of the overall value. (11/27)

Taking a Closer Look at Alpha Centauri's Exoplanets (Source: Discovery)
While we think of stars as being very distant, there is one star system that is relatively close — Alpha Centauri, just 4.3 light-years away. In 2012, astronomers discovered a planet in that system; it orbited way too close to its parent star to be considered habitable, but it got a lot of attention because the exoplanet was so close to Earth.

Three years later, a research team led by Eduardo Bendek, a researcher with the astrophysics branch of NASA, hopes to get a better look at the star system to find habitable, Earth-size planets. Their plan is to launch a telescope that would look at Alpha Centauri for several months in hopes of seeing a small planet pass across the face of its parent star. Click here. (11/27)

First Mirror Installed on James Webb Space Telescope (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
It has been a long time coming, but NASA has successfully installed the first mirror onto the agency’s new James Webb Space Telescope. The announcement that the first of 18 flight mirrors had been put into place was made via a release issued by NASA on Wednesday, Nov. 25, and highlighted that the observatory was approaching its launch date in 2018.

Engineers used a robotic lift arm to maneuver the mirror into place at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center located in Greenbelt, Maryland this week. Each of the mirrors measures slightly more than 4.2 feet (1.3 meters) across and weighs approximately 88 pounds (40 kilograms). (11/27)

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