January 10, 2016

Japan Moves to Develop Homegrown GPS (Source: Japan Times)
With the proliferation of smartphones and other devices, the use of GPS — the global positioning system — has become ubiquitous. From pinpointing one’s location to getting directions online, satellite-based navigation is driving the interactive use of online maps.

Many may not be aware, however, that the GPS is operated by the U.S. government and that Japan does not have its own satellite-based navigation system. But Japan is looking to develop its own GPS system in the near future that will make use of something called the quasi-zenith satellite system, which will be more precise. (1/10)

Relieved? NASA Opens Planetary Defense Coordination Office (Source: Washington Times)
If a monster asteroid is headed towards Earth, perhaps the planet is a little more prepared. NASA announced Friday that the Planetary Defense Coordination Office is now open for business, tasked with a succinct mission: to track and characterizing all asteroids and comets that veer too close to Earth - and figure out a response to “potential impact threats.”

And yes, the United States now has a designated Planetary Defense Officer. “The agency is committed to perform a leadership role in national and international efforts for detection of these natural impact hazards, and to be engaged in planning if there is a need for planetary defense,” said Lindley Johnson, who now has the official title. There’s a lot of tracking to be done. NASA has discovered over 13,500 near-Earth objects since it began following such things 14 years ago; about 1,500 appear each year.

NASA has been working on worldwide planning for planetary defense for some time, the federal agency advised in its announcement; the new office will improve and expand on the effort. On the to-do list: issuing close call advisories and warnings, and in the case of the wayward asteroid, coordinating the response to an actual impact with FEMA, the Department of Defense and other U.S. agencies, plus international counterparts. (1/9)

How to Deal with a Medical Emergency on the Space Station (Source: BBC)
A major medical emergency has never occurred on the International Space Station - but what would happen if it did? And what lessons could be learnt for treating similar emergencies on Earth? When Tim Peake blasted into orbit in December, he knew that the 40 hours of medical training he'd received would prepare him for most health problems during his six-month stay on the International Space Station.

In addition to life-saving skills, he had been taught how to stitch a wound, give an injection and even extract a tooth. This training would prepare him and his crew members for the most common medical problems faced on the ISS - like motion sickness, headaches, back pain, skin conditions, burns and dental emergencies.
But faced with a far more serious medical emergency - what would they do? Click here. (1/10)

How Does NASA Plan to Pay for a Mars Mission? (Source: CSM)
Space may be the final frontier, but if NASA tries a cowboy-style, lone frontiersman approach to a Mars mission, cost could quickly bring it back to Earth. Analysts predict a $100 billion to $1 trillion price tag for the Mars mission. NASA's 2016 budget is $19.3 billion, hardly a modest sum, but the cost of the Mars venture would outstrip it, Justin Bachman wrote for to Bloomberg.

That is a large price tag for a NASA mission in America's post-Cold War space exploration budget, but the lack of a space race could actually prove an advantage if it led to savvy compromise on cost among governments and the private sector. “I think everyone expects that a multinational coalition is going to be involved at some level,” said Casey Dreier. (1/9)

Planetary Resources Ceres Satellites to Focus on Earth Observations (Source: Parabolic Arc)
Planetary Resources, an asteroid mining company, is expanding its focus to include earth observation. The company plans to deploy an "advanced Earth observation system [that] delivers affordable, on-demand Earth intelligence of any point on the planet." Click here. (1/10)

Orbital Prepping for Next Atlas Launch of Cygnus Cargo Craft From Florida (Source: Florida Today)
The service and cargo modules for Orbital ATK’s next Cygnus spacecraft are on track to arrive at Kennedy Space Center this month in preparation for a possible March launch to the International Space Station.

The Cygnus will be the second launched from the Cape Canaveral Spaceport by ULA’s Atlas V rocket, following a Dec. 6 launch that successfully delivered more than 7,000 pounds of cargo to the ISS. Orbital ATK bought two Atlas V launches to bridge a gap until its own Antares rocket is ready to return to flight from Virginia, following an October 2014 failure there. (1/9)

Bigelow: Trump Would Inspire in Space (Source: SPACErePORT)
Robert Bigelow, founder and president of Bigelow Aerospace, on Saturday issued his first message on Twitter. The tweet, which has since been deleted, "suggested Donald Trump could provide an 'inspirational' space program," according to Space News' Jeff Foust. (1/9)

2016 a Pivotal Year for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner (Source: SpaceFlight Insider)
One of the two companies competing under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), Boeing, is looking to take large strides in the development and production of their CST-100 “Starliner” spacecraft in 2016. Key facilities needed to produce the capsule-shaped vehicle will be readied for use and the aerospace giant has already provided key members of NASA with a look at the systems to familiarize them with the vehicle.

Two of the four astronauts that have been selected to carry out the first flights under the CCP, Eric Boe and Bob Behnken, recently reviewed some of the systems that the Starliner will have incorporated into its design via a simulator. The duo got an advanced peek at what are referred to as “trainers” that will simulate how the spacecraft is expected to perform. (1/9)

Florida Governor Seeks MegaFund for Recruiting Business (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
Florida Governor Rick Scott is asking lawmakers for $250 million for businesses that relocate or expand in Florida. Some lawmakers have balked at the price tag – they put $43 million toward incentives in the current year – but Scott says it's supposed to last for three years. Scott also wants to require a return on investment to the state of 10 percent and not paying out incentives until job creation goals are met.

The proposals are aimed at addressing complaints from some lawmakers that incentive funds remain in escrow for years. Scott says the $250 million is necessary for the diversification of Florida's economy and its ability to withstand another deep global recession. (1/8)

How Animal Astronauts Paved The Way For Human Space Flight (Source: IFL SCience)
The other day my kids came home from school all excited to tell me they had been watching Tim Peake, the astronaut set to make Britain’s first spacewalk. I was surprised how much excitement this had caused in my kids, but then one of my earliest memories is sitting with my father watching Neil Armstrong step on the moon; I can still recall it vividly.

The history of aeronautical and space exploration is one full not only of human heroes such as Yuri Gagarin but also of animal explorers, albeit passive ones. It was the Montgolfier brothers in 1783, worried about the effects of high altitude on human health, who hung a basket containing a live sheep, cockerel and duck below one of their earliest balloons. Click here. (1/7)

Science Debate Sought to Weed Out Presidential Luddites (Source: Science Debate)
Given the many urgent scientific and technological challenges facing America and the rest of the world, the increasing need for accurate scientific information in political decision making, and the vital role scientific innovation plays in spurring economic growth and competitiveness, we call for public debates in which the U.S. presidential and congressional candidates share their views on the issues of science and technology policy, health and medicine, and the environment. Click here. (1/9)

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