March 27, 2016

MARROW: Bone Marrow and its Cells in Microgravity (Source: Parabolic Arc)
MARROW studies the mechanisms behind the effects of immobility. Its subjects are astronauts living on the International Space Station (ISS). On Earth, discoveries will be used to combat the effects of physical inactivity and improve the rehabilitation of bedridden patients, those with reduced mobility, and seniors.

Microgravity in space, like prolonged bed rest on Earth, affects the bone marrow and the blood cells it produces. When mobility decreases, the adipose cells in the bone marrow increase, affecting the production of blood cells, including red and white blood cells. The decrease in red blood cells—known as anemia—leads to physical limitations, such as weakness and fatigue, and cognitive slowing. In the long term, it is associated with decreased quality of life and early death. (3/25)

Wanted: Female German Astronauts (Source: NPR)
Is outer space a man's domain? You might think so in Germany, where the country's 11 astronauts have all been men. They also dominate mission control at the German Space Operations Center, although Katja Leuoth is helping to change that.

Five years ago, Leuoth became the center's first female flight director. Recently, a second woman was hired, she says. They and 10 male colleagues run the European portion of the International Space Station 24/7 from the compound in the small Bavarian town of Oberpfaffenhofen. It's a challenging job, but what Leuoth really wants is to be inside the module as it floats around Earth, especially when she talks to the astronauts.

But she can't — at least, not yet. The European Space Agency — to which Germany and 21 other countries belong — is not planning to hire any women in the foreseeable future. Past female applicants say the agency only recruits astronauts every 14 years or so. Even when it does, it's rare for women to advance to the final rounds. (3/18)

Scotland Could Host Commercial Rocket Site Under QinetiQs' Plans (Source: Sunday Express)
The Westminster Government is currently selecting a location for the UK's first spaceport, with Prestwick, Machrihanish and Stornoway airports all in the running. Now it has emerged that a "vertical launch spaceport" in the Outer Hebrides is also being considered to allow Britain to surge ahead of China, Russia and India in the global space race.

It would be located at the existing Hebrides Missile Range on South Uist, where the first space launch from UK soil took place last October. QinetiQ, which operates the range for the Ministry of Defense, believes the launch site could also be used to put satellites into orbit.

The firm gave a presentation to a Spaceport UK conference last month, stating: "There are similarities between capabilities demonstrated by QinetiQ for launch of ballistic targets and the capabilities required to establish a vertical launch spaceport." (3/27)

JAXA: Communication Link with Japan's X-Ray Astronomy Satellite Lost (Source: Kyodo News)
Japan's space agency has experienced trouble communicating with a newly launched X-ray astronomy satellite since Saturday, making it difficult for the agency to ascertain its condition. The "Hitomi" satellite, which was called the "Astro-H" until its successful launch on a Japanese rocket in mid-February, could be experiencing a power shortage after an unexpected shift in its posture may have made it unable to draw on solar power.

The satellite is supposed to be orbiting about 580 kilometers above the Earth's surface, but the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency said the satellite may also have deviated from its normal path. The agency is trying to re-establish communications with the satellite, but if this situation persists, it will be unable to start astronomy observations, scheduled to begin in the summer. (3/27)

A Look at the Science and Experiments Aboard Cygnus (Source: America Space)
Orbital ATK’s fifth contracted resupply mission to the ISS, known as Orbital ATK CRS-6, used the enhanced Cygnus for the second time. This improved craft offers a plethora of new technology and greater capability than its predecessor. The improvements to Cygnus allow it to be launched off both the Atlas V and the Antares rocket. The enhanced Cygnus boasts a 25% increase in volume and a decrease in mass, offering more room for cargo to be delivered to the ISS. It is designed to hold up to 7,700 lbs. of payload.

The science and experiments delivered will study meteors, adhesion, fire, regolith, and 3-D printing in microgravity. Besides those experiments, the nearly 7,500 lbs. of cargo onboard Cygnus also consists of equipment that will support 250 other experiments on the ISS. These experiments will perform research pertaining to the fields of biology, biotechnology, physical science, and Earth science. Many of these experiments to be performed in space will provide solutions to improve life on Earth. Click here. (3/27)

Egypt to Buy French Military Satellite in $1.2B Arms Deal (Source: SpaceWatch)
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is expected to sign a $1.2 billion arms deal with French President Fran├žois Hollande on April 18. Among the items in the deal is a military communications satellite for the Egyptian armed forces to be jointly built by Airbus Defence and Space, a subsidiary of the Airbus Group, and Thales Alenia Space, a joint venture of French company Thales and Italian company Finmeccanica, which recently rebranded as Leonardo. (3/27)

Tycoons Plan Base on Moon by 2026 (Source: Sunday Times)
Humans could be living on the moon within a decade for a total cost of just £6.5bn, a fraction of what it cost to get there originally, say a group of Silicon Valley billionaires and NASA scientists. They have pinpointed the most desirable area on the moon, which receives the maximum amount of sunlight. This means that the site, beside Peary crater at the lunar north pole, is ideal for generating the solar power vital for any such base.

The scientists are planning a base holding up to 10 people who would use solar panels to exploit the rich deposits of water and minerals also found around the crater, which add to its value. The plan is being pushed by Steve Jurvetson, a private space sector investor, along with Elon Musk’s SpaceX and Planet Labs, a satellite firm. (3/27)

Utah Station Mimics Life on Mars (Source: Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ken Sullivan peers out through the porthole of his temporary Martian habitat, which is shaped like a tiny white thimble marooned in a forlorn, boulder-strewn landscape. The sturdy door appears submersible-thick — reinforced steel necessary to fend off the airless atmosphere. It’s all just an illusion, of course, yet Sullivan plays the role of Mars explorer like a seasoned Broadway actor; with an occasional wink to the audience.

“You have to stay in the waiting capsule for three minutes. We do the whole pressurizing routine,” he shouts through the glass. Then he pauses: “It’s really just pretend, though.” Far from pretend, this is a legitimate trial run for the real thing: Sullivan, 40, is one of six inhabitants of the Mars Desert Research Station; a haphazard collection of structures in the remote high-desert of eastern Utah designed to test the imagined physical and emotional stamina required to colonize the Red Planet. (3/26)

No comments: