CSExtra – Tuesday, August 6, 2013
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Tuesday’s CSExtra offers the latest reporting and commentary on space related activities from across the globe. In Washington, NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver discloses plans to leave her space agency post on Sept. 6. NASA and the Curiosity Mars rover mark the $2.5 billion mission’s first anniversary on the red planet. NASA looks for a Mars mission strategy amid a flurry of asteroid mission proposals. Russian leadership erupts with frustration as experts point to the cause of the spectacular Proton rocket loss in early July. The Chiliean Andes become a hot spot for a prospective mission to Saturn’s moon, Titan. Essays a.) examine Curiosity’s role in a remarkable turn around in the NASA’s plans to robotically explore the red planet and b.) question the sincerety of those who would follow some day with humans.
1. From Space News: NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver discloses her departure, effective Sept. 6. After four years in the No. 2 post at NASA, Garver is returning to the private sector and a position with the Air Line Pilots Association, SN reports. Garver championed commercial space initiatives. A formal announcement is expected Tuesday according to the publication, which credited the website NASAwatch.com with first reports of the development.
2. From The New York Times: NASA’s Curiosity rover marked the first anniversary of its dramatic landing on the Martian surface overnight. The $2.5 billion, two year prime mission has come a long way with findings that point to past environmental conditions favorable to microbial life. The rover has a long way to go, however. The next destination, the 18,000 foot high Mount Sharp, is more than four miles away. Rocks and soil in the sediments of the rise may help scientists define the time frame for the planet’s habitable period.
A. From The Los Angeles Times: NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, home to NASA’s Curiosity rover, celebrates the spacecraft’s first anniversary on Mars. The occasion Monday included a recalling of the “seven minutes of terror” that heralded Curiosity’s high speed descent and suspenseful landing. In seven minutes, the approaching rover slowed from 13,000 miles per hour to a stop as it settled onto the floor of Gale Crater.
B. From The New York Times: Keeping track of Curiosity.
C. From The Associated Press via The Washington Post: On Earth, NASA’s Curiosity rover becomes a pop culture sensation thanks to a dramatic but successful landing in Gale Crater and a colorful flight control team.
D. From The Pasadena Star News, of Calif: Curiosity’s wheel tracks on Mars: will they lead to boot prints later?
E. From Discovery.com: Curiosity claims another first by singing Happy Birthday to itself. Listen as the rover’s Sample Analysis at Mars, an organic chemistry detection instrument, hums the tune.
3. From Space News: NASA navigates a flurry of proposals for dealing with the impact threat posed by near Earth asteroids. The agency is hoping a recent solicitation for proposals on the issue, called the Grand Asteroid Challenge, will offer a consensus on where policy makers should focus future human exploration investments.
A. From Florida Today: United Launch Services, of Englewood, Colo., is selected by NASA to provide an Atlas V launch vehicle for the September 2016 launch of the robotic OSIRIS REx mission to study an asteroid and return to Earth with samples in 2023. Contract value is placed at $183.5 million.
4. From Spacepolicyonline.com: In Russia, fall out from the early July loss of a Proton rocket with three GLONASS navigation satellites continues as Roscosmos, the Russian Federal Space Agency, scrambles to recover. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin lashes out at the embattled space agency.
A. From Itar-Tass, of Russia: Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin declares the nation’s space industry adrift in the wake of the early July Proton rocket loss. “There are no specialists who have experience in strategic planning to develop the space industry and ensure its reliability,” he declared at a high level meeting on the mishap.
5. From National Geographic: The Chilean Andes become a hot spot for tests of a floating robot that could survive the extremes of Saturn’s moon Titan.
6. Two from The Space Review: NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover is marking its first anniversary on the red planet today. Essays examine the new missions that Curiosity’s success has engendered and raise questions about the sincerity of those who proclaim Mars as the ultimate destination for humans.
A. In “One year after the seven minutes of terror: the state of Mars exploration,” TSR editor Jeff Foust notes that the triumphant landing of NASA’s Curiosity rover on Mars, early Aug. 6, 2012, has spurred a turnaround in future U. S. plans for the exploration of the Red Planet. New planning includes a second Curiosity rover, launched in 2020 and assigned in part to cache rock samples for a future return them to Earth, either by robots or humans.
B. In “If you set out to go to Mars, go to Mars!,” contributor Harley Thronson finds too many distractions in current policy discussions over Mars as a focus of future human space exploration. The International Space Station, he notes, should play a stage setting role similar to that of Gemini for the Apollo lunar missions. Efforts to extract resources from the moon and the asteroids should follow the first Mars expedition, he contends. Thronson is a senior scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center.
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