Science & Astronomy
31. January 2016

First I have to apologize that this is the fourth article of this kind in a row on this blog, but I wanted to take the January off from everything else and I’ve got some other stuff coming up soon. But now – the news! It wasn’t as much of a rollercoaster as last week, but there were still a lot of interesting surprises. This time of year is a bit subdued because of the triple spaceflight tragedies of Apollo 1, Challenger and Columbia that happened at this time and I linked to an interesting article about Challenger from a journalist’s perspective… but I honestly think that while rememberance is good, we also need to reclaim those occasions and make them positive again. This week’s round of news is again a combination of articles I posted in my suddenly very popular Space & Astronomy Collection on Google+ and in the WSH Crew Community.

» Europe Hits Snooze on Woerner’s ‘The Moon Awakens’ Push ( B. de Selding) – The enthusiasm about an European Moon mission seems to have rapidly disappeared.

» Don’t Blame ‘Planet Nine’ for Earth’s Mass Extinctions ( Wall) – This article makes it crystal clear that even if Planet 9 once came though the solar system and might come again, it’s so far away from the inner system that it would have barely any influence.

» A Space Station, With Surveillance Cameras for Hire (NYTimes/Danny Hakim) – Some interesting observations about the Canadian company Urthecast, which has been running commercial HD cameras on the ISS for a while now.

» Forget Blue Origin vs. SpaceX—the real battle is between old and new ideas (ArsTechnica/Eric Berger) – The author of this article makes the very good point that the different approach of private spaceflight companies might force the established agencies to change their ways too soon.

» A.I. pioneer Marvin Minsky dies at age of 88 (GeekWire/Alan Boyle) – Minsky was a true pioneer of the early computer age, theorizing and setting into practice the first artificial intelligence projects long before everyone else.

» China invites public on-board its robotic missions; and how to download Chang’e data (Planetary Society/Quanzhi Ye) – China is opening the archives of its Moon missions and even lets everyone access the data – this Planetary Society gues post

» Updates on China’s lunar missions – (Planetary Society/Emily Lakdawalla) – In addition to the above article, Emily has some detailed updates what’s going on with China’s Moon projects.

» Opportunity Robustly in Action on 12th Anniversary of Red Planet Touchdown (Universe Today/Ken Kremer) – Going on since 2004, Opportunity is aging but still healthy enough to explore Mars continuously for the last twelve years.

» Curiosity Sticks Her Toes in a Martian Sand Dune, Takes a Selfie (Universe Today/Nancy Atkinson) – What does a Mars rover do when it’s bored and standing on top of a dune? It takes a selfie, of course!

» McCain again goes after Russian-made rocket engines (Washington Post/Christian Davenport) – The political fight around the RD-180 engines used in ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket goes on and on…

» Reporters remember Challenger coverage (SpaceflightNow/William Harwood) –  Thirty years ago this week, the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded on launch, claiming the lives of seven astronauts. It was one of the worst accidents in human spaceflight and sadly it was completely preventable. I cannot remember how I first heard about it – I was eight years old – but this is a very interesting and heartfelt article about the accident from the journalists perspective.

» To boost commercial activity, NASA may add private airlock to ISS (ArsTechnica/Eric Berger) – The already frequent NASA collaborator wants to build an inexpensive new airlock for about $15 million – self-funded.

» NASA’s newest cargo spacecraft began life as a Soviet space plane (ArsTechnica/Eric Berger) – A fascinating article about the history of Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser.

» Elon Musk wants to take a space trip by 2021 (GeekWire/Alan Boyle) – I’m not entirely convinced about going to Mars by 2025, but I really believe he is going visit the ISS in his very own spaceship in only a couple of years.

» How the Smithsonian is restoring the original USS Enterprise to full 1967 glory (ArsTechnica/Cyrus Farviar) – The iconic spaceship model is being restored – I had the chance to see it back in 1995 as part of the Star Trek Exhibition in London’s science museum and although it looked amazing, it could not hide its age.

» NASA Engineers Tapped to Build First Integrated-Photonics Modem (NASA Goddard/Lori Keesey) – The age of light-based computing and data transfer could be right around the corner and NASA has been working on special modems for their spacecrafts.

» What’s up in solar system exploration: February 2016 edition (Planetary Society/Emily Lakdawalla) – The monthly overview of robotic space exploration from the Planetary Society is an absolute must-read.

» Video of the Week: The 400th Episode of Astronomy Cast was recorded on Monday, live on Google Hangouts on Air as usual and you can always watch the recording afterwards.

Write a Comment