Science & Astronomy
20. March 2016

This week’s round of space and science news is again a collection of articles posted in my Space & Astronomy Collection on Google+ and in the WSH Crew Community, plus a couple of additional ones that caught my attention. It’s a bit less than last week, but the big events everybody has been waiting for have now happened: ExoMars has successfully launched and a new crew has also gone up to the ISS without problems. There were a few other interesting news, including the now very heated political fight around ULA, new Pluto science, Ceres still puzzling everyone with its spots which now seem to blink and exciting science experiments going up to the ISS on the Cygnus freighter next week.

And next week is also the Lunar and Planetady Science Conference, which will probably produce twice the amount of space and science news than usual. I highly recommend following Pamela Gay and Emily Lakdawalla on Twitter and looking at the #LPSC2016 hashtag is also a good idea! But now to this week’s news…

» ExoMars Spacecraft Launches to Red Planet Searching for Signs of Life (Universe Today) – This is, of course, THE big news of the week – the combined ESA-Roscosmos Mars mission has successfully launched and been sent on its way. I even wrote a separate blog post about it just for old time’s sake – now we just have to wait until October for it to actually arrive. And it has already been spotted in space by astronomers!

» First American to Live on ISS for 3 Long Missions Arrives after Soyuz Night Launch and Docking (Universe Today) – The second big launch of this week, with three new astronauts arriving on the ISS bringing the crew up to six people again. US Astronaut Jeffrey Williams will be the first from NASA to do three half-year missions, making him the most space-traveled of them all. His colleague Oleg Skripochka sets another precedent: he has flown on the first Soyuz TMA-M spacecraft in 2010 and now on the last one before the improved MS series will be introduced on the next launch.

» NASA into deep planning for Asteroid Redirect Mission (NASASpaceflight) – It’s still too far away to say if this mission will really happen, but the plans are looking good.

» Dusting for the fingerprint of inflation with BICEP3 (Symmetry Magazine) – Matthew Francis’ detailed article shows how the new BICEP experiment can eliminate the faults of BICEP2.

» ULA VP resigns following remarks on company’s competitive position, strategy (SpaceNews) – The first heads are beginning to roll in the controversy of ULA using the Russian RD-180 engine.

» McCain calls for investigation of fired ULA executive’s controversial comments (SpaceNews) – This is turning into a full-blown political fistfight.

» Straight Talk Regarding Air Force Launch Contract (SpaceNews) – A statement from Tory Bruno, CEO of ULA – this is, however, from before VP Brett Tobey’s resignation over his comments.

» International Space Station to study meteors hitting atmosphere (SpaceflightNow) – The METEOR experiment will hopefully finally get its chance after the first two attempts were destroyed in the Cygnus and Dragon launch failures.

» The Bright Spots on Ceres are Blinking (Universe Today) – Twinkle, twinkle little…. Ceres? Our favourite dwarf planet has more surprises in store.

» OA-6 mission set to conduct array of science and technology demonstrations (SpaceflightInsider) – There is a lot of awesome science on board the Cygnus transporter launching on Tuesday, including the much-mentioned Saffire fire experiment.

» We Could Be Living On The Moon In 10 Years Or Less (Popular Science) – A new paper argues that it would be possible to live on the moon in just a decade, but it would need a new radical approach.

» Science Papers Reveal New Aspects of Pluto and its Moons (NASA) – New Horizon’s Pluto flyby was already half a year ago, but the real science is still happening.

» Asteroid impacts create tiny diamonds (BadAstronomy) – The diamond industry doesn’t need to worry, though.

» The massive meteor that just shot over the UK was one of the brightest ever seen (ScienceAlert) – It was mostly seen by cameras, though, because it happened in the middle of the night.

» Video of the Week: Why did the Air Force Play with Cats in Space? – Amy Shira Teitel demystifies the Zero-G cat experiments of the late 1940s!


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