Science & Astronomy
28. 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. I didn’t really expect the Easter edition of the news roundup to be that big and at first I wanted to skip a week because of the holidays, but in addition to the Lunar and Planetary Science Conference there were actually a lot of other interesting things happening! Last week we had the Cygnus transporter arriving at the ISS with some drama afterwards about performance problems of the Atlas 5 rocket, more drama about ExoMars followed by debris of its exploded booster, comets buzzing the Earth, lots of fascinating news from the Pluto system courtesy of LPSC, an even closer look at Ceres’ spots and much more. Fasten your setabelts!

» ExoMars Mission Narrowly Avoids Exploding Booster (Universe Today) – Debris has been spotted behind ExoMars, which could be the exploded Briz-M upper stage – but the Mars-bound spacecraft appears to be fine.

» Cygnus Commercial Space Freighter Arrives at Space Station with 3.5 Tons of Supplies (Universe Today) – OrbitalATK’s next Cygnus freighter has arrived safely at the International Space Station, bringing up supplies, science and Easter goodies.

» Atlas V Engine Anomaly Forces Thrust Makeup During Cygnus Launch, Next Flight Delayed (Universe Today) – First there was an investigation from Spaceflight101 about the anomalies and now ULA has admitted that the Atlas V rocket had some performance issues and a followup shows that it might have been more critical than originally thought.

» Women in science on Wikipedia: will we ever fill the information gap? (The Guardian) – A US biology student vows to write a new article about a forgotten female scientist every time she gets hate mail.

» See Historic Comet BA14 Up Close In These New Radar Images (Universe Today) – The comet flew by Earth recently and got zapped by the Goldstone Radio Observatory, resulting in great images.

» Moonbase by 2022 For $10 Billion, Says NASA (Universe Today) – $10 Billion is actually not that much, but it would require a multi-national effort. This is probably NASA’s answer to ESA’s Moon village ambitions.

» SpaceX prepares for next two missions via McGregor testing (NasaSpaceflight) – This article confirms that the CRS-8 launch, the first since last year’s accident, will be on April 8 at 16:43 EDT.

» SpaceX hopes to raise launch tempo after space station flight (Spaceflight Now) – With the last launches having been so flawless and the launch to the ISS coming up soon, SpaceX is fully back in business again.

» ‘BEAM me up SpaceX!’ Bigelow’s prototype habitat loaded onto CRS-8 Dragon (Spaceflight101) – The April 8 flight to the station will carry Bigelow’s BEAM module which will be installed on an airlock of the station.

» NASA Chief Charles Bolden Defends NASA Budget in House Committee Farewell ( – It wasn’t much of a fight, but Charles Bolden is determined to defend NASA’s budget as his legacy.

» Ancient Pluto could have had lakes of nitrogen (GeekWire) – New data from New Horizons revealed at LPSC shows that Pluto could have had very special lakes.

» High Albedo Points To Huge Collision Forming Plutonian System (Universe Today) – More from LPSC about Pluto – it must have been a cosmic shooting gallery in the early days of Pluto.

» Alan Stern outlines New Horizons’ extended mission at Planetary Science Conference (Spaceflight Insider) – New Horizons is going to have a very interesting life after Pluto!

» You Can Now Build Giant Space Telescopes Out of LEGOs (Popular Science) – When the LEGO company didn’t want to make the models, the folks from ESO put up the building instructions on their website.

» Kepler Catches the Shock Breakout of a Supernova (NASA) – Kepler was looking at the right spot at the right time by chance and caught a supernova going off from the very beginning.

» James Webb’s Critical Science Component Completes Essential Tests, While Telescope Is “Optically Complete” (AmericaSpace) – It’s still more than two and a half years until launch, but JWST is now literally taking shape.

» First Retailer in Orbit: Lowe’s and Made In Space Send 3D Printer to Station ( – The new 3D printer on the ISS is a distinct upgade over the first generation that was sent up in 2014.

» At Carter’s Request, Pentagon IG investigating ousted ULA exec’s comments (SpaceNews) – The next round in the controversy about ULA and the use of Russian RD-180 engines in the Atlas 5.

» Best NASA Images Yet Of Ceres’ Brightest Spot (Universe Today) – New images from the Dawn spacecraft show the famous bright spots of the dwarf planet in much more detail.

» Teasing the Galactic Ghoul, Past and Present (Universe Today) – Mars seems to have a curse on it – hopefully ExoMars will be able to break that.

» XKCD comics will soon be featured in high school science and engineering textbooks (ScienceAlert) – This is one of the best decisions in science education.

» Solar Storms Ignite X-ray “Northern Lights” on Jupiter (NASA) – Images from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory show that Jupiter has auroas too, and pretty big ones!

» NASA’s New Top Astrobiologist Is Spelunking for Alien Life on Earth (Wired) – Penny Boston is the new head of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute which is in charge of figuring out how to deal with potential life off-Earth.

» Thanks 47th Lunar and Planetary Science Conference: E-Poster Index to Program (USRA) – All the science posters from LPSC in one place.

» Communication failure of X-ray Astronomy Satellite “Hitomi” (JAXA) – The Japanese space agency has lost contact with its newly launched x-ray observatory and there are reports that debris has been tracked in the vicinity of the spacecraft – but it’s too early to say if Hitomi is a total loss.

» Fog Detected on Surface of Saturn Moon Titan ( – Fog on Titan, I guess the weather on other planets (and their moons) is as unpredictable as our own!

» Inside Opportunity: Rover discovers its own ‘Easter eggs’ at Knudsen Ridge (SpaceflightInsider) – The venerable Mars rover found some egg-shaped rocks on the surface of the not always red planet.

» Video of the Week: The Weekly Space Hangout had Andrew Helton and Ryan Hamilton from the SOFIA telescope as special guests this week and it was nothing short of amazing. The WSH takes a break on April 1, but will be back on April 8!

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