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. This week, I’m beginning to question the title of this post – do I have too much space and astronomy and not enough science in here? I don’t know and I actually chose the title just because it sounds good, but I actually like to keep the focus on space and astronomy with only a bit of unrelated science thrown in. This week there was nothing major that overshadowed the rest, but a lot of very interesting things have happened, including some very fascinating astronomy, space exploration and even space business news that just kept coming and coming! And as usual you can watch Friday’s Weekly Space Hangout which has some of the news in this article talked about in more detail.
» McCain concerned over presence of Russians during US launches (SpaceDaily) – The senator has been leading a harsh campaign against the use of the Russian RD-180 engines on ULA’s rockets and now seems to be looking for more irrational reasons against them.
» LIGO Sets Its Sights On Fainter Gravitational Waves (Futurism) – Fine-tuning the LIGO detector will soon enable to observe fainter gravitational waves – probably thousands of them in the next couple of years.
» Scientists Discover Quasar That Emits Jets Reaching 18 Trillion Degrees (Futurism) – New observations show that a quasar in a far-away galaxy emits temperatures far hotter than previously thought.
» SpaceX site work grows (Valley Morning Star) – SpaceX has a lot more work to do on its new Texas launch site – first the ground has to be stabilized with lots and lots of additional soil.
» Astronomers just discovered a huge galaxy orbiting our own (ScienceAlert) – It’s not the only neighbour of the Milky Way, but this one surprised because it is extreme hard to see.
» French court rulings ease threat to Arianespace, Eutelsat business in Russia (SpaceNews) – A gordian knot of business and corruption problems surrounding the satellite launches with Russian rockets has been at least somewhat loosened.
» Gravitational wave mission passes ‘sanity check’ (BBC) – A proposal for a much bigger mission in the vein of LISA Pathfinder has been found viable.
» Kiel University is going to fly behind the Moon (Uni Kiel) – The North German University secured a place for an experiment on China’s Chang’E 4 moon mission by way of a Chinese doctoral candidate, who will lead the development of the Lunar Lander Neutron Dosimeter.
» Now You Can Fly to Mars…on a School Bus (Futurism) – Lockeed Martin has built the ‘Mars Experience’, a school bus with VR displays on the windows that shows a Martian landscape rolling by.
» Even an embezzled diamond-encrusted Mercedes can’t stop Russian launch (ArsTechnica) – Russia’s new Vostochny space port is nearing completion with the first launch probably coming next week (this begged to be included just for the article headline!).
» A Star Shot into the Dark (The Space Review) – Jeff Foust has some legitimate criticism about Yuri Milner’s and Stephen Hawking’s StarShot project, which is more a thought concept than anything else at the moment. Paul Gilster from Centauri Dreams, also wrote a new article about the challenges of this project.
» SpaceX booster comes full circle after landing (GeekWire) – It’s been a while since the first successful sea barge landing of the Falcon 9, but this week, the booster has arrived back at its home base.
» Gravity Waves on Pluto? (Universe Today) – Actually atmospheric gravity waves, which have been seen by New Horizons on its flyby last year.
» Possible Light Flash from Black Hole Collision Spotted (Space.com) – The Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope had detected a gamma ray burst last fall which could have been the result of two black holes merging.
» Pluto and Ceres: Solar System Gifts that Keep on Giving (The Spacewriter) – Carolyn Collins Petersen writes about a new golden age of space exploration, with Pluto and Ceres being two of the best examples.
» Aerojet wins $67M NASA contract for ion drive (GeekWire) – Aerojet Rocketdyne will build NASA’s next ion drives for solar system exploration.
» Attitude control failures led to break-up of Japanese astronomy satellite (SpaceflightNow) – The failure of JAXA’s Hitomi was a very unfortunate series of events which cascaded into the spacecraft tearing itself literally apart.
» Roscosmos bails out debt-ridden Khrunichev (SpaceNews) – The Proton manufacturer has been getting financial help from the now completely state-controlled Roscosmos, but business is extremely complicated.
» Senate bill gives NASA $19.3 billion for 2017 (SpaceNews) – A lot of that is, predictably, going to SLS and Orion with other programs, especially planetary exploration, suffering from it.
» Apollo rocket making final journey to Infinity (SunHerald) – The unused Saturn 5 rocket that was originally meant for Apollo 19 will be moved from NASA’s Michoud facility in New Orleans to the Infinity Science Center in Mississippi to be restored for an exhibition.
» Dawn Just Wants To Make All The Other Probes Look Bad (Universe Today) – The Dawn spacecraft, currently in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres after having visited Vesta, will probably go to a third destination.
» Landslides and Bright Craters on Ceres Revealed in Marvelous New Images from Dawn – On a related note, Dawn is still churning out amazing observations of Ceres – now even landslides have been spotted.
» The Curious Link Between the Fly-By Anomaly and the “Impossible” EmDrive Thruster (Technology Review) – The EmDrive is back in the news, but there are quite a few problems with this new explanation, as Matthew Francis remarks in his Forbes article.
» Swansong experiment sheds light on Venus’ polar atmosphere (AstronomyNow) – Data from the Venus Express dive into the planet’s atmosphere has revealed new insights into its atmosphere.
» An Earth-like Planet Only 16 Light Years Away? (Universe Today) – Astronomers have already found two exoplanets in the Gliese 832 system, only 16 light years from Earth, but new studies might have discovered a third one, which may be even more Earth-like.
» Orbital ATK eyes Kennedy Space Center as home of potential new launcher (SpaceflightNow) – Part of the Vehicle Assembly Building will be rented by Orbital ATK for its new launcher.
» CERN releases 300TB of Large Hadron Collider data into open access (TechCrunch) – LHC data from 2011 has been released at openaccess.cern.ch and it’s not just the raw data, but lots of tools and educational material.
» Chinese Space Baby Research Lands In Mongolia (Universe Today) – The Chinese Space Agency has conducted an experiment with 6000 mouse embryos on a 96-hour space voyage, but the results of the development of the embryos are somewhat ambiguous.
» Kepler Resumes Science Operations (SpaceNews) – The Kepler Space Telescope is now fully back at work after it had entered an emergency mode two weeks ago, jeopardizing its extended search for exoplanets. But engineers have recovered the spacecraft and it is back doing science now.