Space & Planetary Science: March 2012 Archives

Second Life for Failed Russian Satellite?, Science Magazine

"Sixteen hours of continuous broadband coverage would certainly be a big boost, particularly for scientists working at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, which currently gets just a few hours a day of coverage. And while the South Pole Station's communications problems are the most acute, communications for the entire continent have been a problem for many years. Wingo describes it as a cyclical problem: The small Antarctic community "doesn't have sufficient market potential to justify the construction of a $150 to $200 million dedicated satellite to cover the area," he says--but once such a satellite is in place, there will be "an explosion of demand that would prove the market." Bringing in Express-AM4, he suggests, would be the necessary band-aid."

- Express-AM4: Repurposing Space Assets For Exploration, previous post
- Saving Express-AM4 and Using it to Serve Antarctic Research, previous post

NASA considering space station as dry run for 500-day Mars trip, would test human endurance, Washington Post

"The International Space Station may provide the setting for a 500-day pretend trip to Mars in another few years. NASA said Tuesday that consideration is under way to use the space station as a dry run for a simulated trip to and from Mars. It would be patterned after Russia's mock flight to Mars that lasted 520 days at a Moscow research center."

Let's Stop Going in Circles - And Go Somewhere (2002), SpaceRef

"Re-dedicating the International Space Station to the specific task of flight certifying humans for travel to Mars - on a fixed schedule - and then holding to that schedule would bring a long absent focus and general direction to this meritorious but meandering program."

Keith's note Its about time NASA decided to do this. I think they should have been doing this from the moment that the first crew arrived.

Launch of NASA's NuSTAR Mission Postponed Due to Launch Vehicle Software Issues

"The planned launch of NASA's Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array (NuSTAR) mission has been postponed after a March 15 launch status meeting. The launch will be rescheduled to allow additional time to confirm the flight software used by the launch vehicle's flight computer will issue commands to the rocket as intended. The spacecraft will lift off on an Orbital Sciences Pegasus XL rocket, which will be released from an aircraft taking off from the Reagan Test Site on the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands."

Life on Mars? Funds to Find Answer Fade, NY Times

"In a letter sent March 5, a group of Mars scientists that provides feedback to NASA said it was "appalled" by the proposed budget cuts. "Among the many dire impacts, the cuts threaten the very existence of the Mars exploration program which has been one of the crown jewels of the agency's planetary exploration," wrote David J. Des Marais, a scientist at the NASA Ames Research Center in California and chairman of the group."

Researchers Call for Continued Exploration of Mars

"A new position paper by researchers at the Planetary Science Institute calls for sustaining NASA funding for the exploration of Mars. Concerned by the administration's budget proposal to scale back and effectively bring to an end what has been a spectacularly successful program, the paper's authors have outlined a path to continue and benefit from a robust American effort to explore Mars."

NASA GSFC Solicitation: High Power Uplink (Near Earth Objects Characterization)

"NASA/HQ has a requirement to provide high resolution, high power uplink capability at Ka-band for the use in characterizing Near Earth Objects (NEOs), orbital debris, and to fill knowledge gaps in space situational awareness. In fiscal year 2012 NASA will begin to build on its three element interferometer testbed consisting of 12m dishes to demonstrate: 1) uplink arraying with real time characterization and correction of atmospheric turbulence, 2) significant power and gain increases enabling high resolution object imaging and 3) real-time continual system phase control eliminating the need for costly, highly stable components."

Appropriators Blocking Mars Mission Move, Aviation Week

"This proposal represents a significant deviation from the robotic exploration program plan as it was approved by Congress in NASA's fiscal year 2012 appropriations, and the committee believes that so radical a change in policy needs and deserves to be fully considered by a process that is more rigorous and more inclusive than" the reprogramming notification, Wolf writes."

Rep. Schiff Applauds Decision to Reject NASA Request to Divert Mars Funds

"I want to thank Chairman Wolf for rejecting this reprogramming request by NASA," said Schiff."NASA's effort to mothball the Mars program is a disaster for America's leadership in planetary science, and I'm glad this first step has been rejected by the committee. Thanks to the brilliant scientists at JPL, we have the unique capability to design, fly and land sophisticated robotic spacecraft on our planetary neighbor, and this is not a talent pool NASA should abandon."

GAO Summary: Cost Overruns, Schedule Delays, Ongoing Technical Problems With Mars Science Laboratory

"The project has additional concerns regarding the spacecraft's software that enable its functionality once it arrives at the landing site. Project officials stated that the basic software for landing and traversing exists, but it needs to be upgraded in order to achieve full capability. The project plans to release updates and test its flight software for entry, descent, and landing (EDL) and software for surface operations during the spacecraft's 9-month cruise phase to Mars."


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