Marc Boucher: January 2013 Archives

Malibu and Mars

CuriousMars: California Dreamin' on a Martian Day, Craig Covault, SpaceRef

"There are already plenty of stars around Malibu, California, but could the place be actually like the planet Mars? The NASA rover Curiosity is about to find out.

Two California locations, including an area near the Santa Monica Mountains stretching north from Malibu, were searched in late January for rocks strikingly similar to the Martian rocks that Curiosity is about to drill into on Mars. The samples found are completing final tests for use in assessing the success of the first rock drilling and sampling on another planet.

The drilling and analysis of samples from the inside of a Martian rock should be underway next week with the first shallow drilling tests as early as Feb. 2-4, according to Robert C. Anderson, a member of the Surface Sampling System (SSS) Team at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif."

Adrian Hooke

Remembering Adrian

"We are sad to let you know that Adrian Hooke died on January 7. He was at home in Malibu with his wife. In his classic fashion, he continued his work on CCSDS and DTN right up through early December."

"Adrian was an admitted Space geek for 46 years. He worked on the Lunar Modules for Apollo 9, 10, 11, and 12, from 1966 to 1969. He was on the flight control teams for the Mariner 9 and 10 missions that visited Mars, Venus, and Mercury. He worked on Voyager and SEASAT, and in 1976-77 he spent a year at the European Space Agency helping with the Shuttle-SpaceLab program."

Marc's note: I just learned about Adrian's death today. I can't say I knew him well, but I briefly worked with him about 10 years ago as part of the InterPlanetary Networking Special Interest Group. He welcomed me to JPL and was willing to listen to a newbie such as myself. If you read the note on his passing you'll see how much he contributed to the community. He will be missed.

VIDEO: Iran Space Monkey

Iran Sends a Monkey into Space (Video), PressTV

"According to Iran state media, Iran launched a suborbital rocket last week with a monkey onboard and recovered the capsule a short time later with the monkey still alive. The space capsule was code-named Pishgam (Pioneer)."

CuriousMars: Opportunity's First Project Manager Hails Longevity, SpaceRef

"The NASA Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity is beginning its 10th year roving Mars, completing nine years of "shocking" performance and historic discoveries that began with a bouncing airbag roll into tiny Eagle crater on Jan. 24, 2004."

"It's amazing, we never expected these kind of results!", says Pete Theisinger, the original MER project manager at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena. Calif. He also led JPL's Curiosity rover development in the same role."

Virgin Galactic and State of New Mexico Agree on Liability Issues (With video), SpaceRef Business

"Virgin Galactic and the New Mexico Trial Lawyers Association have agreed on liability issues that will form the basis of legislation that Senator Mary Kay Papen will introduce tomorrow and which is expected to have broad bipartisan support."

Deep Space Industries FireFlyDeep Space Industries Unveils Mining and Manufacturing Plans, SpaceRef Business

"Deep Space Industries (DSI) is another new entry in the asteroid mining field who want to go beyond just mining asteroids and into manufacturing products in space. As with another recent new commercial space venture, Golden Spike, DSI showcased some savvy space veterans but lack the resources to execute their plans to completion."

"In fact both companies made a point of going public so that potential investors might take notice. Unfortunately they and other like minded companies are all after the same investors who don't seem to be interested at this stage."

Asteroid mining: US company looks to space for precious metal, Guardian

"Keith Cowing, editor of, said he was not yet convinced by Deep Space Industries' plans. "Is the prospect of using asteroid resources crazy? No it's not. Is if difficult? Yes it is. Can you make a business case for it? People are trying, and making progress." But he said any company must have a product, experienced people and a business case. "This is like a three-legged stool. You need all three legs, otherwise it's not a business, it's a hobby," he said."

Commercial Asteroid Hunters announce plans for new Robotic Exploration Fleet, DSI

"Senior leaders at NASA have been briefed on DSI's technologies, which would make eventual crewed Mars expeditions less expensive through the use of asteroid-derived propellant."

Keith's note: I asked NASA PAO for a statement regarding DSI's claim. This is NASA's official response this morning - no mention of any briefings by Deep Space Industries, just the same sort of generic but positive comentary about space commerce that they have issued on other occassions.

"President Obama's space policy is aimed at creating an environment where commercial space companies can build upon past successes, allowing NASA to focus on the Administration's ambitious path for deep space human exploration, which includes sending humans to an asteroid for the first time and ultimate to Mars. The increasing number of private U.S. companies attempting to push the boundaries of space shows the wisdom of that policy."

During their press conference yesterday, DSI stated that they had briefed the White House (OSTP). I haven't seen any commentary on this from OSTP.

S.Korea: North's missile parts from China, NHK World (With video)

"The South Korean military says part of the North Korean missile launched last month were made in China. South Korea's military has analyzed pieces of the debris from the three-stage rocket, including a fuel tank that were salvaged in the Yellow Sea. A military official says some of the parts appear to have been imported from five countries including China."

CuriousMars: Curiosity to Drill into 'Whole Different World', SpaceRef

"As the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) science team completes final assessments of the mission's first drilling target in the bedrock at Yellowknife Bay, Curiosity is roving through "a whole different world," uncovering evidence for rocks saturated with water and other diverse and unexpected aqueous clues that hint of an ancient and very wet environment at Gale Crater.

It's a world of conglomerate rocks, sandstones, siltstones, spherules - known as "blueberries" to MER followers - lustrous pebbles, cross-bedding, tiny grains and filled veins, cracks, and fractured rocks - and, it appears, no end of evidence for past water. "We wouldn't have predicted any of this stuff from orbit," said John Grotzinger, MSL project scientist, of Caltech during a telebriefing on January 15th. "This is a great example of the occurrence of serendipity in scientific discovery."

CuriousMars: Curiosity's Critical Rock Drilling Target Selected as Opportunity Achieves Major Science Goal, SpaceRef

"After weeks of searching, the Mars rover Curiosity's science and engineering teams have selected a fine-grained slab of Martian rock as the candidate target for the first rock drilling on Mars, a significant first in planetary exploration."

"The rock was selected Jan. 7 based on data about its composition, hardness, likelihood of generating powder needed to coat internal surfaces, and the safety of the drilling mechanism and rover when drilling this particular slab."

Mars Orbiters Aplenty

CuriousMars: 2013 to Debut U. S. and Indian Mars Atmospheric Orbiters while Challenging China In Asian Space Race, SpaceRef

"Mars will be thrust into international politics during 2013 as India builds toward the planned November launch of its first Mars mission, an orbiter to study the Martian atmosphere and challenge China in a surging Asian space race."



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This page is an archive of recent entries written by Marc Boucher in January 2013.

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