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Archive for May 24, 2012

NASA Commercial Crew Partner Boeing Meets Software Milestone


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The Boeing Company has successfully completed a new milestone in the development of software that will operate its Crew Space Transportation (CST) spacecraft. The company is one of NASA’s partners developing commercial crew transportation capabilities to ferry U.S. astronauts to and from low Earth orbit and the International Space Station.

With the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of its software on May 18, the company now has completed more than 40 milestones under partnerships supporting NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP).

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/may/HQ_12-170_Boeing_CCP_Software_Milestone.html

NASA Receives Widespread Concepts For Future Mars Missions


WASHINGTON — NASA’s call to scientists and engineers to help plan a new strategy to explore Mars has resulted in almost double the amount of expected submissions with unique and bold ideas.

About 400 concepts or abstracts were submitted to the Concepts and Approaches for Mars Exploration Workshop in Houston, which was organized to gather input for the reformulation of NASA’s Mars Exploration Program. Submissions came from individuals and teams that included professional researchers, undergraduate and graduate students, NASA centers, federal laboratories, industry, and international partner organizations.

NASA is reformulating the Mars Exploration Program to be responsive to high-priority science goals and President Obama’s challenge of sending humans to Mars orbit in the 2030s

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/may/HQ_12-169_Mars_Concept_Group.html

Lowell Observatory Launches New Pro/Am Research Initiative

May 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Lowell Observatory is proud to announce the Lowell Amateur Research Initiative (LARI). This program seeks to pair the ever-growing and technically sophisticated amateur astronomy community in exciting research projects with Lowell astronomers.

A passionate researcher, Percival Lowell always sought to communicate new ideas and the joy of astronomy research to the public. In that same spirit, LARI brings together professional and amateur astronomers in a way that affords interested amateurs an opportunity to participate in cutting-edge research and potentially make significant contributions to science. Amateurs can help Lowell astronomers in their work and help create dedicated research teams. LARI will expand Lowell Observatory’s education and public outreach missions, and promote greater awareness of astronomy and related sciences.

Full Story: http://www.lowell.edu/news/2012/05/lowell-observatory-launches-new-professionalamateur-initiative/

NASA Offers Guidelines To Protect Historic Sites On The Moon

May 24, 2012 Leave a comment

NASA and the X Prize Foundation of Playa Vista, Calif., announced Thursday the Google Lunar X Prize is recognizing guidelines established by NASA to protect lunar historic sites and preserve ongoing and future science on the moon. The foundation will take the guidelines into account as it judges mobility plans submitted by 26 teams vying to be the first privately-funded entity to visit the moon.
NASA recognizes that many spacefaring nations and commercial entities are on the verge of landing spacecraft on the moon. The agency engaged in a cooperative dialogue with the X Prize Foundation and the Google Lunar X Prize teams to develop the recommendations. NASA and the next generation of lunar explorers share a common interest in preserving humanity’s first steps on another celestial body and protecting ongoing science from the potentially damaging effects of nearby landers.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/may/HQ_12-168_Lunar_Protection_Guidelines.html

Get Ready for the Transit of Venus!

May 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Scientists and amateur astronomers around the world are preparing to observe the rare occurrence of Venus crossing the face of the Sun on 5-6 June, an event that will not be seen again for over a hundred years. The occasion also celebrates the first transit while there is a spacecraft orbiting the planet – ESA’s Venus Express.

ESA will be reporting live from the Arctic island of Spitsbergen, where the Venus Express science team will be discussing the latest scientific results from the mission while enjoying a unique view of the 2012 transit under the ’midnight Sun’.

A transit of Venus occurs only when Venus passes directly between the Sun and Earth. Since the orbital plane of Venus is not exactly aligned with that of Earth, transits occur very rarely, in pairs eight years apart but separated by more than a century. The last transit was enjoyed in June 2004 but the next will not be seen until 2117. Venus transits are of great historical significance because they gave astronomers a way to measure the size of the Solar System.

Full Story: http://www.esa.int/export/esaSC/SEMLSGZWD2H_index_0.html

NamibRand Nature Reserve Becomes Africa’s First International Dark Sky Reserve

May 24, 2012 Leave a comment

24 May, 2012. TUCSON, AZ & WINDHOEK, NAMIBIA – Namibiaʼs NamibRand Nature Reserve,
one of Africaʼs largest private nature reserves, has expanded its conservation role to include preserving the star-filled nighttime skies that shine above its dunes and mountains. These efforts in night sky conservation have earned the reserve high honors as the International Dark-Sky Association has just announced that NamibRand Nature Reserve is the worldʼs newest International Dark Sky Reserve.

The International Dark-Sky Associationʼs night sky conservation efforts include working with groups to form International Dark Sky Reserves (IDSR) and other dark sky places. International Dark-Sky Associationʼs Executive Director Bob Parks explains, “The night sky over the NamibRand Nature Reserve is exceptional, as are the efforts the reserve has taken in modifying its lighting for the sake of its wildlife and visitors.”

Full Story: http://docs.darksky.org/PR/NamibRandNR_PR_Final.pdf

New Resources For The Transit Of Venus By The University Of Barcelona


A transit is the crossing of a planet or any star in front of the Sun. Mercury and Venus are the only planets of the solar system that can make transits, because they are closer to the Sun than the Earth. On 5-6 June the transit of the planet Venus across the Sun will take place. Researchers from the Department of Astronomy and Meteorology (DAM) of the University of Barcelona (Spain) will live broadcast the phenomenon from the Svalbard Islands, in the Arctic, through the website Serviastro.

On this occasion, the UB has developed the web page Venus 2012 where specific information on this transit will be accessible, together with a series of activities on astronomical distances which have been made available to school centers, and a comic on the history of the transits of Venus by Josep Manel Carrasco can also be found there (only in Spanish and Catalan).

Venus 2012: http://serviastro.am.ub.edu/twiki/bin/view/ServiAstro/TransitVenus050612