Orbit Fab to Launch Orbital Fuel Depot Next Year

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Orbit Fab plans to launch its first operational fuel depot into orbit aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than June 2021.

Orbit Fab’s Tanker 001 Tenzing will store propellant for satellite serving spacecraft and other vehicles that need refueling. The spacecraft will be placed in a sun synchronous orbit by one of Spaceflight Inc.’s Sherpa orbital transfer vehicles.

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NSF & CASIS Announce Fourth Solicitation in Tissue Engineering and Mechanobiology Research on ISS

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla, November 16, 2020 – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) announced their fourth annual joint solicitation for investigators to leverage the International Space Station (ISS) for research in the fields of tissue engineering and mechanobiology.

Up to $1.6 million will be awarded for multiple research investigations to support flight projects under the sponsorship of the ISS U.S. National Laboratory. An additional $450,000 may be available to support hardware and Implementation Partner costs for each awarded proposal. CASIS is the nonprofit responsible for management of the ISS National Lab through a Cooperative Agreement with NASA.

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New Era for Space Station Research Ushered by NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 Mission—Astronauts Getting Right to Work

The four Commercial Crew astronauts (front row from left) Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi are welcomed aboard the station. In the back row from left are, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., November 17, 2020 (CASIS PR) – Early this morning, NASA and SpaceX made history when the first crew rotation of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Resilience, arrived safely to the International Space Station (ISS) after launching from Kennedy Space Center Pad 39A on Sunday evening.

On the SpaceX Crew-1 mission, NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi, launched on the first NASA-certified commercial human spacecraft system in history. During their six-month assignment, the Crew-1 astronauts will live and work on the orbiting laboratory, performing multiple research and technology demonstration investigations.

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Astrobotic & University of Pittsburgh’s SHREC Partnering for Space Technologies Research

Teams will work together to translate concepts into tangible innovations that will support lunar landings, rover missions, satellite servicing, and more.

PITTSBURGH (Astrobotic PR) – Astrobotic and the National Science Foundation (NSF) Center for Space, High-performance, and Resilient Computing (SHREC) are pleased to announce a partnership to develop new software and hardware technologies for future space applications.

The SHREC consortium, led by the University of Pittsburgh, is an NSF Industry-University Cooperative Research Center (IUCRC) and will work together with Astrobotic by pairing first-class academic researchers with engineering teams to translate concepts into tangible innovations that will support lunar landings, rover missions, satellite servicing, and more.

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A Second Cable Fails at NSF’s Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico

The UCF-managed Arecibo Observatory in the spring of 2019. (Credit: University of Central Florida)

Engineers are reviewing the new damage and assessing how to best stabilize the facility.

by Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala
University of Central Florida News

A main cable that supports the Arecibo Observatory broke Friday at 7:39 p.m. Puerto Rico time.

Unlike the auxiliary cable that failed at the same facility on Aug. 10, this main cable did not slip out of its socket. It broke and fell onto the reflector dish below, causing additional damage to the dish and other nearby cables. Both cables were connected to the same support tower. No one was hurt, and engineers are already working to determine the best way to stabilize the structure.

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How Many Habitable Planets are Out There?

Kepler-186f was the first rocky planet to be found within the habitable zone — the region around the host star where the temperature is right for liquid water. This planet is also very close in size to Earth. Even though we may not find out what’s going on at the surface of this planet anytime soon, it’s a strong reminder of why new technologies are being developed that will enable scientists to get a closer look at distant worlds. (Credits: NASA Ames/SETI Institute/JPL-Caltech)

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (SETI Institute PR) – Thanks to new research using data from the Kepler space telescope, it’s estimated that there could be as many as 300 million potentially habitable planets in our galaxy. Some could even be pretty close, with several likely within 30 light-years of our Sun. The findings will be published in The Astronomical Journal, and research was a collaboration of scientists from NASA, the SETI Institute, and other organizations worldwide.

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Gardner and Peters’ Bipartisan Bill to Predict and Mitigate Space Weather Signed Into Law

An image taken from the International Space Station shows orange swaths of airglow hovering in Earth’s atmosphere. NASA’s new Atmospheric Waves Experiment will observe this airglow from a perch on the space station to help scientists understand, and ultimately improve forecasts of, space weather changes in the upper atmosphere. (Credits: NASA)

Washington, D.C. (Cory Gardner/Gary Peters PR) – U.S. Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI) today applauded the signing into law of their bipartisan legislation to strengthen the nation’s ability to predict severe space weather events and mitigate their harmful impacts on Earth. A severe space weather event, such as a solar flare or coronal mass ejection, has the potential to seriously disrupt the electric power grid, communications networks including cellular phones and GPS, satellites, and aircraft operations.

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PROSWIFT Space Weather Bill Signed into Law

Space weather effects. (Credit: ESA/Science Office)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

President Donald Trump has signed a bill to reorganize and strengthen the nation’s monitoring of and response to space weather, albeit with some reservations about its impact on foreign policy and national security.

The Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow Act (PROSwift) assigns roles to federal departments and establishes an interagency working group to coordinate their activities.

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CASIS & NSF Select Five Transport Phenomena Projects for Flight to International Space Station

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., October 20, 2020 (CASIS PR) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) today announced five awarded projects from a joint solicitation for research in the general field of  transport phenomena.

The solicitation sought investigators interested in leveraging resources onboard the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory for research in the areas of fluid dynamics, particulate and multiphase processes, thermal transport, nanoscale interactions, and combustion and fire systems.

The NSF Directorate for Engineering invested $2 million in awards to the selected projects, and CASIS, manager of the ISS National Lab, will facilitate hardware implementation, in-orbit access, and astronaut crew time to support the investigations on the orbiting laboratory.

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Space Weather Bill Passes Congress

The Sun sends out a constant stream of particles and energy, which drives a complex space weather system near Earth and can affect spacecraft and astronauts. NASA has chosen five new mission concept studies for further development to study various aspects of this dynamic system. (Credits: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A bill to reorganize the nation’s response to space weather has passed both houses of Congress and heads to the White House for President Donald Trump’s signature.

The Promoting Research and Observations of Space Weather to Improve the Forecasting of Tomorrow Act (PROSwift) assigns roles to federal departments and establishes an interagency working group to coordinate their activities.

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Citizen Scientists Discover Dozens of New Cosmic Neighbors in NASA Data

In this artist’s rendering, the small white orb represents the white dwarf (a remnant of a long-dead Sun-like star), while the purple foreground object is the newly discovered brown dwarf companion, confirmed by NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope. This faint brown dwarf was previously overlooked until being spotted by citizen scientists working with Backyard Worlds: Planet 9, a NASA-funded citizen science project. (Credits: NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/P. Marenfeld/Acknowledgement: William Pendrill)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — We’ve never met some of the Sun’s closest neighbors until now. In a new study, astronomers report the discovery of 95 objects known as brown dwarfs, many within a few dozen light-years of the Sun.

They’re well outside the solar system, so don’t experience heat from the Sun, but still inhabit a region astronomers consider our cosmic neighborhood. This collection represents some of the coldest known examples of these objects, which are between the sizes of planets and stars.

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Tiny Asteroid Buzzes by Earth – the Closest Flyby on Record

This illustration shows asteroid 2020 QG’s trajectory bending during its close approach to Earth. The asteroid is the closest known nonimpacting asteroid ever detected. (Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

An SUV-size space rock flew past our planet over the weekend and was detected by a NASA-funded asteroid survey as it departed.

PASADENA, Calif. (NASA PR) — Near Earth Asteroids, or NEAs, pass by our home planet all the time. But an SUV-size asteroid set the record this past weekend for coming closer to Earth than any other known NEA: It passed 1,830 miles (2,950 kilometers) above the southern Indian Ocean on Sunday, Aug. 16 at 12:08 a.m. EDT (Saturday, Aug. 15 at 9:08 p.m. PDT).

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Broken Cable Damages Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico

The main collecting dish is among the world’s largest single-dish radio telescopes. The reflective dish is 1,000 feet in diameter, 167 feet deep, and covers an area of about 20 acres. (Credit: UCF)

ARECIBO, PR (University of Central Florida PR) — One of the auxiliary cables that helps support a metal platform in place above the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, broke on Monday (Aug. 10) causing a 100-foot-long gash on the telescope’s reflector dish. Operations at the UCF-managed observatory are stopped until repairs can be made.

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A Steaming Cauldron Follows the Dinosaurs’ Demise

A three-dimensional cross-section of the hydrothermal system in the Chicxulub impact crater and its seafloor vents. The system has the potential for harboring microbial life. (Illustration by Victor O. Leshyk for the Lunar and Planetary Institute)

Houston, Texas and Columbia, MD (USRA/LPI PR) — A new study reveals the Chicxulub impact crater may have harbored a vast and long-lived hydrothermal system after the catastrophic impact event linked to the extinction of dinosaurs 66 million years ago.

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NASA CubeSat Mission to Gather Vital Space Weather Data

Dione will gather data not collected since NASA’s dual-spacecraft Dynamics Explorer mission launched in the early 1980s. (Credits: NASA)

By Lori Keesey
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

GREENBELT, Md. — NASA has selected a new pathfinding CubeSat mission to gather data not collected since the agency flew the Dynamics Explorer in the early 1980s.

The new mission, called Dione after the ancient Greek goddess of the oracles, will carry four miniaturized instruments to study how Earth’s upper atmospheric layers react to the ever-changing flow of solar energy into the magnetosphere — the enveloping bubble of magnetic field around Earth that deflects most of the particles that erupt from the Sun.

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