Weekly Links

Down To Earth

Atlantis was raised into her final position at the new visitor center at KSC. She also looks rather silly in full shrink wrap. Reading the description of the new museum, I am really excited to check it out next year!

The NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft that was used for Endeavour’s final flight to California has been given to Houston as a display piece. This is the same airplane that was used for the Approach and Landing Tests of Enterprise in 1977.

SpaceX will no longer be a participant in the Stratolaunch project. Originally, SpaceX was going to be the provider/manufacturer of the project’s rockets, but the company cites design changes that have forced them to quit.

Some congresspeople are seeking to rename NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center after Neil Armstrong.

Speaking of Apollo 11, Minnesota has discovered the gift of moon rocks they received from NASA. They seem to have been stored in some warehouse for far too long. I’m glad to see these will be going on display.

Some enterprising Romanians launched a balloon in Australia during the November solar eclipse. They got some awesome views of the shadowed Earth.

In Orbit

The ISS program partners have agreed that NASA’s Scott Kelly and Russia’s Mikhail Kornienko will be the crew members to spend an entire year on ISS in 2016. Scott Kelly is of course the brother of astronaut Mark Kelly, who is married to Gabrielle Giffords. Kelly has already been on 3 spaceflights and was Commander of ISS during Expedition 26 two years ago. Kornienko has been to space once during Expedition 23/24.

On Friday, November 30th, the ISS was maneuvered by several degrees to give the European solar observatory on the ISS a better view of the sun. this is the first ISS maneuver for scientific objectives alone. Usually we only plan maneuvers for logistics.

Around the Solar System

Scientists with NASA’s MESSENGER have announced a high confidence discovery of water ice in polar craters on Mercury. Very cool.

If you heard about the “super moon” earlier this year, here is a nice graphic that shows the size difference between the biggest and smallest moon of 2012. The smallest happened just last week on November 28.

This animation of Saturn’s north pole is an abyss that stares back, as Nietzsche said.

Jupiter is at opposition tonight (Sunday, December 2nd). Jupter just had a close encounter with the Moon in the sky last week . Here is a collection of photos if you missed it.

Out There

Astronomers doing research with the MacDonald Observatory here in Texas have announced the discovery of a 17 billion solar mass black hole. The supermassive black hole may be the largest ever found and sits at the center of galaxy NGC 1277, 250 million light years away.

December 2, 2012 11:16 pm

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