April 27 – May 3, 2015 / Vol 34, No 17 / Hawai`i Island, USA

Deep Space: Distant Regions Not Yet Routinely Explored

Deep Space

The boundaries of Deep Space become less clear as our technologies allow us to travel farther from Earth more quickly and easily. Many may think of Deep Space as any area outside of Geostationary Orbit (GEO), also called High Earth Orbit, at 35,786 km. The nebulous boundary of Deep Space is often extended to anything beyond the Earth-Moon system at 405,696+ km, following the Apollo missions and human Moon exploration of the 1960s and 70s. Space, Deep Space, astronomy and exploration will be celebrated during Space Day 2015 on May 1 at public events Worldwide. NewSpace companies Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources plan to detect and mine Near-Earth Objects (within 1.3 AU of Sun & 0.3 AU of Earth) for valuable resources, providing space depots to support human and robotic expansion throughout the Solar System. As international spacecraft reach Mars, Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto, the Voyager spacecraft travel through Interstellar Space, and groups like 100 Year Star Ship, Tau Zero Foundation / Centauri Dreams and Icarus Interstellar advocate for interstellar exploration, what constitutes as Deep Space may reflect our advances in reaching the farthest distances in the Solar System, Galaxy and the Universe. (Image Credit: NASA, Glenn Research Center, M. Mercer, DSI)


Apr 27 — ISS, LEO: Expedition 43 transferring cargo from Dragon CRS-6, preparing for arrival of Progress 59P, working on microorganisms & rodent experiments; Robotics Refueling Mission study between CSA & NASA being conducted by ground controllers operating Candarm2 dexterous manipulator ‘Dextre.’

 Apr 27 — Chang’e-3 Lander & Yutu Rover, Sinus Iridum / Mare Imbrium, 44.12°N 19.51°W, Moon Surface: Spacecraft to awake for Lunar Day 18 this week, will continue collecting data with Lunar Ultraviolet Telescope &  Visible/Near-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer.

Apr 27 — MAVEN, Mars Orbit: In science mapping phase & elliptical orbit of 6,500 – 130 km altitude, investigating structure & composition of upper atmosphere.

 Apr 27 — Bigelow Aerospace LLC, Las Vegas NV: NewSpace company inflatable 2.4-meter wide BEAM being prepared for Sep 2 launch aboard SpaceX Dragon CRS 8 capsule for two-year technology demonstration at ISS; hiring for 65 positions in NV & AZ.

 Apr 27 — Dhruva Space, Bengaluru, India: Working to establish commercial satellite industry in India, developing indigenous SmallSat platform with start-up company Berlin Space Technologies.

 Apr 27 — Made in Space, Moffett Field CA: Plans to sell 3D printer filaments & canisters identical to the product being tested on ISS to advance commerce of 3D printed terrestrial & space products.

 Apr 27 — University of St. Andrews, European Research Council, St. Andrews, United Kingdom: Scottish Exoplanet / Brown Dwarf Meeting.

Apr 27-28 — Santa Clara University, Caltech, MIT, Cornell, University of Michigan, JPL, Santa Clara CA: Interplanetary Small Satellite Conference: Beyond LEO; featuring Dr. Simon Pete Worden.

Apr 27-29 — Caltech/JPL, NASA, Pasadena CA: 7th NASA Formal Methods Symposium.

 Apr 27-30 — Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, Heidelberg, Germany: Workshop: Frontiers of Stellar Spectroscopy in the Local Group and Beyond.

Apr 27 — Moon: 3.8° SSW of Regulus, 16:00.

Apr 27 — Asteroid 2015 FG120: Near-Earth flyby (0.073 AU).

APR - JUN 2015 = All times for terrestrial events in local time unless noted.

= All times for international terrestrial events in local time unless noted.

= All times for space events, and…

= All times for international space / astro events in Hawaii Standard Time unless noted. Add 10 hours to obtain UT (‘Universal Time;’ Greenwich, England).

Weekly Planet Watch – Evening Planets: Mercury (W), Venus (W), Mars (W), Jupiter (S); Morning Planets: Saturn (S).

Mexico Set for Launch of MexSat 1 Amid Increasingly Active National Space Sector

calendar feature - mexico 2015

The MexSat 1 communications satellite is set to be launched for the Mexican government by International Launch Services aboard a Proton rocket with Breeze-M upper stage from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan on April 29 2014. This is part of a turnkey system purchased from Boeing for US$1B, which comprises 3 satellites and 2 ground stations to provide secure communications for Mexico national security needs as well as enhanced coverage for civil telecommunications across the region. The next installment, MexSat 2, is slated for launch October 20 aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. There are many indications that Mexico is eager to develop new international collaboration in Space. For example Mexico has recently: signed an MOU with India for exchange of technological experience and space science; hosted a Mexico – Japan Workshop on Space Technology and Applications; expressed interest in cooperation with the Russian satellite navigation system GLONASS; and joined a collaborative project between Latin American space institutions from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela. Guadalajara is preparing to host the 67th International Astronautical Congress in 2016. The Director-General of the Mexican Space Agency, Mr Francisco Javier Mendieta Jiménez, states that the Mexican Space Agency (AEM) will look to contribute to solutions for the great social challenges in matters of education, competitiveness, equity, health, digital inclusion and environmental sustainability. (Image Credit: MexSat, AEM, Khrunichev)


Continued from…

Oct 16, 2014 – Jun 11 — NASA, University of Hawai`i, Mauna Loa HI: Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Mission 3.

Mar 1 – Jan 1, 2016 — Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA), Multiple Locations: Cycle 3 of science flights to observe universe consists of science flights grouped into multi-week observing campaigns totaling about 450 research flight hours.

Apr 6 – May 8 — Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics China, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China: Workshop: The Next Detectors for Gravitational Wave Astronomy.


Apr 28 — RSA, Launch Soyuz / Progress 59P, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: An RSA Soyuz rocket set to launch 59th Progress cargo ship to ISS.

Apr 28 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: SETI Weekly Colloquium: Shape Dynamics: A Relational View of the Universe; presented by Henrique Gomes from Perimeter Institute, 12:00.

Apr 28-29 — The National Academies, Washington DC: Space Studies Board Meeting.

Apr 28 — Moon: At apogee (distance 404,622 km), 18:00.

Apr 28 — Asteroid 2015 GB14: Near-Earth flyby (0.023 AU).


Apr 29 — International Launch Services, Launch Proton / MexSat 1, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: International Launch Services Proton rocket to deploy MexSat 1 (Centenario) communications satellite for government of Mexico.


Apr 30 — MESSENGER, Mercury Orbit: The only spacecraft at Mercury, now has dwindling fuel supply & scheduled to impact planet surface today; launched August 3, 2004, entered orbit March 18, 2011.

Apr 30 — Cornell University, Ithaca NY: Lecture: Getting Under Europa’s Skin; presented by Britney Schmidt from Georgia Institute of Technology.

Apr 30 — Victor Valley College, Victorville CA: Lecture: New Horizons – The First Mission to Pluto; presented by Dr. Mark Showalter.

Apr 30 — Planetary Habitability Laboratory of University of Puerto Rico – Arecibo, Arecibo, Puerto Rico: First Earth-like Worlds Workshop.

Apr 30 – May 2 — Space Access Society, Phoenix AZ: Space Access 2015 Conference; at Radisson Hotel Phoenix North.

Apr 30 — Mercury: 1.6° SSE of Pleiades, 20:00.

Apr 30 — Asteroid 2015 HC1: Near-Earth flyby (0.056 AU).

Apr 30 — Asteroid 2011 EX4: Near-Earth flyby (0.073 AU).


May 1 — Deep Space: Juno craft heading toward Jupiter at 11 km per second relative to Sun with 32-minute one-way radio signal time to Earth, expected to enter orbit July 4, 2016; ESA plans to launch JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) in 2022,  Russian Space Research Institute (IKI) may add Ganymede lander; NASA / JPL considering Europa Clipper orbiter mission.

May 1 Space Day 2015, Worldwide: Events and presentations held Worldwide to promote STEM education & inspire people to continue the work of space explorers.

May 1 — The Space Show, Online / Tiburon CA: Dr. David Livingston talks with Brent Sherwood about Human Space Flight.

May 1 – Jun 30 — Johnson Space Center, NASA, National Space Grant Foundation, Houston TX: 2015 eXploration Habitat (X-Hab); university-level students’ designs for functional space habitat subsystems prototypes to be submitted & evaluated.

May 1 — Asteroid 2015 FT33: Near-Earth flyby (0.084 AU).


May 2 — Mauna Kea Astronomy Outreach Committee, Hilo HI: 14th Annual Astronomy Day (AstroDay 2015); at Prince Kuhio Mall, 10:00-16:00; featuring CFHT, IfA, Gemini Observatory, IRTF, W. M. Keck Observatory, CSO, Subaru Telescope, many more.

May 2-8 — Tel Aviv University, Israel Space Agency, Golan Research Institute of Haifa University, Kazrin & Tel Aviv, Israel: Workshop: Space Weather And Plasma in Space (IsraSWAPS-2015).

May 2 — Moon: 3.3° NNE of Spica, 04:00.

May 2 — Mars & Saturn: At heliocentric opposition; heliocentric longitudes are 61° & 241°, 11:00.


May 3-7 — American Geophysical Union, Canadian Geophysical Union, Geological Association of Canada, Montreal, Quebec, Canada: 2015 Joint Assembly on Geophysical Sciences.

May 3 — Moon: Full (Strawberry / Flower Moon), 17:42.