Flyby Highlights Importance of Asteroids in Science, Commerce, Protection of Life on Earth
On February 15 asteroid 2012 DA14 will zoom past Earth at 28,100 kph, well within the orbit of the Moon and even below GPS satellites. The 45-meter, 130,000-ton ordinary chondrite type S (rocky, silicate) asteroid will transit the Earth-Moon system over 33 hours. Closest approach of 27,700 km occurs Friday at 19:24 UT over the eastern Indian Ocean off Sumatra, 6° South by 97.5° East. 2012 DA14 was first discovered 4.3M km from Earth about a year ago by the La Sagra Sky Survey of the Astronomical Observatory of Mallorca in Spain. Scientists have cataloged only 1% of the estimated 500,000 Near-Earth Asteroids of similar size, which in a direct impact could release 2.5 megatons of energy – on par with the 1908 Tunguska Event that flattened 1,200 square km of forest in Siberia. Projects worldwide, including NASA NEOO, B612 Foundation and Pan-STARRS are working to identify asteroids and comets that could be hazardous to Earth. NASA is preparing an asteroid sample return mission, OSIRIS-REx, for launch in 2016. Asteroids have long inspired, intrigued and terrified, now they also seem to offer the promise of riches. Ventures like Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries hope to turn a profit by corralling asteroids to extract valuable resources. (Image Credit: P. Chodas, NASA/JPL)
Launch of 8th LDCM Spacecraft, Will Add to 40 Years of Valuable Data
The 8th Landsat Data Continuity Mission satellite is scheduled to launch February 11 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle between 10:02 – 10:50 PST. The LDCM program, jointly managed by the U.S. Geological Survey and NASA since 1972, enables the study of Earth and its dynamic changes in climate, carbon cycle, water cycle, land cover and ecosystems caused by natural and human activities. To be known as Landsat 8 after successful launch, the US$85M spacecraft, built by Orbital Sciences Corp., is designed with a 5-year lifespan and carries enough fuel for 10 years. There are 2 instruments aboard: Operational Land Imager built by Ball Aerospace & Technologies Corp. and Thermal Infrared Sensor developed by NASA Goddard. Together they will view the entire Earth every 16 days due to a near-polar orbit and document continents, coasts, polar ice and islands in visible, near-infrared, short-wave infrared and thermal infrared wavelengths with a moderate resolution of 15 to 100 meters from an approximate altitude of 700 km. By providing the longest continuous data stream of Earth’s surface, LDCM allows researchers to improve resource management, human / environmental health, urban planning and disaster recovery on a global scale. (Image Credit: NASA, ULA, USGS)
= 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 (WSW), Mars (WSW), Jupiter (SW). Morning Planets: Saturn (S).
Feb 11 — ISS, LEO: Expedition 34 preparing for docking of Progress 50 resupply vehicle, estimated at 20:40 UT, containing about 800 kg of propellant, 50 kg of oxygen / air, 420 kg of water, 1,320 kg of parts / equipment; if technical issues arise, alternate docking window on Feb 13.
Feb 11 — Kepler Space Telescope, Heliocentric Orbit: In drift-away orbit, spacecraft is now more than 0.48 AU (72M km) away from Earth sending about 12GB of data once a month; recent data suggests that 6% of the 75B red dwarf stars may contain Earth-sized planets in habitable zones with potential of moderate surface temp and liquid water; closest may be just 13 light-years away.
Feb 11 — Juno, Jupiter Trajectory: With a one-way radio signal delay of about 12 mins, spacecraft traveling approximately 64,800 km per hour relative to Sun is 240 days from Earth flyby gravity assist and 1,239 days from Jupiter approach.
Feb 11 — SpaceX, Multiple Locations: NewSpace company has 2nd commercial resupply mission to ISS with Falcon 9 rocket / Dragon capsule scheduled Mar 1, 3rd resupply Sept 30; Falcon Heavy demo flight expected in 2013, will be capable of launching 53K kg payloads to LEO, 12K kg to GTO with upgraded Merlin 1D engines providing 1.72M kg of thrust at liftoff.
Feb 11 — Bigelow Aerospace LLC, Las Vegas NV: Developing Alpha Station, commercial space station with 660-cubic m volume, launch to LEO 2016; offering 10-60-day visits starting at US$26.25M, 60-day lease of 100-cubic m for $25M, station naming rights for 1 year $25M.
Feb 11 — Terminal Velocity Aerospace LLC, Atlanta GA and Washington DC: Providing RED-Data an 8 kg device which attaches to space vehicle, sends data on acceleration, pressure, etc to improve reentry / breakup design; developing RED-SafeReturn ‘blackbox’ for reusable orbital craft, RED-Treasure small payload return box.
Feb 11 — RSA, Launch Soyuz / Progress 50P, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: An RSA Soyuz rocket to launch 50th Progress cargo delivery ship on 4-orbit, 6-hour trajectory to ISS; 20:41 local time (14:41 UT); NASA TV launch coverage starts 14:30 UT.
Feb 11 — ULA, Launch Atlas 5 / LDCM, Vandenberg AFB CA: NASA Landsat Data Continuity Mission spacecraft is 8th in series, will measure changes on Earth; launch window 10:02 – 10:50 PST; NASA TV launch coverage starts 07:15 PST.
Feb 11 — Space Foundation, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Washington DC: Business Horizon Series: Free Enterprise and the Final Frontier; panels / speakers discuss companies, investors, entrepreneurial leaders seeking to develop commercial space industry; held at Anheuser-Busch Briefing Center, 11:30 – 18:00 EST.
Feb 11 — Stanford Historical Society, Stanford Continuing Studies, Stanford CA: Stanford Women in Space; featuring: Eileen Collins 1st woman to serve as a shuttle commander, Barbara Morgan 1st teacher to become an astronaut, Ellen Ochoa 1st Hispanic woman in space; held in CEMEX Auditorium, Knight Management Center, 19:30 PST.
Feb 11 — NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt MD: Goddard Engineering Colloquium Series: Space Weather; presented by Antti Pulkkinen of NASA, 15:30 EST; free.
Feb 11-14 — Marcus Evans North America Ltd, Adobe, Squire Sanders LLP, et al, Alexandria VA: 3rd Annual ITAR Compliance Conference.
Feb 11 – Aug — NASA, Online: Selected USA K-12 teacher teams participate in Teaching from Space: Online Microgravity Course; with NASA personnel web seminars to aid team in development of reduced gravity experiment; set to occur Jul 12-20.
Feb 11 — Moon: 5.8° NNW of Mars, 24:00; 5.0° NNW of Mercury, 06:00.
Feb 11 — Asteroid 2013 BW15: Near-Earth Flyby (0.009 AU).
Jan 19 – May 18 — University of California at Riverside ARTSblock Program, Riverside CA: Free Enterprise: The Art of Citizen Space Exploration; art exhibit with NewSpace movement theme.
Jan 22 – May 30, 2014 — NASA, USA: Phase 1 Certification Products Contracts; Boeing Co. receives about US$10M, Sierra Nevada Corp. $10M, SpaceX $9.6M to work with NASA Commercial Crew Program to develop systems for launching astronauts from American soil.
Jan 25 – Mar 15 — Mauna Kea Observatory Outreach Committee, ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, Onizuka Space Center, Galaxy Garden, et al, Hawai`i Island: 2013 Mauna Kea Coin Design Contest; for K-12 students to design new Mauna Kea coin with astronomy and Hawaiian cultural themes; submit at any KTA courtesy desk.
Feb 1-28 — Austrian Space Forum, Ibn Battuta Center, Erfoud, Morocco: Morocco 2013 Mars Analog Field Simulation; small field crew to conduct engineering, planetary surface operations, astrobiology and other experiments to prepare for human Mars missions.
Feb 1 – Mar 1 — Space Foundation, Online: Accepting Applications: Scholarships for Educators; scholarship offers space-related STEM courses to USA educators; specifically open to Florida teachers, those of Hawaiian descent or those who teach Hawaiian students.
Feb 10-14 — American Astronautical Society, AIAA, Kauai HI: 23rd Space Flight Mechanics Meeting; held at Kauai Marriott Resort.
Feb 12 — Cassini OTM-340, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft conducts Orbital Trim Maneuver #340 today.
Feb 12 — Florida Space Institute, Orlando FL: Ad Astra: A National Space Society Perspective on our Future in Space; presented by NSS Director Paul E. Damphousse; Canceled.
Feb 12 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: Colloquium: Surface Exploration of Small Solar System Bodies: Challenges and Prospects; presented by Marco Pavone from Stanford University Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics; 12:00 PST.
Feb 12 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX: LPI Seminar Series: Early Mars: Steps Towards Development of Life; presented by Fred Singer; in Lecture Hall of USRA, 15:30 CST.
Feb 12 — Hawaii Board of Land and Natural Resources, Thirty Meter Telescope, Hilo HI: Final State Land Board Meeting; to continue discussion about building one of the world’s most powerful optical / infrared telescopes atop Mauna Kea; held in Council Chambers at the County Building, 11:00 HST.
Feb 12-13 — AIAA, Dynetics, Huntsville AL: Civil Space Symposium 2013; to focus on civil / commercial space access and orbital solutions, challenges, mission assurance, safety, policy, global competition; held at Dynetics Solutions Complex.
Feb 12-13 — National Science Foundation, Arlington VA: Astronomy and Astrophysics Advisory Committee Meeting.
Feb 12 — Asteroid 2013 BS45: Near-Earth Flyby (0.013 AU).
Feb 12 — Asteroid 2013 AB32: Near-Earth Flyby (0.077 AU).
Feb 13 — AIAA – San Francisco, Mountain View CA: Aerodynamics and Debris Transport for the Shuttle Launch Vehicle; dinner talk presented by Dr. Stuart Rogers of NASA Ames; held in Michael’s at Shoreline, 18:30 – 21:00 PST; US$35-15.
Feb 13 — NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt MD: Lecture: Our Eruptive Sun – The Causes and Consequences of Space Weather; presented by Dr. Phillip Chamberlin, 19:00 EST; free.
Feb 14 — NASA, Washington DC: NASA Advisory Council Astrophysics Subcommittee Meeting; to include Astrophysics Division update and NASA Astrophysics roadmapping; 13:00 – 17:00 EST.
Feb 14 — University of Houston – Clear Lake, Houston TX: 2013 Physics and Space Science Spring Seminar Series: By the Light of the Watery Moon – New Discoveries about Lunar Volatiles; presented by Paul Spudis from Lunar and Planetary Institute; free; held in UH-Clear room 1218, 19:00 CST.
Feb 14 — International Astronautical Federation, Online: Deadline for Nominations; for the IAF World Space Award, Allan D. Emil Memorial Award, Young Space Leaders Recognition Programme.
Feb 14 — Asteroid 2006 DD1: Near-Earth Flyby (0.094 AU).
Feb 15 — ‘Imiloa Astronomy Center, University of Hawai`i – Hilo, Hilo HI: Mauna Kea Skies Talk; astronomers from Mauna Kea observatories speak about recent discoveries; this session features Caltech Submillimeter Observatory; 19:00 HST, US$8-10.
Feb 15 — Women in Aerospace Foundation Inc., Online: Deadline to Apply: Women in Aerospace Scholarships 2013-2014; for women pursuing a career in the Aerospace industry.
Feb 15 — NASA, Online: Deadline for Video: NASA’s ReelScience Communication Contest; USA high school students become ‘NASA producers’ and create videos engaging other students in Earth Science; winners, announced Mar 31, will work with NASA scientists in Jul.
Feb 15 — Space Center Houston, Houston TX: Lunch with an Astronaut, John Blaha; US$49.95 adult.
Feb 15 — Asteroid 2012 DA14: Near-Earth Flyby (0.0002 AU), 09:25 HST; estimated 45-m diameter.
Feb 15 — Asteroid 2005 RZ2: Near-Earth Flyby (0.081 AU).
Feb 16 — Asteroid 2008 DG17: Near-Earth Flyby (0.095 AU).
Feb 17 — Cassini, Saturn Orbit: Titan flyby scheduled at 1,978-km altitude.
Feb 17 — NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt MD: Sunday Experiment: NASA Engineering; for families to learn about Goddard science, engineering research, technological developments; held in Auditorium and Science Center/Sphere, 13:00 – 15:00 EST.
Feb 17 — Moon: At first quarter, 10:30; 4.9° SSE of Pleiades, 12:00.