January 30 – February 5, 2012 / Vol 31, No 5 / Hawai`i Island, USA

Europe Focuses on Sun at Max Planck Institute Seminar this week and ESA Solar Orbiter Mission Approved for 2017

Max Planck Institute seminar focused on solar wind and the corona coincides with recent approval of the ESA Solar Orbiter mission for launch in 2017. The meeting, titled From the Heliosphere into the Sun – Sailing Against the Wind, held January 31 – February 3 at the Physikzentrum Bad Honnef near Bonn, Germany, is funded by the WE-Heraeus Foundation. Intended as a forum to discuss advances in solar science over the last 3 decades, including the first high-resolution X-ray and EUV observations of the corona and the first detailed measurements of the ion and electron velocity distribution functions in the inner heliosphere, the meeting will also look towards future research. The Solar Orbiter mission recently selected by ESA will carry its telescopes closer to the Sun than any spacecraft in history, within 0.28AU, providing unprecedented resolution of solar features. Moreover, the spacecraft’s orbit will reach speeds almost matching the axial rotation of the Sun, 7.189x103km/h at the equator, thereby allowing for several days of contiguous data on evolving storms in the heliosphere. (Image Credit: MPS, ESA, SXT, Hinode X-Ray Telescope)

10th Arab Conference on Astronomy & Space Science

Over 500 international space scientists, astronomers, researchers and entrepreneurs are expected to attend the 10th Arab Conference on Astronomy and Space Science on February 5-8 in Muscat, Oman. The annual event will be hosted by the Oman Astronomical Society and sponsored in part by the International Astronomical Union, NASA, ESA and the Inter-Islamic Network for Space Science and Technology. Participants at the event will discuss this year’s theme, ‘The Role of Astronomy and Space Sciences in Developing Contemporary Societies,’ as well as find ways to strengthen scientific cooperation in order to serve the region, its institutions and its members.  Topics will cover peaceful usage of outer space technologies, space-based tourism, galactic research studies, space-based Earth observations as well as education and outreach. Attending will be Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Sciences President Hamid M.K Al-Naimy (CL) and George Mason University professor and NASA Goddard Researcher Aous Abdo (BL). Participants will represent countries across the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa as well as Nigeria, China, Iran, Russia, Malaysia, Canada, Europe, USA and New Zealand. (Image Credit: XCOR Aerospace, GMU, AUASS, Africasti.com, Google.com, Geographic.org)

= 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 – Morning Planets: Mars (S), Saturn (S) / Evening Planets: Venus (SW), Mars (E), Jupiter (S).


Jan 30 — International Space Station, LEO: E-30 crew members continue to unload 2.9 tons of food, fuel and equipment from Progress 46 as well as continue ongoing science and maintenance activities.

Jan 30 — NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), Lunar Orbit: LRO continues to function nominally in its 50±15 km near-circular orbit as it makes digital elevation and surface maps that will be a fundamental reference for future human exploration.

Jan 30 — Mars Rover Opportunity, Red Planet: NASA rover recently discovers mineral vein, ‘Homestake,’ one of many newly discovered Martian gypsum veins which indicates the existence of water.

Jan 30 – Feb 1 — European Commission, Brussels, Belgium:European CubeSat Symposium.’

Jan 30 — Moon: 4.4° NNW of Jupiter, 02:00; At Apogee (Distance: 404,324 km),08:00; At First Quarter, 18:00.

Jan 30 — Asteroid 2010 WU8: Near-Earth Flyby (0.078 AU).

Continued from…

Jan 9 — International Space University, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia:Southern Hemisphere Summer Program;’ Feb 11.

Jan 23 — The University of Tokyo, Institute for Physics & Mathematics of the Universe, Kashiwa, Japan:Workshop: Testing Gravity with Astrophysical and Cosmological Observations;’ through Feb 3.

Jan 23 — International Telecommunication Union, Geneva, Switzerland:World Radio Communication Conference 2012;’ through Feb 17.

Jan 29 — American Astronautical Society, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Charleston SC:22nd AAS / AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Winter Meeting;’ through Feb 2.

Jan 29 — International Astronomical Union, Stellenbosch, South Africa:IAU Symposium 287: Cosmic Masers – From OH to HO;’ through Feb 3.


Jan 31 — Firenze University Dept. of Physics and Astronomy, Florence, Italy:Exoplanet Characterization Observatory (ECho) Workshop.’

Jan 31 — Johnson Space Center, Houston TX:Small Business Industry Day.’

Jan 31 — NASA, Mansfield TX: 5th-8th grade students at Asa Low Intermediate School to speak with NASA Expedition 30 Cmdr Dan Burbank and Flight Engineer Don Pettit aboard the ISS at 11:50 EST.

Jan 31 — The Space Foundation, Colorado Springs CO:2012 Space Foundation Student Art Contest: Space is Infinite – Explore!,’ submission deadline.

Jan 31 — NASA Headquarters, Washington DC: NASA to host science update to discuss new analysis from the Interstellar Boundary Explorer spacecraft at 13:00 EST.

Jan 31 – Feb 2 — NASA, Huntsville AL: Test version of NASA Orion spacecraft at the US Space & Rocket Center will give residents a chance to see a full scale test version of the vehicle that will take humans into deep space.

Jan 31 – Feb 3 — Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, Wilhelm and Else Heraeus Foundation, Bonn Honnef, Germany:From the Heliosphere in the Sun: Sailing Against the Wind.’

Jan 31 — Asteroid 433 Eros: Closest Approach to Earth (0.177 AU).


Feb 1 — NASA New Horizons Spacecraft, Deep Space: New Horizons probe entering home-stretch of its 9-year trip to dwarf planet, Pluto, recently completing 6 years of space flight; Pluto encounter to begin Jan 2015.

Feb 1-3 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX:Workshop on the Early Solar System Bombardment.’

Feb 1 — Moon: 3.0° SSE of Pleiades; 11:00.

Feb 1 — Asteroid (Near-Earth Flyby): 2006 CJ (0.045 AU); 2008 EP6 (0.061 AU); 2006 SU217 (0.072 AU); 278381 (0.073 AU).


Feb 2 — US Space and Rocket Center, Huntsville AL:Lecture: Pass the Torch,’ featuring a presentation by NASA Orion Deputy Project Manager Mark Kirasich and Space Launch System Program Manager Todd May at 18:00 CST.

Feb 2-3 — Canadian Space Agency, St. Hubert, Quebec, Canada:The Canadian Workshop on Micro-Penetrator for Planetary Exploration.’

Feb 2 — Cassini OTM-306, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft conducts Orbital Trim Maneuver #306 today.

Feb 2 — Moon: 5.7° N of Aldebaran; 07:00.


Feb 3 — Space Center Houston, Houston TX:Lunch With an Astronaut,’ Leroy Chiao.

Feb 3-8 — American Astronautical Society – Rocky Mountain Section, Breckenridge CO:35th AAS Guidance and Control Conference.’


Feb 4-5 — Space Up San Diego, San Diego CA:Space Up San Diego: A Space Unconference,’ participants decide the topics, schedule, and structure of the event.


Feb 5-8 — The Arab Union for Astronomy and Space Sciences, International Astronomical Union, ESA, NASA, et al, Muscat, Oman:The 10th Arab Conference on Astronomy and Space Sciences.’

Feb 5 — Moon: 10.0° SSW of Pollux; 14:00.

Feb 5 — Comet 49P / Arend-Rigaux: Closest Approach to Earth (1.025 AU).

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