July 18-24, 2011 / Vol 30, No 29 / Hawai`i Island, USA

New Era of USA Space Exploration Dawns as Scientists, Entrepreneurs, Students Gather for Lunar Science Forum

Space Shuttle Atlantis, the final mission of the 30 year program, is set to land at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 05:56 EDT on July 21, marking the beginning of a new phase of American space exploration 1 day after the world commemorates Apollo 11 Space Day. Many of the entrepreneurs, space scientists and students who will be the likely catalysts for the next great achievements in exploration will be in Moffett Field CA for the 4th NASA Ames Lunar Science Conference when Atlantis touches down. Held on July 19-21, the forum will feature sessions on Geology, Recent Missions, Commercial Missions, Human Exploration, Lunar Atmosphere, and Astrophysics / Heliophysics from the Moon. The Conference will be preceded by the 2nd annual Lunar Graduate Conference on July 17 and the Next Generation Lunar Scientists and Engineers Workshop on July 18.  In a separate ongoing event, the Lunar and Planetary Institute is hosting a special 10-week summer intern program in Houston TX to evaluate possible landing sites for human and robotic lunar missions. (Credit: NASA)

Astronomy Observation Focus of China International Workshop & Russia Launch

International efforts to advance astronomical research from Antarctica and Space will take place this week with 2 events held in Beijing, China, and Baikonur, Kazakhstan. On July 18-23, the National Astronomical Observatory of China and Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) will co-sponsor ‘Frontiers of Cosmology at Dome A, Antarctica.’ Dome A, the highest point on the Antarctic plateau located 1200km inland and 4093m elevation above sea level offers ideal atmospheric conditions for astronomical observation. Data will be presented from the PLATeau Observatory (PLATO), the CAS Dome A–WSN wireless based observation system and the Kunlun Station (BR), with much attention on further expanding these facilities. On NET Jul 18 local time, Russia is set to launch the Spektr-R (TR) astronomy observatory, a 10m radio telescope aboard a Zenit-3F rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome. The International collaborative mission initiated by Astro Space Center will use the space telescope to conduct interferometer observations in conjunction with ground radio telescopes in Australia and Russia.  Spektr–R will be placed in a high elliptical orbit passing 500km above Earth at perigee and as far as 340,000km away in apogee. The spacecraft will spend the 1st 45 days in commission phase followed by the scientific phase. The mission is expected to remain in operations for at least 9 years. (Credit: space.skyrocket.de, sciencepoles.org, unsw.edu.au)

= 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 (ENE), Jupiter (ENE) / Evening Planets: Mercury (WNW), Saturn (WSW).


Jul 18 — International Space Station, LEO: E-28 crew members finish reloading Raffaello with almost 2590kg of  unneeded equipment and trash which will be replaced in Space Shuttle Atlantis’ cargo bay this morning for return to Earth.

Jul 18 — NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), Lunar Orbit: All systems nominal in scientific phase of mission as LRO continues to make digital elevation and terrain maps that will be a fundamental reference for future human exploration.

Jul 18 — Mars, Red Planet: Scientists from SETI Institute and Ames Research Center continue to investigate new research suggesting that traces of Mars’ wet past are hidden under a thin varnish of iron oxide or rust that may go undetected from space-borne instruments.

NET Jul 18 — RSA, Launch Zenit 3F / Spektr R, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: Zenit rocket set to launch Spektr R radio astronomy observatory at local time 02:31 GMT and work in conjunction with ground telescopes to study variety of astronomical objects.

Jul 18 — NASA Lunar Science Institute, Mountain View CA:3rd Next Generation Lunar Scientists and Engineers Workshop.’

Jul 18 — Ames Research Center, Moffett Field CA: Unveiling of  new book, ‘Getting a Feel for Lunar Craters,’ by David Hurd for blind and visually impaired readers; NASA Lunar Science Institute, 18:00.

Jul 18 — NASA, United Launch Alliance (ULA), Centennial CO: NASA and & ULA managers to hold news conference to announce a new Commercial Crew Development agreement at 11:00 MDT.

Jul 18-22 — Teachers in Space, NASA, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, et al, Daytona Beach FL:Teachers in Space Program: Suborbital Astronautics Workshop.’

Jul 18-23 — National Science Foundation of China, Chinese Academy of Sciences, National Astronomical Observatories of China, et al, Beijing, China: ‘Frontiers of Cosmology at Dome A, Antarctica.’

Jul 18Moon: 3.4° N of Antares; 16:00.

Continued from . . .

May 31 — NASA Lunar Science Institute, Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX: ‘Lunar Exploration Summer Intern Program,’ 10-week program to evaluate possible landing sites for robotic and human exploration missions; through Aug 5.

Jun 9New Mexico Museum of Space History, Alamogordo NM: ‘New Mexico Space Academy Summer Camp;’ through Aug 5.

Jun 13 — Space Voyage Academy, Littleton CO: ‘Space Voyage Summer Academy Camp,’ an enrichment program about space for students ages 5-16; through Jul 29.

Jun 27 — Google Lunar X Prize Foundation, LEGO Group, Playa Vista CA; Online:LEGO Moonbots 2.0;’ through Aug 15.

Jul 11 — International Space University – Space Studies Institute, Graz, Austria: ‘24th Space Studies Program;’ through Sep 9.

Jul 16 — International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, ESA, Barcelona, Spain: ‘22nd International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence,’ with ESA focus on ‘AI in Space: Intelligence Beyond Planet Earth‘ on Jul 17; through Jul 22.

Jul 17 — American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Portland OR: ‘41st International Conference on Environmental Systems;’ through Jul 22.

Jul 17 — Gordon Research Conferences, South Hadley MA: ‘Origins of Solar Systems Conference;’ through Jul 22.

Jul 17 — American Geophysical Union, St. John’s, Canada: ‘AGU Chapman Conference on Dynamics of the Earth’s Radiation Belts and Inner Magnetosphere;’ through Jul 22.


Jul 19 — Zero Gravity Corporation, Chicago IL: Commercial weightless flight on board G-Force One.

Jul 19-21 — NASA Lunar Science Institute, Moffett Field CA:4th Annual NASA Lunar Science Forum.’

Jul 19-28 — ESA, International Space Science Institute, AustroSpace, et al, Tyrol, Austria: ‘Alpbach Summer School 2011: Star Formation Across the Universe.’


Jul 20 — 42nd Apollo 11 Observation, Nationwide USA / Global: 1st Human mission to land on Moon in 1969; 1st steps by humans on another planetary body taken by Commander Neil Armstrong and Lunar Module Pilot Buzz Aldrin.

Jul 20 — The SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: Colloquium Series Lecture: ‘The Great Archean Bombardment, or the Late Late Heavy Bombardment,’ Bill Bottke.

Jul 20 — Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC: ‘Columbia,’ Allan Needell.

Jul 20 — British Interplanetary Society (BIS), London, United Kingdom: Pioneering astronaut Richard Garriott to deliver  keynote address at the BIS and will focus on his experiences aboard the ISS and vision for the future of space tourism.

Jul 20-22 — Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology, Stanford CA: ‘Suzaku 2011: Exploring the X-Ray Universe – Suzaku and Beyond.’


NET Jul 21 — ISC, Launch Dnepr / Multi-Payload, Yasny, Russia: An ISC Kosmotras Dnepr rocket set to launch the Sich 2 Earth Observation satellite for Ukraine, the NigeriaSat 2 and NigeriaSat X remote sensing satellites for Nigeria, the RASAT demonstration satellite for Turkey, the EduSAT spacecraft for the University of Rome and other payloads.

Jul 21 — The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, Washington DC: ‘Buzz Aldrin’s Space Suit,’ Cathy Lewis, Lisa Young.

Jul 21-22 — Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena CA: The von Karman Lecture Series: ‘Hot Water: The Oceans and Global Warming,’ Josh Willis.

Jul 21Moon: At Apogee (Distance 63.40 Earth-Radii); 13:00.


Jul 22 — The National Academies, Teleconference: ‘NASA Technology Roadmap: Materials Panel.’

Jul 22 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX: ‘LPI Seminar Series 2011: Mars Volcanism Sampler – Key Questions Addressed Using Orbiter Camera, 1997 – 2011,’ Kenneth Edgett.

Jul 22Venus: 6.0° S of Pollux; 23:00.

Jul 22Moon: At Last Quarter; 19:03.

Jul 22 — Asteroid (Near-Earth Flyby): 2007 RQ17 (0.034 AU); 2008 TC (0.061 AU).


Jul 23 — USS Hornet Museum, Alameda CA: ‘Living Ship Day: Apollo 11 Splashdown 42nd Anniversary.’

Jul 23Moon: 4.9° NNW of Jupiter; 12:00.

Jul 23 — Asteroid (Near-Earth Flyby): 2007 DD (0.024 AU); 2011 MW1 (0.067 AU).


Jul 24 — Kennedy Space Center, Astronaut Scholarship Foundation, Cape Canaveral FL: ‘40th Anniversary Celebration of Apollo 15: With Dave Scott, Al Worden & Remembering Jim Worden.’

Jul 24 — Comet C / 2011 L3 (McNaught): Closest Approach to Earth (1.045 AU).

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