July 20-26, 2015 / Vol 34, No 29 / Hawai`i Island, USA

Solar System Human Mission Design Project: Welcome to the Third Zone

calendar feature - SSHMDP June 2015

New Horizons zipping by Pluto and Charon is shedding light on a whole new region of the Solar System and has played a major role in the decades-long adoption of a much wider family of planets. A dwarf planet, not to be confused with a minor planet, is an object in direct orbit of the Sun with enough mass to achieve hydrostatic equilibrium under its own gravity, but which has not cleared its orbit of debris and is not one of the 4 terrestrial or 4 giant planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth Mars and Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune respectively). As of early 2015, in addition to the officially recognized dwarf planets Ceres, Pluto, Haumea, Makemake and Eris there are about 150 known Trans-Neptunian Objects that likely also qualify as dwarf planets (e.g. Orcus, Salacia, Quaoar, Sedna). Recently discovered bright spots in craters on Ceres are consistent with highly reflective materials containing ice or salts. Eris at (1.67±0.02)×1022 kg or 0.23 Moons is the most massive discovered so far and was recognized briefly as the “tenth planet” before being reclassified. The Kuiper Belt is a toroidal halo structure 20 times as wide and 20-200 times as massive as the Main Asteroid Belt comprised of an estimated 100,000 objects over 100 km in diameter and more than a trillion comets — all composed mostly of frozen volatiles (methane, ammonia, water ices). Elements which in accordance with the NASA mantra “Follow the Water,” indicate the possibility of sustaining development of extra-terrestrial life and offer life support and fuel potential to future interplanetary travelers. Along with the great satellites of the outer Solar System – Jovian moons Europa, Io, Ganymede, Callisto, and Saturnian moons Titan, Enceladus – these new worlds will continue to inspire humans to reach higher, learn more, overcome challenges, transcend terrestrial concerns. In the 22nd Century, exploration, development and utilization of the raw materials and resources at this third zone of the Solar System represent our final supply depot, the ultimate boost, in the acceleration of our species for interstellar endeavor. (Image Credit: NASA, JHUAPL, SwRI, JPL-Caltech, UCLA, MPS, DLR, IDA, Space Science Institute, University of Arizona)



Jul 20 — ISS, LEO: Expedition 44 preparing for arrival of 3 new crew members & Soyuz TMA-17M, transferring cargo from Progress 60P, working with VEG-01 experiment, Vizir photography study, cell cultivation, radiation exposure, crew performance observations; ISS now 6,086 days in orbit.

Jul 20 — Chang’e-3 Lander & Yutu Rover, Sinus Iridum / Mare Imbrium, 44.12°N 19.51°W, Moon Surface: Only spacecraft operating on surface of Moon, now in lunar night 20; Lunar Ultraviolet Telescope, Visible / Near-Infrared Imaging Spectrometer, and cameras making observations.

Jul 20 — New Horizons, Pluto Flyby / Kuiper Belt Trajectory: Collecting data on Pluto system for ~1 more year, returning information to Earth, science data to be embargoed for ~4 months, heading toward Kuiper Belt for Jan 2019 KBO encounter.

Jul 20 — Made in Space, Mountain View CA: NewSpace company working to build zero-gravity, 3D printer ‘R3DO’ to recycle plastic into useable / useful items & eliminate waste in space; printing technique advances could be applied to future space missions, lunar / habitat settlements.

Jul 20 — Planetary Resources Inc., Redmond WA: Arkyd-3R in LEO testing avionics, control systems & software technologies; Arkyd-6 to be launched in 19 weeks to ISS will test attitude control, power, communication, avionics systems; Consulting with NASA on its OSIRIS-REx (Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security and Regolith Explorer) mission.

 Jul 20 — Swiss Space Systems (S3), Payerne, Switzerland: Plans to invest US$16M in 30-kg CleanSpace One technology demonstrator satellite intended to identify, rendezvous with & de-orbit decommissioned SwissCube satellite; will launch payload to LEO aboard SOAR suborbital reusable shuttle (currently under development) in 2018.

Jul 20 — Apollo 11 46th Observation, Nationwide USA / Global: First 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 — Viking 1 Mars Lander 39th Observation, Nationwide USA / Global: First spacecraft to successfully land on another planet; originally scheduled for July 4, landing was delayed until this day in 1976 due to rough landing site.

Jul 20 — Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), NASA, Moffett Field CA: 6th Annual Lunar and Small Bodies Graduate Conference (LunGradCon 2015).

Jul 20 — Utah Space Association – NSS Chapter, Salt Lake City UT: July 20: Annual Meeting and Space Exploration Day Holiday Celebration; at Avenues Sweet Library.

JUL - SEP 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: Venus (W), Jupiter (W), Saturn (S); Morning Planets: Uranus (SE), Neptune (S).

Human Space and Extreme Environment Research

Extreme Environment Testing

Preparations for advanced Human Space exploration continue with crew habitation and science on the International Space Station, and extreme environment research and analog testing on Earth. On July 22 Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Kimiya Yui of JAXA and Oleg Kononenko of RSA are set to join Expedition 44 Commander Gennady Padalka, Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly, after a 6-hour, 4-orbit journey. Kelly and Kornienko are now 115 days into their 1-year space mission; data and observations collected on their performance and health will help determine countermeasures and risks associated with long-term space missions. NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 20, two-week space analog mission will begin July 20 in the Aquarius underwater laboratory 5.6 km off the coast of Key Largo, Florida and 19-meters below sea level. ESA Astronaut Luca Parmitano will lead a group including NASA Astronaut candidate Serena Aunon, JAXA Astronaut candidate Norishige Kanai, and NASA ‘spacewalk specialist’ David Coan to test communications equipment and EVA methods for deep space missions. Canadian Space Agency Astronaut David Saint-Jacques will join Gwenn Flowers and a team from the Simon Fraser University Glaciology Group July 25 – August 2 on the Kaskawulsh Glacier in Yukon, Canada to learn geological fieldwork techniques which could be applied to exploration of planetary bodies. Other isolated, extreme-environment analog test sites on Earth include the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah, Lunar Mars Analogue Site in France, McMurdo Dry Valleys / Concordia Station in Antarctica, Kīlauea Volcano / Mauna Kea / Mauna Loa in Hawai`i USA, Atacama desert in Chile. (Image Credit: NASA, ESA, CSA, G. Flowers, G. Ugarkovic, JPL, Cornell, M. Malaska NEEMO, L2, HI-SEAS, Mars Society MRDS, P. West, NSF)

Jul 20 — Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium, University of Louisville, Louisville KY: Free public program on Moon landing anniversary, 19:00-21:00.

Jul 20 — The Space Show, Online / Tiburon CA: Dr. David Livingston talks with Rand Simberg and Bill Simon on ‘Evoloterra: The Story of When We First Left Earth’ a celebration held on July 20th of each year recognizing the positive achievements of human beings.

Jul 20 – Aug 3 — NASA, NOAA, Aquarius Reef Base, Key Largo FL: NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations (NEEMO) 20; space analogue mission 19 meters below sea level to test tele-mentoring operations for ESA & simulate Moon / Mars EVAs; ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano (to command mission), Serena Aunon, Norishige Kanai, David Coan.

Jul 20 — Mercury: 5.4° S of Pollux, 03:00.

Jul 20 — Asteroid 2013 BQ18: Near-Earth flyby (0.020 AU).

Continued from…

Jun 1 – Aug 7 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX: 2015 LPI Summer Intern Program in Planetary Science.

Jun 8 – Aug 7 — International Space University, Glenn Research Center, NASA, Ohio University, Athens OH: ISU 28th Space Studies Program (SSP 2015).

Jul 13-31 — Exosphere, Budapest, Hungary: Copernicus Series: An Endogenously-Powered Space Elevator; focusing on modeling & economics of space elevators, will also feature GLXP Team Puli.

Jul 15-25 — Jagiellonian University, Jan Kochanowski University, Kielce, Poland: Cosmology School: Introduction to Cosmology.

Jul 19-25 — Rencontres du Vietnam, International Centre for Interdisciplinary Science Education, Quy Nhon, Vietnam: Conference: Planetary Systems – A Synergistic View.


Jul 21 — SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: SETI Weekly Colloquium: Pluto, the Kuiper belt and the early history of the solar system; presented by Renu Malhotra from Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, University of Arizona, 12:00.

Jul 21-23 — NASA Solar System Exploration Research Virtual Institute (SSERVI), Moffett Field CA: 2015 NASA Exploration Science Forum; scientific discussions of exploration targets of interest (Moon, near-Earth asteroids, moons of Mars); at Ames Research Center.

Jul 21 — Moon: At apogee (distance 404,367 km), 01:00.

Jul 21 — Asteroid 2010 PR66: Near-Earth flyby (0.063 AU).


Jul 22 — RSA, Launch Soyuz TMA-17M / ISS 43S, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: An RSA Soyuz rocket set to launch members of Expedition 44/45: Kjell Lindgren of NASA, Kimiya Yui of JAXA, Oleg Kononenko of RSA.

Jul 22 — ULA, Launch Delta 4 / WGS 7, Cape Canaveral AFS FL: United Launch Alliance Delta 4 rocket to launch 7th Wideband Global SATCOM spacecraft for U.S. military.

Jul 22 — Australia Telescope National Facility, Sydney, Australia: Colloquium: New Insights Into How the Galaxy-Black Hole Connection Works; presented by Kevin Schawinski.


Jul 23 — Chandra X-ray Observatory, HEO: NASA spacecraft in extended mission phase enters 17th year of operations in Space; instruments able to detect X-ray sources 100 times fainter than any previous X-ray telescope.

Jul 23-26 — Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum, NYC NY: 4th Annual Space & Science Festival; featuring Astronauts, satellites in real time, discussions on the future of space exploration.

Jul 23 — Moon: 3.9° NNE of Spica, 04:00; at first quarter, 18:08.

Jul 23 — Mercury: At superior conjunction (distance 1.337 AU from Earth), 09:00.


Jul 24-25 — University of California – Berkeley, Berkeley CA: Workshop on Results from NASA’s Stardust Mission; at Hillside Club.

Jul 24 — Asteroid 2015 LC21: Near-Earth flyby (0.049 AU).


Jul 25 — The British Interplanetary Society, London, United Kingdom: 70th Annual General Meeting of the British Interplanetary Society.

Jul 25-26 — University of California – Berkeley, Berkeley CA: Workshop: The First Billion Years of Impact Records – Evidence from Lunar Samples and Meteorites.

Jul 25 – Aug 2 — Canadian Space Agency, Kaskawulsh Glacier, Yukon, Canada: Astronaut Training Mission; CSA Astronaut David Saint-Jacques & team participating in training expedition to explore methods & techniques for conducting geological fieldwork that could be applied to future missions to Moon, Mars, Asteroids.

Jul 25 — Moon: 2.4° NNW of Saturn, 21:00.

Jul 25 — Mars: 9.2° S of Castor, 01:00.

Jul 25 — Asteroid 85989 (1999 JD6): Near-Earth flyby (0.048 AU).


Jul 26-31 — Sally Ride Science, Stanford University, Stanford CA: Sally Ride Science Camp.

Jul 26 – Aug 16 — Aspen Center for Physics, Aspen CO: Workshop: Neutrinos from Space and on Earth.

Jul 26 — Moon: 9.3° N of Antares, 20:00. 

Jul 26 — Mercury: 0.47° N of Beehive Cluster, 16:00.

Jul 26 — Asteroid 2015 LJ: Near-Earth flyby (0.049 AU).