March 14-20, 2011 / Vol 30, No 11 / Hawai`i Island, USA

Inner Solar System Exploration Advancing with MESSENGER Mercury Orbital Insertion, Phobos and Deimos International Conference

On March 14-16, space scientists, engineers, space exploration professionals and students from around the world will come together at NASA Ames in Silicon Valley CA for the 2nd International Conference on the Exploration of Phobos and Deimos. With several international spacecraft missions and concept studies underway and new scientific data available from the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and the ESA Mars Express, there is a growing interest in the exploration of the 2 Martian moons. The conference will be divided into 4 plenary sessions on science, robotic reconnaissance, human exploration, and recommendations for next steps. Veteran astronauts Buzz Aldrin (CL) and Tom Jones (BL) will give keynote addresses on the implications and challenges of human missions to NEOs, Phobos and Deimos. This week will also see the 1st spacecraft enter into orbit of Mercury when the MESSENGER spacecraft (BR) conducts a 15-minute orbit insertion maneuver at 20:45 EDT on Mar 17. After a 6.5 year mission in which the craft conducted 6 planetary flybys, 5 major propulsion maneuvers, and 16 trajectory-correction maneuvers, MESSENGER will begin a 1-year science campaign to understand the innermost planet. (Credit: NASA, John Hopkins University,,

NASTAR Offers 3-day Suborbital Training Program

The National AeroSpace Training and Research (NASTAR) Center has organized a 3-day Suborbital Scientist Training Program on March 14-16 in Philadelphia PA.  As the official space training provider to Virgin Galactic, NASTAR provides altitude and space flight training to prospective ‘Suborbital Scientist-Astronauts’ who must endure the physiological and psychological rigors of spaceflight. Nearly 200 people have completed space training at NASTAR. Day 1 begins with courses in Altitude Physiology followed by a high altitude flight to 5.49km. On days 2 and 3, participants will use the Space Training Simulator (STS-400) and perform tolerance flights at 3Gz, 3Gx, 6Gz, 6Gx to isolate the G vector forces as well as a 3G and 6G suborbital space flight. Participants must be 18 years of age or older and meet NASTAR simulator requirements as well as provide a current FAA Medical Class 3 Certificate. NASTAR has planned 4 more Suborbital Scientist Training Programs taking place May 9-11, September 12-14 and November 14-16. Pictured: Richard Branson (TL), Virgin Galactic. (Credit: NASTAR)

= 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: Venus (SE), Saturn (S) / Evening Planets: Mercury (W), Jupiter (W).


Mar 14 — International Space Station, LEO: Cmdr. Scott Kelly and Flight Engineers Oleg Skripochka and Alexander Kaleri prepare for their return home March 16 as rest of crew members continue with station maintenance and scientific experiments.

Mar 14 — 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.

Mar 14 — Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Red Planet: NASA MRO, which recently turned 5, has transmitted more data to Earth — 131 trillion bits and more than 70,000 images so far, than all other interplanetary missions combined and continues with exceptional data return of the Red Planet.

Mar 14-15 — UK Space Agency, London, England:Microgravity Workshop,’ event to review the current needs of the research community and to discuss new and existing opportunities which may help to meet those needs.

Mar 14-16 — NASTAR Center, Philadelphia PA:NASTAR Suborbital Scientist Training Program,’ provides researchers, professors and graduate students with hands-on space flight physiology training to prepare them to design experiments and perform research aboard commercial suborbital space flights.

Mar 14-16 — NASA, The SETI Institute, Ames Research Center, Mars Institute, Moffett Field CA:2nd International Conference on Phobos and Deimos,’ featuring keynote speaker Pete Worden.

Mar 14-16 — Institute of Space Astrophysics and Cosmic Physics, ESA, NASA, JAXA, et al, Rome, Italy:International X-ray Observatory Science Meeting.’

Mar 14-17 — Satellite Today, Satellite News, Communications Technology, et al, Washington DC:Satellite 2011: Celebrating 30 Years,’ conference to focus on opportunities in main vertical markets — military, broadcast, enterprise, mobile, telcos and commercial as well as provide fresh data, keen market intelligence and the strategies needed to achieve new levels of excellence and business development.

Mar 14-18 — The Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics, Santa Barbara CA:Astrophysics and Cosmology with Galaxy Clusters.’

Mar 14Moon: 8.8° SSW of Pollux; 20:00.

Mar 14Asteroid (Near-Earth Flyby): 2008 FL7 (0.033 AU); 2005 ES70 (0.058 AU).

Continued from . . .

Jan 29Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens, NASA, San Clemente CA: ‘They Came From Outer Space,’ this fun and educational exhibition for the whole family is presented through NASA and explores how many of the everyday products we use were developed for the space program; through Mar 27.

Mar 13 — ProSpace, Washington DC:17th Annual March Storm,’ members to take their Citizens’ Space Agenda to Capitol Hill and brief members of the House and Senate on their plan to create new high paying jobs through innovation in the commercial space sector; through Mar 15.

Mar 13 — European Helio and Astroseismology Network, Hakone, Japan:Progress in Solar / Stellar Physics with Helio and Astroseismology;’ through Mar 17.

Mar 13 — Center for Space Plasma and Aeronomic Research, Maui HI:10th Annual Astrophysics Conference: Physics of the Heliosphere – A 10 Year Retrospective;’ through Mar 18.


Mar 15 — The SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: Colloquium Series Lecture Evening Lecture: ‘Planetary Science Decadal Survey Rollout Town Hall Meeting,’ Scott Hubbard, Dale Cruikshank.

Mar 15-16 — American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Washington DC: ‘14th Annual Congressional Visits Day.’

Mar 15-17 — Institute for Advanced Studies in the Space, Propulsion and Energy Sciences, College Park MD: ‘Space, Propulsion and Energy Sciences International Forum.’

Mar 15Mercury: 2.0° NNW of Jupiter; 11:00.

Mar 15Moon: 4.6° SSW of Beehive Cluster; 20:00.

Mar 15Gamma Normid Meteors: A weak shower best seen from the southern hemisphere, the Gamma Normids radiate from the fourth magnitude star Gamma Normae.


Mar 16 — Challenger Center for Space Science Education, Alexandria VA: Live interactive webcast with astronaut Barbara Morgan at 12:00 EDT.

Mar 16 — NASA Headquarters, Washington DC; Online : NASA invites Twitter followers to a behind-the scenes NASA Tweetup with astronaut Doug Wheelock from 15:00-17:30 EDT.

Mar 16 — Intelligence Squared Ltd, Royal Geographical Society, London, United Kingdom:A Journey Into Outer Space,’ featuring speakers Martin Rees, Charles Simonyi and Colin Pillinger.

Mar 16-18 — The National Academies, Irvine CA: ‘Planetary Protection Standards for Icy Bodies in the Outer Solar System.’


Mar 17 — MESSENGER, Mercury Orbit: NASA Messenger probe to settle into orbit around Mercury, making it the 1st spacecraft ever to orbit the innermost planet.

Mar 17 — Library of Congress, Goddard Space Flight Center, Washington DC: ‘The Many Colors of the Sun,’ Goddard project scientist for NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory Dean Pesnell to give lecture at 11:30 EDT.

Mar 17-18 — Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena CA: The von Karman Lecture Series: ‘WISE: The Infrared Full Sky Survey,’ Amy Mainzer.

Mar 17Moon: 4.9° SSW of Regulus; 11:00.

Mar 17Asteroid (Closest Approach to Earth): 8837 London (1.024 AU), 9951 Tyrannosaurus (1.524 AU).


Mar 18 — New Horizons, Uranus Orbit: NASA New Horizons Spacecraft traveling at 15.878 Km/s to cross Uranus Orbit en route to dwarf planet, Pluto.

Mar 18 — Space Transportation Association, Washington DC: STA lunch with NASA Administrator Charles Bolden at 11:30 EDT.

Mar 18 — Canadian Space Commerce Association, Toronto, Ontario, Canada:The Next Breakthrough Space Technologies for Canada.’

Mar 18-19 — York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada:STAR Symposium,’ event will feature talks by engaging speakers from the worlds of science and astronomy.


Mar 19 — Zero Gravity Corporation, Washington DC: Commercial weightless flight on board G Force One.

Mar 19 — Goddard Space Flight Center, Nationwide: Sun-Earth Day 2012 / Tweet-up,’ series of programs and events that occur throughout the year culminating with a celebration on / near the Spring Equinox.

Mar 19 — NASA, Pasadena CA; Houston TX; Champlin MN; Laurel MD; Online: Thrill of Discovery Educator Workshops,’ a one-day workshop to be held at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Johnson Space Center, Jackson Middle School Observatory and John Hopkins University.

Mar 19-22 — The Arecibo Observatory, Arecibo PR: Fab 5 Fest,’ a celebration of achievements for Joel Weisberg, Jim Cordes, Joanna Rankin, Tim Hankins and Barney Rickett.

Mar 19Moon: Full Moon, 08:10; At Perigee (Distance 55.91 Earth-Radii), 09:00.

Mar 19Asteroid 2011 EK: Near-Earth Flyby (0.082 AU).


Mar 20 — Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, Canberra, Australia:2011 Space Open Day,’ an opportunity for the public to take bus and walking tours for a close up look at the space tracking station.

Mar 20Spring / Vernal Equinox: The Sun rises exactly in the east traveling through the sky for 12 hours and sets exactly in the west; Every place on Earth experiences a 12-hour day twice a year on the Spring and Fall Equinox; 13:21.

Mar 20Moon: 7.5° SSW of Saturn, 11:00; 2.5° SW of Spica, 23:00.

Mar 20Comet C / 2011 C1 (McNaught): Closest Approach to Earth (0.914 AU).

Mar 20Asteroid (Near-Earth Flyby): 2011 CY46 (0.048 AU); 2008 EF85 (0.066 AU).

Leave a Reply