Space News: December 7, 2015


Japanese Akatsuki space probe finally enters orbit around Venus, five years after first failed attempt

On its second attempt, the Japanese Akatsuki space probe has successfully entered orbit around Venus, more than five years after its May 2010 launch.

Now it has reached its target, the probe, which is 25 million miles from Earth, will spend two days figuring out its orbit before it begins its observations.

Fitted with three infrared cameras, one ultraviolet imager, two lighting cameras and one radio experiment, the probe will study the atmosphere and cloud structure of Venus, potentially revealing lighting and volcanic activity on the planet’s surface.

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NASA official warns private sector: We’re moving on from low-Earth orbit

NASA has flown the International Space Station for the last 15 years, and during that time it has offered private industry a pretty sweet deal. The space agency pays transportation costs to and from the station for experiments and provides astronaut time to tend to that research. And when NASA needed new spacecraft to get its astronauts on board the station, it paid private companies to develop their own vehicles for that purpose. NASA, in some sense, has become the Chamber of Commerce for outer space.

But all good things must come to an end, so the free ride in low Earth orbit for private industry may stop as soon as a decade from now. “We’re going to get out of ISS as quickly as we can,” said William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s chief of human spaceflight, last week. “Whether it gets filled in by the private sector or not, NASA’s vision is we’re trying to move out.”

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New Horizons’ very best view of Pluto

pia19857-pluto-newhorizons-20150714-0725This movie is composed of the sharpest views of Pluto that NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft obtained during its flyby of the distant planet on July 14, 2015. The pictures are part of a sequence taken near New Horizons’ closest approach to Pluto, with resolutions of about 250-280 feet (77-85 meters) per pixel – revealing features smaller than half a city block on Pluto’s diverse surface.

The images include a wide variety of spectacular, cratered, mountainous and glacial terrains – giving scientists and the public alike a breathtaking, super-high resolution window on Pluto’s geology.

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A job opening for a Geospatial Intelligence Analyst, Sierra Nevada CorporationSNC has an opening for a Systems Engineer/Orbit Analyst, with an emphasis on interpreting capabilities of Remote Sensing and open source collection, to provide systems engineering and technical advisory services to a variety of DoD and IC customers. More information

Build up your space portfolio by participating in the Apollo Stowage Lists Project. Helping to understand and contextualize the items in the Smithsonian collection is the heart of this transcription project, which will produce, from official NASA documents (stowage lists) a database of all government provided and contractor-provided equipment originally placed on the spacecraft including information about scheduled transfers of each item from one location to another in the course of the missions. More information


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