Space News: December 9, 2015

moon-express-lunar-lander-art (1)Game on: Second competitor in Google Lunar XPRIZE gets a ride to space

Time is running out for the 16 teams entered into the Google Lunar XPRIZE, which requires entrants to land a small spacecraft on the surface of The Moon by the end of 2017. But now, eight years after the prize was announced, the competitors are beginning to show tangible signs of progress.

In October an Israeli team, SpaceIL, became the first of the 16 competitors to announce a launch contract to carry its lander to the Moon. The team signed up for a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch in the second half of 2017. On Tuesday a second team attained that goal, as the US-based Moon Express, led by Bob Richards, announced a deal for a Rocket Lab Electron rocket in 2017.

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NASA has a date with Jupiter after 20 years

NASA’s Juno spacecraft will, on July 4, 2016, brush past the planet that was discovered by Galileo Galilei in 1610. This much-awaited meeting promises to offer astronomers a virtual treat. Juno will flyby Jupiter every two weeks, looking into its heart from a distance of 5,000 kilometers to beam back what are expected to be some of the most amazing views of the largest planet of the solar system.

According to the Astronomy magazine, the Juno mission is just the beginning of the revival of NASA’s interest in Jupiter. Another mission, called the Europa Multiple Flyby mission, will follow up from where Juno will leave and is expected to be ready for launch in the 2020s.

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NASA Mars InSight team addressing vacuum leak on key science instrument

pia19811-16A key science instrument that will be carried aboard NASA’s Interior Exploration Using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport (InSight) spacecraft being prepared for launch in March 2016 is experiencing a leak in the vacuum container carrying its main sensors. The sensors are part of an instrument called the Seismic Experiment for Interior Structure (SEIS), which is provided by the French Space Agency (CNES).

The seismometer is the prime science payload that will help answer questions about the interior structure and processes within the deep Martian interior. The SEIS instrument has three high-sensitivity seismometers enclosed in a sealed sphere. The seismometers need to operate in a vacuum in order to provide exquisite sensitivity to ground motions as small as the width of an atom. After the final sealing of the sphere, a small leak was detected, that would have prevented meeting the science requirements once delivered to the surface of Mars.

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A job opening for an Internal Communication Support Officer at Serco (Netherlands). You will work from ESTEC and will conduct the following tasks: publish announcements on the ESTEC information screens; maintain and organise a flow of information on the ESTEC intranet page by identifying articles and liaise with the editors and the corporate intranet editor; identify and organize topics and speakers for ESTEC lectures and internal events and other. More information

Build up your space experience by participating in the Project MESDT (for US citizens only). Through the Mars Exploration Student Data Teams (MESDT), students (high school through college) join with Mars scientists to analyze real data from Mars. More information


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