Friday, September 21, 2012

Neil Armstrong buried at sea and other space and astronomy news

Here is the space and astronomy news originally posted in Overnight News Digest: Science Saturday (End of primary season edition) at Daily Kos.

NASA Television on YouTube: The Nation says Farewell to Neil Armstrong on This Week @ NASA

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden joined other agency officials and dignitaries at the Washington National Cathedral to honor the life and career of astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, who died Aug. 25. The memorial was broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on and the National Cathedral's website.
More news over the jump.

Daily Kos: This week in science: Bird brains
by DarkSyde

There was more than just bird brains in the above; there is a lot of space news, too.

NASA Television on YouTube: NASA's Mars Curiosity Rover Report #6

A NASA's Mars Curiosity rover team member gives an update on developments and status of the planetary exploration mission. The Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft delivered Curiosity to its target area on Mars at 1:31:45 a.m. EDT on Aug. 6, which includes the 13.8 minutes needed for confirmation of the touchdown to be radioed to Earth at the speed of light. The rover will conduct a nearly two-year prime mission to investigate whether the Gale Crater region of Mars ever offered conditions favorable for microbial life.

Curiosity carries 10 science instruments with a total mass 15 times as large as the science payloads on NASA's Mars rovers Spirit and Opportunity. Some of the tools, such as a laser-firing instrument for checking rocks' elemental composition from a distance, are the first of their kind on Mars. Curiosity will use a drill and scoop, which are located at the end of its robotic arm, to gather soil and powdered samples of rock interiors, then sieve and parcel out these samples into the rover's analytical laboratory instruments.
National Geographic News: Mars Rover Set to "Drive, Drive, Drive"—Headed for "Prize" Mountain
Plus: Why Curiosity may soon show its inner WALL-E
Marc Kaufman
for National Geographic Books
Published September 13, 2012
With its extensive robotic-arm tests set to conclude Thursday, the Mars Science Laboratory rover—aka Curiosity—is ready to "drive, drive, drive," mission manager Jennifer Trosper of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) said in a press conference Wednesday.

The initial goal? "To find the right rock to begin doing contact science with the arm."

Once there, the rover can call on the most sophisticated suite of tools ever sent to an alien planet, including an x-ray spectrometer to identify elements in rocks, a supersharp close-up camera, and a lab-in-a-box that chemically analyzes samples dropped in by the arm.
Daily Kos: On Mars: Let the Science Begin by LeftOfYou

Daily Kos: We Built This
by AuntieM

There are also missions to Mars planned for the future.

NASA Explorer: NASA | MAVEN: Mars Atmospheric Loss

When you take a look at Mars, you probably wouldn't think that it looks like a nice place to live. It's dry, it's dusty, and there's practically no atmosphere. But some scientists think that Mars may have once looked like a much nicer place to live, with a thicker atmosphere, cloudy skies, and possibly even liquid water flowing over the surface. So how do you go from something like this--to something like this? NASA's MAVEN spacecraft will give us a clearer idea of how Mars lost its atmosphere, and scientists think that several processes have had an impact.
Finally, some deep space news.

University of Delaware: Black hole lecture
Oct. 25 Vernon Lecture focuses on mystery at center of Milky Way
11:48 a.m., Sept. 11, 2012
High-powered telescopes are unveiling a big mystery shrouded in dust and sitting right smack in the middle of our Milky Way Galaxy. Stars are orbiting something — at a dizzying pace of up to 3,000 miles per second — and some of those stars have vanished.

“It’s a giant black hole,” says Mark Morris, a physicist at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), who has been observing it with the two telescopes of the W.M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii.

In the super-dense environment in a black hole, gravity is so great that nearby matter gets sucked inside, and even light can’t get out. Time also is believed to almost stand still inside these “bottomless pits.”
That's it for last week's space and astronomy news.

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