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Friday, September 11, 2015

This Week in Satellite News! (Sep 4 – Sep 11 2015)

Space Station Astronauts Awed by Dazzling Auroras (Video)

Earth's natural light show — the auroras — flared into high gear Monday (Sep. 7), creating a breathtaking display that astronaut Scott Kelly said was like no other aurora he'd ever seen.
Bright-green rivers of light and a deep-crimson haze decorated Earth's atmosphere during the Labor Day light show. From his vantage point on the International Space Station, Kelly caught several snapshots of the waving green lights, as well as a vivid time-lapse video.
"I would say yesterday was probably the second-most impressive thing I've ever seen," Kelly said in an interview broadcast today (Sep. 8) on NASA TV. "The first thing was when I saw Earth from space the first time."

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Space Station Astronauts Talk Crewed Mars Missions (Real and Fictional)

HOUSTON — If Scott Kelly were on a spaceship heading out to Mars — rather than on board the International Space Station, where he has been for the last 6 months — he would be arriving at the Red Planet just about now.
Instead, Kelly and his eight crewmates — astronauts and cosmonauts from five different nations — took time out of their day circling the Earth on Tuesday (Sept. 8) to talk to reporters about life on board the outpost and what a trip to Mars might be like for those in the future.
"I think for the folks who go to Mars — especially the first ones — it is going to be such an incredible destination and event that they are going to be really psyched up getting there," stated Kelly, reflecting on the differences between reaching the midway point of his almost yearlong mission and the 6 months it will take future astronauts to reach the fourth planet from the sun. 

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World View Offers Cost-Sharing Balloon Flights to Stratosphere

The cost of sending a scientific experiment to the stratosphere aboard a balloon just went down.
Arizona-based World View Enterprises announced today (Sept. 8) that it's introducing a cost-sharing system that will let researchers and educators loft payloads to near space, about 130,000 feet (39,600 meters) above Earth, via a balloon for as little as $20,000. (Typical "full flight" contracts, by contrast, cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, company representatives said.)
The new system applies to payloads that range in mass from less than 1 pound (0.45 kilograms) to more than a few hundred pounds, World View representatives said.
"Until now, access to the stratosphere has been incredibly rare and very expensive. That’s what makes World View’s fractional payload pricing model a game-changer," World View chief scientist Alan Stern, who also leads NASA's New Horizons Pluto mission, said in a statement. "We plan to take what was rare and make it routine and affordable."
World View Enterprises’ First Commercial Balloon Flight
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Space Station Crosses Sun's Face in Spectacular New Photo

An amazing new photo shows the International Space Station crossing the sun's face.
The picture, a composite of five images taken Sunday (Sept. 6) from Shenandoah National Park in Virginia by NASA photographer Bill Ingalls, captures a "transit" of the International Space Station (ISS) across the solar disk.
Such transits don't last very long, because the space station zooms around Earth at more than 17,000 mph (27,000 km/h) — the $100 billion complex completes one lap around our planet once every 90 minutes or so.
Space Station Crosses Sun's Face
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NASA's Europa Mission May Land on Ocean-Harboring Moon

NASA's upcoming mission to Europa may actually touch down on the potentially life-harboring Jupiter moon.
While the main thrust of the Europa mission, which NASA aims to launch by the mid-2020s, involves characterizing the icy satellite from afar during dozens of flybys, the space agency is considering sending a small probe down to the surface as well.
"We are actively pursuing the possibility of a lander," Robert Pappalardo, Europa project scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, said last week during a panel discussion at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics' Space 2015 conference in Pasadena. (JPL manages the Europa mission.) 

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Labor Day in Space Has Full House, No Barbecue

That's a negative on the fire: There will be no barbecuing on the International Space Station this Labor Day. But the orbiting lab's American crew will get a free day to relax and exercise after the excitement of welcoming three new teammates on Friday (Sept. 4).
"The three USOS [U.S. Operating Segment] crewmembers [Scott Kelly and Kjell Lindgren of NASA, and Kimiya Yui of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency] will have the day off, with only their exercise on the schedule and some sample collection for Kelly for his Twins Study experiments," NASA spokesman Dan Huot told in an email. Kelly's identical twin Mark, also an astronaut, has remained on the ground so scientists can track the duo to investigate the effects of spending a year in space.
Scott Kelly with Fruit on the International Space Station
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