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Friday, October 23, 2015

This Week in Satellite News! (Oct 19 – Oct 26 2015)

New Horizons Pluto Probe Heads Toward 2nd Flyby Target

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has begun chasing down another distant, icy object.
New Horizons, which in July performed the first-ever flyby of Pluto, fired up its engines yesterday (Oct. 22) in the first of four maneuvers designed to send the probe zooming past a small object called 2014 MU69 on Jan. 1, 2019.
The 16-minute engine burn changed New Horizons' trajectory by about 22.4 mph (36 km/h), mission officials said. 
The other three upcoming maneuvers — which are scheduled for Oct. 25, Oct. 28 and Nov. 4 — will change the spacecraft's trajectory by a total of 127.5 mph (205 km/h), putting it on target for the 2019 encounter with 2014 MU69, which lies about 1 billion miles (1.6 billion kilometers) beyond Pluto's orbit.

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Space History Retrofire: US Air Force Manned Orbiting Lab Astronauts Speak Out

Several space pioneers shared their experiences this month regarding the Cold War Air Force program: The Manned Orbiting Laboratory.
In the 1960s, the U.S. Air Force initiated a human spaceflight program to carry out experiments in space in a laboratory orbiting the Earth for an extended period of time. The Manned Orbiting Laboratory, or MOL, was to use USAF-modified NASA Gemini spacecraft to put two crewmen in a space station.
MOL provided a platform for a highly secret program to gain Cold War intelligence on the Soviet Union and other adversaries.
Four former MOL crew members — 17 astronauts were chosen for the program — were scheduled to take part in a presentation "The Dorian Files Revealed: The Manned Orbiting Laboratory Crew Members' Secret Mission in Space." A National Reconnaissance Office (NRO) Keyhole -10 camera was codenamed "Dorian."

First MOL Astronaut GroupGemini reentry capsule separates from the orbiting MOL
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Supermassive Black Hole Devours Star In Event Called ASASSN-14li | Animation

A tidal disruption was detected using multiple orbiting observatories by the All-Sky Automated Survey for Supernovae (ASAS-SN) in Nov. 2014. The event occurred in galaxy PGC 043234 about 290 million light years away from Earth. The disruption was caused by a star orbiting too close to the galaxy's black hole, and being caught in its tidal forces.

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NASA Asteroid-Sampling Probe Fully Built, Enters Test Phase

NASA's first asteroid-sampling spacecraft is now fully assembled.
Engineers and technicians at the aerospace firm Lockheed Martin have finished building the space agency's OSIRIS-REx probe, which is scheduled to launch toward the potentially hazardous asteroid Bennu in September 2016. 
"This is an exciting time for the program, as we now have a completed spacecraft and the team gets to test drive it, in a sense, before we actually fly it to Bennu," said Rich Kuhns, the OSIRIS-REx program manager at Lockheed Martin Space Systems, which will also provide flight operations for the mission.

Asteroid Sample Mission Spacecraft, OSIRIS-REx
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President Obama Calls Space Station To Congratulate Scott Kelly | Video

Scott Kelly  officially broke the record for the most time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut on Oct. 13th. 2015, surpassing Mike Finke's record 381 days. The president called to congratulate him on the achievement on Oct. 19.

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Cosmic Artist Belbruno Enters a Strange New Dimension with NYC Exhibit

NEW YORK -- When mathematician and painter Ed Belbruno spent his scientific work-life calculating orbital trajectories (the paths that spacecraft take through space), he says his paintings were beautiful but straightforward. Now, grappling with cosmology and the origins of the universe, his art has changed as well.
A new collection of Belbruno's paintings, which will be on display Thursday (Oct. 22) from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. EDT  at Café Minerva in New York City, shows a leap into the unknown: art that is stranger, more chaotic and more ambitious than anything Belbruno has done before. They offer a colorful window into the mind of a mathematician processing the universe.
Belbruno is an abstract expressionist, a category used to describe such works as the splatter paintings of Jackson Pollock, so his paintings can appear baffling, if beautiful, to non-experts. But approaching them with science in mind offers quite a different view.

'X3' (2015) by Ed Belbruno
Credit: Edward Belbruno  
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NASA Starts Competition for Asteroid Redirect Spacecraft
WASHINGTON — NASA has kicked off a two-step competition for the spacecraft bus to be used for a proposed mission to haul a chunk of an asteroid to lunar space for astronauts to visit later, according to a procurement note posted online Oct. 20.
Those interested in providing the bus, or skeletal structure, for the agency’s proposed Asteroid Redirect Robotic Mission (ARRM) spacecraft can apply for a Phase 1 Conceptual Studies grant from NASA. Bids are due Nov. 16, with awards anticipated in spring 2016.
Only companies that win a Phase 1 contract will be eligible for follow-on funding, NASA said.

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Pillars of Light Shine Over Argentina

A gorgeous example of a phenomenon known as "light pillars" was captured in this breathtaking scene over Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina. 
Astrophotographer Sergio Emilio Montúfar Codoñer took this image on July 20 using a Sony A7 camera with a 14mm f/2.8 Rokinon lens and an Iso 8000. The image combines seven vertical images into a single panorama that documents a series of light pillars at General Belgrano, Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Montúfar Codoñer had not initially planned to take an image of the light pillars.

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