Archives

November 2012



Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have for the first time found that the outer region of a dusty disk encircling a brown dwarf contains millimeter-sized solid grains like those found in denser disks around newborn stars.

Astronomers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) have for the first time found that the outer region of a dusty disk encircling a brown dwarf contains millimeter-sized solid grains like those found in denser disks around newborn stars. The surprising finding challenges theories of how rocky, Earth-scale planets form, and suggests that rocky planets may be even more common in the universe than expected.

North central Siberia is pictured in this Envisat image from 5 March 2012. An enormous area in north Asia, Siberia spreads from the Urals in the west to the Okhotsk Sea in the east, from the Arctic Ocean in the north to the borders of Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China in the south.

"NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston is accepting applications from teams of kindergarten, elementary and secondary school teachers to conduct scientific experiments aboard the agency's reduced gravity aircraft next year. The MicroGravity eXperience (Micro GX) flight program will take place July 12-20, 2013, at Johnson. Educators selected to fly also will participate in an online professional development course centered on microgravity science in the months before and after their flights. Seven teams, each composed of four to five educators from a single school or school district, will be selected to participate in Micro GX. The unique academic experience includes scientific and inquiry-based research, experiential learning during the reduced gravity flight, and education/public outreach activities." More.

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After two decades of satellite observations, an international team of experts brought together by ESA and NASA has produced the most accurate assessment of ice losses from Antarctica and Greenland to date. This study finds that the combined rate of ice sheet melting is increasing."

An international team of experts supported by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) has combined data from multiple satellites and aircraft to produce the most comprehensive and accurate assessment to date of ice sheet losses in Greenland and Antarctica and their contributions to sea level rise.


An international team of experts supported by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) has combined data from multiple satellites and aircraft to produce the most comprehensive and accurate assessment to date of ice sheet losses in Greenland and Antarctica and their contributions to sea level rise.

Spectacular jets powered by the gravitational energy of a super massive black hole in the core of the elliptical galaxy Hercules A illustrate the combined imaging power of two of astronomy's cutting-edge tools, the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3, and the recently upgraded Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope in New Mexico. Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Baum and C. O'Dea (RIT), R. Perley and W. Cotton (), and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)


Spectacular jets powered by the gravitational energy of a super massive black hole in the core of the elliptical galaxy Hercules A illustrate the combined imaging power of two of astronomy's cutting-edge tools, the Hubble Space Telescope's Wide Field Camera 3, and the recently upgraded Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) radio telescope in New Mexico.


Hoping to expand our understanding of auroras and other fleeting atmospheric events, a team of space-weather researchers designed and built NORUSCA II, a new camera with unprecedented capabilities that can simultaneously image multiple spectral bands, in essence different wavelengths or colors, of light.

The aurora as seen as a color composite image from the NORUSCA II camera. Three bands were combined to make the image. Each band was assigned a different color -- red, green, and blue - to enhance the features of the aurora for analysis. Credit: Optics Express.

"After two successful years of on-orbit operations, NASA's Fast, Affordable, Science and Technology Satellite, or FASTSAT, mission is coming to an end. FASTSAT successfully demonstrated a capability to build, deploy and operate a science and technology flight mission at lower costs than previously possible. The satellite was designed, developed and tested over a period of 14 months at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., in partnership with the Von Braun Center for Science & Innovation and Dynetics, both of Huntsville, and the Department of Defense's Space Test Program. FASTSAT used off-the-shelf commercial hardware provided by NASA and a group of industry partners. Weighing slightly less than 400 pounds and carrying six technology and atmospheric science experiments, FASTSAT provided an opportunity to conduct innovative research and mature the readiness of new technologies for future missions." More

After spending six weeks doing science investigations at Rocknest, NASA's Curiosity Mars rover is on the move again to Point Lake and a place to try out the drill.


NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has identified large concentrations of hydrogen at Mercury's north pole, thought to be in the form of water ice, researchers announced today.

NASA's MESSENGER spacecraft has identified large concentrations of hydrogen at Mercury's north pole, thought to be in the form of water ice, researchers announced today.

The effects of solar events on Earth's magnetic field are global, but they are most pronounced and frequently noticed at northern latitudes. That's why Norway's long-standing expertise in space weather science is providing extremely valuable contributions to ESA's space hazards programme.

One of the Expedition 33 crew members aboard the International Space Station took this photograph of Chile featuring the North Patagonia Ice Field and the Arenales Glaciers. ISS033-E-010399 (7 Oct. 2012) - high res (1.2 M) low res (91 K)


A collage shows nine radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2007 PA8 that were obtained between Oct. 31 and Nov. 13, 2012, with data collected by NASA's 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif.

A collage shows nine radar images of near-Earth asteroid 2007 PA8 that were obtained between Oct. 31 and Nov. 13, 2012, with data collected by NASA's 230-foot-wide (70-meter) Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, Calif. On Nov. 5 at 8:42 a.m. PST (11:42 a.m. EST/16:42 UTC), the object came about 4 million miles (6.5 million kilometers) from Earth, or 17 times the distance between Earth and the moon.

Predicting the rate of escape and thermal structure of Pluto's upper atmosphere in preparation for the New Horizons Spacecraft encounter in 2015 is important for planning and interpreting the expected measurements.

NASA's Terra satellite passed over the South Atlantic Ocean on November 15, 2012, allowing the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer instrument flying aboard to capture this true-color image of St. Helena Island and the band of wind-blown cloud vortices trailing towards the island's leeward side.

Since the last Pluto volatile transport models were published (Hansen and Paige 1996), we have (i) new stellar occultation data from 2002 and 2006-2012 that have roughly twice the pressure as the discovery occultation of 1988, (ii) new information about the surface properties of Pluto, (iii) a spacecraft due to arrive at Pluto in 2015, and (iv) a new volatile transport model that is rapid enough to allow a large parameter-space search.

We present a 3D general circulation model of Pluto and Triton's atmospheres, which uses radiative-conductive-convective forcing. In both the Pluto and Triton models, an easterly (prograde) jet is present at the equator with a maximum magnitude of 10-12 m/s and 4 m/s, respectively.

Astronomers have used the Hobby-Eberly Telescope at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory to measure the mass of what may be the most massive black hole yet -- 17 billion Suns -- in galaxy NGC 1277. The unusual black hole makes up 14 percent of its galaxy's mass, rather than the usual 0.1 percent. This galaxy and several more in the same study could change theories of how black holes and galaxies form and evolve. The work will appear in the journal Nature on Nov. 29.

Data from NASA's Cassini spacecraft tie a shift in seasonal sunlight to a wholesale reversal, at unexpected altitudes, in the circulation of the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan. At the south pole, the data show definitive evidence for sinking air where it was upwelling earlier in the mission. So the key to circulation in the atmosphere of Saturn's moon Titan turned out to be a certain slant of light. The paper was published today in the journal Nature.

Within Two Worlds from Goldpaint Photography on Vimeo.

"Within Two Worlds depicts an alternate perspective by giving us the illusion of times movement, signifying a beginning and end within a world of constant contradiction. It appears you are traveling in the midst of a dream, half-sleeping, half-waking, and touching the arch connecting heaven and earth." I discovered my passion for photography shortly after my mother's passing while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) 3 years ago. This time-lapse video is my visual representation of how the night sky and landscapes co-exist within a world of contradictions. I hope this connection between heaven and earth inspires you to discover and create your own opportunities, to reach your rightful place within two worlds." More

Forecasters could soon be better able to predict how intense tropical cyclones like Hurricane Sandy will be by analyzing relative-humidity levels within their large-scale environments, finds a new NASA-led study.

"In December 2012, Austria will launch its first two satellites: UniBRITE and BRITE-Austria. This is the first pair of three, forming a network called BRITE-Constellation. The other pairs being contributed by Canada and Poland. The primary goal of BRITE-Constellation is the exploration of short term intensity variations of bright stars (V>6 mag) for a few years. For each satellite pair, one will employ a blue filter and the other a red filter. With the discovery of the first exoplanet in 1992, more than 800 have been detected since. The high-precision photometry from the BRITE instrument will enable a transit search for exoplanets around bright stars. To estimate the capability of BRITE to detect planets, we include in our calculations technical constraints, such as photometric noise levels for stars accessible by BRITE, the duty cycle and duration of observations. The most important parameter is the fraction of stars harboring a planet. Our simulation is based on 2695 stars distributed over the entire sky. Kepler data indicate that at minimum 34% of all stars are orbited by at least one of five different planetary sizes: Earth, Super-Earth, Uranus, Jupiter and Super-Jupiter. Depending on the duty cycle and duration of the observations, about six planets should be detectable in 180 days, of which about five of them being of Jupiter size." More

"Have you taken an interesting astronomical photo this year? From planets and moons to the Sun, stars and galaxies, we'd like you to send us your images to feature as our Space Science Image of the Week on 31 December. The ESA Space Science team's favourite image will take the slot of our weekly image during the week beginning 31 December 2012 as a celebration of the astronomical events of the year gone by. The best of the rest will feature in our dedicated ESA Space Science images Flickr gallery. During 2012, the sky has staged a series of astronomical theatrics to provide plenty of inspiration for your entry. Perhaps you were lucky enough to observe a solar eclipse, or even the transit of Venus. Maybe you snapped a meteor streaking through the sky, or perhaps you found beauty in the constellations this year. Images of galaxies and nebulae are also welcomed." More

"No one could accuse the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of lacking imagination. But to rethink the entire design, development and manufacturing process used by aerospace for decades is ambitious, even for the agency that helped bring us GPS, the Internet and stealth. Under the Adaptive Vehicle Make (AVM) program, Darpa is working to combine model-based design, virtual collaborative engineering and foundry-style manufacturing into an end-to-end process that cuts development timescales by a factor of five, eliminating the design-build-test-redesign cycle that is driving costs and delays. "It's safe to say that the direction we have been going in military acquisitions is not a sustainable path," says Lt. Col. Nathan Wiedenman, Darpa AVM program manager. "We simply can't continue to spend more and get less for the money we spend." More at Aviation Week

"This notice is issued in accordance with 51 U.S.C. 20144(c). The 2013 Sample Return Robot Challenge is scheduled and teams that wish to compete may register. Centennial Challenges is a program of prize competitions to stimulate innovation in technologies of interest and value to NASA and the nation. The 2013 Sample Return Robot Challenge is a prize competition designed to encourage development of new technologies or application of existing technologies in unique ways to create robots that can autonomously seek out samples and return to a designated point in a set time period. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) of Worcester, Massachusetts administers the Challenge for NASA. NASA is providing the prize purse." More


Astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) have discovered a quasar with the most energetic outflow ever seen, at least five times more powerful than any that have been observed to date.

Astronomers using ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT) have discovered a quasar with the most energetic outflow ever seen, at least five times more powerful than any that have been observed to date. Quasars are extremely bright galactic centres powered by supermassive black holes. Many blast huge amounts of material out into their host galaxies, and these outflows play a key role in the evolution of galaxies. But, until now, observed quasar outflows weren't as powerful as predicted by theorists.

On 28 November 2012 the Pluto-bound New Horizons spacecraft passed the halfway point between the orbits of Uranus and Neptune, zooming past another milepost on its historic trek to the planetary frontier.

"NASA is soliciting broad community inputs in support of a study activity focused on utilization of large flight qualified optical systems recently transferred to NASA from another Government Agency. The Study on Applications of Large Space Optics (SALSO) activity is a multistep process to develop a representative set of options for the use of these assets that draws on government, academic and industry capabilities to address Agency-wide needs. The goal of the overall study is to gather and assess concepts for possible utilization of the recently acquired systems for Agency goals aligned with 5 principal areas; space technology, human exploration and operations, heliophysics, planetary science, and astrophysics (excluding an infrared wide field survey). The SALSO activity consists of a managed workshop and follow-on study of concepts flowing from the workshop process. NASA encourages submission of concepts that address multiple NASA objectives (above); make innovative use of NASA capabilities and/or anticipated commercial services; and/or incorporate innovative processes or partnership arrangements." More

A tiny fraction of meteorites on earth contain strikingly beautiful, translucent, olive-green crystals embedded in an iron-nickel matrix. Called pallasites, these "space gems" have fascinated scientists since they were first identified as originating from outer space more than 200 years ago.

Russia's Vostok Station, which sits above subglacial Lake Vostok.

Peter Rejcek, Antarctic Sun Editor: It's taken a bit of magic -- not to mention an incredible effort by scientists, engineers and support personnel -- but the WISSARD project is poised to explore one of the last frontiers on the planet.


Using ESA's Herschel space observatory, astronomers have discovered vast comet belts surrounding two nearby planetary systems known to host only Earth-to-Neptune-mass worlds. The comet reservoirs could have delivered life-giving oceans to the innermost planets.

Artist impression of the debris disc and planets around the star known as Gliese 581, superimposed on Herschel PACS images at 70, 100 and 160 micrometre wavelengths. The line drawing superimposed on the Herschel image gives a schematic representation of the location and orientation of the star, planets and disc, albeit not to scale. The black oval outline sketched onto the Herschel data represents the innermost boundary of the debris disc; the approximate location of the outermost boundary is represented by the outer set of dashed lines. It is not possible to identify the central star due to smearing of the Herschel data. GJ 581's planets have masses between 2 and 15 Earth masses and are all located within 0.22 Astronomical Units (AU, where 1 AU is the distance between Earth and our Sun) of the central star. A vast debris disc extends from approximately 25 AU to 60 AU. Background galaxies are also visible in the Herschel field-of-view. Credits: ESA/AOES

One of the Expedition 33 crew members aboard the International Space Station took this oblique photograph showing part of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. Areas that are easily recognized in the picture include parts of Eritrea, Yemen and Ethiopia. Slight haze is also visible. ISS033-E-013636 (20 Oct. 2012) - high res (1.1 M) low res (70 K)

An eruption plume from the Karymsky volcano on the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian Federation is visible in this image photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station. The Karymsky stratovolcano stands 1,536 meters above sea level, with most eruptions and occasional lava flows originating from the summit.


NASA, the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), and their international partners have selected two veteran spacefarers for a one-year mission aboard the International Space Station in 2015.

Comet Halley, the originator of the Orionids meteor shower that lit up our skies last month - as they do every October - is seen here up close by ESA's Giotto probe as it flew past the famous comet on 13-14 March 1986.

Giotto was ESA's first deep-space mission. It swept within 600 km of Halley, obtaining the first close-up images of a comet. Comets are considered to be the primitive building blocks of the Solar System and likely helped to 'seed' Earth with water.


A team of researchers, including engineers from Los Alamos National Laboratory, has demonstrated a new concept for a reliable nuclear reactor that could be used on space flights.

Scanning electron micrograph of very small and numerous bacterial cells inhabiting icy brine channels in Antarctica's Lake Vida, which lies in the Victoria Valley, one of the northernmost of the Antarctic dry valleys. Credit: Christian H. Fritsen, Desert Research Institute

DRI scientists' co-author study examining life in one of Earth's coldest, ice-sealed ecosystems

"Engineers at the University of Glasgow and Clyde Space Ltd have developed a practical solution to the increasing problem of space debris. Millions of pieces of 'space junk' are orbiting the Earth as a side-effect of human exploration and exploitation of space. The pieces range from tiny fragments of bigger objects such as rocket boosters to full-sized pieces of now-defunct equipment. Working satellites and spacecraft can be damaged by collisions with debris, which can travel at velocities of several kilometres per second. The problem is compounded by every collision which creates more debris in turn; in 2009, the collision of a non-operational Russian communications satellite and a working US satellite created more than 700 pieces of debris. Dr Patrick Harkness of the University's School of Engineering has led the development of the Aerodynamic End Of Life Deorbit System, or AEOLDOS, to help ensure that objects sent into space in future can be removed from orbit at the end of their operational cycle." More - with video

The Hubble Space Telescope has spotted the spiral galaxy ESO 499-G37, seen here against a backdrop of distant galaxies, scattered with nearby stars. The galaxy is viewed from an angle, allowing Hubble to reveal its spiral nature clearly. The faint, loose spiral arms can be distinguished as bluish features swirling around the galaxy's nucleus. This blue tinge emanates from the hot, young stars located in the spiral arms. The arms of a spiral galaxy have large amounts of gas and dust, and are often areas where new stars are constantly forming.


A Martian dust storm that NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been tracking since last week has also produced atmospheric changes detectable by rovers on Mars.

A Martian dust storm that NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been tracking since last week has also produced atmospheric changes detectable by rovers on Mars.

Astronomers have used three telescopes at ESO's observatories in Chile to observe the dwarf planet Makemake as it drifted in front of a distant star and blocked its light. The new observations have allowed them to check for the first time whether Makemake is surrounded by an atmosphere. This chilly world has an orbit lying in the outer Solar System and was expected to have an atmosphere like Pluto (eso0908), but this is now shown not to be the case. The scientists also measured Makemake's density for the first time. The new results are to be published in the 22 November issue of the journal Nature.


Astronomers have used three telescopes at ESO's observatories in Chile to observe the dwarf planet Makemake as it drifted in front of a distant star and blocked its light. The new observations have allowed them to check for the first time whether Makemake is surrounded by an atmosphere.


Astronomers have used three telescopes at ESO's observatories in Chile to observe the dwarf planet Makemake as it drifted in front of a distant star and blocked its light. The new observations have allowed them to check for the first time whether Makemake is surrounded by an atmosphere.

Onboard the International Space Station NASA's Kevin Ford continues to settle into his role as Commander of the orbiting laboratory. Ford and Expedition 34 crewmates Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin of the Russian Federal Space Agency are continuing work with the multitude of research being conducted on the station -- including investigations on human research, biological and physical sciences, technology development and Earth observation.

NASA GRC Solicitation: Curiosity Rover Scale Models

"NASA/GRC has a requirement for two (2) high quality 1/10th scale models and one (1) 1/5th scale model of the Curiosity Rover. NASA/GRC intends to purchase the items from Scale Model Company on a sole source basis due to the proprietary restrictions on drawings."

Keith's note: "Proprietary restrictions on drawings"? Gee, I wonder were this company got the data for the drawings of Curiosity in the first place? (Likely) answer: one way or another it all comes from NASA - even if the company did additional work on the drawings for their own uses. Too bad NASA has to spend lots of money on these models. There is little, if any, incentive at NASA to find cheaper ways to procure things like this since the expensive way is the way things have always been done. I wonder how much they are paying for these models? If I ask NASA PAO what the models cost they will almost certainly refuse to tell me and will make me file a FOIA request.

More or less every NASA center has 3-D printers these days and is experimenting with 3-D printing of satellite and rocket engine components. Why not take NASA's Curiosity drawings and make them open source? There's a large, growing DIY / "Maker" community who'd just love to do this for free. Then anyone (including NASA) can just print the models out - at a variety of scales - in a variety of materials - on an as-needed basis. Not only would this provide a huge audience with a chance to get a more intimate understanding of how these rovers work, it would also end up costing less money to make these models that NASA just loves to spend money on.

That said, I am sure the ITAR enforcers will find reasons why you can't release things like this - even if the schematics simply show the outside of components - not their internal design. Yet nothing stops a company like Scaled Model Company from producing a model on their own - one of sufficient fidelity that NASA itself wants to buy it.

- 3D Printed CubeSat, Fabbaloo
- PrintSat - An Amateur Radio 3D Printer CubeSat, Southgate
- 3D Printing of cubesat structure, YouTube
- NASA 3D prints rocket parts -- with steel, not plastic, ExtremeTech

Weather image today via NOAA. Novolazarevskaya Station (Novo) is located on the coast in the top center of this image. Larger image. Current weather satellite imagery.

Received from Dale Andersen Novolazarevskaya Station, Antarctica, on 21 November 2012 via Iridium email:

"This annual competition is open to university and college students from the United States, Canada, Mexico and other countries. Teams of three to 10 students must design, build and launch a sensor payload called a CanSat. Each CanSat is slightly larger than a soda can and must be built according to the specifications released by the competition organizing committee." More

"NASA is considering the initiation of an Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) Airspace Operations Challenge (hereinafter "Challenge") to be conducted under the Centennial Challenges Program administered through NASA Headquarters located in Washington, D.C. Through this Opportunity Notice (NOTICE) NASA seeks to select a Lead Allied Organization and additional Supporting Allied Organization(s) to work with NASA to conduct this Challenge. Overall coordination of the Lead and Supporting Allied Organizations will be done by a NASA Challenge manager. The date for Challenge competition is expected to be between August 30, 2013 and June 30, 2014 depending upon the availability of a test range and competitor registration date." More


Its about 120 km over the glacial ice fields between Novo Station and the lake. Its a rough ride with variations in the amount of snow or blue ice that one encounters along the way but the route is relatively safe, avoiding most major crevasse fields.

Aboard the International Space Station, Expedition 34 Commander Kevin Ford of NASA displayed some of the food he and his crewmates will enjoy on Thanksgiving Day on the orbital outpost and discussed the significance of flying in space over the holidays during a downlink message November 20. Ford and his Russian crewmates, Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin are tending to station operations and research as a three-man crew until three additional crewmates arrive at the complex on December 21.

"William 'Red' Whittaker often spends his Sundays lowering a robot into a recently blown up coal mine pit near his cattle ranch in Pennsylvania (see video). By 2015, he hopes that his robot, or something like it, will be rappelling down a much deeper hole, on the Moon. The hole was discovered three years ago when Japanese researchers published images from the satellite SELENE, but spacecraft orbiting the Moon have been unable to see into its shadowy recesses."

Seen from the International Space Station, the Soyuz TMA-05M descent module begins to re-enter the Earth's atmosphere, leaving a plasma trail as the Expedition 33 crew streaks toward a pre-dawn landing on the steppe of Kazakhstan.

A team of scientists, including Carnegie's Conel Alexander and Jianhua Wang, studied the hydrogen in water from the Martian interior and found that Mars formed from similar building blocks to that of Earth, but that there were differences in the later evolution of the two planets.

The Sun erupted with two prominence eruptions, one after the other over a four-hour period on Nov. 16, 2012, between the hours of 1 and 5 a.m. EST. The red-glowing looped material is plasma, a hot gas made of electrically charged hydrogen and helium. The prominence plasma flows along a tangled and twisted structure of magnetic fields generated by the sun's internal dynamo. An erupting prominence occurs when such a structure becomes unstable and bursts outward, releasing the plasma.

ESA's Planck space telescope has made the first conclusive detection of a bridge of hot gas connecting a pair of galaxy clusters across 10 million light-years of intergalactic space.

Planck's primary task is to capture the most ancient light of the cosmos, the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB. As this faint light traverses the Universe, it encounters different types of structure including galaxies and galaxy clusters - assemblies of hundreds to thousands of galaxies bound together by gravity.

NASA's Mars rover Curiosity used a mechanism on its robotic arm to dig up five scoopfuls of material from a patch of dusty sand called "Rocknest," producing the five bite-mark pits visible in this image from the rover's left Navigation Camera (Navcam). Each of the pits is about 2 inches (5 centimeters) wide.

Volcanoes in central Kamchatka are featured in this image photographed by an Expedition 33 crew member on the International Space Station. The snow-covered peaks of several volcanoes of the central Kamchatka Peninsula are visible standing above a fairly uniform cloud deck that obscures the surrounding lowlands.

Astrophysicists at the University of Toronto and other institutions across the United States, Europe and Asia have discovered a 'super-Jupiter' around the massive star Kappa Andromedae

NASA Ames Director Pete Worden Talks Small Satellites (Video)

"Last week at the Canadian Space Summit Pete Worden was one of the invited keynote speakers. His topic was Small Satellites for Science and Other Uses and as an example: Earth Observation, promises and challenges. Among the technologies he discusses is the Interplanetary Internet and what the future might hold. The talk is about 30 minutes with a 12 minute question and answer session."

An ozone sonde is released from the Balloon Inflation Facility at the South Pole Station earlier this year. Ozone depletion above Antarctica was much less this austral spring due to warmer temperatures in the stratosphere. Photo Credit: Sven Lidstrom

Peter Rejcek, Antarctic Sun Editor: The annual ozone hole that forms above Antarctica during the Southern Hemisphere spring is the second smallest recorded in two decades.

Luminous galaxies glow like fireflies on a dark night in this image snapped by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope. The upper central galaxy in this image is a gigantic elliptical galaxy designated 4C 73.08. A prominent spiral galaxy seen from "above" shines in the lower part of the image, while examples of galaxies viewed edge-on also populate the cosmic landscape.

This photograph of Bhutan, taken by one of the Expedition 33 crew members aboard the International Space Station, shows a number of Himalayan peaks, glaciers and lakes. The space station was flying over a nadir point located at 28.3 degrees north latitude and 92.1 degrees east longitude when the image was recorded. ISS033-E-014658 (21 Oct. 2012) - high res (1.6 M) low res (126 K)

The Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft is seen shortly after it landed with Expedition 33 Commander Sunita Williams of NASA and Flight Engineers Akihiko Hoshide of Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Yuri Malenchenko of Roscosmos (Russian Federal Space Agency) in a remote area near the town of Arkalyk, Kazakhstan on Nov. 19, 2012 (Kazakhstan time). Williams, Hoshide and Malenchenko returned from four months onboard the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls 201211190002hq (19 Nov. 2012) - high res (0.9 M) low res (81 K)

Near surface water has shaped the landscape of Mars. Areas of the planet's northern and southern hemispheres have alternately thawed and frozen in recent geologic history and comprise striking similarities to the landscape of Svalbard.


The Soyuz TMA-05M spacecraft carrying Expedition 33 Commander Suni Williams and Flight Engineers Yuri Malenchenko and Aki Hoshide landed in the steppe of Kazakhstan northeast of the remote town of Arkalyk at 8:56 p.m. EST (7:56 a.m. Monday, Kazakhstan time).

On 11 September 2012 SpaceRef Editor Keith Cowing had a chance to talk with Astronaut Suni Williams aboard the International Space Station.