Year 3 Number 147

Monday / 4 August 2003

Sea Launch Odyssey Platform & Commander sailing to 154° W Longitude on Pacific Equator due south of Hawaii Island for launch of EchoStar-9 / Telstar-13 on 7 Aug;   Boeing-led team gains $6 M contract from NASA JPL to study nuclear-powered space systems for Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter mission scheduled to launch NET 2011

Annual Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks 12-13 August; Full Moon May Reduce Visibility This Year
Canada Space Agency celebrates 1,000 days in space; 30 Jul marked continuous human presence on ISS; CSA tech playing key role with its Canadarm2   American Astronomical Society DPS to hold 35th annual meeting in Monterey CA on 1-6 Sep; over 600 planetary scientists to study ESPs and more;


Highlights of Mex-LunarHab Project. Created and authored by Jesus Raygoza B., the Mexico Lunar Habitat Analogue (MLH) project aims to establish the first Moon base at approximately 85 degree S latitude - a.k.a. the 'Newton Base' - on Malapert Mountain in the South Pole region of the Moon. As proposed to geologist and LEDA President Brad Blair and USIS founder Declan O'Donnell, Cerro de Pajarito (Bird's Mountain) is the chosen analog site with suitable geographical conditions to support research and working activities similar to the harsh lunar surface. Raygoza emphasizes not only the construction and deployment of the MLH but also the methods of its organization. One of the goals of the base will be to identify commercial customers as well as execute project management and fund raising. "We know there is no place on Earth that is completely like the Moon, but we are to do some steps in order to get goals accomplished," he writes. He also mentions that the MLH project serves the purpose of generating more interest in Mexico space activities, especially facilitating a "very much needed" return to the Moon. Other objectives of the MLH include harnessing human and robotic exploration; generating missions in LEO and to Mars; and most notably, encourage the establishment of the much-needed Mexican Space Agency, with an eventual Ibero-American space agency and finally, an international space agency.

Astronomers Pleased with Progress of Search for Large Near-Earth Asteroids, More Work Needed for Small Ones. At the General Assembly of the International Astronomy Union held 13-26 July in Sydney, Australia, astronomers stated that they were on target to find 90 percent of all large (greater than 1 km) asteroids by 2008. The good news is that no asteroids are now known to be heading toward Earth. The not so good news, however, is that smaller NEA's remain elusive. Alan Harris of the Space Science Institute in Colorado recommends strengthening the search in the Southern Hemisphere by using the 1.2-meter Schmidt telescope located at Siding Spring in Australia. Andrea Milani from the University of Pisa in Italy is working on ways to deflect threatening asteroids. Milani has determined that asteroids will likely perform multiple close approaches to Earth before impact. During these approaches they must pass through a precise "keyhole" in space if they are to continue on a collision course with Earth. It would only take a deflection of a few hundred km to force an asteroid to miss the keyhole and be knocked off its collision course. This technique would only work, of course, if the asteroid were detected many years prior to impact.

Space Historians Remember Great Significance of Ranger-7's First Close-up Images of Moon. On 31 Jul 1964, Ranger-7 radioed to Earth the first close-up pictures of the Moon -- a historic collection of 4,000 pictures 1,000x as clear as anything that had been seen through Earth-bound telescopes. Scientists hailed the achievement as the greatest advance in lunar astronomy since Galileo. They said the images not only represented a great leap in human knowledge of the Moon, but also lent encouragement that the lunar surface was suitable for Project Apollo's human lunar landings. The signals from the six TV cameras aboard the spacecraft were transmitted during the last 17 minutes of the flight. The picture taking spanned a distance range from slightly more than a lunar radius to about 480 m above the surface. Ranger-7 impacted the Moon on 31 July 1964 at 09:25:49 EDT. In R. Cargill Hall's 'Lunar Impact: A History of Project Ranger' he says, "Ranger was the first successful American project of lunar exploration." The robotic spacecraft project laid the groundwork not only for Apollo but also much future robotic space science work." Hall tells an engaging story, with failures as well as triumphs and the scientific, engineering and political struggles in between.

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