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Space and astronomy digest: September - October 2012

Last Updated on Friday, 31 August 2012 17:48
Published on Friday, 31 August 2012 17:29

The September and October digest of upcoming space and astronomy events, from the RAS. Highlights include the departure of the Dawn mission from Vesta and a special conference on future UK space missions.

 

 

 


5 September: Dawn spacecraft departs asteroid Vesta

 

 

 

The Dawn mission, a NASA spacecraft in orbit around the asteroid Vesta since July 2011, is set to depart for its next target, the dwarf planet Ceres, on 5 September. Dawn has mapped and studied Vesta in the year since it arrived, sending back the first detailed images of this small world and helping scientists to establish that it has a large metal-rich core.

Vesta 15 km craterAn image of a 15 km wide crater on Vesta, from the Dawn spacecraft. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDAThe journey to Ceres, a body 975 km across, will take two and a half years, with Dawn expected to enter orbit around the dwarf planet in February 2015. The spacecraft will then study Ceres for the following five months. Dawn was originally scheduled to leave Vesta on 26 August, but departure was delayed when one of the spacecraft's reaction wheels unexpectedly shut down.

Dawn Mission
http://dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contacts

Jia Rui-Cook
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Tel: +1 818 354 0850
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Dwayne Brown
NASA HQ
Tel: +1 202 358 1726

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9 October: RAS lunchtime lecture: The Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan: a personal view: Geological Society Lecture Theatre, Burlington House, London

 

 

 

 

At 1 p.m. on Tuesday 9 October, Professor David Southwood, President of the Royal Astronomical Society, will give the next RAS public lecture on the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan. In his talk, Prof. Southwood will describe the highlights of the more than 30 years since the inception of this ESA / NASA spacecraft, including the first landing of a probe on a moon of another planet and a comprehensive survey of Saturn and its larger moons.

RAS public lectures
http://www.ras.org.uk/events-and-meetings/public-lectures

Contact
Robert Massey
(details above)

 


12 October: RAS specialist discussion meeting: Future UK Space Missions: Burlington House, London

 

 

 

 

On Friday 12 October, space scientists will gather at Burlington House for a special meeting to discuss potential future UK space missions. The meeting will consider the recommendations of the 2010 Space Innovation and Growth Strategy, which set the goal of UK scientists and engineers leading at least three new space missions before 2030.

Bona fide members of the media who wish to attend this meeting should present their credentials at the registration desk for free admission.

Future UK Space Science Missions
http://www2.le.ac.uk/departments/physics/news/rasuksm

Contact
Robert Massey
(details above)

 


12 October: RAS specialist discussion meeting: Kinetic Processes and Radiophysics of the Sun: Burlington House, London

 

 

 

 

Solar physicists will gather at Burlington House on 12 October, for a special conference on the physical processes that characterise our nearest star.

Bona fide members of the media who wish to attend this meeting should present their credentials at the registration desk for free admission.

RAS Specialist Discussion Meetings
http://www.ras.org.uk/events-and-meetings/ras-meetings

Contact
Robert Massey
(details above)

 


15 October: Launch of Soyuz mission to International Space Station (ISS)

 

 

 

 

The scheduled launch window for the Soyuz TMA-06M mission to the ISS opens on 15 October. The Soyuz spacecraft will take off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Soyuz will carry three astronauts to the ISS as part of Expedition 33; Russians Oleg Novitskiy and Evgeny Tarelkin and Kevin Ford from the United States. The spacecraft is expected to remain attached to the Space Station where it will serve as an emergency escape vehicle.

NASA: Expedition 33
http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/expeditions/expedition33/index.html

Russian Federal Space Agency
http://www.federalspace.ru/?lang=en

 


26 October: Launch of X-37B spaceplane

 

 

 

 

The latest launch of the US Orbital Test Vehicle X-37B is set to take place on or after 26 October, when it will be carried aloft from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida atop an Atlas 5 rocket. Built for the US Air Force, the X-37B is a reusable robotic spaceplane designed to operate in Earth orbit for several months at a time, where it can carry out a variety of missions before making an autonomous landing.

US Air Force factsheet on X-37B
http://www.af.mil/information/factsheets/factsheet.asp?fsID=16639

 


October: Launch of Cygnus 1 cargo freighter to the International Space Station

 

 

 

 

October should see the maiden flight of the Cygnus 1 cargo freighter to the ISS. The freighter spacecraft is due to be carried into orbit on an Antares rocket from the Wallops Island launch facility in Virginia.

Antares and Cygnus are being developed by Orbital Sciences Corporation as part of the NASA Commercial Orbital Transportation Services programme for private companies to supply cargo and carry crew to the space station over the next few years.

Orbital Sciences Corporation
http://www.orbital.com/

Contact
Barron Beneski
Tel: +1 703 406 5000
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Night sky in September and October

 

Information on stars, planets, comets, meteor showers and other celestial phenomena is available from the British Astronomical Association (BAA), the Society for Popular Astronomy (SPA) and the Jodrell Bank night sky guide.

BAA
http://www.britastro.org

SPA
http://www.popastro.com

The Night Sky: Jodrell Bank
http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/astronomy/nightsky/

 


Notes for editors

 

 

 

 

The Royal Astronomical Society (RAS, www.ras.org.uk), founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science. The RAS organizes scientific meetings, publishes international research and review journals, recognizes outstanding achievements by the award of medals and prizes, maintains an extensive library, supports education through grants and outreach activities and represents UK astronomy nationally and internationally. Its more than 3500 members (Fellows), a third based overseas, include scientific researchers in universities, observatories and laboratories as well as historians of astronomy and others.

Follow the RAS on Twitter via @royalastrosoc