Space and astronomy digest: September 2013
The September digest of upcoming space and astronomy news events. This month sees the launch of the LADEE mission to explore dust in the lunar atmosphere, the European Planetary Science Congress at University College London and another launch attempt for the Cygnus private sector cargo transporter.
6/7 September: Launch of LADEE mission
The NASA Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) mission is set for launch at 2327 EDT on 6 September (0427 BST on 7 September). LADEE will take off atop a Minotaur V rocket (a converted ballistic missile) from the NASA launch facility at Wallops Island, Virginia, in the United States.
After arrival in lunar orbit and commissioning, LADEE will operate for around 100 days, studying the tenuous lunar atmosphere. The probe will analyse the composition of the atmosphere and establish how much dust is being lifted from the surface of the Moon.
8-13 September: European Planetary Science Congress, University College London
Hundreds of planetary scientists are expected to gather at the European Planetary Science Congress (EPSC) that will take place from 8-13 September at University College London. EPSC is one of the largest planetary science conferences in the world and will see leading researchers present cutting edge work on objects in our own Solar system and on planets in orbit around other stars. Sessions at the meeting include the terrestrial planets (Mercury to Mars); the outer Solar system, comets and asteroids and results from and plans for space missions.
Alongside the scientific meeting will be a full programme of public engagement events taking place across London.
A press room will be open for the duration of the conference, from 0900 BST on Monday 9 September to 1500 BST on Friday 13 September. Bona fide representatives of the media are cordially invited to attend and can register by contacting Anita Heward (see below).
EPSC: Press and Media
17 September: Launch of Cygnus cargo freighter to International Space Station (ISS)
17 September should see the maiden flight of the Cygnus 1 cargo freighter to the ISS, though the inaugural launch has been delayed on a number of occasions. 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
Night sky in September
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.
The Night Sky: Jodrell Bank
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