April 23-29, 2012 / Vol 31, No 17 / Hawai`i Island, USA

Mars500 International Symposium Held in Russia

The physical and mental health required of astronauts to meet the demands of long space missions will be the focus of the ‘Mars500 International Symposium’ in Moscow, Russia on April 23-25. Participants at this year’s event, which is sponsored by the Russian Federal Space Agency and the Russian Academy of Sciences, will evaluate the findings from the Mars500 mission which recently took place between 2007-2011 at the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow. The crew consisting of 6 ‘astronauts,’ Alexander Smoleyevsky, Roman Charles, Alexei Sitev, Sukhrob Kamolov, Diego Urbina, and Wang Yueh, spent 520 days on a simulated mission to Mars of which 240 were spent en route to the Red Planet, 10 days of surface exploration, and 245 days on return to Earth. Communications with mission control were purposely delayed between 8 and 736 seconds to mimic natural delays that would take place on a real Mars flight. During the ‘flight,’ more than 100 experiments were performed to test the work capability of the crew under prolonged isolation. Russia cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev (CR) still holds the record for the longest time in space, with 803 days, 9 hours and 39 minutes. Scientists at the event will discuss establishing criteria needed for future candidate selections, biomedical support and sanitary-hygienic factors in a pressurized environment. RSA, ESA and NASA are in talks to perform another simulated mission to Mars aboard the ISS. (Image Credit: ESA, NASA, pcworld.com, zdnet.co.uk)

SpaceX Dragon Launch to Mark Another First in Commercial Spaceflight; NASA Social Looks to Build the Buzz

The SpaceX Dragon C2 has an instantaneous launch opportunity at 12:22 EDT on April 30 to fly on a pioneering demonstration to ISS with 521kg of cargo. The craft will need to align with centimeters-level accuracy while orbiting at 27,000kph. ISS astronauts Don Pettit and Andre Kuipers will then use Canadarm2 to capture and maneuver Dragon for docking. The privately built spacecraft also has the rare potential for returning science payloads intact to researchers on Earth. Elon Musk of SpaceX is fully aware of the challenges faced by his team and equipment, giving the mission only 60% chance of total success. If everything works, it will represent a critical step towards the $1.6 billion contract SpaceX has for 12 ISS resupply missions. The NASA Social event on 29-30 April is a 2-day informal meeting for 50 pre-registered participants who use social networking sites. The group will share with their online communities, a unique perspective on the build up to launch. Activities will include discussions with representatives from both organizations as well as tours of NASA KSC facilities and the SpaceX launch pad. (Image Credit: SpaceX, NASA, Twitter, Facebook, Google)

= All times for terrestrial events in local time unless noted.

= All times for international terrestrial events in local time unless noted.

= All times for space events, and…

= All times for international space / astro events in Hawaii Standard Time unless noted. Add 10 hours to obtain UT (‘Universal Time;’ Greenwich, England).

Weekly Planet Watch – Morning Planets: Mercury (E) / Evening Planets: Venus (W), Mars (S), Jupiter (SW), Saturn (ESE).


Apr 23 — International Space Station, LEO: E-30 crew members to begin unloading Progress 47 delivery, consisting of 2.8 tons of food, fuel and supplies, including 500kg of propellant, 50kg of gases, 421kg of water and 1228kg of spare parts, resupply items and experiment hardware.

Apr 23 — Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), Lunar Orbit: NASA LRO functioning nominally in its 50±15 km near-circular orbit as it makes digital elevation and surface maps that will be a fundamental reference for future human exploration.

Apr 23 — Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), Red Planet: HiRISE camera aboard NASA MRO continues to capture vivid imagery of Mars, most recently of active dune gullies in Kaiser Crater, late springtime defrosting of the northern dunes, and landslides inside Valles Marineris.

Apr 23 — Jupiter Juno Mission, In Transit to Jupiter: The Juno spacecraft is in excellent health and is operating nominally on its 260th day.

NET Apr 23 — ILS, Launch Proton / Yahsat 1B, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: An ILS Proton rocket with a Breeze M upper stage set to deploy the Yahsat 1B satellite to provide commercial and government services to the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Southwest Asia.

Apr 23 — NASA Headquarters, New York City NY: NASA’s 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft with Space Shuttle Enterprise mounted atop will fly at a relatively low altitude over various parts of the New York City metropolitan area between 09:30-11:30 EDT. *Postponed.

Apr 23 — The Economic Club of Indiana, Indianapolis IN:The Economic Club of Indiana Luncheon,’ featuring keynote speaker NASA astronaut David Wolf.

Apr 23-24 — The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Boston MA:2012 IEEE International Conference on Technologies for Practical Robot Applications.’

Apr 23-24 — The Royal Society, London, United Kingdom:Meeting: New Windows on Transients Across the Universe.’

Apr 23-25 — Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia:Mars500 International Symposium.’

Apr 23-26 — American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Honolulu HI:53rd AIAA/ASME/ASCE/AHS/ASC Structures, Structural Dynamics and Materials Conference 20th AIAA/ASME/AHS Adaptive Structures Conference 14th AIAA Non-Deterministic Approaches Conference 13th AIAA Gossamer Systems Forum 8th AIAA Multidisciplinary Design Optimization Specialist Conference.’

Apr 23-27 — American Meteorological Society, Noumea, New Caledonia:10th International Conference on Southern Hemisphere Meteorology and Oceanography.’

Apr 23-28 — University of Kyiv, Kyiv, Ukraine:19th Young Scientists’ Conference on Astronomy and Space Physics.’

Apr 23-29 — The Astronomical League, Global:International Astronomy Week 2012.’

Apr 23 – May 17 — Johnson Space Center, Houston TX: NASA TV to feature activities surrounding the upcoming Expedition 31 crew training activities with NASA Flight Engineer Joseph Acaba and Cosmonauts Cmdr Gennady Padalka and Flight Engineer Sergei Revin.

Apr 23 — Moon: 3.7° SSE of Pleiades; 08:00.

Apr 23 — Asteroid (Near-Earth Flyby): 2012 GC2 (0.047 AU); 2003 WH166 (0.051 AU).

Continued from…

Feb 2 — Eptek Art and Culture Center, Canadian Space Agency, Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, Canada:Canada’s Stellar Space Achievements & The Conquest of Space in Images,’ traveling exhibitions; through May 2.

Apr 22 — European Geosciences Union (EGU), Vienna, Austria:EGU General Assembly 2012;’ through Apr 27.


Apr 24 — NASA Lunar Science Institute (NLSI), Moffett Field CA; Teleconference: ‘NLSI Director’s Seminar: 2-D Distribution of Ice in Lunar Cold Traps,’ Dana Hurley.

Apr 24-25 — American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, SpaceOps, Space Operations and Support Technical Committee, Pasadena CA: ‘18th Improving Space Operations Workshop.’

Apr 24-26 — American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, et al, Washington DC: ‘2012 Integrated Communications Navigation and Surveillance Conference.’

Apr 24-27 — National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, Boulder CO: ‘2012 Space Weather Workshop,’ event addresses the remarkably diverse impacts of space weather including communications, navigation, spacecraft operations, aviation, and electric power.

Apr 24 — Cassini OTM-318, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft conducts Orbital Trim Maneuver #318 today.

Apr 24 — Moon: 5.0° N of Aldebaran, 08:00; 5.7° S of Venus, 16:00.

Apr 24 — Asteroid 2012 FG58: Near-Earth Flyby (0.065 AU).


Apr 25 — TechAmerica – Space Enterprise Council, Washington DC: ‘Commission on the Future of the US Aerospace Industry: A Look Back and Forward.’

Apr 25 — The SETI Institute, Mountain View CA: Colloquium Series Lecture: ‘How Evolution Shaped Virus Diversity: Lessons Learned from Mosquitoes and Shrews,’ Shannon Bennett.

Apr 25-27 — International Association for Students, Researchers Scientists, Istanbul, Turkey:International Conference on Student Small Satellites 2012.’


Apr 26 — McAuliffe – Shepard Discover Center, Concord NH: Planetarium Shows: ‘Our Place in Space,’ ‘Fractal Zooms!,’ ‘Black Holes,’ and ‘Mars Interrupted.’

Apr 26 — Asteroid 2074 Shoemaker: Closest Approach to Earth (0.950 AU).


NET Apr 27 — ISRO PSLV / RISAT-1, Sriharikota, India: An ISRO Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle set to launch RISAT-1 Earth observation satellite which carries a radar payload for all-weather, day and night observations for national security and environmental applications.

Apr 27 — Rotary National Award for Space Achievement Foundation, Houston TX:Rotary Space Gala,’ featuring 2012 Nation Space Trophy Recipient NASA JSC Director Michael Coats.

Apr 27 — The Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX:Lecture: The Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment Measuring the Sun’s Influence on Climate from Space,’ Jerry Harder.


Apr 28 — Kennedy Space Center, SpaceX, Cape Canaveral FL: Media invited for photo opportunity of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule on the launch pad at 09:30 EDT.

Apr 28 — The Astronomical League, Global:International Astronomy Day 2012.’

Apr 28-29 — Lockheed Martin, USA Science & Engineering Festival Organization, Washington DC:2nd USA Science and Engineering Festival 2012.’

Apr 28 — Moon: 6.0° SSW of Beehive Cluster; 19:00; At First Quarter, 23:57.


Apr 29 — SpaceUp, Hutchinson KS:SpaceUp 2012: Kansas.’

Apr 29-30 — Kennedy Space Center, SpaceX, Cape Canaveral FL:NASA Social,’ a 2-day event for 50 social media followers to watch the Launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 Rocket and Dragon Spacecraft at NASA KSC.

Apr 29 – May 7 — Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Jerusalem, Israel:5th Isradynamics Conference: Dynamical Processes in Space and Astrophysical Plasmas.’

Apr 29 — Cassini OTM-319, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft conducts Orbital Trim Maneuver #319 today.

Apr 29 — Asteroid 2008 UC202: Near-Earth Flyby (0.026 AU).