January 25-31, 2016 / Vol 35, No 4 / Hawai`i Island, USA

30th Observation of Challenger, and Other Remembrances: Inspiring a Future Among the Stars
calendar feature - 30th challenger observation

USA and international space communities observe on January 28 the 30th anniversary of the catastrophic breakup of Space Shuttle Challenger STS-51L at 73 seconds after launch, extinguishing the lives of seven astronauts, Francis “Dick” Scobee, Michael Smith, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnick and Ronald McNair. The drive to explore and discover is burning bright across the world as testament to their memories. Nations, companies, institutions and individuals everywhere are pushing the boundaries of what is actionable and conceivable in space. Also remembered and celebrated this week are Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee who were lost on January 27, 49 years ago in a fire during an Apollo 1 launch simulation test, and Astronauts Richard Husband, Laurel Clark, Ilan Ramon, William McCool, Michael Anderson, David Brown and Kalpana Chawla, who died when Space Shuttle Columbia STS-107 disintegrated upon reentry 13 years ago on February 1. Events and observations are held annually around this time in many locations. In Hawaii, the Kealakekua-native and first person of Japanese ancestry to reach space, is honored with the 2016 Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day in Hilo featuring a Keynote address by NASA Astronaut Mike Fincke, as well as with a ceremony by the Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems at Keaau High School unveiling the students’ recently reconstructed Space Shuttle Flight Simulator. (Image Credit: NASA, JPL-Caltech)


Jan 25 — ISS, LEO: Cygnus OA-4 to be released today and burn up in Earth atmosphere with waste, ISS reboost to occur this week, Expedition 46 six-member crew gearing up for second EVA of 2016, testing Orlan spacesuits, working with biology experiments for airway monitoring, bodily fluids, nutrients and diet, eye, fatigue, blood flow.

Jan 25 — Opportunity, Mars Surface: Rover enters 13th year on Mars; holds “off-world” record for having driven the greatest distance >42.65 km; launched 2003, landed 2004.

Jan 25 — Rosetta, Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko Orbit: Trying to make contact with Philae lander, orbiter data confirms water ice present on comet’s topmost layer, dedicated website to OSIRIS camera images now available.

Jan 25 — New Horizons, KBO 2014 MU69 Trajectory: PI Alan Stern receives AAS 2016 Carl Sagan Memorial Award, New Horizons Team will receive NSS Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy at 59th Annual Memorial Dinner March 11 and the SF 2016 John L. “Jack” Swigert Jr. Award for Space Exploration at 32nd Space Symposium April 11.

Jan 25 — Upcoming 2016 Space Missions, Multiple Locations: ESA scheduled to launch Earth observation satellite Sentinel 3A Feb 4, JAXA to launch X-ray telescope Astro-H Feb 12, RSA to launch ESA ExoMars Feb 14, SpaceX may launch Planetary Society LightSail in June.

Jan 25 — Masten Space Systems, Mojave CA: NewSpace company considering opening an office at Cape Canaveral, developing VLVT lunar lander demonstrator Xeus, small cargo lunar lander XL-1, reusable experimental spaceplane XS-1.

Jan 25 — B612 Foundation, Mountain View CA: Co-founder of annual Asteroid Day (Jun 30), organization is in 2nd phase of Sentinel mission after completing concept phase & establishing Sentinel Operations and Data Analysis working group; commends formation of Planetary Defense Coordination Office & its stated goals which B612 says its been advocating for over 14 years.

Jan 25 — Made in Space, Mountain View CA: First off-world 3D printer continues to produce 3D printed parts at ISS, working to develop systems to recycle plastic, eliminate waste in space, manufacture large assemblies without Astronaut help.

JAN - MAR 2016 = 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 – Evening Planets: Jupiter (E), Uranus (SW), Neptune (W); Morning Planets: Mercury (SE), Venus (SE), Mars (S), Saturn (SE).

Expanding Milky Way Galaxy and Universe Research

MWG 2016

Knowledge of the Milky Way Galaxy (MWG) and the Universe is rapidly evolving with the help of an estimated 530 ground, airborne and space observatories. ESA Gaia craft is mapping MWG by studying 1B stars. The structure of MWG, whether it has 2 or 4 spiral arms and their reach, continues to be debated. Max Planck Institute for Astronomy researchers including Melissa Ness developed a program to determine the mass and age of 70,000 red giants confirming MWG grew from the inside out. Studies have shown record-breaking distances for stars found in MWG Halo (900,000 LY), the most massive Galaxy cluster (400 trillion times the mass of the Sun), what may be MWG 2nd most massive black hole, the most luminous Galaxy (300 trillion Suns), most luminous supernova (570B times Sun), and established the Universe is dying (energy produced today is 50% of what it was 2B years ago). The theory of the Galactic Skeleton with structural dark interstellar gas ‘bones’, and the Cosmic Web explains the distribution of matter (5% of the Universe) from dense regions of galaxy clusters to voids, dark matter and intergalactic filaments comprise a non-random, organized network. Event Horizon Telescope (harnessing 9 telescopes worldwide) will attempt to take a picture of Sagittarius A* black hole at the center of MWG in 2017. (Image Credit: Pablo/unmismoobjetivo, M. Ness, G. Stinson, MPIA, Anatoly Klypin, Joel Primack, S. Cantalupo, Keio University, NOAJ, NASA, JPL, SSC)

Jan 25-28 — NRAO, Associated Universities, Kavli Foundation, Chicago IL: U.S. Radio/Millimeter/Submillimeter Science Futures in the 2020s; at Hyatt Regency O’Hare.

Jan 25-28 — Applied Technology Institute, Albuquerque NM: Fundamentals of Orbital & Launch Mechanics course; with instructor Thomas S. Logsdon.

Jan 25-29 — Sexten Center for Astrophysics, Sexten, Italy: Conference: Galactic Surveys – New Results on Formation, Evolution, Structure and Chemical Evolution of the Milky Way.

Jan 25 – Feb 24 — Johnson Space Center, NASA, Houston TX: 2016 Human Exploration Research Analog (HERA) Campaign; 4 volunteers to spend 30 days in HERA 148-cubic-meter capsule simulating a mission to asteroid.

Jan 25 — Moon: 2.4° SSW of Regulus, 18:00.

Continued from…

Aug 28 – Aug 28, 2016 — NASA, University of Hawai`i at Mānoa, Mauna Loa HI: Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (HI-SEAS) Mission 4; at 2,440-meter altitude.

Jan 11-29 — National Autonomous University of Mexico, Tonantzintla Puebla, Mexico: Latin American School of Observational Astronomy 2016.

Jan 23-26 — Institute for Research in Fundamental Sciences (IPM), Tehran, Iran: Tehran Meeting on Modified Gravity.

Jan 23-29 — Committee on Space Research (COSPAR), International Living with a Star (ILWS), Center of Excellence in Space Sciences India (CESSI), Goa, India: Conference: Science for Space Weather.


Jan 26-28 — ESA, Belgian Science Policy Office (BELSPO), Ghent, Belgium: Proba-V Symposium; to discuss Proba-V mission which monitors global vegetation from Space.


Jan 27 — Arianespace, Launch Ariane 5 / Intelsat 29e, Kourou, French Guiana: Arianespace will use an Ariane 5 ECA rocket, designated VA228, to launch the Intelsat 29e communications satellite.

Jan 27 — Apollo 1 49th Observation, Nationwide USA: Increasing space awareness and education, remembrances and events honor three Apollo 1 crew members lost during a launch pad test: Command Pilot Virgil “Gus” Grissom, Senior Pilot Edward H. White and Pilot Roger B. Chaffee.

Jan 27-29 — NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group, Monrovia CA: 14th Meeting of the NASA Small Bodies Assessment Group (SBAG).

Jan 27 — Moon: 1.3° SSW of Jupiter, 14:00.

Jan 27 — Apollo Asteroid 438661 (2008 EP6): Near-Earth flyby (0.050 AU).


Jan 28 — Cassini OTM-439, Saturn Orbit: Spacecraft conducts Orbital Trim Maneuver #439 today.

Jan 28 — Challenger STS-51L 30th Observation, Nationwide USA: Educational and ceremonial events held worldwide to advance space technology / education and honor 7 crew members killed in shuttle accident 28 January 1986: Commander Francis R. “Dick” Scobee, Pilot Michael J. Smith, Astronaut Christa McAuliffe (the 1st ‘Teacher in Space’), Mission Specialists Ellison S. Onizuka, Judith A. Resnick and Ronald E. McNair, along with Payload Specialist Gregory B. Jarvis.

Jan 28 — Pacific International Space Center for Exploration Systems (PISCES), Keaau High School, Keaau HI: Ceremony to honor 30th anniversary of NASA Space Shuttle orbiter Challenger mission & NASA astronaut and Big Island native Ellison Onizuka; reconstructed Space Shuttle Flight Simulator will be unveiled, starts 16:00.

Jan 28 — Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Titusville FL: Day of Remembrance; honoring the crews of Apollo 1 and space shuttles Challenger and Columbia.

Jan 28 — Lunar and Planetary Institute, Houston TX: Lecture: OSIRIS-REx Mission to Asteroid Bennu; Dr. Scott Messenger of Johnson Space Center.

Jan 28 — Apollo Asteroid 2015 VC2: Near-Earth flyby (0.015 AU).

Jan 28 — Aten Asteroid 2013 GM3: Near-Earth flyby (0.064 AU).


Jan 29 — ILS, Launch Proton / Eutelsat 9B, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan: International Launch Services Proton rocket to launch Eutelsat 9B communications satellite.

Jan 29 — International Astronautical Federation, Mexican Space Agency (AEM), Online / Guadalajara, Mexico: Topics Due for Plenary Events and Highlight Lectures: 67th International Astronautical Congress (IAC 2016) Making space accessible and affordable to all countries; to be held Sep 26-30.

Jan 29 — Moon: At apogee (distance 404,112 km), 23:00.


Jan 30 — University of Hawaii at Hilo, Hilo HI: 2016 Astronaut Ellison Onizuka Science Day; featuring NASA Astronaut, workshops, presentations, interactive displays, 08:00-15:00.

Jan 30 — Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA/Caltech, Pasadena CA: Space School Musical; video series that introduces the planets, moons, asteroids, meteors for formal / informal educators of grades 3-12.

Jan 30-31 — SpaceUp, San Diego State University, SDSU Rocket Project, HiTech EdVentures, SDSU Schwartz Astronomical Society, San Diego CA: SpaceUp San Diego.

Jan 30 — Moon: 0.51° NNE of Pluto, 05:00; 4.8° NNE of Spica, 05:00.

Jan 30 — Aten Asteroid 2012 BX34: Near-Earth flyby (0.067 AU).

Jan 30 — Aten Asteroid 2015 AB44: Near-Earth flyby (0.068 AU).


Jan 31 — DC-L5 Space Society (NSS Chapter), Falls Church VA: DC-L5 Society meeting.

Jan 31 — Moon: At last quarter, 17:28.