• (Belated) Countdown for 12/10/11

    Sorry for the delay! I spent the day travelling back from the AGU Meeting in San Francisco. Somehow I managed to miss the most exciting talks but had many exciting conversations with friends old and new. Fortunately, Shawn covered some of that ground. Here are some more items, as well as some news that didn’t emerge from the Bay Area last week…

    4. Going, going… But not quite gone. Voyager 1 reaches a new milestone, now on the cusp of interstellar space.

    3. Martian Drywall. Opportunity discovers a vein of gypsum – calcium sulfate – indicating ancient water flowed through fractures in the ground. A “slam dunk story” says PI Steve Squyres. Read about it here.

    2. Russian Resurgence. While the sad fate of Phobos-Grunt made headlines, the RadioAstron mission has begun making observations! Haven’t heard of it? It’s a 10 meter space-based radio-telescope launched in July. It will pair up with Earth-bound radio telescopes using interferometry to create the largest effective radio telescope ever built. Short news report here. Mission site here (they need a better web presence!).

    1. Dragon on the Loose! NASA approved a February 7 launch date for the SpaceX mission that will dock a Dragon capsule to the ISS. If successful, this will be a major milestone for the rise of the commercial space launch industry. Read more here.