OKLAHOMA SPACE ALLIANCE
A Chapter of the National Space Society

Oklahoma Space Alliance Home 

OUTREACH March 2009

March Meeting NOTE CHANGE IN TIME AND LOCATION

         Oklahoma Space Alliance will meet at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 21 at Claire and Clifford McMurray’s house. Prospective members are also welcome. Their house is at 2715 Aspen Circle in Norman.
           To get to the meeting either: (1) Take the Lindsey Street east exit from I-35, turn right at Berry, and proceed to Imhoff Road. Turn right at Imhoff, right at Poplar Lane, left at Aspen Lane, and right at Aspen Circle. The turns at Poplar, Aspen Lane and Aspen Circle are the first you can take, or (2) Take the Highway 9 east off I-35, turn left at Imhoff Road, left at Poplar, left at Aspen Lane, and right at Aspen Circle.

Agenda:

  1. Introductions (if necessary)
  2. Read and approve agenda
  3. Read and approve minutes and reports of activities
  4. Read and discuss mail
  5. Old Business
    1. Yuri’s Night 2009. We also need to discuss whether to make the Yuri’s Night celebration our April meeting. If so, we may need to do a special work session.
    2. Space Week Project for Second Life
    3. Start Up Kit for Chapters in Second Life
    4. ISDC
    5. 40th Anniversary of Moon Landing (July 2009)
    6. Space Solar Power
  6. New Business
    1. SoonerCon 2009. I have a message from Leonard Bishop, who is the programming chair for SoonerCon, “I had mentioned this back at Christmas, but want to make sure it's still being considered. SoonerCon would like Space Alliance to host a party if possible at the convention (June 5-7th, at the Biltmore in OKC), possibly focusing on the moon landing anniversary. We would also welcome input on any panel discussions Space Alliance would be interested in hosting. I do need to hear back on panel ideas in the next 30 days, if at all possible. Just a few would help round out our programming lineup.”
  7. Create New Agenda

Yuri’s Night

         Oklahoma Space Alliance will have its Yuri’s night celebration at 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, April 12 at the McMurray residence. Directions are the same as for the March meeting.

Minutes of February Meeting

         Tom and Heidi Koszoru and Syd Henderson met at the Koszoru house on February 21. Since we did not have a quorum (several of our members were out of town), we didn’t conduct any business.

Notes on March 11 OSIDA Meeting

         Syd Henderson and Claire McMurray attended the March 11 meeting of the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority. It was held in the Conference Room of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation building in Oklahoma City. Board members attending were chair Joe King, Gilmer Capps, Lou Sims, Jack Bonny, Ken McGill and Daryl Murray. There were only about eight in the audience.
         OSIDA has gotten a check from FEMA so it can start repairs from a wind storm last year. OSIDA still has some smaller projects that also need funding. All paperwork is now approved.
         Bill Khourie and Gilmer Capps attended the Unmanned Aerial Systems Summit in Guthrie, Oklahoma. There is some interest in radar experimentation at the Oklahoma Spaceport. FAA is the biggest concern. There is a possibility of flights into restricted airspace at Fort Sill.
         Boeing seems interested in the Spaceport but details are scanty.
         Altus Air Force Base is interesting in leasing the Spaceport runway for tests. This will involve installing embedded infrared lighting. The FAA will consider allowing this as long as the IR lighting is invisible to normal vision (because that might interfere with regular flights). There is a problem, however, with the Air Force using facilities they don’t own.
         The FAA will be receiving money for the federal stimulus package for airport improvement. There would probably not be enough of this coming to Oklahoma to directly affect the Spaceport. Information on the stimulus packages is on-line at www.recovery.gov.
         The Oklahoma Aerospace Summit is June 15 – 18 at the Tulsa Convention Center. They haven’t yet asked OSIDA Executive Director Bill Khourie to be a panelist. Should the June OSIDA meeting be moved to the third Wednesday to coincide with the Summit?

Viewing Opportunities for Satellites (March 19 – April 19)

         You can get sighting information at www.heavens-above.com/. Heavens Above allows you to get Station data for 10 day periods, and gives you a constellation map showing the trajectory of the satellite. If you go to the bottom of the map page, it will give you a really detailed map with the location at 10 or 15-second intervals, depending on detail. In fact, the detailed charts will even show you the tracks against maps of the constellations, which should help you if you are familiar with the night sky.
         Sky Online (the Sky & Telescope web site) carries station observation times for the next few nights at skyandtelescope.com/observing/almanac. Note that with the addition of the solar panels, the magnitude of the Space Station can be as bright as magnitude -2.7, making it brighter than all the stars other than the Sun, although magnitude -1 to -2 is more likely. The Hubble Space Telescope can get up to magnitude 1.5, which is brighter than the stars in the Big Dipper, although, since it is lower in the sky, it is a bit more difficult to see. 
         Missions to the Space Station or Hubble Space Telescope may change its orbit. At this writing, the Shuttle is actually en route to the Space Station, which may affect the times listed. Be sure to check Heavens Above or www.jsc.nasa.gov/sightings/ before going out to watch. The repair mission to the Hubble Space Telescope has been postponed until May 2009 at the earliest. This will be the final repair mission unless NASA decides that it will require a crew to de-orbit the Space Telescope.
         All of the passes for the Hubble Space Telescope this month occur in the early morning and none make it above 28° before the Telescope vanishes into Earth’s shadow, which is generally about a minute into the pass.

Station   April 1, 2009
Time           Position    Elevation
8:40 p.m.       326°            17°
8:41               340             33
8:42                 37             53*
8:43                 99             33
8:43:45           112            19**
* Passes 1° outside bowl of Big Dipper.
** Vanishes into Earth’s shadow

Station   April 2, 2009
Time           Position    Elevation
9:07 p.m.       285°           14°
9:08               265             24
9:09               227             31
9:10               188             24
Vanishes into Earth’s shadow

Station   April 19, 2009
Time           Position    Elevation
6:22 p.m.       224°           18°
6:23               220             44
6:24               140             83
6:25                 53             37
6:26                 50             18

         Pass times are from Heavens Above
         Key: Position is measured in degrees clockwise from north. That is, 0° is due north, 90° is due east, 180° is due south, and 270° is due west.  Your fist held at arm's length is about ten degrees wide. "Elevation" is elevation above the horizon in degrees. Thus, to find the Space Station at 8:41 p.m. on April 1, measure two fist widths west of due North, then three-and-a-third fist-widths above the horizon.
         All times are rounded off to the nearest minute except for times when the satellite enters or leaves the shadow of the Earth. The highest elevation shown for each viewing opportunity is the actual maximum elevation for that appearance.
         J-Pass provides a service called J-Pass Generator, which will e‑mail you sighting information for the next three days for up to ten satellites. For more information, go to science.nasa.gov/Realtime/JPass/PassGenerator/.

 Sky Viewing

         Mercury is currently too close to the Sun in the sky to observe as it approaches superior conjunction on the night of March 30-31. After that, it will become visible after sunset from April 16 through May 4, with greatest elongation on April 26, when it will be 19° above the horizon at sunset. Look about a half-hour after sunset about a fist-width above the horizon. Mercury will be about magnitude 0. Also from April 25 until May 1, Mercury will be a couple degrees below the Pleiades, which will be hard to see in the twilight without binoculars. This will be the best chance this year for viewers in the Northern Hemisphere to see Mercury
         Venus is still shining at magnitude -4.5 in the western sky, around 20° above the horizon at sunset. However, this is changing rapidly daily because Venus is approaching its inferior conjunction on March 27. It will begin to become visible in the morning sky in early April, and by late April will be rising a couple of hours before the Sun.
         At 7:30 a.m. on April 22, the Moon will occult Venus. Unfortunately, this will be during daylight for us, but for people in the Pacific time zone, this will occur before sunrise.
         Incidentally, it’s conceivable people with exceptional eyesight can see Venus as a crescent with their naked eyes when Venus is this close to inferior conjunction. You would have to do it immediately after sunset or before sunrise because the planet’s glare can interfere. Sky & Telescope recommends looking through using a 1 to 2 mm. wide hole in a piece of cardboard to reduce optical aberration.
         Mars is barely visible low in the morning sky about a half-hour before sunrise, and that will remain true through most of April. Since Mars is only at magnitude 1.2, it’s not a spectacular sight.
         Jupiter is a bit higher and quite a bit brighter than Mars, and is visible about an hour before sunrise. By early April it will be rising about 5:00 a.m., and by the end of April, about 3:30 a.m.
         Saturn, in contrast to the other planets, is visible all night long since it was just at opposition on March 8. It’s shining at magnitude 0.5 in the constellation Leo. It’s closer to Denebola than the sickle of Leo, and about a magnitude brighter than Regulus. Saturn’s not as bright at this opposition as it would usually be because the rings are almost edge-on.
         Uranus and Neptune were both in conjunction with the Sun within the last five weeks, and cannot be seen even with binoculars.
         The unspectacular Comet Lulin has faded below naked-eye visibility but can still be seen with binoculars in the middle of the constellation Gemini.

Calendar of Events

         March 21: Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:30 p.m. at the McMurrays’.
         March 27: Venus is in inferior conjunction with the Sun.
         March 28: The Oklahoma City Astronomy Club is having its Messier Marathon at the Cheddar Ranch Observatory. This will run all night and is a challenge to observe all 110 Messier Objects in a single night. For more information and directions, visit www.okcastroclub.com.
         March 30: Mercury is in superior conjunction with the Sun.
         April 2 – 5: 100 Hours of Astronomy. See “Space News.”
         April 3- 4: The Oklahoma City Astronomy Club will be having a two-night public sky party at  Lake Tenkiller State Park in eastern Oklahoma. Set up time is sunset on each night.  The park ranger should know their location. Park phone number is 918‑489‑5641. For more information and directions, visit www.okcastroclub.com.
         April 4: Yuri’s Night celebrations have been moved up to this night in many locations to avoid Easter weekend.
         April 4 – 8: North Korea has announced that it will launch its first satellite sometime during this time.
         April 8: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Meeting in the Commission Room at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 200 NE. 21st. Street, Oklahoma City
         April 10: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club Meeting, 7:30 p.m., Science Museum Oklahoma (formerly Omniplex). There is a novice session at 6:45 in the planetarium. Web site is www.okcastroclub.com.
         April 12: Yuri’s Night celebration at the McMurrays’ at 6:00 p.m.
         April 18: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced. This meeting may possibly be moved to coincide with Yuri’s Night.
         April 18: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club Member Night at the Cheddar Ranch Observatory. For more information and directions, visit www.okcastroclub.com.
         April 22: Peak of Lyrid meteor shower.
         April 22: The Moon will occult Venus for viewers in the western half of the United States.
         April 25: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club Member Night at the Cheddar Ranch Observatory. For more information and directions, visit www.okcastroclub.com.
         April 26: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 20° east of the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
         May: Launch of Space Shuttle Atlantis on the fifth and final servicing mission to Hubble Space Telescope.
         May 2: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club Public Star Party at the Cheddar Ranch Observatory. For more information and directions, visit www.okcastroclub.com.
         May 8: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club Meeting, 7:30 p.m., Science Museum Oklahoma (formerly Omniplex). There is a novice session at 6:45 in the planetarium. Web site is www.okcastroclub.com.
         May 13: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Meeting in the Commission Room at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 200 NE. 21st. Street, Oklahoma City
         May 15: Launch of Endeavour with third section of the Japanese Kibo Module to the Space Station. [This may be moved to avoid conflict with the Hubble mission.]
         May 16: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         May 16: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club Member Night at the Cheddar Ranch Observatory. For more information and directions, visit www.okcastroclub.com.
         May 20: Earliest date for the launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. It will assume a polar orbit. The mission will last at least a year. For more information, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_Reconnaissance_Orbiter or lunar.gsfc.nasa.gov/. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will be the first mission in the Vision for Space Exploration.
         May 23: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club Member Night at the Cheddar Ranch Observatory. For more information and directions, visit www.okcastroclub.com.
         June 5: Venus is at greatest western elongation, 46° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
         June 10: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Meeting in the Commission Room at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 200 NE. 21st. Street, Oklahoma City. This meeting may be moved to Oklahoma Aerospace Summit in Tulsa on June 17.
         June 12: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club Meeting, 7:30 p.m., Science Museum Oklahoma (formerly Omniplex). Sign-up for the Girl Scout Star Party on June 27 is at this meeting. There is a novice session at 6:45 in the planetarium. Web site is www.okcastroclub.com.
         June 13: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 23° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
         June 20: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         June 27: Regional Girl Scout Star Party at the Cheddar Ranch Observatory. For more information and directions, visit www.okcastroclub.com.
         June 29: Pluto is at opposition.
         July 8: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Meeting in the Commission Room at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 200 NE. 21st. Street, Oklahoma City
         July 18: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         July 20: 40th Anniversary of first manned landing on the Moon.
         July 22 (July 21 in America): Total solar eclipse visible in central and eastern India, Bhutan and China. This eclipse will be visible to more people than any other in history (provided the sky is clear, of course).
         August 10: Saturn’s rings are edge-on with respect to the Sun.
         August 12: Peak of Perseid meteor shower.
         August 12: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Meeting in the Commission Room at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 200 NE. 21st. Street, Oklahoma City
         August 14: Jupiter is at opposition.
         August 15: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         August 17: Neptune is at opposition.
         August 24: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 27° from the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
         September 4: Saturn’s rings appear edge-on.
         September 9: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Meeting in the Commission Room at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 200 NE. 21st. Street, Oklahoma City
         September 16: Uranus is at opposition.
         September 17: Saturn is in conjunction with the Sun.
         September 19: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         September 30: MESSENGER's third flyby of Mercury.
         October: Russia launches Phobos-Grunt, a sample return mission to Martian moon Phobos. A Chinese Mars Orbiter will be part of the mission. For more information, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phobos-Grunt.
         October 5: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 18° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
         October 8: Mercury is 0.3° south of Saturn.
         October 13: Venus is 0.6° south of Saturn.
         October 14: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Meeting in the Commission Room at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 200 NE. 21st. Street, Oklahoma City
         October 17: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         October 21: Peak of Orionid meteor shower.
         November 12: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Meeting in the Commission Room at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 200 NE. 21st. Street, Oklahoma City
         November 17: Peak of Leonid meteor shower.
         November 21: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         December 9: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority Meeting in the Commission Room at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building, 200 NE. 21st. Street, Oklahoma City
         December 14: Peak of Geminid meteor shower.
         December 18: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 20° from the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
         December 19: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
         December 21: the eclipsing binary Epsilon Aurigae begins its total eclipse. This will last until March 12, 2011. This is the longest known eclipse of any eclipsing binary.
         January 2010: Annular solar eclipse visible in central Africa.
         January 11, 2010: Venus is in superior conjunction with the Sun.
         January 27, 2009: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 25° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
         January 29, 2010: Mars is at opposition with magnitude -1.3.
         February 11, 2010: Launch of Atlantis to the Space Station. This is last scheduled mission for Atlantis.
         April 8, 2010: Launch of Discovery to the Space Station. This is the last scheduled launch for Discovery.
         May 31, 2010: Launch of Endeavour to the Space Station. This is the last scheduled mission for any space shuttle.
         May 2010: Japan launches the Venus Climate Orbiter (aka Planet‑C) to Venus. Web page is www.jaxa.jp/projects/sat/planet_c/index_e.html.
         June 2010: Hayabusa returns to Earth with a sample of asteroid Itokawa.  This will be the first asteroid sample returned to Earth. Web site is www.isas.jaxa.jp/e/enterp/missions/hayabusa/index.shtml.
         July 10, 2010: The Rosetta comet probe passes asteroid 21 Lutetia.
         July 11, 2010: Total solar eclipse in southern Chile and Argentina.
         September 21, 2010: Jupiter is at opposition. This is the closest Jupiter will come to Earth in the next 20 years, about 370 million miles.
         December 2010: Japan’s Venus Climate Orbiter arrives at Venus.
         December 21, 2010: Total eclipse of the Moon, visible just after midnight in North and South America.
         March 18, 2011: MESSENGER goes into orbit around Mercury.
         June, 2011: Total eclipse of the Moon, visible in South America and most of Eastern Hemisphere.
         October 2011: Dawn probe orbits Vesta. See dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/  or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawn_Mission for details.
         October -December 2011: The Mars Science Laboratory is launched. See marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ for details. [Moved from October 2009]
         October 2011 – April 2012: Dawn probe orbits Vesta.
         December 10, 2011: Total eclipse of the Moon. This one is at its best in Russia, eastern Asia, Australia, Alaska and the Yukon, but the early part of the eclipse will be visible in the rest of North America.
         Sometime in 2012: Russia launches the “Luna-Glob” mission which will deploy 13 mini-probes upon the lunar surface.
         March 3, 2012: Mars is at opposition at magnitude -1.2. This is the worst opposition for the next twenty years.
         April 2012: Dawn probe leaves orbit around Vesta for Ceres.
         June 6, 2012: Venus transits the Sun's disk.  The early part of this will be visible from the United States, but the full transit will only be visible from the western Pacific Ocean, eastern Asia, eastern Australia, and eastern Indonesia including New Guinea.
         Fall 2012: The Mars Science Laboratory rover lands on Mars. See marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ for details.
         June 2013: Earliest date for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.
         August 2013 (approximate): The European Space Agency/JAXA BepiColombo Mercury Orbiter is launched. Home page is sci.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=30.
         August 2014 - December 2015: The Rosetta space probe orbits comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In November, 2014, it will release the Philae lander. See September 5, 2008 for website information.
         Sometime in 2015 or 2016: Launch of SIM PlanetQuest (aka the Space Interferometry Mission). This mission was originally supposed to have been launched in 2005 and has been delayed at least five times. It was recently moved from 2012. For more information, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_Interferometry_Mission.
         February 2015: Dawn space probe arrives at Ceres. Operations are scheduled to continue through July. Dawn may continue on to other asteroids if it is still operational.
         July 14, 2015: The New Horizons probe passes through the Pluto-Charon system. The New Horizons web site is pluto.jhuapl.edu/.
         Sometime in 2016: ESA launches the ExoMars Mars Rover. For more information, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exomars.
         July 2016-2020:  The New Horizons probe visits the Kuiper Belt.
         August 21, 2017: The next total solar eclipse visible in the United States, on a pretty straight path from Portland, Oregon to Charleston, South Carolina.  St. Louis is the biggest city in-between.
         August 2019 (approximate) BepiColombo arrives at Mercury orbit.
         April 8, 2024: A total solar eclipse crosses the US from the middle of the Mexico-Texas border, crosses Arkansas, southern Missouri, Louisville, Cleveland, Buffalo and northern New England.
         August 12, 2045: The next total solar eclipse visible in Oklahoma.  This one is also visible in Salt Lake City, Denver, Little Rock (again), Tampa Bay and New Orleans.

Space News

         April 2 – 5 has been designated “100 Hours of Astronomy” as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. There will be astronomy-oriented events around the world, with the final 24 hours being a global star party (starting at sunset at each place). The Oklahoma City Astronomy Club will be having public star parties at Lake Tenkiller State Park in Sequoyah County on the Arkansas border. The Yuri’s Night international celebrations were moved up to April 4 or 5 in some places to avoid Easter, and will coincide with the 100 Hours, but ours will be April 12. The coordinating website for the 100 Hours is http://www.100hoursofastronomy.org.

         The Kepler space telescope was successfully launched on March 6. Kepler is designed to detect transits by planets (and other objects) across the disks of stars. Over the next 3.5 years, it will observe 100,000 stars, and will be capable of detecting transits by a planet the size of Earth. The probability of transit by a planet the size of the Earth orbiting a star the size of the Sun at the same distance the Earth is from the Sun is about one in 215.
         The first planets to be detected are expected to be “hot Jupiters” since they are not only bigger and more likely to transit their stars disks (since they’re closer to the star), but also will transit more frequently. A minimum of three transits will be needed to confirm the existence of a planet. This could take 12 days for a “hot Jupiter” and three years for an Earth-like planet. Observations begin in May.
         Kepler is not in Earth orbit, by the way, but in solar orbit, to avoid the light and gravitational fields of the Earth and Moon. It is observing stars in the constellations Lyra and Cygnus, which is also the direction the solar system is moving in the Milky Way. Thus many of the stars it will be observing will be in similar orbits to the Sun. Cygnus and Lyra are also far out the plane of the Ecliptic, so the Sun, planets, asteroids and Kuiper Belt objects won’t interfere with the observations.

         The Mars Odyssey orbiter was rebooted on March 12, which also brought back to life a power distribution component that had been out of order for three years. Engineers are now bringing Odyssey back to life and setting it back to studying Mars. Odyssey has orbited Mars since October 2001 and has enough propellant to operate until 2015.

         GOCE, the Gravity field and steady-state Ocean Circulation Explorer, was launched on the morning of March 17 (our time) from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome in northern Russia. That acronym is cheating. It should really be called something like GFASSOCE. 
         GOCE is a product of the European Space Agency. GOCE is designed to measure the details of Earth’s gravitational field in unprecedented detail. This will help the study of the Earth’s internal structure, as well as map ocean currents and volcanic structures.

         A North Korean official announced March 12 that North Korea would launch its first satellite sometime between April 4 and 8. The launch would use the Taepodong-2 missile, which failed in its only previous launch in 2003. Since this rocket is also North Korea’s longest range ballistic missile, supposedly capable of reaching Alaska, US officials are understandably concerned.

         China is developing an 8-ton military space laboratory with projected launch in late 2010. Tiangong-1 will be tended by humans, although it won’t be permanently crewed. The first spacecraft to dock with it, Shenzhou-8 in early 2011, will be unmanned.
         China has a second manned station under development, which will weigh more than twenty tons. That one will be launched around 2020 and will be somewhat similar to Mir.
         China also has a series of unmanned lunar probes in development, including an unmanned rover due in late 2012 or early 2013, and a sample-return mission in 2017. One of their probes, Chang’e 1, orbited the Moon from October, 2007, and was intentionally crashed into the Moon on March 2.

         Saturn’s 61st satellite is only a third of a mile across, and actually orbits within the planet’s G ring. It’s currently designated S/2008 S 1, which simply means it was the first moon of Saturn discovered last year. It’s probable this satellite is actually the source of the G ring, especially since the moonlet lies within a denser part of the ring.

Space-Related Articles

         “Is Earth One of a Kind?” by Ray Villard, Astronomy, April 2009, pp. 34 -39. In 2000, Peter Ward and Donald Brownlee wrote a book entitled Rare Earth: Why Complex Life Is Uncommon in the Universe. How well do the claims stand up in light of what we’ve learned recently?
         One claim, that Earth’s elements are rare, doesn’t seem to be true. Or at least, it appears that up to a quarter of metal-rich stars have planets, and we are in the middle of the zone where such stars form. However, the actual variation over the diameter of the Milky Way doesn’t seem to be that much. As far as other galaxies go, the amount of heavy elements varies from galaxy to galaxy.
         We should be getting information in the next three years as to what percentage of stars have earth-sized planets in their habitable zones.
         It’s possible that to be habitable, a planet must have a large Moon to stabilize its rotation. For example, the axial tilt of Mars has varied from 13° to 40° over the last twenty million years, and one calculation is that, without the Moon, the Earth’s axial tilt could vary from 0° to 83°. That would clearly present a problem to evolving life, especially if it took place over a few million years. (On the other hand, life might find it a vigorous challenge.) A large moon orbiting a terrestrial planet, according to calculations by Nadya Gorlova, should form around five to ten percent of candidate systems.
         Plate tectonics have played a role in evolution, not only raising mountains but recycling carbon. Venus, which does not have moving plates, suddenly resurfaces itself every few hundred million years. However, it seems to me that it’s just as likely that an Earth-mass planet would have plates on the Earth model, or even more active plates.
         The real problem with extrapolating like this is that we are doing it from one data-base point, and we assume that life can only evolve under conditions that are virtually identical to that data base point. It’s like an analysis I saw once that showed that intelligent life would evolve from four-legged creatures with sensory organs almost identical to ours, with virtually the same chemistry, similar endoskeletons, etc. With the variety of life on Earth, that sounded more like a failure of imagination than anything else.

         “Another Universe Comes Calling,” by Amanda Gefter, New Scientist, 24 January 2009, pp. 51 -53. Sasha Kashlinsky has been calculating the motions of distant clusters of galaxies and has detected that galaxy clusters are moving at up to 600 miles per second toward a point near the boundaries of the constellations Centaurus and Vela. (The phenomenon is called “dark flow.”) This would seem to go against the idea that the Universe should have symmetry on the large scale.
         One possibility is that the assumption that the Universe should look the same in all directions is false. Since there are inhomogeneities hundreds of light-years across in the visible Universe, it seems reasonable there might be larger ones.
         Kashlinsky suspects dark flow is the remnant of some phenomenon that predates cosmic inflation. An intriguing possibility has to do with the cosmic horizon (the point at which expansion would make galaxies appear to move at the speed of light). Perhaps there is a huge accumulation of matter beyond this horizon, which attracted those galaxies billions of years ago but has now moved beyond the cosmic horizon.

         “Lying in Weightlessness,” by Stuart Clark, New Scientist, 21 February 2009, pp. 30 – 33. The physics and uses of the Lagrangian Points. Two spacecraft, called STEREO A and B, were launched in 2006, with A in an orbit where it moves slightly faster than Earth while B falls behind. Eventually the craft will pass through the L4 and L5 regions of the Earth-Sun System. Since these regions are huge, it will take months for them to pass through. Since they will be in the area anyway, the STEREOs can be used to look for the Earth’s equivalent of Trojan asteroids

.Oklahoma Space Alliance Officers, 2009 (Area Code 405)

Tom Koszoru, President                                      366-1797 (H)
Claire McMurray, Vice-President/Update Editor 329-4326 (H) 863-6173 (C)
Syd Henderson, Secretary & Outreach Editor    321-4027 (H)
Tim Scott, Treasurer                                           740-7549 (H)

OSA E-mail Addresses and Web Site:

claire.mcmurray at sbcglobal.net (Claire McMurray)
T_Koszoru at cox.net (Heidi and Tom Koszoru)
sydh at ou.edu (Syd Henderson)
ctscott at mac.com (Tim Scott)
lensman13 at aol.com  (Steve Galpin)
dmcraig at earthlink.net (Nancy and David Craig).
         E-mail for OSA should be sent to sydh@ou.edu.  Members who wish  their e-mail addresses printed in Outreach, and people wishing space-related materials e-mailed to them should contact Syd.  Oklahoma Space Alliance website is chapters.nss.org/ok/osanss.html. Webmaster is Syd Henderson.

Other Information

         Air and Space Museum: Science Museum Oklahoma (formerly the Omniplex), Oklahoma City, 602‑6664 or 1-800-532-7652.
         Oklahoma Space Industrial Development Authority (OSIDA), 401 Sooner Drive/PO Box 689, Burns Flat, OK 73624, 580-562-3500.  Web site www.state.ok.us/~okspaceport.
         Tulsa Air and Space Museum, 7130 E. Apache, Tulsa, OK  74115.
Web Site is www.tulsaairandspacemuseum.com.  Phone (918)834-9900.
         The Mars Society address is Mars Society, Box 273, Indian Hills CO 80454. Their web address is www.marsociety.org.
         The National Space Society's Headquarters phone is 202-429-1600.  The Chapters Coordinator is Bennett Rutledge 720-529-8024.  The address is:  National Space Society, 1620 I (Eye) Street NW Ste. 615, Washington, DC 20006.    Web page is www.nss.org.  
         NASA Spacelink BBS  205-895-0028.  Or try www.nasa.gov.  .
         Congressional Switchboard 202/224-3121.
          Write to any U. S. Senator or Representative at [name]/ Washington DC, 20510 (Senate) or 20515 [House].

 OKLAHOMA SPACE ALLIANCE
 A Chapter of the National Space Society

 MEMBERSHIP ORDER FORM
                                                                     
Please enroll me as a member of Oklahoma Space Alliance.  Enclosed is:
                                    $10.00 for Mem­bership.  (This allows full voting privileges, but covers only your own newsletter expense.)
___________________ $15.00 for family membership

                                     TOTAL  amount enclosed

          National Space Society has a special $20 introductory rate for new members ($35 for new international members).  Regular membership rates are $45, international $60.  Student memberships are $20.  Part of the cost is for the magazine, Ad Astra.  Mail to: National Space Society, 1620 I (Eye) Street NW, Washington DC 20006, or join at www.nss.org/membership. (Brochures are at the bottom with the special rate.) Be sure to ask them to credit your membership to Oklahoma Space Alliance.
          To join the Mars Society, visit.  One-year memberships are $50.00; student and senior memberships are $25, and Family memberships are $100.00.    Their address is Mars Society, Box 273, Indian Hills CO 80454.

Do you want to be on the Political Action Network?
            Yes           No.  [See brochure for information.]

Name                                                            

Address                                                                                 

City                               State        ZIP           
  
Phone (optional or if on phone tree)                 

E-mail address (optional)                                 

OSA Memberships are for 1 year, and include a subscription to our monthly newsletters, Outreach and Update.  Send check & form to Oklahoma Space Alliance, 102 W. Linn, #1, Norman, OK 73071.

 

To contact Oklahoma Space Alliance, e-mail Syd Henderson.
102 W. Linn St. #1
Norman OK 73069
Copyright ©2007 Oklahoma Space Alliance.