A collection of more than 300 fossils collected an examined by Charles Darwin have been found by Howard Falcon-Lang at the British Geological Survey after being lost for more than 150 years. The fossils included specimens collected by Darwin in the Galapagos as well as samples collected by Darwin’s colleagues, and were used to help Darwin formulate his theory of evolution.
NASA has announced that SpaceX has been given permission to dock the Dragon capsule with the International Space Station. The Dragon will be carried aloft by the Falcon 9 Rocket on February 7, contingent on final safety reviews, testing and verification of the craft.
Astronauts John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were honored on November 16 when they were each awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda. The medals were presented by Representatives John Boehner and Nancy Pelosi and Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. The Congressional Gold Medal is the highest civilian award in the United States. Glenn flew into space twice, on the third Mercury mission and on STS-95. Armstrong, Aldrin, and Collins flew on the first lunar landing mission and each also flew on a Gemini mission. The Apollo astronauts received the Presidential Medal of Honor in 1969.
Asteroid 2005 YU55 is scheduled to pass within approximately 201,700 miles of the Earth on November 8, closer than the Moon’s orbit but further away than many other recent asteroid passes. However, 2005 YU55 is 1,300 feet across, making it the largest asteroid to pass the Earth since 1976, although it doesn’t pose any danger. The next known large asteroid to pass near Earth won’t happen until 2028.
British amateur Astronomer Nick Howes is leading a search to find Snoopy, the lunar module used by the Apollo 10 crew to fly within 8.5 miles of the lunar surface. Following the mission, the module was jettisoned into a solar orbit while the crew returned to Earth in the command module, Charlie Brown.
Tor Books and NASA have announced a collaboration to publish a series of
science based, commercial fiction books, referred to as “NASA inspired Works of Fiction.” The series will allow authors to work closely with NASA Subject Matter Experts to ensure that the science incorporated into the novels is accurate. The Goddard Space Flight Center’s Innovative Partnerships Program (IPP) Office will host a two-day workshop for authors.
A power reactant storage and distribution from the space shuttle Columbia has been found at the bottom of a Texas lake. The four-foot diameter PRSD is a tank that provided power and water for shuttle missions. It was found after drought caused the waters of Lake Nacogdoches to recede enough to uncover the unit. Columbia disintegrated during re-entry over Texas on February 1, 2003.
Scientist R.C.W. Ettinger (b.1918) died on July 23. Ettinger is best known as one of the pioneers of the cryonics movement and founded the Cryonics Institute in 1976. His body is the 106th body frozen by the institute. Ettinger was injured during World War II and came up with some of his ideas during his long recuperation and his love of science fiction. Ettinger also published two science fiction stories in 1948 and 1950.
The Herschel spacecraft, launched by the European Space Agency, has determined that water in the upper atmosphere of Saturn comes from the moon Enceladus, which orbits approximately 238,000 km from the planet. Enceladus spews water into space at a rate of 250kg/s. Scientists estimate that between 3-5% of that is captured by Saturn, which is enough to account for the levels of water found in Saturn’s atmosphere.