Brother Guy Promoted

Brother Guy Consolmagno, who has been a long-time fan, attending numerous conventions, and giving a major talk at this year’s Worldcon, has been appointed Director of the Vatican Observatory by Pope Francis.

For more information…

Next Stop: 2014 MU69

NASA’s New Horizons team has determined that the probe’s next target will be the Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69, which isn’t quite as lyrical as “Pluto,” but will probably receive a more mythical name before the probe reaches it. Discovered only last year, the 45 km wide object is about a billion miles beyond Pluto and just happens to be in the right location for a flyby.
For more information…

Armstrong Suit Preservation

The Smithsonian Institute has announced that it has successfully raised $550,000 via Kickstarter in order to preserve the spacesuit worn by Neil Armstrong during the first moonwalk. The Smithsonian is planning another Kickstarter to raise $700,000 to preserve the suit worn by Alan B. Shepard, Jr. on the first American manned launch.
For more information…

Earthlike Planet Discovered

NASA has announced that the Kepler Spacecraft has discovered a planet orbiting 1,400 light years away in the constellation Cygnus. The planet, designated Kepler-452b, is 60% wider than earth and has 5 times the Earth’s mass. It orbits its primary every 385 days within the “Goldilocks Zone” and is believed to have an atmosphere and may have oceans and continents.

For more information…

Perihadean Achieved

The New Horizons spacecraft made its closest approach to the planet Pluto today, following a nine year voyage. New Horizons has been sending back a stream of pictures of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, over the past week and will resume sending out more images over the next couple of months.

For more information…

Obituary: Jack King

Jack King (b.1931) died on June 11. King served as the Kennedy Space Center’s Chief of Public Information from 1960-71 and as NASA’s Public Affairs Officer from 1971-5. During that time, he was the voice of Mission Control, announcing the launch of Apollo 11, among others.

Dawn at Ceres

NASA’s Dawn spacecraft entered orbit around Ceres at approximately 7:40 ET on the morning on March 6, the first time a spacecraft has orbited a dwarf planet. Ceres is the largest asteroid and the first discovered, on January 1, 1801. Originally classified as a planet, it was re-classified as an asteroid when it was clear that it was only one of many objects between Mars and Jupiter. Dawn previously orbited Vesta, the second largest asteroid and the fourth discovered, from 2011-2012. This is the first time a spacecraft went into orbit around two objects outside the Earth-Moon system. Dawn will begin its study of Ceres next month and will remain in orbit until 2016.

For more information…

Beagle2 Found

NASA has found the crash site of Britain’s Beagle 2 Mars probe, which disappeared while attempting to make a soft touchdown on the planet on Christmas Day in 2003. After losing radio contact with the probe, scientists assumed the probe had been destroyed, but the new imagery indicates that it is in one piece.

For more information…

Kelly’s Year in Space

NASA has announced that astronaut Scott Kelly will spend a year aboard the International Space Station, the longest any American has spent in space at a single time. Kelly has already spent 180 days in space spread out over 2 shuttle missions and a stint on the ISS which was cut short when his sister-in-law Gabrielle Giffords was shot. Kelly will participate in a study of the effects of space travel on twins with his twin brother, Mark Kelly, also an astronaut, who will remain on Earth. Kelly will join an elite club of four cosmonauts who have spent a year or more in space on a single mission.
For more information…

ISS Partially Evacuated

A possible ammonia leak on the International Space Station caused astronauts to evacuate the American section of the space station. All station personnel successfully made it to the Russian section and the American section was sealed off while a plan to deal with the leak from a cooling system was formulated. Currently there are three Russians, two Americans, and one Italian aboard the station.

For more information…