Send Your Name to the Sun

NASA will be including an electronic list of names on the Parker Solar Probe, which is designed to plunge into the Sun’s atmosphere on the closest pass to the Sun’s surface ever. They are inviting the public to submit their names to be included on the memory card. Names must be received by April 27, 2018.
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Obituary: John Young

Astronaut John Young (b.1930) died on January 5. Young flew the first Gemini mission with Gus Grissom, flew on Apollo 10, landed on the moon during Apollo 16, and later flew the inaugural flight of the space shuttle Columbia. He is the only man to fly four different classes of spacecraft. He holds the record for astronaut with the longest active service with NASA: 42 years. With Young’s death, only five moonwalkers survive.

Nickname a World

The New Horizons team is looking for public input in coming up with a nickname for MU69, the next target for the spacecraft. After flyby, the nickname chosen will be replaced by a more permanent name depending on what is found. The New Horizons team is considering Año Nuevo; Camalor; Kibo, Mwenzi, and Shira; Mjölnir; Peanut, Almond, and Cashew; Pluck and Persistence, Sagittarius, or Z’ha’dum. Camalor is the name of a city in the writings of Robert L. Forward and Z’ha’dum is a planet from Babylon 5.

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Hurricane Irma Kills Moon Tree

A sycamore tree planted from a seed which had been carried on the Apollo 14 mission and planted at Cape Canaveral on June 25, 1976 was killed during hurricane Irma on September 10,2017. The seed was part of an early experiment to discover it micro-gravity would have an impact on seeds when they were planted. The trees from seeds flown on the mission, from a variety of different species, were indistinguishable from trees grown from seeds which had not flown in micro-gravity.
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Potential for Life on Two Moons

NASA has announced that Saturn’s moon Enceladus and Jupiter’s moon Europa both have the elements believed necessary for life to exist. Both moons are covered in subsurface oceans and NASA believes that Enceladus has the necessary energy source that makes life a possibility. No direct evidence of life has been found on either moon.
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Woman Wins Moon Dust

A Chicgao area woman who purchased a bag of Moon dust that was put up for auction inadvertently by the US government has won the right to own the artifacts. The bag was stolen by Max Ary, former president of a space museum in Kansas and was seized by the government. The back was accidentally put up for auction by the US Marshal service and Nancy Carlson purchased it. NASA tried to reclaim it when she sought their assistance in verifying the bag and dust.
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Initial Twin Study Released

NASA has released preliminary results from their Twin Study comparing identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly following Scott Kelly’s long-duration mission on the International Space Station. Results unexpected showed changes in gene expression, DNA methylation and other biological markers. The caps on the ends of Scott Kelly’s telomeres grew longer during his space flight (returning to normal after landing), which was the opposite of the expected results. Full results of the study are expected to be released over the next few years.
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Space Travel Linked to Heart Disease

Research indicated that the Apollo astronauts, who are the only humans to travel beyond the protective magnetic shielding of Earth, have an increased level of death from cardiovascular problems compared to astronauts who have never flown in space or who have only flown in Low Earth Orbit. The study looked at the 24 Apollo astronauts (including those who died of cancer and accidents) and compared them to 70 other astronauts, divided equally between unflown and LEO astronauts.
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By Jove

The Juno spacecraft successfully performed a Jovian Orbital Insertion on July 4, after a five year voyage to the planet Jupiter. Juno is in a polar orbit and will study Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere over a 20 month period.

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Mapping Columbia

On December 10, the Smithsonian removed the Plexiglas cover protecting the Columbia capsule from the Apollo 11 mission in order to begin a computer scan of the interior and exterior of the capsule to permit the creation of virtual 3D replicas of the command module that took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon in 1969.
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