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OUTREACH March 2010

March 2010 Meeting

      Oklahoma Space Alliance will meet at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday, March 20 at the Koszorus' house in Norman. Prospective members are also welcome. The house is at 514 Fenwick Court in Norman.
      To get the meeting either: (1) Take the Robinson Street west exit off I-35. Proceed west to 36th Street where you will turn left, and go south until you turn left on Rambling Oaks (about half a mile north of Main Street). Fenwick Court is the third street on the left. Tom's house is the last on the left side, or (2) Take the Main Street west exit off I-35, proceed west past the Sooner Fashion Mall, and turn right at 36th Street, and go north until you turn right on Rambling Oaks (about half a mile north of Main Street). Fenwick Court is the third street on the left. Tom's house is the last on the left side.


  1. Introductions (if necessary)
  2. Read and approve agenda
  3. Read and approve minutes and reports of activities
  4. Old Business
    1. Start Up Kit for Chapters in Second Life
    2. Research funding
    3. A New OSA Logo
    4. Treasurer’s Report
    5. Coupon books: $15 per book or unsold books are due to Claire at or before the March meeting (no exceptions)
    6. Annual Report
    7. 50th Anniversary of Manned Space Flight (Yuri's Night 2011)
    8. Space Solar Power
    9. President Obama’s Proposed  Space Budget
    10. Marketing for Burns Flat
    11. Apollo 13 Reunion at Kansas Cosmosphere, April 16-17.
    12. International Space Development Conference 2010.
  5. Read and discuss mail
  6. New Business
    1. NSS Petitions
  7. Create New Agenda

Apollo 13 Reunion in Hutchison, Kansas

      From the Kansas Cosmosphere website: It’s probably too late to register for the gala and dinner, but we can still go up on the 17th for the other events. That would be our regular meeting date, so we can substitute this for our meeting.

Dear Cosmosphere Members and Supporters,
      The Kansas Cosmosphere is home to the Apollo 13 capsule Odyssey and we will be celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission in a big way. On April 16 and 17 the Cosmosphere will be hosting several events and screenings, culminating with a fundraising gala featuring guest speakers Apollo 13 Astronauts James Lovell, Fred Haise and Flight Director Gene Kranz. Following the April 17 dinner and presentations will be an exclusive VIP reception where guests will have the opportunity to have their photo taken with the crew in front of the Apollo 13 capsule.
      Tickets for the gala event will go on sale exclusively for Cosmosphere members two weeks in advance of their release to the general public. Members will be receiving a formal invitation early in February with special member pricing and information. If you are not a Cosmosphere member but would like to become a member visit our website [http://www.cosmo.org/in_member.htm] and join for your premium seating options and special pricing. Less than 300 seats are available for the gala dinner and only 100 tickets are available for the VIP reception to be held immediately following the gala.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the Cosmosphere is honored to host this reunion of crew members along with many other Mission Control personnel and former Astronauts such as Alan Bean who will be here as our guests to honor this crew and their mission. We hope to see you there.
Invitations to the gala dinner and VIP event will be going out to members early February. If you have not received your membership invitation by February 15 or you have any questions please contact Patti Ferguson at 800-397-0330 extension 310. We ask that members reply by February 20, with their reservations as we anticipate the event selling out once tickets are offered to the public in late February.
      Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center 1100 N. Plum HUTCHINSON, Kansas 67501 www.cosmo.org 800.397.0330
      For more information, please contact:
      Patsy Terrell 620.665.9335 [email protected]  
      Marisa Honomichl 620.665.9339 [email protected]  

Minutes of February Meeting

      Oklahoma Space Alliance met at the Koszoru house on February 27. The meeting was postponed a week to give President Koszoru a chance to be there. John Northcutt, Heidi Koszoru and Syd Henderson were also there. We also had two prospective members, Sean and Bill Sherrold, attend.
      Tom will give the Great Space Race to the club if the club will finance it. He figures to sell it to management training program.
      Tom wants money making proposals. John wants to know what we would want the money for. We could possible pay for speakers.
      We could sponsor a film series on space exploration. Syd suggested contacting the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History at the University of Oklahoma about this, since they do movie series, and are currently doing one of movies about scientists.
      Syd brought copies of the NASA budget proposed by the Obama Administration and we discussed that.

--Minutes by Oklahoma Space Alliance Secretary Syd Henderson

Notes on OSIDA Meeting

      Syd Henderson attended the March 10 Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority meeting at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Building in Oklahoma City. All seven board members (Chairman Joe King, former state Rep. Jack Bonny, former state Sen. Gilmer Capps, former state Sen. Cal Hobson, Gen. Ken McGill, Darryl Murphy, and Lou Sims) were present, which outnumbered the audience, which consisted of four people, not counting Executive director Bill Khourie and his administrative assistant Kim Vowell.
      OSIDA is facing a budget reduction of 10% for fiscal year 2010. If there is a change, it may be another 5%. Nothing has been decided for Fiscal Year 2011. There are some good signs in that the state’s tax revenue from oil and personal income tax was larger than expected in February, so that the state’s budget shortfall was 7 – 8% rather than 20%. The revenues at the bottom of the recession were the lowest since the Great Depression.
      The Rocket Racing League flight tests that were supposed to have taken place last month have been postponed. They hadn’t set a new date at the time of the meeting. They previously did flight tests in 2008.

--Notes by Oklahoma Space Alliance Secretary Syd Henderson

Yuri’s Night Update

      Yuri’s Night is April 12, which falls on a Monday this year. The SEDS chapter at OU is hoping to do something then, and Oklahoma Space Alliance has agreed to provides some assistance, but due to school vacations and the challenges of the Internet and Facebook, we’ve been having some problems getting coordinated. Here’s the latest from Adrian Lucy, the president of the OU SEDS chapter:

      We probably will go with April 12, the Monday. We're trying to arrange a star party for Monday April 12 at 9PM on the South Oval on campus, more information to follow closer to the date. I've gotten into touch with various people, but we won't have *too* many astronomy people showing up...bad timings all around. We hope to get a bunch of telescopes out there, though.
I'll be contacting people trying to get a speaker for earlier, maybe
PM or something. We might want to have food there, if you're still interested in funding that. (Though, actually, food at the star party might not be a bad idea.)
      I've talked to some very nice people at the OKC Astronomy Club about bringing in some rocketry people, so we might have rocketry demonstrations earlier in the day.
      Everything's still a little up in the air, but we'll have firmer plans relatively soon, and hopefully we'll have at least some good event happen. Anyone can contact me at  orchestration [at] gmail.com or 610 322 1509 for information, to tell me their ideas, or let me know if they can provide telescopes or anything else.
      Adrian Lucy

Viewing Opportunities for Satellites (March 17 – April 27, 2010)

      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. With the addition of the solar panels, the Space Station can be as bright as magnitude -3.5, 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 may change its orbit. On Thursday, March 18, two of the current crew,  Jeffrey Williams and Maksim Surayev, will be leaving the station on a Soyuz to return to Earth. A new crew of three, Aleksandr Skvortsov, Mikhail Komiyenko and Tracy Caldwell will arrive on April 2 aboard another Soyuz. And on April 5, Discovery will be launched on April 5, carrying a logistics module and other equipment. Be sure to check Heavens Above or www.jsc.nasa.gov/sightings/ before going out to watch.  The last mission to the Hubble Telescope has already occurred so its information should be reliable.

ISS  March 20, 2010
Time       Position       Elevation
8:46 p.m.   318°           18°
8:47            319            36
8:48              32            81
8:49            125            37
Vanishes into Earth’s Shadow

ISS  March 22, 2010
Time       Position       Elevation
8:00 p.m.   314°           18°
8:01            315            37
8:02              45            86
8:03            129            37
8:04            130            18      

HST  March 29, 2010
Time       Position       Elevation
8:37 p.m.   219°           20°
8:38            200            26
8:39            174            30
8:40            148            26
8:41            130            20

HST  March 30, 2010
Time       Position       Elevation
8:35 p.m.   224°           21°
8:36            200            26
8:37            177            31
8:38            150            28
8:39            131            21

HST  March 31, 2010
Time       Position       Elevation
8:35 p.m.   228°           21°
8:36            209            28
8:37            181            32
8:38            154            28
8:39            135            21

HST  April 1, 2010
Time       Position       Elevation
8:33 a.m.   230             20
8:34            211            27
8:35            185            31
8:36            158            27
8:37            139            20

ISS  April 8, 2010
Time       Position       Elevation
Appears from Earth’s Shadow
6:08:22 a.m.  250°       24°
6:09            259            33
6:10            322            54
6:11              21            33
6:12              35            17

ISS  April 27, 2010
Time       Position       Elevation
5:40 a.m.   307°           17°
5:41            300            35
5:42            225            73
5:43            147            36
5:44            140            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 International Space Station at 5:41 a.m. on April 27, face due north, measure six fistwidths to the left, then three and a half 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/.

Space News

      The Falcon 9 booster is now on a launch pad at Cape Canaveral and is undergoing final preparations for launch, which is being set for April or May. This will make it the first new rocket to be launched from Cape Canaveral in eight years. Falcon 9 was developed by SpaceX, and is much more powerful than the Falcon 1, which carried its first commercial payload into orbit last year after three failures and a successful test launch. Falcon 1 could carry half a ton of payload into low-earth orbit, while Falcon 9 in its regular version can carry five tons into orbit, and in its heavy lift version can carry nearly fourteen tons. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because the Falcon 9 is designed to carry the SpaceX Dragon to orbit to supply the space station, and the SpaceX Dragon will eventually carry crews as well.
      SpaceX has already tested the engines, firing the nine first-stage engines for 3.5 seconds on March 13. The heavy lift version simply straps on two more Falcon 9 first stages. It looks to me like the upcoming launch will be the single first-stage version carrying a Dragon Spacecraft Qualification Unit (sort of a pseudoDragon test package), with the heavy lift version carrying the Dragon being tested several times later this year. If these are successful, SpaceX could be resupplying the Space Station as early as next year. Manned launches are still two or more years away, assuming the unmanned flights are successful.
      I’m keeping my fingers crossed on this, since it is not unusual to have one or more failures before the first successful launch of a new vehicle. Falcon 1, which was a considerably less ambitious system, had three failures before its two successes. There are another 19 launches of Falcon 1 scheduled over the next four years, which suggests that SpaceX and its customers have more confidence in the vehicle.
      SpaceX and Rocketplane Kistler were the original two selections for NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services, or COTS. Rocketplane was dropped in September of 2007 after failing to secure enough private funding, and its award was made to Orbital Sciences Corporation, which is building the Cygnus spacecraft and the Taurus II rocket. The first demonstration flight of the Cygnus aboard the Taurus is expected late this year, with resupply missions beginning next year. The Cygnus is smaller than the Dragon, and doesn’t look like it will be upgraded for crew transport.

      Mars Express is currently in the middle of twelve flybys of Mars’s moon Phobos. Among other things it is investigating is the mass distribution within Phobos. It is also taking photographs of resolution fifteen feet or less. Among its tasks are photographing the prospective landing site for Russia’s Phobos-Grunt, a sample return mission scheduled to launch next year to the Martian moon Phobos. [More on Phobos in “Space-Related Articles.”]

      New observations of the binary white dwarf pair HM Cancri confirm that, yes, they do really orbit around each other with a period of 5.4 minutes. This was suspected before because HM Cancri is an X-ray source that is variable with a period that long, and such sources are generally produced by matter falling from a companion to a white dwarf or neutron star. In this case, the companion is a lighter white dwarf. What finally clinched it was that Professor Tom Marsh and Dr Danny Steeghs from the University of Warwick used the Keck telescope to detect the Doppler shifts caused by the stars orbiting each other. For the two stars to be orbiting each other so swiftly, they must be only about 25,000 miles apart.
      Tod Strohmayer of the Goddard Space Flight Center believes that this pair is releasing more energy in gravitational waves than it is in the electromagnetic spectrum.
      You can get the full text of the paper for the Astrophysical Journal at http://www.iop.org/EJ/abstract/2041-8205/711/2/L138.  

      Last November, I reported on Chandrayaan 1’s confirmation that there is water ice at low concentrations throughout the south polar regions of the Moon. On March 1, Paul Spudis of the Lunar and Planetary Institute announced that Chandrayaan has detected ice in more than forty small craters near the north polar regions as well. This amounts to as much as 600,000,000 tons of ice.

      New calculations of the trajectory of Gliese 710 indicate that it has an 86% possibility of passing through the Oort cloud, sending millions of comets into paths that cross the Earth’s orbit, and a .01% probability of coming within a thousand times the Earth’s distance from the Sun, which could play havoc within the inner Oort cloud and Kuiper Belt. Fortunately those comets would be spread out over several million years, so only about one per year would cross Earth’s orbit. On the other hand, Gliese 710 is still 63 light-years away, and you’ll have to wait 1,360,000 years for the sky show and possible impending doom.

      Felix Baumgartner, who specializes in high jumps, is preparing to jump from a helium balloon 120,000 feet above the Earth. If successful, he hopes to be the first skydiver to break the sound barrier. It would also break the current record of 102,800 which was set by Joe Kittinger in 1960.
      Baumgartner will of course, have to wear a pressurized suit, but nobody knows what the forces involved will do to his body. At least one person has died trying to break Kittinger’s record. Kittinger, who is now 81, has been reluctant to help people trying to break his record since they are usually amateurs who don’t realize the challenges (and I suspect he likes holding the record), but he is working for the Red Bull Stratos team working on Baumgartner’s effort, as well as dozens of NASA veterans, the Air Force and the aerospace industry. That’s “Red Bull” the energy drink company financing the attempt.
      In addition to allowing Baumgartner to perform a spectacular feat, it’s hoped that it will help astronauts who suffer a loss of cabin pressure while in the upper atmosphere. [This article is based on one from the New York Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/16/science/16tier.html?ref=science . There’s also an article on it on the New Scientist website:
http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn18427-space-diver-to-attempt-first-supersonic-freefall.html. ]

Sky Viewing

      The Lyrid Meteor Shower is the ten days following April 15, with its peak on the morning of April 22. Astronomers are predicting 15 – 25 meteors per hour, but the Lyrids can get much stronger than that.
      Saturn will be at opposition on March 21. It is shining at magnitude 0.5, which is not particularly bright for Saturn, because the rings are still fairly close to edge-on. Still, it is brighter than the first magnitude star Spica but slightly dimmer than Arcturus in Boötes. Look for it about midway between Regulus in Leo and Spica.
      Mercury was at superior conjunction with the Sun on March 14, hence is currently not visible to the naked eye. Mercury will, however begin to become visible toward the end of March, and by March 31 will be ten degrees above the horizon a half hour after sunset. It will be magnitude -0.9 then, so it should be visible to the naked eye. At this time, Mercury will be about 3.5 to the lower right of Venus, which despite the twilight is conspicuous enough to serve as a marker. Mercury will dim to magnitude 0.1 by the time it reaches greatest elongation on April 8, but by then it will be setting 90 minutes after the Sun (and will stay about the same distance to the lower right of Venus).
      Venus is very low in the western sky just after sunset, but is higher each night, which is why it’s keeping pace with Mercury in early April. Venus is magnitude -3.9 throughout the next six weeks, but doesn’t get high in the sky at sunset until June.
      Mars is magnitude -0.2 and is in the southeast at sunset. It is in the constellation Cancer, about halfway between Castor and Pollux in Gemini and Regulus in Leo, but is brighter than all three. Mars will dim slightly during April and approach Leo.
      Jupiter was in conjunction with the Sun on February 28, hence cannot be seen. It will begin to become visible the eastern sky about mid-April, and by the end of April will be rising a couple of hours before the Sun.
      Uranus is in conjunction with the Sun on March 17, so don’t bother looking until May.
      Neptune was in conjunction with the Sun on February 14, and is still too low in twilight to see through binoculars. Neptune will be visible by binoculars in late April, though its magnitude will be no greater than 7.8.
      Neptune is (finally) crossing the border from Capricornus to Aquarius this month, which is notable because Neptune was discovered in the constellation Aquarius on September 23, 1846. Sometime in the summer of 2011, Neptune will have finally completed its first orbit since discovery. Note, though, Neptune was actually observed long before anyone knew it was a planet. Galileo’s drawings showed he saw it on December 28, 1612.
      That means that the first recorded observation of Neptune was 78 years before that of Uranus by John Flamsteed. (Uranus wasn’t discovered to be a planet until 1781.) However, Uranus had certainly been seen long before Flamsteed recorded it as a star (34 Tauri), since it is barely visible to the naked eye under a dark sky.
      So for a Yuri’s Night star party, Saturn and Mars will be high in the sky, Venus and Mercury will be low in the western sky, and Jupiter and, Uranus will be hidden by the Sun. Neptune will be a morning star and probably not visible. New moon is April 14, and the Lyrid meteors will be three days before their peak. Sirius, Procyon, Capella, Regulus and Gemini will be high in the sky, at Arcturus will be up late in the evening.

Oklahoma Space Alliance Logo

         Our current Oklahoma Space Alliance logo looks like this:
OSA Logo
(color version at http://osa.nss.org/index.html) which, as John Northcutt pointed out a few months ago, is starting to look dated and tacky. This logo was done quite a while ago, and was used on our t-shirts, stationery and still is used on our web site and on flyers and sign-up sheets. As near as I can tell, we no longer have the original of the logo. I obtained it by scanning it from a t-shirt, which makes it a copy of a copy of a copy. Since the picture is a bit blurry, I will point out that it shows a spacecraft shooting out of Oklahoma, although the trail of the satellite against the Earth has vanished.      We’re going to be discussing this at the January meeting and probably for several meetings after that. If you have a suggestion, please bring it to one of the meetings or e-mail it to Syd at [email protected].

Calendar of Events
      March 20, 2010: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. at the Koszoru House.
      April 5, 2010: Launch of Discovery to the Space Station. Launch time is currently projected to be 5:21 a.m. [CDT]
      April 8, 2010: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 19° from the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
      April 12, 2010: Yuri’s Night.
      April 16-17, 2010 40th anniversary commemoration of the Apollo 13 mission at the Kansas Cosmosphere. See above for details.
      April 17, 2010: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
      April 22, 2010: The Lyrid meteor shower peaks. Up to twenty meteors an hour should be visible to the naked eye.
      April 28, 2010: Mercury is in inferior conjunction with the Sun.
      May 14, 2010: Launch of Atlantis to the Space Station. This is last scheduled mission for Atlantis. Launch time is projected to be 1:28 p.m. [CDT]
      May 15, 2010: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
      May 18, 2010: Japan launches Akatsuki (formerly called the Venus Climate Orbiter or Planet‑C; “Akatsuki” means “Dawn”) to Venus. Web page is www.jaxa.jp/projects/sat/planet_c/index_e.html.
      May 25, 2010: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 25° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
      May 27 – 31, 2010: 29th International Space Development Conference in Chicago, Illinois
      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.
      June 19, 2010: Jupiter is 0.5° south of Uranus.
      February 20, 2010: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 3:00 p.m. Location to be announced.
      June 25. 2010: Pluto is at opposition.
      July 10, 2010: The Rosetta comet probe passes asteroid 21 Lutetia.
      July 11, 2010: Total solar eclipse in southern Chile and Argentina. This eclipse is also total on Easter Island.
      July 29, 2010: Launch of Endeavour to the Space Station. This is the last scheduled mission for Endeavour. Launch time is currently projected for 6:51 a.m. [CDT]
      August 6, 2010: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 27° from the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
      August 12-13, 2010: Perseid meteor shower peaks. This shower takes place just after new moon and should produce about three meteors per minute.
      August 20, 2010: Venus is at greatest eastern elongation, 46° from the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
      August 20, 2010: Neptune is at opposition.
      September 16, 2010: Launch of Discovery to the Space Station. This is the scheduled conclusion of the space shuttle program. Launch time is currently projected for 10:57 a.m. [CDT]
      September 19, 2010: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 18° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
      September 20, 2010: Jupiter and Uranus are both at opposition and less than a degree apart. This will be Jupiter’s closest opposition in eleven years.
      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.
      September 30, 2010: Saturn is in conjunction with the Sun.
      October 28, 2010: Venus in inferior conjunction with the Sun.
      December 2010: Japan’s Akatsuki (aka Venus Climate Orbiter and Planet C) arrives at Venus.
      December 1, 2010: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 21° from the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
      December 21, 2010: Total eclipse of the Moon, visible just after midnight in North and South America.
      December 26, 2010: Pluto is in conjunction with the Sun.
      Sometime in 2011: China will launch two missions to the Tiangong 1 space station. The first will be an unmanned mission and the second a manned docking mission.
      January 2. 2011: Jupiter is 0.6° south of Uranus.
      January 8, 2011: Venus is at greatest western elongation, 47° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
      January 9, 2010: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 23° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
      March 18, 2011: MESSENGER goes into orbit around Mercury.
      June 15, 2011: Total eclipse of the Moon, visible in South America and most of Eastern Hemisphere.
      August 5, 2011: Launch of the Juno mission to Jupiter. See en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juno_(spacecraft) or http://juno.wisc.edu/ for details.
      August 15, 2011: Launch of NuSTAR space probe from Kwajalein via a Pegasus rocket. NuSTAR will search for black holes, supernova remnants and active galaxies. For more details, visit www.nustar.caltech.edu/ or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuclear_Spectroscopic_Telescope_Array.
      September 8, 2011: Launch of GRAIL, the Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory, to orbit the Moon. This is actually a dual probe mission. For more information, visit http://moon.mit.edu/index.html.
      October 2011: Dawn probe orbits Vesta. See dawn.jpl.nasa.gov/  or en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dawn_Mission for details.
      October 14, 2011: The Mars Science Laboratory (aka Curiosity) 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.
      Late 2011 or early 2012: Launch of the Phobos-Grunt sample return mission to the Martian moon Phobos. For more information, go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phobos-Grunt. The orbiter will remain to study Mars while the soil sample will arrive on Earth in late 2012 or early in 2013.
      Sometime in 2012: Russia launches the “Luna-Glob” mission which will deploy 13 mini-probes upon the lunar surface. For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luna-Glob.
      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 (Curiosity) rover lands on Mars. See marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ for details.
      December 30, 2013: Earliest launch date for India’s Chandrayaan II. This mission will include a lunar rover. For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandrayaan-2.
      Sometime in 2014: The European Space Agency/JAXA BepiColombo Mercury Orbiter is launched. Home page is sci.esa.int/science-e/www/area/index.cfm?fareaid=30.
      June 2014: Earliest date for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.
      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.
      Summer of 2020 (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-Related Articles

      “What Else is Out There?” by David Jewitt, Sky & Telescope, March 2010, pp. 20 – 24.

      “Shedding Light on Dark Stars,” by Ker Than, Sky & Telescope, March 2010, pp. 26 – 29. “Dark” here is misleading. This is an article about the possibility that the earliest stars were powered by the annihilation of dark matter. One of the theories of dark matter is that it is composed of particles which are their own antiparticles. The reason the dark matter does simply annihilate is that the particles also barely interact with each other or ordinary matter. However, dark matter concentrated in the interior of a star would be much more likely to annihilate itself, and the energy produced would allow supermassive stars to exist for a time without nuclear fusion, since the stars would not collapse far enough for that to happen. Such a star could have a mass of ten thousand suns and extend a distance greater than that from the Sun to Neptune, but the surface temperature would be less than that of the Sun. Because of the enormous surface area, however, such an object would have the luminosity of a billion Suns, or an absolute magnitude of around -20.
      A more modest dark-matter powered star would have a mass of several hundred suns. These would run out of dark matter eventually, collapse to burn by standard fusion reactions, and eventually blow up as enormous supernovae. Larger dark-matter powered stars would eventually collapse straight into black holes. These black holes would fuse to produce the million-solar-mass black holes that power quasars. Astrophysics without dark matter has a hard time explaining how these black holes came into existence in the early universe.
      The idea of dark-matter powered stars is still highly speculative, especially since we don’t even know the nature of dark matter, assuming it exists. These superstars, despite their enormous luminosity, would still be a bit too dim to be detected by the James Webb Space Telescope, but may well turn out to be detectable by its successors. Alternatively, some of these stars may have survived all these billions of years.

      “Hanging in the Balance,” by Greg Laughlin, Sky & Telescope, April 2010, pp 26 – 33. Will Mars one day be perturbed out of its orbit onto a collision course with Earth? Or Mercury expelled from the Solar System? Fortunately, it appears we are safe from a close encounter with Mars for more than fifty million years, and probably for many billions of years. On the other hand, if Mars were to come within a few hundred miles, the tidal effects would melt the Earth’s surface. It’s far more likely, however, that Mercury will fall into a secular resonance with Jupiter that will cause its orbit to become more elliptical, until it crosses that of Venus. (The precession of Mercury’s orbit due to the effects of general relativity makes this less likely, reducing the likelihood of this happening in the next five billion years from tens of percent to around one percent.)

      “Cheap Flights to Phobos,” by Stuart Clark, New Scientist, 30 January 2010, pp. 28 – 31. “The bulk of the cost of a Mars mission is getting people to the surface and back again,” says Pascal Lee, chairman of the Mars Institute in Moffett Field, California. “If you wait for everything to be ready, it will be decades. But Phobos offers us a way to get to the very doorstep of Mars.” Deimos is probably even cheaper, since it’s not so deep in Mars’ gravity well, but Phobos is larger and nearer the Martian surface. The Augustine report suggested missions the moons of Mars as a way of getting a natural orbital base for exploring Mars. Telescopes on Phobos could explore the Martian surface, and rovers could be launched and handled in real time.
      This takes advantage of the idea that once you’re in orbit, you’re halfway to anywhere. We would also get a chance to analyze Phobos, which is an unusual object in its own right. For example, Phobos is only eighteen miles long, but has an impact crater, Stickney, that is six miles wide. There are grooves along the surface of Phobos that might have been formed by co-orbital objects grazing its surface (from the hypothesis that Deimos and Phobos formed from debris from a collision of an asteroid with Mars, rather than being captured asteroids themselves). It’s not even known whether Phobos is a pile of rubble. Phobos has an unexpectedly low density, which suggests that it is porous and may have huge caverns inside. [Fifty years ago, there was even a hypothesis (by Iosif Shklovsky) that it might be an alien spacecraft! This stemmed from a mismeasured acceleration that led to the idea that Phobos was hollow, an idea that was disproven when Phobos’ density was measured.]
      One negative aspect of using Phobos as a base is that it cannot be seen the Martian surface from farther than 70.4° from the Martian equator, or, to put it another way, an observatory on Phobos will not be able to see a lot of the north and south polar regions of Mars, which is where a lot of the interesting stuff lies. (Observers on Deimos can see up to 82.7° N or S.)

Oklahoma Space Alliance Officers, 2009 (Area Code 405)

Tom Koszoru, President                                        366-1797 (H)
John Northcutt, Vice-President                               390-3476 (H)
Syd Henderson, Secretary & Outreach Editor       321-4027 (H)
Tim Scott, Treasurer                                              740-7549 (H)
Claire McMurray, Correspondence Secretary/Update Editor   329-4326 (H-no msg) 863-6173 (C-msgs OK)

OSA E-mail Addresses and Web Site:

claire.mcmurray at sbcglobal.net (Claire McMurray)
T_Koszoru at cox.net (Heidi and Tom Koszoru)
john.d.northcutt1 at tds.net (John Northcutt)
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 [email protected].  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 osa.nss.org/index.html. Webmaster is Syd Henderson.

Other Information
          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.
          Science Museum Oklahoma (former Omniplex) website is www.sciencemuseumok.org. Main number is 602-6664.
          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 space.nss.org.  
          The Planetary Society phone 626-793-5100. The address is 65 North Catalina, Avenue, Pasadena, California, 91106-2301 and the website is www.planetary.org. E-mail is [email protected].
          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].


 A Chapter of the National Space Society

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 space.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.

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Contact person for Oklahoma Space Alliance is Claire McMurray
PO Box 1003
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Webmaster is Syd Henderson.
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