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OUTREACH March 2012

Editor’s Note: I have extensively updated the Calendar this month, adding conferences and a lot more launches. I’ve also added China’s Tiangong 1 space station to “Space Viewing” since it highly visible to the naked eye.

March Meeting (NOTE TIME and LOCATION)

         Oklahoma Space Alliance will meet at 2:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 10 at the IHOP Restaurant at 5201 N. Classen Boulevard in Oklahoma City. This is a block north of the Northwest Expressway, so either take the Northwest Expressway exit if you’re coming in I-44 (there is no Classen exit), or take the N. 50th street exit off I-235 and head west on N. 50th to reach Classen. The telephone number of this IHOP is 840-4467. This is one of the IHOPs that has the “buy one, get one free” special.
         We only have the meeting place until 6:00 p.m.


  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. A New OSA Logo
    2. Treasurer’s Report
    3. Yuri’s Night 2012
    4. Distribution of Ad Astras
    5. Burn Flat
    6. Update on Annual Report
  6. New Business
    1. Bigelow and Space Hotels (Tom)
    2. Presentation on XCOR (Steve)
    3. What’s Happening in Space
  7. Create New Agenda
  8. Adjournment and informal discussions

         The proposed theme for Oklahoma Space Alliance in 2012 is “What’s Happening in Space.” People think that space exploration is dead with the end of the shuttle program. We should use our theme as an emphasis for meetings, selection of speakers and topics for agenda items.

Minutes of February Meeting

         Oklahoma Space Alliance held its regularly scheduled meeting on February 11 at the Denny’s s on the North Side I-240 service road in Oklahoma City. Attending were Steve Swift, Tom Koszoru, Claire McMurray, Dave Sheely, John Northcutt, and, toward the end of the meeting, Tim Scott.
         The budget for the Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority hasn’t been cut this year, apparently because the state has more money to budget this year.
         We went over the prospective new logo. The words “Oklahoma Space Alliance” should be moved over “National Space Society” with the words “a Chapter of” added. The circular part of the logo can be used as a watermark, but in that case we’ll have to add in lettering.
         Claire brought a photo of the “space tree” we donated to the Oklahoma Spaceport in 2007. This is a seedling that is the daughter of a sycamore that grew from a seed flown aboard Apollo 14. Our space tree now stands chest-high and stands in front of the Spaceport offices.
         We have $267 in cash and $263.12 in the checking account. Claire and Clifford McMurray have paid dues.

What’s Happening in Space?
         A full-scale test version of the Orion spacecraft was at the Science Museum Oklahoma in Oklahoma City. It is so large that it had to be brought in by back roads. [See “Space News.”]
         LAMP [Lyman-Alpha Mapping Project] on the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter can look into the bottoms of shadowed craters near the Moon’s South Pole. [Note: It doesn’t have to illuminate; LAMP is so sensitive that it can see by starlight. “Lyman-Alpha” is the longest wavelength in the Lyman series on lines in the ultraviolet spectrum of hydrogen. Hydrogen also has the Balmer series of lines, the first four of which are in the visible spectrum.]
         India is talking about sending astronauts to the moon.
         NASA may have to choose between the James Webb Space Telescope and participation in the Mars Sample Return Mission.
         Stratolaunch Systems broke ground at Mojave. The article is here: http://stratolaunch.com/news.html.
         JPL shows three generations of Mars Rovers: http://marsrover.nasa.gov/gallery/press/opportunity/20120117a.html.
         In January, Earth was hit by the strongest geomagnetic storm in six years. This was set off by a coronal mass ejection from the Sun. The storm caused only minor problems with satellites, and planes taking polar routes were diverted.
         The Lynx spaceplane being developed by XCOR will be able to carry a pilot, one passenger and small payloads on suborbital flights. Mark II will top 100 miles and Mark III will be able to launch small satellites into orbital (although the spaceplane itself will not make orbit). Tickets will cost $95,000. The Mark I prototype is projected to launch this fall, with the tourism business starting in 2014. When fully operational, Lynx will be able to make up to four flights per day. Details here: http://www.xcor.com/products/vehicles/lynx_suborbital.html.
         The Delta Rocket Program was based on Thor. There have been 300 launches in 50 years.
         Claire and Clifford McMurray had a tour of the SpaceX facility at Cape Canaveral. SpaceX is still the only private company that has launched something into orbit and retrieved it.
         Atlantis and the other space shuttles have their own flags.
         Claire and Kip also went to the Oklahoma Spaceport. Steve Swift and his wife did also on a separate trip.
         The OSA phone contact number is Claire’s. We have about a dozen paid members.
         Syd is to send Tim the OSA addresses.

         The proposed theme for Oklahoma Space Alliance in 2012 is “What’s Happening in Space.” People think that space exploration is dead with the end of the shuttle program. We should use our theme as an emphasis for meetings, selection of speakers and topics for agenda items.

Candidate Goals and Objectives:
         More content in meetings.
         Work sessions outside of normal meeting times.
         Special meetings for events and speakers.
         Sponsor an essay contest.
         Promote space-related collectables.
         Prepare a brochure of OSA 2012.

         Is Oklahoma involved in the NSS Space Habitat Design Contest that takes place every year?
         Add Bigelow and Space Hotels to the agenda.

--Minutes by OSA Secretary Syd Henderson

Notes on February 8 OSIDA Meeting

         The Oklahoma Space Industry Development Authority met at the Oklahoma Department of Transportation on February 8. Darryl Murphy, Gilmer Capps, Lou Sims, Jack Bonny, Joe King and Phil Kliewer were the board members present. Syd Henderson and Steve Swift comprised the audience.
         The FAA may be increasing the distance required from launches to populated buildings. The Oklahoma Spaceport would be in compliance with the proposed increase, but other spaceports may have problems.
         OSIDA needs to apply for an exemption to use an outside contractor to do the webpage.        
         Bill has been invited to the Cecil Spaceport Development Summit at Florida State College at Jacksonville. Cecil Airport in Jacksonville is the eighth licensed commercial spaceport in the United States. Executive Director Bill Khourie and OSIDA chair Jack Bonny will attend the summit.
         FEMA will pay up to 75% of the first $670,000 required for the construction of the Operations Center at the Spaceport. Overruns will come from the OSIDA budget. FEMA is involved because of previous storm damage at the Spaceport.

         --Minutes by OSA Secretary Syd Henderson

Viewing Opportunities for Satellites (March 9 – April 14, 2012)

         You can get sighting information at www.heavens-above.com/. Heavens Above allows you to get satellite viewing 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.
         Sky Online (the Sky & Telescope web site) carries International Space Station observation times for the next few nights at skyandtelescope.com/observing/almanac. With the addition of the solar panels, the International Space Station can be as bright as magnitude -3.5, making it brighter than all the stars other than the Sun and all the planets other than Venus, although magnitude -2 to -3 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 more difficult to see.  China’s Tiangong 1 space station can get up to magnitude -0.4, which is brighter than all the night stars except Sirius and Canopus.
         Missions to and from the Space Station may change its orbit. However the next launch to the Space Station is a Progress module on April 20. SpaceX may be launching its Dragon capsule about the same time. Be sure to check Heavens Above or www.jsc.nasa.gov/sightings before going out to watch.
         China’s mission to Tiangong 1 will not be until June or later, when a manned capsule will dock with it. No more missions to the Hubble Space Telescope are planned.

ISS     March 17, 2012
Time               Position      Elevation
7:10 a.m.            250°               19°
7:11                    266                 34
7:12                    320                 51
7:13                      15                 35
7:14                      31                 19

HST     March 17, 2012
Time               Position      Elevation
8:34 p.m.            222°               20°
8:35                    204                 27
8:36                    177                 31
8:37                    150                 27
8:38                    131                 21
(The passes for March 18 & 19 are similar, but peak at 8:32 and 8:28.)

Tiangong 1     March 24, 2012
Time               Position      Elevation
Appears from Earth’s shadow
6:38:28 a.m.        258°               18°
6:39:27                270                 35
6:40                    338                 61
6:41                      43                 34
6:42                      54                 17

Tiangong 1     April 4, 2012
Time               Position      Elevation
6:14 a.m.             305°               17°
6:15                    314                 35
6:16                      23                 66
6:17                      96                 35
6:18                    105                 17

ISS     April 6, 2012
Time               Position      Elevation
5:50 a.m.             333°               19°
5:51                    351                 32
5:52                      38                 44*
5:53                      86                 32
5:54                    104                 18
*Passes 1° above Polaris

ISS     April 8, 2012
Time               Position      Elevation
Appears from Earth’s shadow
5:33:25 a.m.       284°               78°
5:33:35              240                 84
5:35                    138                 42
5:36                    135                 21

ISS     April 9, 2012
Time               Position      Elevation
9:08 p.m.             211°               20°
9:09                    198                 38
9:10                    136                 60*
9:10:58                73                 37
9:11:46                61                 23
Vanishes into Earth’s shadow
*Passes less than a degree above Mars

ISS     April 11, 2012
Time               Position      Elevation
8:49 p.m.             244°               20°
8:50                    256                 37
8:51                    319                 60
8:52                      22                 38
8:53                      36                 20

Tiangong 1     April 12, 2012
Time               Position      Elevation
8:53 p.m.             233°               18°
8:54                    225                 36
8:55                    149                 70
8:56                      77                 35
8:57                      69                 17

Tiangong 1     April 13, 2012
Time               Position      Elevation
9:16 p.m.             272°               16°
9:17                    290                 29*
9:18                    341                 42
9:19                      30                 29
9:20                      44                 19
Passes 1° below Venus. 
         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 Tiangong 1 space station at 9:17 p.m. on April 13, measure two fist-widths west of south, then a little less than three 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
[Viewing information from skyandtelescope.com and the March and April issues of both Astronomy and Sky & Telescope.]

         All five of the brightest planets are in the night sky at the beginning of March, and all but Jupiter are either near opposition or (in the case of Mercury and Venus) greatest elongation.
         Mercury was at greatest eastern elongation on March 4 and reached magnitude -0.8 a few days before that, its best evening appearance of 2012 for viewers in the Northern Hemisphere. Now it is fading rapidly and will be magnitude 0.5 by March 9 and magnitude 1.9 by March 13. Mercury will be in inferior conjunction with the Sun on March 21. Mercury will reach greatest western elongation on April 18, but this time it’s a terrible elongation, with Mercury only four degrees above the horizon a half hour after sunset.
         To find Mercury before it fades, follow the ecliptic from Jupiter to Venus and continue to the horizon. Mercury should be visible a little to the right of this and visible just as sunset is fading.
         Venus is approaching its own greatest elongation on March 26 and is especially bright in the west after sunset. Jupiter is also bright in the western sky and going in the opposite direction. In mid-March the two planets will be only three degrees apart. Venus is the brighter of the two at magnitude -4.3, while Jupiter is at magnitude -2.2. The constellation they’ll be in is Aries, so if you’ve ever wanted to find that rather dim zodiacal constellation, here’s your chance. The crescent moon will also be in Aries on the nights of March 24 – 26, making a particularly pretty combination. Venus will actually get brighter for a month after greatest elongation because it’s getting so much closer that it more than makes up for us seeing a smaller percentage of its disk. Venus will be magnitude -4.7 in late April, when it appears as a fat crescent.
         On the evenings of April 2 and 3, Venus will pass through the outskirts of the Pleiades, south of the main stars in that cluster.
         Mars reached opposition on March 3. This is the most distant opposition since 1995, but Mars is still at magnitude -1.2, making it brighter than all the stars save Sirius. It is located in the constellation Leo and is in retrograde motion against the stars, once again approaching the first magnitude star Regulus. By the beginning of April, they will be less than five degrees apart.
         Saturn is currently rising about three hours after sunset, and by the end of the month will be rising an hour after sunset as it approaches its April 14 opposition. Saturn is currently about magnitude 0.4, and at its peak will only be slightly brighter at magnitude 0.2. It’s in the constellation Virgo and its retrograde motion is bringing it back toward the first magnitude star Spica. Saturn never moves all that fast against the stars, and a month of effort will only reduce the separation from seven degrees to five.
         Uranus and Neptune are both near conjunction and are not visible. Neptune will start to become observable in April (through binoculars or a telescope) in the southeast before dawn. Uranus will also start to become observable in late April, but will still be low in the sky forty minutes after sunset.
         Finder charts for Uranus and Neptune in 2012 are now available in PDF format at http://media.skyandtelescope.com/documents/Uranus-Neptune-2012.pdf.

         The Lyrid meteor shower will peak on the morning of April 22. This is not expected to produce more than a dozen naked-eye meteors per hour, but sometimes it surprises with a major shower. This year the peak coincides with a New Moon, which will make viewing easier.

Programming Notice: NASA TV on the Web

         Watch NASA TV (Public, Media and Education Channels) on your computer using Flash, Windows or QuickTime at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html.
         NASA TV Schedules are available at http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/schedule.html
         March 20: 9:15 a.m.: In-flight interview with ISS Expedition 30 crew. 11:00 a.m. ISS Program and Science Overview. 2:00 p.m.: ISS Expedition 32/33 Crew News Conference.
         March 22: 11:00 p.m.: Launch coverage of “Eduardo Amaldi” Automated Transfer Vehicle from Kourou, French Guiana.                       
         March 28: 4:45 p.m.: Docking coverage of “Eduardo Amaldi” at ISS.
         March 30: time to be determined: In-flight interview with ISS Expedition 30 crew.

Space News:

         A full-sized test version of the Orion spacecraft was on tour in January as it made its way from the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On its way, it stopped January 24 – 25 at the Science Museum Oklahoma in Oklahoma City, January 27-29 at Victory Park and the American Airlines Center in Dallas; and, February 1 - 5 at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

         The FY 2013 budget released by President Obama ends NASA participation in the ExoMars program and a proposed 2018 European mission to Mars. Each carried a price tag of $1.2 billion. ExoMars is still being carried on by the European Space Agency with possible collaboration with the Russian space agency.

         The planet GJ 1214b (aka Gliese 1214b) closely orbits a red dwarf star 40 light-years away in the constellation Ophiuchus. It has recently drawn attention because not only is it smaller than Neptune, its radius is only 2.67 times that of Earth, and its mass is only 6.5 times that of Earth. This means that the density of GJ 1214b is about 1.9 times that of water. This is too light for it to be rocky and too heavy for it to be a gas giant, which suggests that the planet must contain large amounts of water, perhaps as much as 50% of its entire mass. The planet’s temperature is a couple of hundred degrees above the boiling point of water, so its atmosphere must be incredibly thick and steamy.

         The Cassini spacecraft has confirmed that Saturn’s moon Dione has an extremely tenuous oxygen atmosphere equivalent to a five trillionth of the Earth’s atmosphere. Rhea also has a tenuous atmosphere that is mostly carbon dioxide and oxygen. The oxygen is produced by radiation disassociating water; suspected sources include solar radiation, cosmic rays, and even radioactivity. Nobody knows how the carbon dioxide is produced.
         Researchers at the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) at Stanford University have concluded that the number of unbound (or “nomad”) planets in the Milky Way may outnumber the number of stars by as much as 100,000 to one. This is an extrapolation from the number of unbound planets discovered by gravitational lensing, or directly by images. This is a rather impressive extrapolation considering that only ten such planets have been detected by lensing. (An additional 14 planets detected by lensing are orbiting stars.) Their lower limit is one free planet per star, which seems a bit low to me.
         There is a general law in astronomy that smaller objects tend to outnumber larger. For instance, red dwarf stars are more common than massive stars, asteroids are more common than small planets, which are more common than gas giants (or so we expect), and free planets should outnumber brown dwarfs, which should outnumber stars. 100,000 free planets per star sounds like far too many to be expelled from stellar systems; if the number is anywhere near correct, there must be some mechanism for free planets to be born free.

         Meanwhile, Fomalhaut b, the first exoplanet to have its picture taken, may not be a planet at all, since it’s not emitting infrared radiation as a planet should. However, there’s also no agreement as to what was imaged. Whatever it is, it appeared in Hubble photographs from 2004 and 2006, and was also seen in 2010, but not in the place it was expected.
         On the other hand, HR 8799’s planets, three of which were observed about the same time, have been observed moving around their star and seem to be definitely confirmed.

         Views from orbiting spacecraft suggest that the Moon and Mars may not be as geologically dead as supposed. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter has detected narrow valleys called graben which appear to be less than 50 million years old, which immediately suggests that they have also formed more recently. There was an article in the January 2011 issue of Science in which seismological data from the Apollo mission was reanalyzed, and indicated that the Moon has a solid inner core and a more fluid outer core.
         Meanwhile, pictures from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter have found boulders that have obviously moved recently because their trails have not been eroded. This suggests they were moved by marsquakes, and, since they are near Elyseum Mons, that an eruption may be forthcoming.

Space-Related Articles

         “Did the Moon Sink the Titanic?” by Donald W. Olson, Russell L. Doescher and Roger W. Sinnott, Sky & Telescope, April 2012, pp. 34 – 39.  April 15, 2012 is the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, so we get a 3-D release of James Cameron’s movie and articles like this, about how a series of astronomical coincidences may have contributed to putting an iceberg unusually far south into the Titanic’s path.
         As the title suggests, the culprit being considered are the tides. The Moon was full at 13:29 Universal Time on January 4, 1912, and reached perigee six minutes later. This is the closest lunar perigee between the years 796 AD and 2257 AD. In addition, the Earth was at perihelion on January 3, 1912. Thus the tidal forces on the Earth caused by the Moon and by the Sun were both at maximum and reinforcing one another, producing one of the most extreme spring tides in history.
         In 1995 Fergus Wood proposed that increased calving of icebergs from the Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland contributed to the unusually busy iceberg season of 1912. However, he ran into the problem that the iceberg would have had to have travelled unusually rapidly to both calve in January and be hit by the Titanic in April—a fast time would be five and a half months, not three months.
         The authors mention an alternate scenario. Icebergs calved from Greenland’s west coast are generally carried north by the West Greenland Current until they reach the northern end of Baffin Bay, then the southward Labrador current carries them down the coasts of Baffin Island and Labrador. On this journey, icebergs tend to get beached and melt unless a high tide carries them off, and the higher the tide the better. In addition to the unusual high tides of January 4, 1912, the full moons of December 6, 1911 and February 2, 1912 each occurred within a day of lunar perigee. Thus the Titanic’s nemesis could have been refloated several times, allowing it to reach the shipping lanes unusually intact.

         “Probing Titan’s Seas of Sand,” by Rosaly Lopes, Astronomy, April 2012, pp. 30 – 35. Saturn’s moon Titan is in many ways an analog of Earth with a different cast of molecular characters. For example, the atmospheric pressure at Titan’s surface is 1.5 times that on Earth, but Titan’s atmosphere is 95% nitrogen and 4.9% methane, with clouds of methane and ethane, and, presumably, argon. (The atmosphere, however, is four times as dense as Earth’s; it takes more atmosphere at Titan’s gravity to produce that atmospheric pressure.) Titan has seas near its poles, but those seas are made of methane and higher hydrocarbons. Room temperature on Titan is about 360 degrees cooler than on Earth. This allows methane rains, producing rivers and lakes and seasonal weather patterns.
         And sand dunes. Somewhere between an eighth and a fifth of Titan’s surface is covered with sand dunes. But once again, the molecular cast of characters are different, and, whatever makes up Titanian sand, it presumably isn’t silicon dioxide. Once again, the primary suspects are hydrocarbons, along with carbon-nitrogen carbons (which I fear may include cyanogen and hydrogen cyanide). However, the dunes of Titan still resemble Earth’s in their various shapes. Titan’s dune fields tend to be concentrated around Titan’s equator because atmospheric circulation on Titan tends to take moisture (in this case methane moisture) from the equator to the poles. This is a different pattern than on Earth, where descending Hadley cells produce most of the world’s deserts.
Calendar of Events
         March 9: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club has its Novice Session at 6:45 p.m. and its Club Meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Science Museum Oklahoma. Club website is http://www.okcastroclub.com/.
         March 10: Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at 2:30 p.m. at Denny’s on the I-240 access road on the north side just east of Pennsylvania Avenue in southern Oklahoma City. Exact time and location to be announced.
         March 14: [Tentative.] Oklahoma Space Industry Authority Meeting at 1:30 p.m., location to be announced.
         March 14 – 16: Kepler Space Institute Convention, March 14 – 16, Hilton Head Marriott Resort in South Carolina. This event is co-sponsored by NSS. For more information, visit www.keplerspaceinstitute.info
         March 15: Jupiter is 3° south of Venus. See “Sky Viewing.”
         March 21: 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. [Moved from March 14.]
         March 21: Mercury in in inferior conjunction with the Sun.
         March 24: Messier Marathon at Cheddar Ranch Observatory, hosted by the Oklahoma City Astronomy. Club website and directions are at http://www.okcastroclub.com/.
         March 26: Venus is at greatest eastern elongation, 46° from the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
         April 11: [Tentative.] Oklahoma Space Industry Authority Meeting at 1:30 p.m., location to be announced.
         April 12: Yuri’s Night.
         April 13: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club has its Novice Session at 6:45 p.m. and its Club Meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Science Museum Oklahoma. Club website is http://www.okcastroclub.com/.
         April 14: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at approximately 2:30 p.m. Exact time and location to be announced.
         April 14: Saturn is at opposition.
         April 18: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 27° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
         Late April: Launch of SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule via Falcon 9 on a test flight to the Space Station
         May: Test flight of Orbital Space Services Cygnus resupply vehicle aboard an Antares rocket.
         May 9: [Tentative.] Oklahoma Space Industry Authority Meeting at 1:30 p.m., location to be announced.
         May 11: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club has its Novice Session at 6:45 p.m. and its Club Meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Science Museum Oklahoma. Club website is http://www.okcastroclub.com/.
         May 12: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at approximately 2:30 p.m. Exact time and location to be announced.
         May 15: Launch of three Expedition 31/32 members via Soyuz from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the Space Station.
         May 20: An annular eclipse of the sun will be visible on a path beginning in China and ending in Texas. Major cities in the path are Guangzhou, Tokyo and Albuquerque. This eclipse will be partial in Oklahoma with most of the sun covered. It will be the first “central eclipse” in the United States in the 21st century.
         May 24 – 28: ISDC 2012, the National Space Society’s International Space Development Conference, in Washington, DC. There is a button to register at space.nss.org.
         June or later: China launches the Shenzhou 9 spacecraft. This will be the first manned spacecraft to dock with the Tiangong 1 space station. [China is also planning a second mission this year, but the date hasn’t been announced.]
         June 5-6: 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. This also, of course, means Venus is in inferior conjunction with the Sun.
         June 8: Oklahoma City Astronomy Club has its Novice Session at 6:45 p.m. and its Club Meeting at 7:30 p.m. at Science Museum Oklahoma. Club website is http://www.okcastroclub.com/.
         June 9: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at approximately 2:30 p.m. Exact time and location to be announced.
         June 13: [Tentative.] Oklahoma Space Industry Authority Meeting at 1:30 p.m., location to be announced.
         June 30: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 26° from the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
         Summer of 2012: Drop tests begin of the prototypes of Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spaceplane, which will eventually be able to take passengers to the Space Station and other orbiting spacecraft.  For more information, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dream_Chaser.
         July or August: Ariane from French Guiana will launch Azerbaijan’s first satellite, Azerspace. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Azerspace
         July 14: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at approximately 2:30 p.m. Exact time and location to be announced.
         July 15: Launch of three Expedition 32/33 members via Soyuz from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the Space Station.
         August 3 – 5: 15th Annual Mars Society Convention in Pasadena, California. For more information, visit www.marssociety.org. (This conference will stick around into the early hours of April 6 to watch the landing of Curiosity.)
         August 6: The Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) rover lands in Gale Crater on Mars. See marsprogram.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/ or http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curiosity_rover for details.
         August 11: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at approximately 2:30 p.m. Exact time and location to be announced.
         August 15: Venus is at greatest western elongation, 46° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
         August 16: Mercury is at greatest western elongation, 19° from the Sun (hence can be seen before sunrise).
         August 23: Neptune is in opposition.
         September 8: [Tentative] Oklahoma Space Alliance meeting at approximately 2:30 p.m. Exact time and location to be announced.
         September 28: Uranus is in opposition.
         Fall of 2012: First launch of XCOR’s Lynx suborbital spaceplane.
         October 4 – 10: World Space Week. See www.worldspaceweek.org/ for details.
         October 15: Launch of three Expedition 33/34 members via Soyuz from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the Space Station.        
         October 26: Mercury is at greatest eastern elongation, 24° from the Sun (hence can be seen after sunset).
         November 14: Total eclipse of the Sun beginning in northern Australia and following a path across the South Pacific, stopping short of South America. The biggest city in the path is Cairns, Queensland, Australia, population 150,000.
         November 27: Saturn is 0.8° above Venus.
         December: 1 Launch of IRIS, the Interface Region Imaging Spectrograph, which will trace the flow of energy and matter into the Sun’s corona and photosphere. See http://iris.gsfc.nasa.gov/ for details.
         December 2: Jupiter is in opposition.
         December 5: Launch of three Expedition 34/35 members via Soyuz from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the Space Station.
         Sometime in 2013: The student-built nanosatellite, Aalto-1, will become Finland’s first satellite.
         Sometime in 2013: Launch of Gaia (Global Astrometric Interferometer for Astrophysics), the European Space Agency successor to Hipparcos. Gaia will provide data on one billion stars in the Milky Way, including distances, proper and radial motion, and spectroscopic info burying astronomers in data. Gaia will also observe asteroids closer than the Earth to the Sun. For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaia_(spacecraft) or http://www.esa.int/export/esaSC/120377_index_0_m.html.
         Sometime in 2013: China launches the Tiangong-2 space station.
         April 17, 2013: Mars is in conjunction with the Sun.
         November 18 – December 7, 2013: Launch window for the Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN orbiter (MAVEN). The project web site is http://lasp.colorado.edu/home/maven/.
         Sometime in 2014: First test flight of the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.
         Sometime in 2014: India launches Chandrayaan II. This mission will include a lunar rover. For more information, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chandrayaan-2.
         Sometime in 2014: 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. [Moved from 2012.]
         February 14, 2014: Launch of Japan’s Astro-H X-ray astronomy spacecraft. For details, visit http://astro-h.isas.jaxa.jp/index.html.en.
         April 14-15, 2014. Total eclipse of the Moon visible from North America.
         July 2014: Launch of GEMS (Gravity and Extreme Magnetism SMEX). This will study the distortion of space around spinning black holes (via the polarization of X-rays) and the extreme magnetic fields around neutron stars. [This is not to be confused with the proposed Mars mission formerly called GEMS, but now called InSight.]
         July 2014: Proposed launch date of Hayabusa 2 to asteroid 1999 JU3.
         July-August 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.
         August 2014 - December 2015: The European Space Agency’s Rosetta space probe orbits comet Churyumov-Gerasimenko. In November 2014, it will release the Philae lander. Web page is www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Rosetta or visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosetta_%28spacecraft%29
         Sometime in 2015: China launches the Tiangong-3 space station. This will eventually become the core of a large Chinese space station in the 2020s.
         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 Orbiter. This mission will include a static lander, but the rover will be launched in 2018. For more information, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exomars.
         March 2016: Proposed launch date for InSight, a lander which will probe the interior of Mars. For information, see http://insight.jpl.nasa.gov/.
         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.
         Sometime in 2018: ESA launches the ExoMars Mars Rover. For more information, visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exomars.
         Sometime in 2018: Earliest date for the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope.
         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.

Oklahoma Space Alliance Officers, 2012 (Area Code 405)

Steve Swift, President                                                         496-3616 (H)
Jim Trombly, Vice-President                                               219-0283 (H)
Syd Henderson, Secretary & Outreach Editor                    321-4027 (H) 365-8983 (C)
Tim Scott, Treasurer                                                           740-7549 (H)
Claire McMurray, Correspondence Secretary                    329-4326 (H) 863-6173 (C)
Tom Koszoru, Update Editor                                            366-1797

OSA E-mail Addresses and Web Site:

(Replace "at" with @ symbol.)

sswift42 at aol.com (Steve Swift)
jtvt at inbox.com (Jim Trombly)
sydh at ou.edu (Syd Henderson)
ctscott at mac.com (Tim Scott)
cliffclaire at hotmail.com (Claire McMurray)
T_Koszoru at cox.net (Heidi and Tom Koszoru)
john.d.northcutt1 at tds.net (John Northcutt)
lensman13 at aol.com  (Steve Galpin)
      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. Executive Director is Gary Barnhard [email protected]. The Chapters Coordinator is Bennett Rutledge 720-529-8024. The address is: National Space Society, 1155 15th Street NW, Suite 500, Washington DC 20005 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 $30 introductory rate for new members ($35 for new international members).  Regular membership rates are $55, international $65.  Student memberships are $25.  Part of the cost is for the magazine, Ad Astra.  Mail to: National Space Society, 1155 15th Street NW, Suite 500, Washington, DC  20005, 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 www.marsociety.org. 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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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.


Contact person for Oklahoma Space Alliance is Claire McMurray
PO Box 1003
Norman, OK 73070
Webmaster is Syd Henderson.
Copyright ©2012 Oklahoma Space Alliance.