1. Discovery news asks - When will the discovery of a bona fide Earth-like exoplanet be announced?
2. Take a virtual sleigh ride over the real landscapes of Mars, courtesy of NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.
3. Season's Greeting from NASA Television. Video of space station
4. At the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, training continues for the next residents of the International Space Station. Expedition 30 Soyuz Commander Oleg Kononenko, NASA Flight Engineer Don Pettit and European Space Agency Flight Engineer Andre Kuipers, are reviewing flight procedures and making other preparations in advance of their upcoming launch to the orbiting laboratory scheduled for on Dec. 21. Also, next-gen tests; Dawn's new orbit; and, Third Rock rolls out.Plus, Cleveland tech showcase; Explorer moves; "Sully" at the sim; FIRST Lego; "Operation Cookies," and more.
5. Space.com - Relive the year in rocket launches, from NASA's last shuttle flights to a Christmas Soyuz flight.
6. Space Ref - NASA has selected 24 undergraduate student teams to test science experiments under microgravity conditions. The teams will fly during 2012 as part of the agency's Reduced Gravity Education Flight Program (RGEFP).
7. Big Think discusses the latest developments for space entrepreneurs. NASA is actively recruiting small businesses to help with some of its biggest projects. The space agency's Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) recently selected 79 small companies across 27 states to help conduct space research for which it will doll out $63 million.
8. Bad Astronomy at Discover Magazine - Dawn dips down to Vesta
Last July, the spacecraft Dawn slipped into orbit around Vesta, one of the largest asteroids in the solar system — the first time a probe had ever orbited a main-belt asteroid. From its height of 16,000 km (almost 10,000 miles), it started mapping the 500 km (300 mile) wide rock, returning the first close-up pictures in amazing detail.
9. Universe today - For the first time astronomers have located a pulsar – the super-dense, spinning remains of a star – nestled within the remnants of a supernova in the Small Magellanic Cloud. The image above, a composite of x-ray and optical light data acquired by NASA’s Chandra Observatory and ESA’s XMM-Newton, shows the pulsar shining brightly on the right surrounded by the ejected outer layers of its former stellar life.
10. Universe Today - recorded a Google+ Hangout we did to discuss today’s announcement of Earth-sized worlds orbiting another star. A big thanks to Nancy Atkinson, Bad Astronomer Phil Plait, MSNBC’s Alan Boyle and the Planetary Society’s Emily Lakdawalla.
11. Universe today - You may have heard about the restaurant at the end of the Universe, but have you heard of the bar in the middle of the Milky Way?
Nearly 80 years ago, astronomers determined that our home, the Milky Way Galaxy, is a large spiral galaxy. Despite being stuck inside and not being able to see what the entire the structure looks like — as we can with the Pinwheel Galaxy, or our nearest neighbor, the Andromeda Galaxy — researchers have suspected our galaxy is actually a “barred” spiral galaxy. Barred spiral galaxies feature an elongated stellar structure , or bar, in the middle which in our case is hidden by dust and gas. There are many galaxies in the Universe that are barred spirals, and yet, there are numerous galaxies which do not feature a central bar.
12. 365 days of Astronomy answers What is Dark Energy?
Universe Today - Jupiter, the largest and most massive planet in our solar system, may be its own worst enemy. It turns out that its central core may in fact be self-destructing, gradually liquifying and dissolving over time. This implies it was previously larger than it is now, and may dissolve altogether at some point in the future. Will Jupiter eventually destroy itself completely? No, probably not, but it may lose its heart…
13. Space.com noted that on the week of December 21st, 2011 all the major planets of the solar system were visible in a single night.
14. Planethunters.org is a new blog to help you find planets as an amateur astronomer. They provide a site tour
This article discusses the problem of preserving the Lunar vacuum despite huge industrial use. Lunar ‘atmosphere’ might frost out to an artificially enhanced ‘cold trap’ at the Lunar Poles. The proposed mega-engineering plan is to create 40 kilometer high walls around the lunar poles to make the poles colder and trap billions of tons of frozen oxygen.
15. Nextbigfuture - This article discusses the problem of preserving the Lunar vacuum despite huge industrial use. Lunar ‘atmosphere’ might frost out to an artificially enhanced ‘cold trap’ at the Lunar Poles. The proposed mega-engineering plan is to create 40 kilometer high walls around the lunar poles to make the poles colder and trap billions of tons of frozen oxygen.
16. Nextbigfuture -NASA anticipates initiating a full and open competition for the advanced booster system in FY2015 with award anticipated in FY2016 and hardware delivery in the FY2019 timeframe. The 130-metric-ton, evolved SLS is slated for completion following the 2021 test flight. The Space Launch system will end up costing tens to hundreds of billions of dollars more than alternative systems and will take many years longer to complete
17. Spaceref reports that cryogenic testing is complete for the final six primary mirror segments and a secondary mirror that will fly on NASA's James Webb Space Telescope. The milestone represents the successful culmination of a process that took years and broke new ground in manufacturing and testing large mirrors.
18. The National Space Society blog - Do lunar mines make sense? The answer depends on what you want to do in space. If what you want is something close to what we have now: a booming commercial communication satellite business and government programs for science and exploration, then no. Lunar mines built entirely with tax dollars are expensive and unnecessary. On the other hand, if you see further than a few years ahead, if you see civilization, humanity, and Life itself expanding into space, if you see large scale industrialization, commercialization and settlement of space, then lunar mines are of enormous importance. The interesting thing is, the second vision will probably cost the taxpayer a lot less and deliver much greater value to the people of Earth. Lunar material is good for shielding mass, rocket propellant, water, metals, silicon and helium 3.
19. The spaceshow had a show on Hotel Mars with special guest: Mike Gold, Bigelow Aerospace
20. Bad Astronomy at Discover Magazine discusses a star factory at the edge of the universe. First, holy cow, what an image! Incredibly, nearly every single object in that picture is an entire galaxy, a vast collection of billions of stars. They’re also very distant; I doubt any of the bigger ones are closer than several billion light years away.
21. the Space coalition has a collection of space highlights from other space sites and blogs every day
22. Universe Today - has the Top Astronomy Events Coming Up in 2012
23. A look at three proposed configurations for a lunar mission using a Gemini spacecraft from a study done in 1962.
24. The Spaceshow had guest Robert (Bob) Zimmerman to discuss the Space Act Agreement, private compared to government space, Kepler planet discovery, bats.
25. Weareallinthegutter -The Earth has one Moon, but it's not the only rocky thing orbiting us.....
26. NASA Watch - Russian Soyuz-2.1b Launch Failure
27. Space.com has an article on the Christmas star of bethlehem comet- planet theories
28. 365 days of astronomy has an article on the Grail spacecraft twins arrival at the moon
29. Alunsalt - You can see more stars when the skies are darker, but darker skies isn't just about a change in quantity.
30. Universe Today has another stunning image of comet lovejoy
31. Universe today has more stunning photographs of Comet Lovejoy taken from the space station
32. collectSPACE had the rare opportunity recently to tour space shuttle Atlantis to photograph its preparation and capture its glass cockpit powered and lit for one of its last times.
33. Themeridianijournal - The 'Great Lakes' of Europa
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