KLM Claims First Biofuel Airline Passenger Flight

Boeing 747 biofuel KLM royal dutch airlines

Dutch airline KLM has made the latest step in what appears to be a rush by airlines to demonstrate the use of alternative fuels. The airline made what it is calling the first passenger flight using biofuel.

KLM completed the flight with one of its Boeing 747s using a 50 percent biokerosene mix to fuel one of the airplane’s four engines. On board during the hour long flight over the Netherlands were about 40 people including journalists, politicians, and the Dutch director of the World Wildlife Fund. The flight was not a scheduled flight, just a demonstration of the ability to use of biofuels.

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Atlantis Undocks from Station, Scheduled for Friday Landing

Atlantis undocked from the International Space Station at 4:53 a.m. EST Wednesday, ending a successful resupply visit that included three spacewalks. The total docked time was 6 days, 17 hours and 2 minutes.

Atlantis brought to the station about 14 tons of cargo in its payload bay, including two large carriers with heavy spare parts that were installed on the station. The shuttle also carried about a ton of cargo in its crew cabin. It is bringing home about the same weight of cabin cargo from the orbiting laboratory.

Atlantis Commander Charles Hobaugh, Pilot Barry Wilmore and Mission Specialists Leland Melvin, Randy Bresnik, Mike Foreman, Robert Satcher Jr. and Nicole Stott are scheduled to land at 9:44 a.m. Friday at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Tuesday at 10 a.m., European Space Agency astronaut Frank De Winne handed over command of the station to NASA astronaut Jeff Williams. De Winne and Expedition 21 Flight Engineers Roman Romanenko and Robert Thirsk are scheduled to leave the station for return to Earth in a Soyuz capsule on Nov. 30.

Keep up-to-date with NASA missions here…

Huge ocean ‘once covered much of northern half of Mars’

The large body of water was fed through rivers carrying rainwater, scientists believe.

These created a network of valleys on the surface of the planet more than twice as extensive as previously thought, new research reveals.

The findings come just a week after Nasa, the American space agency, announced that they had found water on the surface of the Red Planet, raising hopes of finding life on Mars.

New maps showing that the valleys cover a larger area than previously appreciated has led scientists to believe there was once a single ocean covering much of planet’s northern half.

The extent of the Martian valleys, and what they mean for the chances of life on the planet, have been hotly debated since they were first discovered by the Mariner 9 Spacecraft in 1971.

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Nasa Cassini spacecraft sends pictures of Saturn’s moon


Nasa has released the latest raw images of Saturn’s moon Enceladus, from the Cassini spacecraft’s extended mission to the planet and its satellites.

The images show the moon’s rippling terrain in remarkable clarity.

Cassini started transmitting uncalibrated temperature data and images during a flyby on 21 November

The data will help scientists create a highly detailed mosaic image of the southern part of the moon’s Saturn-facing hemisphere, and a thermal map.

This thermal map will help researchers to study the long fractures in the south polar region of the moon’s surface, which have been dubbed “tiger stripes” and are warmer than the rest of the surface.

Scientists are particularly interested in these fissures because they spew out jets of water vapour, and other particles, in plumes that reach hundreds of kilometres above the surface.

This flyby was scientists’ last peek at the tiger stripes before the south pole fades into the darkness of winter for many years.

Read the rest here (more photos are also here)

NASA’s Atlantis astronauts take final spacewalk, prepare for return

Heading into their second week of space travel the crew of NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis have a lot on their schedule. Today two of the astronauts will venture out for the mission’s third and final space walk.

During the spacewalks the crew perform a variety of physical tasks to the outside of the International Space Station. For example, Atlantis is carrying two ‘ spare parts container known as the Express Logistics Carriers. The shuttle’s robotic arm lifted them into place and the spacewalkers helped attach them to the ISS. In all there are 27,250 pounds worth of spare parts onboard this mission.

Read the full article here…

Wired: This Week In Space

Good day everyone and welcome to the inaugural edition of “This Week In Space”. A place to check in on events happening within the world’s space programs in the upcoming week. Every week we’ll try to capture as many planned launch events, landing events, activities with different missions, and other activities as we can. We’ll never capture everything but hopefully we will consistently give our readers a resource for educational activities, events, and other information.

Launches (Source: Spaceflight Now World Launch Schedule)

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New NASA Sky Mapper heads to launch pad

NASA’s new asteroid-hunting spacecraft will roll out to the pad at Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., Friday in preparation for launch next month.

The spacecraft is due to launch Dec. 9 aboard a United Launch Alliance Delta 2 rocket.

Known as the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), the spacecraft will spend the next 10 months circling the Earth over the poles, scanning the complete sky at infrared wavelengths to uncover hidden cosmic objects, including cool stars, dark asteroids and luminous galaxies.

“You can kind of think of it as the Google Map of the universe,” said Amy Mainzer, NASA’s deputy project scientist for WISE, explaining that the instrument will take repeated exposures of the same swath of sky, creating overlapping images as the telescope progresses through its sky scan. The stars and galaxies will appear fixed on the sky in each exposure, but asteroids will move over short amounts of time.

“WISE is going to be finding about 100,000 new asteroids in the main asteroid belt,” Mainzer said during a Nov. 17 news conference at NASA headquarters here. “And we expect it’s going to find several hundred new asteroids that get close to Earth orbits. These are asteroids and comets whose orbits take them close to Earth’s orbit.”

Read the rest of the article at www.space.com

NASA will radiate monkeys for Mars mission, that’s right… radiate.

NASA says it would take almost a year using conventional rockets to get to Mars. By that time a human body would likely turn to jello due to exposure to space radiation. But the space agency has come up with a solution – in fact two of them.

First they want to build the nuclear rocket (Project Prometheus) which NASA says would cut in half the amount of time it would take to get to the red planet. With nuclear reactors for engines NASA also says they could carry heavier payloads which would make it possible to “mine the sky” for precious minerals.

The other solution to the space radiation problem seems to rely on testing monkeys by exposing them to doses of radiation so NASA can further study the effects on the human body.

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Air and Space Museum Moves ‘Beyond Earth’ with Spacewalk gloves

NASA spacewalk gloves

A new exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum asks the big questions: How can human spaceflight become routine? How can a home and workplace be created in the extreme environment of space? What does the future hold for humans in space?

“Moving Beyond Earth” at the Washington D.C. museum features launch-vehicle models representing the quest for space, telescopes brought back from the Hubble, the suit worn by space tourist Dennis Tito and other items from NASA’s space exploration history.

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