This Week in Space News June 20 2014

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by Jill Cassidy

Things Dr. Sheldon Cooper Would Never Say

“Has my confidence gone down? Yes.”

A team of scientists who claimed to have found a pattern in the sky left by the super-rapid expansion of space just fractions of a second after the Big Bang are now hedging on their initial claim.

At the time of the team’s original announcement in March, the findings were hailed as a near-certain Nobel Prize.

However since then, the team received a lot of criticism, which led to a paper in a peer review journal where the team essentially catered to critics saying that more data was needed and some big questions remain outstanding.

No word yet on how many loops of “Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty” will be needed.

Quote of the Week

“We propose a mission study of a small rotorcraft that can deploy from a balloon or lander to acquire close-up, high resolution imagery and mapping data of the surface, land at multiple locations to acquire microscopic imagery and samples of solid and liquid material, return the samples to the mothership for analysis, and recharge from an RTG on the mothership to enable multiple sorties.” — Larry Matthies, Senior Research Scientist at JPL, on sending a quadcopter to explore Titan, the largest of Mars’ moons  (If you’re anything like us, you’re still trying to get over the use of the word ‘mothership’ twice in one sentence.)

Things Nick Cage Dreams About

“National security considerations.”

The U.S. (via the Department of Commerce) has lifted restrictions on selling highly-detailed satellite images.  Prior to this, companies like Colorado’s DigitalGlobe could only sell these images to the U.S. military.

Suffice to say, DigitalGlobe is pretty stoked and plans to launch a new satellite in August to take advantage of the lifted ban.  The company says its new satellite will be able to show “key features such as manholes and mailboxes.”

Google and Bing are pretty excited about this, too, for their Maps applications.  They’re planning on celebrating with a friendly, virtual game of Capture the Declaration of Independence … errr … Flag.

Things That Are Nice to Look At

National Geographic once again gives us this week’s Best Space Pictures.

“This is Maverick.  I’m supersonic.”

You’ve never seen phytoplankton like this before.

@astro_reid is doing a good job replacing the photo void left by @AstroKarenN.

D is for Delta IV Heavy.

VIDEO: SpaceX’s Elon Musk talks to CNBC about Tesla, Mars and the potential for an IPO.

(Always give credit where credit is due. I owe everything I know about writing to theSkimm. If you’re not a subscriber, you’re missing out.)

Image Source: NASA/Jeff Schmaltz, MODIS Land Rapid Response Team, NASA GSFC

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