Engadget: Google’s $20 million Lunar Xprize will end without a winner. “The Lunar Xprize is about to come to an anticlimactic end after more than a decade. Google has confirmed to CNBC that it doesn’t plan to extend the $20 million competition past its March 31st deadline — itself an extension well beyond the original 2014 end date. Given that all the finalists either don’t have the funds to continue or don’t expect to launch that quickly (the fastest, SpaceIL, might not launch before the end of 2018), the competition is effectively over with no winners. Not that Google minds, however.”
Phys.org: Dark Energy Survey publicly releases first three years of data. “At a special session held during the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, D.C., scientists on the Dark Energy Survey (DES) announced today the public release of their first three years of data. This first major release of data from the Survey includes information on about 400 million astronomical objects, including distant galaxies billions of light-years away as well as stars in our own galaxy.”
This is a PDF, from Habitable Worlds 2017: Starchive: The Open Access, Open Source Stellar Database. “The Starchive… is an open source, open access stellar database. It will host observable, physical, and derived properties of stars and planets as well as observational data such as direct imaging (AO and seeing limited), spectra, light curves, and other time series data sets. ”
TechCrunch: Google AI helped find the first solar system outside our own with 8 planets. “Google and NASA today announced the discovery of a new planet in solar system Kepler 90, achieved using machine learning. By applying neural networking to Kepler data, scientists have found, for the first time, an eighth planet in the Kepler-90 system – this ties the Kepler-90 system with our own system for the most planets in any known system.”
Wired: The Fake Space Agency Searching For Life On Mars’ Nonexistent Third Moon. “…even though Mars only has two moons, the casual visitor to Ferox, The Forgotten Files: A Journey to the Hidden Moon of Mars 1976–2010 could easily be fooled into believing there is a third. The fabricated, online archive contains hundreds of convincing, black-and-white photographs depicting scientific research, space missions, and even the nonexistent, alien surface of Ferox itself.”
The University of Texas at Dallas: Researchers Launch Moon Mission Audio Site. “NASA recorded thousands of hours of audio from the Apollo lunar missions, yet most of us have only been able to hear the highlights. The agency recorded all communications between the astronauts, mission control specialists and back-room support staff during the historic moon missions in addition to Neil Armstrong’s famous quotes from Apollo 11 in July 1969. Most of the audio remained in storage on outdated analog tapes for decades until researchers at The University of Texas at Dallas launched a project to analyze the audio and make it accessible to the public.” Visit the site, yes, but also read the article. The team innovated a lot to get this done.
EurekAlert: KFU, RAS Institute of Geography, Roscosmos are working on a space photo database. “The project, titled ‘Geography from Space’, is a joint effort by leading researchers from several institutions. It is aimed at middle school teachers and university academics. Lev Desinov (RAS Institute of Geography employee and Lead Research Associate of the KFU Space Management of Territorial Development Lab) was the one who came up with the idea.” KFU in this case is Kazan Federal University, while the RAS Institute of Geography is the Russian Academy of Sciences.