Mars Express makes closest-ever Phobos fly by

On 29 December 2013, ESA’s Mars Express will make the closest flyby yet of the Red Planet’s moon Phobos, skimming past only 45 km above its surface.

As the spacecraft passes close to Phobos, it will be pulled slightly off course by the moon’s gravity, by a few tens of centimetres. This small deviation will be measured using the spacecraft’s radio signals, and then translated into measurements of gravity, mass and density at different locations on the moon.

This animation shows how the flyby would appear from a vantage point near Mars Express, with Phobos passing by beneath. The relative movement between the spacecraft and moon has been speeded up ten times faster than actual.

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AFSPC announces FY13 General John P. Jumper, Information Dominance Awards respresentatives

AFSPC selected winners to represent the command in their respective categories, and as such have represented the command at the Air Force level boards for the FY13 General John P. Jumper and Information Dominance Awards. The results from the Air Force board will be released late this week or next.

The AFSPC winners are:

Cyber Superiority Division, HQ AFSPC/A5J Gen Edwin W. Rawlings Team Award

624th Operations Center
Lt Gen Harold W. Grant Unit Award
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Serious consequences for mishandling personal ID info

Individuals who inappropriately store and transmit Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, over the Air Force Network will now have their accounts locked in response to the violation.

Patricia Feist, 375th Communications Squadron base records manager, said, "Personally Identifiable Information is information which can be used to distinguish or trace an individual's identity, such as their name, Social Security Number, or biometric records, including any other personal information that is linked or linkable to a specific individual."
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VAFB firefighters, leaders gather to remember 36th anniversary of Honda Ridge Fire

Members of the Vandenberg Fire Department and senior base officials met on South Base Dec. 20th to honor the memory of Team V personnel who perished in the Honda Ridge Fire 36 years ago.

"Fires on this base usually burn low-frequency but high-intensity," said Jesse Hendricks, Vandenberg Hot Shots superintendent. "So when we do have fires on this base, they burn hot. About 51,000 acres of 91,000 acres of this installation is brush and wildlife."
This held true on the morning of Dec. 20, 1977, when high winds caused a power pole to snap, allegedly igniting the dense chaparral that covered a canyon on the southern portion of Vandenberg.
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Base extends CFC campaign

The 2013 Combined Federal Campaign has been extended to allow more time for military members and federal employees to sign-up and donate, helping those in need.

Following a regional decision to extend the campaign, Col. John Shaw, 21st Space Wing commander, authorized an extension to the 2013 Combined Federal Campaign here to provide added time to participate; the new end date is Jan. 15, 2014. The extension was because of delays encountered by the recent sequestration during the campaigns initial launch.
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Astronaut Mike Hopkins on Dec. 24 Spacewalk

On Dec. 24, 2013, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, Expedition 38 Flight Engineer, participates in the second of two spacewalks, spread over a four-day period, which were designed to allow the crew to change out a faulty water pump on the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station. He was joined on both spacewalks by NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, whose image shows up in Hopkins' helmet visor. Image Credit: NASA

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Astronaut Mike Hopkins on Dec. 24 Spacewalk

On Dec. 24, 2013, NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, Expedition 38 Flight Engineer, participates in the second of two spacewalks, spread over a four-day period, which were designed to allow the crew to change out a degraded pump module on the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station. He was joined on both spacewalks by NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, whose image shows up in Hopkins' helmet visor. The pump module controls the flow of ammonia through cooling loops and radiators outside the space station, and, combined with water-based cooling loops inside the station, removes excess heat into the vacuum of space. Image Credit: NASA

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