Thursday, October 29, 2015

Space Highlights - October 29, 2015

October 29, 2015

The U.S. Air Force is preparing to launch its 11th GPS IIF satellite on Friday of this week.  This will be the second-to-last member of the GPS IIF family.

NASA's Cassini space probe made its closest approach yet this week to Saturn's moon Enceladus, traveling close enough to pass through the vapors sent out by the moon's geysers.

The European Space Agency has selected Oxia Planum as the landing sight for the first European Mars rover, due to be sent on its way to the red planet in 2018.  The site was selected for its clay deposits, which hold the potential to preserve evidence for any organic particles that may have been deposited in sediment millions of years ago.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft has been lowered into a closer orbit as it continues its mapping mission for the dwarf planet Ceres.

The ESA's Rosetta probe has confirmed the presence of molecular oxygen in the cloud of gas surrounding the nucleus of comet 67P.  This marks the first time that molecular oxygen has been confirmed in the gas surrounding a comet.  Previous surveys have confirmed water, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide in the coma of a comet, but not oxygen.  Scientists involved in the program are calling it the most surprising discovery to date.

NASA has released new images from the New Horizons mission, including images of Pluto's tiniest moon, Kerberos as well as a striking image of a crescent Pluto.

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