Thursday, October 8, 2015

Space Highlights - October 8, 2015

October 8, 2015

China launched its first high-resolution commercial imaging satellite this past week.  The satellite was launched on October 7, aboard a Long March 2D booster, which placed a total of four satellites into orbit - including two satellites designed to provide video imaging, a technology demonstrator satellite, and China's first commercial, high-resolution earth-imaging satellite.

India launched its first astronomy satellite into space this week: an X-ray imaging satellite labeled as "Astrosat".

The United States is expected to launch the NROL-55 spy satellite on Thursday, October 8th, together with 13 small "cubesats" - each of which features a small experimental payload, four of which are sponsored by NASA.

Facebook has teamed up with Eutelsat to jointly fund a satellite that, among other functions, would provide free internet service to remote areas of Africa.  The two expect to jointly lease the Amos-6 satellite from the Israeli company Spacecom, which expects to build and launch the satellite next year.  Eutelsat will utilize much of the satellite's channels to expand its paid broadband connections in the region, while Facebook will access the remaining bandwidth to provide internet service too disadvantaged communities throughout Africa.

NASA has released a new photo-collage vista of the rugged martian landscape where the Curiosity rover will be headed towards in the next year.

New evidence from the Dawn spacecraft appears to indicate that the mysterious bright spots observed on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres are in fact produced by highly reflective salts - not ice, as some had assumed.

NASA has released a series of images of Pluto's moons, including its largest moon, Charon, as well as images of the smaller moons, Nix and Hydra.  The images of Charon include a giant canyon that stretches nearly a third of the way across the surface of the moon.

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