Thursday, November 5, 2015

Space Highlights - November 5, 2015

November 5, 2015

The first attempted satellite launch from Hawaii failed this past week, after the first Super Strypi rocket broke apart soon after launch.  The launch, funded by the U.S. Air Force, was aimed at developing a lower cost approach for sending small satellites into orbit.

China successfully launched a new Chinasat-2C communications satellite this past week, aboard a Long March 3B booster.  The launch was the second for a new generation in Chinese military communications satellites.

Satellite images of ancient mounds scattered across the remote steppes of Kazakhstan have revealed a pattern of ancient man-made structures which are barely visible when viewed from the ground.  Archaeological expeditions are being planned to understand when the buried structures were originally built and what their purpose might have been.

NASA has released the first images from the recent flyby of the Cassini space probe across the icy surface of Saturn's moon, Enceladus.  The images depict the moon's grooved surface, as well as the bright streaks of ice plumes from geysers at the moon's southern pole.  Scientists hope that the space probe's sensors might have detected any complex organic molecules thrown into space by the eruptions.  The probe came within 30 miles (50 km) of the moon's surface.

NASA also released new radar images captured by Cassini depicting the dunes of Saturn's giant moon, Titan.  Titan's dunes are composed of hydrocarbon sands, which are normally hidden from view by Titan's dense atmosphere and clouds.

As the Rosetta comet mission winds down, the European Space Agency is planning to have the probe crash into comet 67P before the solar powered spacecraft runs out of power.  The crash-impact is expected to occur in September 2016, providing a final opportunity to capture up-close data.

China has announced plans to send a rover to Mars in 2020.  A model of the rover was revealed at the recent China International Industry Fair.

National Geographic Channel is expected to premier a documentary on India's Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM) on November 5th.  The announcement follows the release of photographs collected by the MOM spacecraft, including the first Hindi atlas of Mars.

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