Thursday, December 3, 2015

Space Highlights - December 3, 2015

December 3, 2015

The European Space Agency (ESA) has delayed the launch of its LISA Pathfinder spacecraft, due to a technical problem with the Vega launcher.  The LISA Pathfinder spacecraft is designed to detect the gravity ripples produced by the merger of distant black holes - validating the effects of gravity on the fabric of space that were postulated by Einstien.

China recently launched the Yaogan 29 rader surveillance satellite into orbit aboard a Long March 4C booster.  The Yaogan 29 is believed to carry high resolution radar mapping instruments that allow it to perform reconnaissance in all weather conditions.

China is drawing up plans for a satellite that would monitor greenhouse gas emissions as the country steps up efforts to curb its industrial pollution.

NASA has released a new batch of black and white images from the Curiosity rover, as it makes its way across Gale Crater.

The orbit for NASA's Dawn space probe is being lowered over the next two weeks, to settle into its final, lowest mapping orbit around Ceres - the largest asteroid between Mars and Jupiter.

The ESA has released definition for a 3D model of Comet 67P, as mapped by the Rosetta space probe.

NASA has released new images, capturing the release of water plumes from Saturn's moon Enceladus.  The probe has also captured the first direct evidence for bursting magnetic bubbles in Saturn's magnetosphere.  Similar phenomena occur on earth, and help to energize the northern lights.

Although much of the focus from the images and data returned by the New Horizons space probe have been focused on Pluto and its largest moon, Charon, mysteries still remain surrounding its smaller moons. Of Pluto's four smaller moons, at least three appear to have formed from the collision and merger of two other objects.  It is also unclear when and how Pluto collected the four comet-like moons.

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