January 27, 2016
Russia has moved its Proton-M booster, with its Eutelsat-9B communications satellite payload, onto the launch pad in preparation for a January 30th lift-off.
India launched its fifth GPS satellite this past week, labeled IRNSS-1E, out of a planned constellation of seven.
India is setting up a satellite tracking and communications center in Vietnam. In return for granting India access to the facility, Vietnam will receive transmissions from earth observation satellites encompassing the China-Vietnam border region.
China reports that they will soon launch the world's most advanced hyperspectral imaging satellite, in the form of the China Commercial Remote-Sensing Satellite System (CCRSS). Due for launch later this year, the CCRSS is expected to collect data across 328 electromagnetic bands, compared to the 300 bands available from the U.S. TacSat 3, which was launched in 2010.
The first Ariane 5 launch of the year is expected to take place later today, carrying an Intelsat 29e communications satellite.
The Cassini spacecraft has completed the second of five planned burns to adjust its orbit out of the plane of Saturn's moons and rings, as it prepares for the finale to its mission: a series of close fly-by's between Saturn and its innermost rings, followed by a final plunge into Saturn's atmosphere in September 2017.
The Opportunity rover celebrated its 12th year anniversary on the Martian surface, where it is currently in low-power mode for the Martian winter. The solar-powered Opportunity rover was originally designed to last three months on the Martian surface.
The Curiosity rover has begun its chemical analysis of sand collected from active Martian dunes - the first time that any rover has evaluated active, wind-borne sand dunes on a planet other than earth.
NASA has released new images of the night-side of Charon, Pluto's largest moon, as data continues to filter back from the New Horizons spacecraft.
Analysis of crater impacts on Pluto, suggest that the surface of the Sputnik Planum region in "Pluto's heart", can be no older than 10 million years - extremely young for such such a small world.
Scientists at CalTech reported this past week that they have discovered evidence for a ninth planet in orbit around the sun. Their conclusion is based on observations of the orbits of Kuiper belt objects, which point to the presence of a distant planet with roughly ten-times the mass of Earth. The projected planet would have an orbital period of around 10,000 years.