Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Space Highlights - March 23, 2016

March 23, 2016

Diwata, the first Filipino-made and developed satellite, and the third satellite to be launched by the Philippines, is expected to be launched this week by Orbital Sciences Corporation, from Cape Canaveral, Florida.

The United Arab Emirates has contracted Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to launch its first space probe destined for Mars.  The UAE Space Agency has announced plans to launch a space probe to Mars in July 2020.

A NASA researcher has suggested that the mysterious spikes of methane that have been periodically detected in the Martian atmosphere might be the result of meteorite impacts, bringing fresh concentrations of the gas.  Methane naturally breaks down under solar radiation in the thin Martian atmosphere, making the methane spikes an unexplained mystery.

NASA has released a "gravity map" of Mars, which researchers hope will shed insight into the interior composition of the red planet.  Initial studies have already confirmed that Mars' outer core must still be molten.

Scientists reviewing data from Earth-based telescopes have detected changes in the brightness of Ceres' spots - which were recently mapped by the Dawn spacecraft - which appear to suggest that the crater where the spots are located will periodically vent water vapor, changing the brightness of the region.

Evidence from the New Horizons spacecraft indicates that Pluto still has an ammonia-rich, water "ocean" beneath its surface.

Data from the New Horizons spacecraft suggests that Pluto will periodically "thaw" enough to allow lakes and rivers of liquid nitrogen to run across its surface.

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