Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Space Highlights - March 30, 2016

March 30, 2016

China made its third successful orbital launch of this year, with the launch of the BeiDou-22  GPS satellite aboard a Long March 3A booster.

India's ISRO is preparing to launch a record 22 satellites aboard a single booster this May.  A total of four micro satellites (85 to 130 kg each) and 17 nano-satellites (4 to 30 kg each) will be hitching a ride together with India's Carosat 2C remote sensing satellite.  The micro and nano satellites represent a variety of national and university experiments from around the globe, including experiments the United States, Canada, Germany and Indonesia.

U.S. satellite launch companies are campaigning to retain a ban on the use of Indian launch vehicles for the launch of commercial U.S. satellites.  The ban does not apply to university or scientific payloads, but requires a special waiver for the launch of commercial payloads in India.

Russia launched a Soyuz 2-1A rocket this past week, placing a second Bars-M reconnaissance satellite into orbit.

The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) lost contact with the Hitomi X-ray satellite this past weekend.  Hitomi was only recently placed into orbit on February 17th.  The satellite was intended to search for evidence of black holes.

NASA researchers have identified the tallest peak on Saturn's moon, Titan using data collected from the Cassini space probe.  The 10,948 ft (3,337 m) high peak is in a range of mountains labeled the Mithrim Montes.

Researchers at Princeton University and the University of Chicago have developed a computer model that explains the sustained eruptions observed at Saturn's moon Enceladus.  Using data from the Cassini space probe, the researchers identified the cyclic, tidal stresses which continuously drive the eruptions, and were able to correctly model the timing of the geysers - in contrast to previous models which failed to correctly identify the timing of eruptions.

Amateur astronomers identified what appears to be a comet or asteroid that collided with Jupiter this past weekend.

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