Thursday, June 2, 2016

Space Highlights - June 2, 2016

June 2, 2016

China successfully launched three satellites into orbit this past week, including Ziyuan III (a high-resolution commercial mapping satellite), as well as two NewSat satellites from Uruguay.

SpaceX launched the Thaicom 8 communications satellite aboard a Falcon 9 rocket this week, and successfully landed the first stage aboard a floating barge.

Russia launched a GLONASS-M navigation satellite aboard a Soyuz 2-1B booster this past week.

Leveraging observations from the Rosetta spacecraft of comet 67P, researchers have confirmed that the chemical building blocks for life can be found in comets.  This finding reinforces one theory that many of the ingrediants for early life on Earth may have been brought to the surface of the planet by comet impacts in the early solar system.

NASA is continuing to monitor the wear on the wheels of the Curiosity rover, as the spacecraft completes its traverse to its next exploration site.

Researchers have determined that the bright patches first observed on the surface of the dwarf planet Ceres by the Dawn spacecraft, have a regular pattern of brightening during the day before dimming each night.  The bright features are believed to be the result of sub-surface salt deposits that have been exposed by recent impacts, but the brightening cycle remains unexplained.

NASA has released some of the closest, most detailed images yet from the New Horizons spacecraft, featuring resolution of Pluto's surface down to 260 feet across.

A researcher at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greebelt, MD has put forward a proposal that the gravity waves recently detected by the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) may provide evidence that the "dark matter" that makes up the majority of the known universe may in fact be captured in primordial black holes.

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