Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Space Highlights - June 22, 2016

June 22, 2016

India's ISRO successfully placed 20 satellites into orbit in a single launch, setting a new record for its Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV).  Included was the earth observation satellite, Cartosat-2, together with 12 Planet Dove imaging satellites, and an assortment of research payloads.

Stratolaunch Systems has lifted the veil on the massive airplane that is slated to become the first stage for a future satellite launch system.  With a wingspan of 385 feet, it will be the largest airplane ever built.  The start-up satellite launch provider is being funded by Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft.

After successfully launching two satellites into orbit this past week, SpaceX's Falcon 9 booster narrowly missed an attempted recovery of its first stage booster and motor.

NASA has released a panorama from its Opportunity Mars rover, depicting the Marathon Valley where the rover has been exploring for the past year.  The rover was sent to the site to confirm evidence for clay rocks - produced in Mars' ancient, wet past - evidence for which had been identified from orbit.

Researchers pouring through data from the ESA's Venus Express orbiter have found evidence that the "electric wind" of Venus' atmosphere could have played a significant role in stripping the planet's early water from its surface and atmosphere, accelerating oxygen and hydrogen ions out into space.  The electric wind formed by charged particles on Venus is estimated to be more then five times the strength that it is on Earth.  The Venus Express orbited Venus from 2006 until December 2014.

A study from Brown University has suggested that despite its current, frozen appearance, Pluto may actually harbor a subsurface ocean of liquid water, making up the magma-like mantle of the planet.

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