June 29, 2016
A U.S. Navy's fifth Mobile User Objective System (MUOS)communications satellite was successfully launched aboard an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral this past week.
Russia's AIST-2D satellite, which was launched last April, activated its scientific payload for the first time this week. The satellite's earth observation payload was designed and built at Samara University's Institute of Space Instruments Engineering.
China successfully launched its first Long March 7 rocket this past week, carrying a prototype next-generation crew capsule. The capsule was successfully recovered, parachuting into China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. The Long March 7 is a LOX/Kerosene booster that is expected to replace China's nitrogen tetroxide fueled Long March 2F.
Findings from NASA's Curiosity rover suggest that Mars once had far more oxygen in its atmosphere than it does today. The rover recently confirmed the presence of manganese oxides in the ancient Martian soil - a compound which points to both the presence of water, and a more oxygen rich atmosphere than can be found on Mars today.
Researchers combing through data from the New Horizons spacecraft have identified a canyon on Pluto's moon, Charon that is nearly twice the length of Earth's Grand Canyon and roughly five times as deep.
A team at the Southwest Research Institute has discovered a small, dark moon orbiting the dwarf planet Makemake. Makemake is one of the largest Kuiper belt objects currently known, with a diameter roughly two thirds that of Pluto.