Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Space Highlights - July 20, 2016

July 20, 2016

SpaceX completed its fifth successful first-stage rocket booster landing, following the successful launch of a Dragon cargo ship to the International Space Station.

Japan's space agency, JAXA is considering the launch in 2020 of an X-ray astronomy telescope to replace Hitomi, the previous space telescope that was lost in March soon after it entered orbit.

Iridium has completed the first batch out of 81 new satellites that are planned to upgrade the provider's mobile communications network.  Produced at the company's factory near Phoenix, the first ten new satellites will be launched in September aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Satellite service providers are warning that if the United States' Trade Representative fails to scrap the current ban on the launch of commercial U.S. satellites aboard Indian rockets, many small satellite developers will order satellites manufactured outside of the United States to evade the ban, and take advantage of lower Indian launch costs.

India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited a team of university students who helped build Sathyabamasat, a research satellite recently launched into orbit by India's ISRO.

NASA has released the first batch of images collected by the Juno spacecraft, after it entered orbit around Jupiter.  Much clearer images are expected in coming months as the spacecraft makes its return circuit in its elongated, elliptical orbit.

NASA has formally approved its Mars 2020 Rover mission, unveiling the initial design for a new rover that will resemble a slightly more rugged version of the Curiosity rover that is currently exploring Mount Sharp on the red planet.

With three more months left in its mission, the ESA's Rosetta spacecraft captured an image of its own shadow on the surface of Comet 67P.

NASA's Dawn spacecraft, currently in orbit around the dwarf planet Ceres, have identified a set of craters that - due to the inclination of the asteroid as it orbits the sun, never see sunlight in their depths.  Such craters have been sought out as possible reservoirs of frozen water.

The New Horizons spacecraft has been officially entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for carrying a U.S. postage stamp the furthest distance yet recorded from the Earth.  When it was launched in 2006, the spacecraft carried a 29-cent "Pluto: Not Yet Explored" stamp on board.  A year ago, after the spacecraft sped by Pluto, it earned its world record holding distinction - which was officially recognized this past week.

The Kepler K2 mission has identified an additional 104 exoplanets, include two terrestrial planets within the habitable zone around their parent star.

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