Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Space Highlights - October 26, 2016

October 26, 2016

China's manned space lab successfully released a microsatellite that is being referred to in the media as a "selfie stick".

India's planned launch of a satellite on behalf of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation has been delayed indefinitely over disagreements between India and its largely Muslim neighbors over violence in Kashmir.

Launch of the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite-R (GOES-R) weather satellite is being delayed due to damage at NASA's Florida launch facility caused by hurricane Matthew.

North Korea has pledged that there would be more satellite launch attempts in the near future, following a failed ballistic missile test.

European engineers believe that a premature separation from its heat shield - and resulting premature parachute deployment - may have doomed the ESA's Schiaparelli lander.  The crash site of the doomed spacecraft has been identified from orbit by NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, and is being studied for clues into the European lander's final moments.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured evidence of seasonal changes in the cloud cover of Saturn's largest moon, Titan.

Despite technical glitches that have crippled the spacecraft at least twice now, NASA's Juno spacecraft has collected new radio-frequency data that appears to indicate that Jupiter's banded cloud structure extends much deeper into its atmosphere than had been previously thought.

Scientists reviewing thermal imaging data of the surface of Venus, collected in 2010 by the European Space Agency's Venus Express orbiter, have concluded that some of the lava flows surrounding at least one volcano, are relatively recent: formed within the past 2.5 million years.  In geological time, that would suggest that Venus is likely still volcanically active today.

Scientist are predicting that, if it does exist, the hypothesized Planet Nine will be identified within the next couple of years.  Evidence for the proposed, distant ninth planet is based around disturbances in the orbits of Kuiper Belt objects in the outer reaches of the solar system, with some scientists suggesting that the slight tilt in our solar system's orbital plane - relative to the rotation of the sun - could also be explained by the ninth planet.

Attempts to identify the individual particles that make up dark matter continue to come up empty, challenging existing assumptions about what makes up the mysterious substance known only from its gravitational effect on the galactic scale.

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