Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Space Highlights - November 16, 2016

November 16, 2016

The next-generation GOES-R weather satellite is scheduled to be launched from Cape Canaveral this coming weekend, following multiple delays to its launch schedule due to both weather and technical glitches.

The WorldView-4 earth observation satellite was launched this past week aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V booster at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

China launched the Yunhai 1 weather satellite aboard a Long March 2D booster this past week.

China launched five small satellites, including an experimental X-ray pulsar navigation satellite, aboard a Long March 11 booster.

Scientists are examining photographic evidence from funnel-shaped craters on Mars, which could point to locations where microbial life may once have existed.  On Earth, these features correspond to volcanic eruptions which occur under ice - providing a mix of liquid water and minerals that provides ideal conditions for microscopic life to thrive.

Despite past technical difficulties, NASA is preparing for the next close fly-by of Jupiter by the Juno spacecraft, due to take place in December.

A new study compiles additional evidence for the existance of a subsurface ocean on Pluto, leveraging data obtained from the New Horizons spacecraft.

A group of European scientists report the discover of an exoplanet with five times the mass of Earth, orbiting a red dwarf star 32.7 light years away.  Although the planet is not in its star's habitable zone, its close proximity to Earth make it a promising target for future attempts to directly measure the composition of an alien atmosphere.

Tests have confirmed that the CHARIS instrument, fitted to the 8.2-meter Subaru Telescope at the Mauna Kea Observatory in Hawaii, appears to be operating as expected.  CHARIS (Coronagraphic High Angular Resolution Imaging Spectrograph) is expected to separate the light reflected from distant planets from the light emitted by their parent star, allowing astronomers to make direct measurements for the chemical composition of exoplanet atmospheres.

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