Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Space Highlights - December 21, 2016

December 21, 2016

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket successfully launched the EchoStar 19 communications satellite into orbit.

NASA launched the first Cyclone Global Navigation Satellite System (CYGNSS) satellite, intended to observe hurricane wind patterns, aboard an Orbital ATK Pegasus XL rocket.

Japan's Epsilon rocket launched the ERG satellite into orbit in what was only the second launch attempt for the new rocket model.  The Exploration of Energisation and Radiation in Geospace (ERG) spacecraft is expected to study the Earth's magnetosphere and radiation belts.

Operation of Curiosity's rock drill has continued to be suspended, as engineers explore why the Mars rover's drill mechanism became jammed.

The ESA's Trace Gas Orbiter is preparing to adjust its orbit around Mars, so that it can begin its mission to study the Martian atmosphere.

A new study suggests that the recurring slope linea (RSL) that have been observed on some Martian hills, mountains and valleys, could be caused by trace amounts of water in the Martian atmosphere rather than by subsurface water in the Martian soil, as was previously assumed.  The seasonal markings bear the signature of hydrated salts, indicating the presence of liquid water.  The new study, however, suggests that the water might be from the thin Martian atmosphere.

Despite the near total absence of surface ice, researchers have concluded that the asteroid Ceres contains a considerable quantity of sub-surface water ice, based on observations from NASA's Dawn spacecraft.

NASA has released stunning new images from the Cassini spacecraft, including views of Saturn's moon Mimas against the backdrop of Saturn's rings, as the Cassini spacecraft begins its ring-grazing orbital finale.

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