Thursday, February 9, 2017

Space Highlights - February 9, 2017

February 9, 2017

Launchers for microsatellites continue to carve out their own niche in the satellite market.

SpaceX's first launch from Complex 39A, since their failed booster explosion occurred last September, has been slated for February 18th.  The next launch is expected to deliver supplies to the International Space Station.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has contracted India's ISRO to launch its Nayif-1 microsatellite later this month.  The Nayif-1 will act as a relay station for amateur radio signals.

Data from NASA's Curiosity Mars rover suggests that the ancient atmosphere of Mars - at a time when Mars was able to support lakes and rivers of liquid water on its surface - had significantly less carbon dioxide than what scientists had assumed would be necessary to keep the surface temperature warm enough to support liquid water.

NASA has selected a landing site for its InSight Mars lander, which is scheduled to reach the surface of Mars in November 2018.  InSight is expected to drill a 15 foot deep hole into the surface of Mars.

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft has fired its rocket motor to make a course correction, and align it for its anticipated flyby of 2014 MU69 in January 2019.

Astronomers using the Kilodegree Extremely Little Telescope (KELT) have identified a new gas giant, labeled KELT-18b orbiting a bright, hot star.  The planet is estimated to be 18 percent more massive than Jupiter, but with 1.57 times the diameter.  The planet has an orbital period of only 2.9 days, making it a "hot Jupiter" planet.

A team of European astronomers reports that they have identified a low-mass warm Jupiter orbiting a nearby K-type main-sequence star.  The planet, designated EPIC 218916923b, is the least massive warm Jupiter discovered to date.

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