Thursday, March 16, 2017

Space Highlights - March 16, 2017

March 16, 2017

SpaceX plans to launch the EchoStar 23 communications satellite from the Kennedy Space Center later this week.

SpaceX has been awarded a contract, beating out United Launch Alliance to launch a U.S. Air Force Global Positioning satellite into orbit.  This is the second such U.S. Air Force contract awarded to SpaceX.

Poor weather has delayed the launch of a Japanese radar intelligence satellite.  The launch was expected to take place this week aboard a Japanese H-2 rocket, to be launched from the Tanegashima Space Center in southern Japan.

NASA's Cassini spacecraft has provided new, close-up images of Saturn's small moon, Pan which displays a band of debris collected from Saturn's rings.

The Cassini spacecraft has successfully detected the heat pattern from the sub-surfaced ocean on Saturn's moon Enceladus.

A new documentary on NASA's Curiosity rover was recently released, documenting the spacecraft's first four years on Mars.

NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter has been tracking multiple, massive dust storms on the surface of Mars.

A French-Canadian team of researchers have released initial findings from studies of a free-floating exoplanet, some 117 light years away.  The object, with 4 to 7 times the mass of Jupiter, is too small to be a brown dwarf (sub-stellar mass objects that are large enough to briefly ignite deuterium fusion nuclear reactions), but is large enough to emit enough heat energy to be detected by infrared telescopes.

A recent study of distant galaxies suggests that dark matter played a smaller role in the early universe - which would appear to indicate that dark matter took longer to coalesce around galaxies than ordinary matter did.

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