Apollo 11 Goes on Tour

The Smithsonian Institute is sending the Apollo 11 on a tour of four museums in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the first lunar landing. The command module Columbia, along with other artifacts from the Apollo 11 mission, will visit Space Center Houston (October 14, 2017-March 18, 2018), the Saint Louis Science center (April 14-September 3, 2018), the Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh (September 29, 2018-February 18, 2019) and Seattle’s Museum of Flight (March 16-September 2, 2019).

Terrestrial Worlds Found

NASA has announced the discovery of seven terrestrial worlds in orbit around the star TRAPPIST-1 in the constellation Aquarius, located 39.13 light years from earth. Three of the planets are located within the habitable zone, which means they may contain water and be capable of sustaining life as we know it. The star takes its name from the Transiting Planets and Planetesimals Small Telescope located in Atacalma, Chile, which was used to observe it.
For more information…
The solar system’s very own website!

Earthlike Planet Discovered

Astronomers have discovered an earth-like planet in orbit around Proxima Centauri. The planet is believed to have a mass of at least 1.3 times the earth and orbits only 7.3 million kilometers from the star (compared to 150 km for Earth), but because Proxima Centauri is smaller than Sol, the planet receives 2/3 the light and heat does, placing the planet in the goldilocks zone. Proxima Centauri is the closest star to the Solar system, only 4.2 light years away.
For more information…

Fly Me to the Moon

California’s Moon Express has become the first private company to receive permission to land a private spacecraft on the Moon. The company plans to place a robotic lander on the Moon in 2017 as part of an effort to exploit lunar resources for commercial purposes.
For more information…

Chinese Fireball Over Western US

A fireball seen over parts of California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho and Colorado was the remnants of the second stage of China’s Long March 7 rocket, which was launched on a test flight on June 25. The rocket was visible for more than a minute.
For more information and video…

Dwarf Planet Found

A new dwarf planet has been discovered orbiting in the Kuiper Belt. 2015 RR245 is believed to be about 700 km in diameter with an highly elliptical orbit, believed to have a perihelion of 34 AU and an apohelion of 120 AU. The dwarf planet would have an orbital period of approximately 700 years.
For more information…

By Jove

The Juno spacecraft successfully performed a Jovian Orbital Insertion on July 4, after a five year voyage to the planet Jupiter. Juno is in a polar orbit and will study Jupiter’s composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere over a 20 month period.

For more information…

New “Moon”

NASA has announced the discovery of an asteroid, 2016 HO3, which has been caught by Earth’s gravitational field and orbits Earth at a distance of 14 million kilometers. The asteroid, which was discovered on April 27, is believed to have been captured by Earth about a century ago and is described as a “stable quasi-satellite,” rather than a moon.
For more information…

Obituary: André Fernand Brahic

Astrophysicist André Fernand Brahic (b.1942) died on May 15. Brahic is credited with discovering the rings around Neptune. Brahic noted that science “could make the eyes of small children light up”.

Hope Given Up for Philae

German scientists have announced that they have given up hope the the lander Philae, which is perched on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, will reestablish communications. The probe was deployed from the Rosetta spacecraft in November 2014 and last made contact on the comet in June 2015. Its landing position in shade made it difficult to fully charge the probe’s batteries. Before dying, the prove sent back confirmation of its discovery of 16 carbon and nitrogen-rich organic compounds on the comet.
For more information…