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…

Gravitational Waves Found

One of the elements of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity is the presence of gravitational waves. Although predicted by Einstein, such waves have not previously been observed. Today, David Reitze, executive director of LIGO, the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory, has announced that gravitational waves have been detected based on the merging of two black holes.

For more information…

Obituary: Henry S. F. Cooper, Jr.

Author Henry S. F. Cooper, Jr. (b.1933) died on January 31. Cooper was a journalist who covered the Apollo program, writing Thirteen: The Apollo Flight That Failed and Apollo on the Moon. Cooper was the great-nth grandson of James Fennimore Cooper.

Apollo 16 Booster Found

In April, 1972, John Young and Charles Duke landed on the moon in the Lunar Module Orion. NASA scientists also arranged to have the third stage booster of the Saturn V rocket that propelled them to the moon to crash into the moon so measurements could be taken of the reverberations. Although the impact of the rocket could be measured, its location was never found until Jeff Plescia of Johns Hopkins University discovered its location.
For more information…

Blue Origin Launch and Land

Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin rocket was successfully launched from West Texas on November 23. The unmanned rocket achieved a height of a little more than 100 kilometers and a speed of 4600 kph before descending for a vertical landing on within two meters of its target. The Blue Origin also deployed an unmanned crew capsule during the test flight. Although Blue Origin reached space, the rocket is designed for suborbital trips only.
For more information…

Stern and Mouly Honored

Françoise Mouly and Alan Stern will be among those honored with the American Ingenuity Award by the Smithsonian on November 12. The American Ingenuity Awards are selected by a poll of Smithsonian directors to find innovators making a difference in their fields. Mouly is being honored for her work on comics such as Raw, while Stern is being recognized as the leader of the New Horizons mission to Pluto.
For more information…

Water on Mars

NASA scientists announced today that they have found evidence of liquid water on Mars. A series of Recurrent Slope Lineae on the sides of some canyons, which darken seasonally, have shown evidence of salt deposits, leading scientists to believe that in certain seasons, there is some briny seepage that runs down the striations.
For more information…

Brother Guy Promoted

Brother Guy Consolmagno, who has been a long-time fan, attending numerous conventions, and giving a major talk at this year’s Worldcon, has been appointed Director of the Vatican Observatory by Pope Francis.

For more information…

Next Stop: 2014 MU69

NASA’s New Horizons team has determined that the probe’s next target will be the Kuiper Belt Object 2014 MU69, which isn’t quite as lyrical as “Pluto,” but will probably receive a more mythical name before the probe reaches it. Discovered only last year, the 45 km wide object is about a billion miles beyond Pluto and just happens to be in the right location for a flyby.
For more information…