SpaceX Targets Moon Launch 2018

Elon Musk has announced plans to put two humans into orbit around the Moon in 2018. Two private citizens have already placed a significant deposit for the flight, which will be the furthest any humans have traveled from Earth since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. Musk hasn’t announced the names of the astronauts who will fly to the moon aboard a Falcon Heavy.
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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.
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The solar system’s very own website!

Initial Twin Study Released

NASA has released preliminary results from their Twin Study comparing identical twin astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly following Scott Kelly’s long-duration mission on the International Space Station. Results unexpected showed changes in gene expression, DNA methylation and other biological markers. The caps on the ends of Scott Kelly’s telomeres grew longer during his space flight (returning to normal after landing), which was the opposite of the expected results. Full results of the study are expected to be released over the next few years.
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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.
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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.
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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.
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Space Travel Linked to Heart Disease

Research indicated that the Apollo astronauts, who are the only humans to travel beyond the protective magnetic shielding of Earth, have an increased level of death from cardiovascular problems compared to astronauts who have never flown in space or who have only flown in Low Earth Orbit. The study looked at the 24 Apollo astronauts (including those who died of cancer and accidents) and compared them to 70 other astronauts, divided equally between unflown and LEO astronauts.
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Pluto Telescope Restoration

One year ago today, New Horizon achieved perihadean, flying close to Pluto and beginning the process of downloading photos and data that have given us a whole new understanding of the world. The telescope Clyde Tombaugh used to discover Pluto in 1930 is in need of restoration and the Lowell Observatory has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help restore this piece of American astronomical history.
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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.
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