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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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.

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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.
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New Elements Named

Despite a public drive to name element 117 “Octarine” in honor of Terry Pratchett, the element will be named Tennessine, in honor of the state of Tennessee. Element 113 will be called Nihonium, in honor of Japan, 115 will be named Moscovium, for Moscow, and 118 will be Oganesson, for Yuri Oganessian, a Russian nuclear physicist whose team discovered many of the heaviest elements.
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Obituary: Peter Thomas

Announcer Peter Thomas (b.1924) died on April 30. Thomas’s voice was recognizable for his voiceover work on NOVA and Nature. Thomas’s voice can be heard on several other science documentaries as well.

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”.

Virgin Galactic Unveils SpaceShipTwo

Virgin Galactic has unveiled SpaceShipTwo, its second generation spacecraft which is designed for astrotourism. Named the VSS Unity, the ship replaces their earlier SpaceShipTwo test craft (VSS Enterprise) which crashed in 2014 due to pilot error. The spaceship requires testing prior to being certified for flights, but more than 700 people have placed a $250,000 deposit for the right to ride on the suborbital spacecraft.
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