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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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.
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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.

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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.

Obituary: Marvin Minsky

Marvin Minsky (b.1927) died on January 24. Minsky was integral to the field of artificial intelligence. He served as an advisor on the film 2001: a space odyssey and later collaborated with Harry Harrison on the novel The Turing Option.