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.

Petition to Name New Element

A petition on Change.org has been created asking IUPUI, the Joint Institute for Nuclear Research, and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to name element 117, currently called Ununseptium “Octarine” in honor of the late Sir Terry Pratchett.

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New Rock on Moon

The Chinese Yutu rover, which has been exploring the moon for two years, has discovered a new type of lunar rock. The basalt rock was found in the bottom of Zi Wei crater in Mare Inbrium, which was exposed by the formation of the crater. The find may indicate that lunar composition is more diverse than previously believed.
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SpaceX Touches Down

On December 21, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, deployed 11 satellites, and made a successful vertical landing on land, the first successful land based landing for the spacecraft. In June, a Falcon 9 scheduled to resupply the ISS exploded shortly after launch. This was the first launch after that failure. Previous Falcon 9s were able to successfully deploy satellites.

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Mapping Columbia

On December 10, the Smithsonian removed the Plexiglas cover protecting the Columbia capsule from the Apollo 11 mission in order to begin a computer scan of the interior and exterior of the capsule to permit the creation of virtual 3D replicas of the command module that took Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins to the moon in 1969.
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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.
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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.
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