An article published in the journal “Nature” describes the discovery of a solar system with three rocky planets that orbit the star TRAPPIST-1, a really small ultra-cool dwarf. A team led by Michaël Gillon of the Institut d’Astrophysique et Géophysique at the University of Liège in Belgium, found these planets with sizes and surface temperatures similar to those of the Earth using the TRAPPIST telescope at ESO’s La Silla Observatory in Chile.
An article published in the journal “Science Advances” describes a research about comet C/2014 S3 (PANSTARRS), which was preserved in the Oort cloud for billions of years while maintaining almost the same features it had at the time of its formation. Its peculiarity is that it seems to be composed of the same materials of the inner areas of the solar system so it’s a kind of fossil of the times of the Earth’s formation.
The Japanese space agency JAXA announced the impossibility to restore at least part of its Hitomi space telescope’s functions. After the interruption of the contacts, in the course of April JAXA started an investigation in order to restore Hitomi’s functions although the damages assessed didn’t leave much hope. The attempts were expected to go on for months, instead the situation turned out to be so bad that they were forced to declare the loss of the satellite.
SpaceX announced plans to send its first commercial mission to the planet Mars as early as 2018. In Elon Musk’s company’s plans, the journey will be carried out automatically by the Red Dragon spacecraft, a variant of the Dragon 2. The Red Dragon will be launched atop a Falcon Heavy rocket, the version of SpaceX rocket with two additional boosters. NASA will provide technical support but will not fund the mission.
The Hubble Space Telescope has identified a moon of the dwarf planet Makemake. For the moment it was simply designated S/2015 (136472) and nicknamed MK2 and it’s a small moon with an estimated diameter of about 160 kilometers (about 100 miles). The discovery came from observations made in April 2015 using the Hubble’s Wide Field Camera 3 instrument.