Massimo Luciani

The Astro-E2, then renamed Suzaku, satellite during its test phase (Photo NASA)

In recent days, the Japanese Suzaku space observatory has been deactivated. On August 26, 2015, JAXA, the Japanese space agency, communicated the decision to terminate the mission of this satellite specialized in X-ray astronomy. Communications between the mission control center and Suzaku had become intermittent since June 1, 2015 and JAXA, after trying to restore them, decided to start the deactivation procedures.

The Magellanic Clouds and an interstellar filament seen by the Planck Surveyor satellite (Image ESA and the Planck Collaboration)

ESA has released an image created using data from the Planck Surveyor satellite offering a very special portrait of an interstellar filament and the Magellanic Clouds. Those are two dwarf galaxies that are part of the Milky Way’s neighborhood and Planck detected the dust between the stars within them during its mission. The main purpose of this satellite was to study the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB or CMBR), but the data collected are also useful to map the galaxies’ dust and magnetic fields.

Artistic concept of NASA's SMAP satellite wit its huge rotating mesh reflector (Image NASA)

NASA announced the impossibility to reactivate the radar of its SMAP (Soil Moisture Active Passive) satellite. The instrument ceased to function on July 7 and NASA engineers had been trying to reactivate it for weeks but without success. SMAP is an observatory designed to monitor the moisture present in the top 5 centimeters (2 inches) of soil and now will continue its mission in a limited way.

The SoyuzTMA-18M spacecraft approaching the International Space Station (Image ESA)

A little while ago the Soyuz TMA-18M spacecraft docked to the International Space Station. On board there are ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen and cosmonauts Sergei Volkov and Aidyn Aimbetov. The three of then were launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan last Wednesday. In a couple of hours the hatches between the Soyuz TMA-18M and the Station will be opened and the newcomers will be welcomed by the rest of the crew.