Massimo Luciani

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.

Composition of multiwavelength images of the galaxy cluster Abell 1033 and the surrounding area (Image NASA/CXC/Univ of Hamburg/F. de Gasperin et al; Optical: SDSS; Radio: NRAO/VLA)

An article in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” describes a research on the galactic cluster Abell 1033. Combining data from NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory, the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope in the Netherlands, NSF’s Karl Jansky Very Large Array (VLA), and the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), a team of astronomers reconstructed the history of a cloud of electrons at the cluster’s center. It was reignited after a cosmic collision and for this reason it’s been compared to the legendary phoenix.