Massimo Luciani

Artist’s impression of the exoplanet 55 Cancri e in front of its parent star (Image ESA/Hubble, M. Kornmesser)

An article published in the journal “The Astrophysical Journal” describes a research on the planet 55 Cancri e focused in particular on its atmosphere. This is the first study of its kind involving a super-Earth and was carried out in an innovative way using the Hubble Space Telescope. 55 Cancri e has already been the subject of several studies and about four years ago was the first super-Earth directly observed.

Charon's surface and in particular the area called Serenity Chasma (Image NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

The analysis of the photographs of Charon, the largest of Pluto’s moons, suggests that once it had an underground ocean that at some point froze causing the expansion of its surface layer. That event could explain the presence of a very long fracture on its surface, a kind of huge scar that devastates its equator.

Artistic representation of the WFIRST Space Telescope (Image NASA/GSFC/Conceptual Image Lab)

NASA announced the approval of a new astrophysics mission based on a space telescope called WFIRST (Wide-Field Infrared Survey Telescope). It’s a next-generation Instrument for a long-term project since it will be probably launched around the middle of next decade. It will have a mirror as large as Hubble’s but a field of view a hundred times wider to investigate even better on the secrets of the universe.

The Astro-H space telescope blasting off atop an H-IIA rocket (Image courtesy JAXA)

A little while ago the Japanese Astro-H space telescope was launched from the Tanegashima Space Center on a H-IIA rocket. After about fifteen minutes it regularly separated from the rocket’s last stage. It will reach the low-Earth orbit, where it will be positioned at an altitude of about 575 kilometers (about 357 miles).

The Sentinel-3A blasting off atop a Rockot launch vehicle (Photo ESA)

A few hours ago the Sentinel-3A satellite, part of the GMES / Copernicus program, was launched from the Russian Plesetsk Cosmodrome on a Rockot launch vehicle. After about an hour and a half it separated from the rocket’s last stage, called Breeze KM, it started communicating with the control center and to deploy its solar panels. Its final orbit is Sun-synchronous, which means it will pass over a certain area of ​​the Earth at the same local time, with an altitude of about 815 kilometers (about 506 miles).