The InSight lander and the MarCO nanosatellites blasting off atop an Atlas V 401 rocket (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago NASA’s InSight lander was launched together with the two Mars Cube One nanosatellites from the Vandenberg base on an Atlas V 401 rocket. After about 1.5 hours they separated from the rocket’s last stage, called Centaur, and went en route to Mars.

The InSight (Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport) mission aims to investigate the geology of the planet Mars. A lander equipped with a seismometer, a thermal sensor and other instruments that will analyze the red planet’s internal structure. This will allow to obtain new data on its formation, also contributing to the existing models on the formation of rocky planets such as the Earth.

The Sentinel-3B satellite blasting off atop a Rockot rocket (Photo ESA - S. Corvaja)

A few hours ago the Sentinel-3B 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).

The JPSS-1 satellite blasting off atop a Delta 2 rocket (Image NASA TV)

A little while ago the JPSS-1 satellite blasted off atop a Delta 2 rocket in its 7920 configuration from the Vandenberg base. After almost one hour it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and entered a Sun-synchronous orbit, meaning it will fly over every area of ​​the Earth’s surface at the same local time, at an altitude of about 824 kilometers (512 miles).

The Sentinel-5P satellite blasting off atop a Rockot vehicle (Photo ESA)

A few hours ago, the Sentinel-5P satellite of the Copernicus / GMES program, blasted off from the Plesetsk Cosmodrome, Russia, on a Rockot with a Briz-KM upper stage rocket. The satellite regularly separated from the rocket’s last stage and after about an hour and a half started sending signals.

The Sentinel-5P – where “P” stands for Precursor – satellite is the first of the Copernicus constellation devoted to atmospheric monitoring. The term Precursor is due to the fact that it’s the forerunner of the future Sentinel-5 satellite and represents a step forward compared to Envisat. It will complement the EUMETSAT’s MetOp meteorological satellites and work in coordination with the Suomi-NPP American mission, which began in 2011 with similar aims.

Model of the Earth's magnetic field (Image ESA)

ESA has published the most detailed map ever created of the Earth’s magnetic field using data collected over three years of the mission of its three Swarm satellites. For this work, data collected by the German CHAMP (Challenging minisatellite Payload) mission in the last decade were also used together with new modeling techniques. The result was the extraction of the tiny magnetic signals from the Earth’s crust.