Astrosat blasting off atop a PSLV-XL rocket (Photo courtesy ISRO. All rights reserved)

A few hours ago the Astrosat space observatory was launched on a PSLV-XL rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in the flight listed as PSLV-C30 by ISRO, the Indian space agency. After about 22 minutes Astrosat regularly separated from the rocket’s upper stage to enter an orbit close to the equator at an altitude of about 650 kilometers (about 400 miles). Along with it six satellites were launched for customers of different nations: the Indonesian Lapan-A2 microsatellite, the Canadian NLS-14 (EV9) microsatellite and four USA LEMUR nanosatellites.

A still frame from a movie showing an active galactic nucleus (Image NASA / Dana Berry / SkyWorks Digital)

An article in the journal “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society” describes a study of the galaxy SAGE0536AGN and in particular the supermassive black hole at its center, which is 30 times larger than expected. This is the result of measurements conducted by a team of astronomers at Keele University and the University of Central Lancashire, an anomaly all to explain.

The snakeskin area called Tartarus Dorsa on Pluto's surface (Image NASA/JHUAPL/SWRI)

After more than two months since the extraordinary Pluto flyby of NASA’s New Horizons space probe some people might think that the data arrived to Earth are enough to know this dwarf planet comprehensively. Reality keeps on being very different on this small world frozen yet as varied as you would expect from a geologically active planet with an atmosphere that can erode its soil. Here then is the image of a “snakeskin” surface that again leaves scientists puzzled and surprised.

Maps of water ice abundance (left) and surface temperature (right) focusing on the Hapi ‘neck’ region of Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko (Image ESA/Rosetta/VIRTIS/INAF-IAPS/OBS DE PARIS-LESIA/DLR; M.C. De Sanctis et al (2015))

An article just published in the journal “Nature” describes a research on the daily water-ice cycle on the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko and its vicinity. A team of scientists led by Maria Cristina De Sanctis from Rome’s IAPS-INAF (National Institute of Astrophysics – Institute for Astrophysics and Space Planetology) analyzed data collected by the ESA’s Rosetta space probe’s VIRTIS spectrometer discovering that in some areas the ice water disappears in the day and reappears in the night.

Artists rendition of the SKA-mid dishes that shows how these 15m wide dish telescopes may eventually look when completed (Image courtesy SKA Organisation)

The Chinese government announced its intent to enter into a new phase of its involvement in the development project of the SKA radio telescope by signing a letter of intent with the SKA Organisation that runs it. Vice Minister Jianlin Cao from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) signed the letter of intent on behalf of his government. With this act, China the joins nations that are turning the SKA into an intergovernmental organization with a treaty to formalize the relationship between the project and its members.