Artistic concept of the Akatsuki space probe orbiting Venus (Image courtesy JAXA. All rights reserved)

JAXA, the Japanese space agency, confirmed that its space probe Akatsuki has successfully accomplished the maneuvers to allow it to enter the orbit of the planet Venus. These maneuvers took place exactly five years after the failure of the first attempt. The orbit is significantly different from the one programmed for the mission and JAXA engineers are assessing it to schedule some additional maneuvers. However, there’s optimism about the possibility of carrying out the scientific mission Akatsuki was built for.

Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft blasting off atop an Atlas V rocket starting its Orb-4 mission (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago the Orbital ATK’s Cygnus spacecraft blasted off atop an Atlas V rocket from Cape Canaveral. After about twenty minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and got in route. This is its fourth official mission, Orbital-4 or simply Orb-4 as well as CRS OA-4, to transport supplies to the International Space Station for NASA.

One of the very high resolution pictures of Sputnik Planum on Pluto (Image NASA/JHUAPL/SwRI)

NASA released the first very high resolution photographs showing close-ups of ​​the dwarf planet Pluto’s surface. These are images captured by the New Horizons space probe during its extraordinary July 14, 2015 flyby. In recent months, NASA already received high-resolution photographs but these ones are part of a series of shots that was intended to capture the details of Pluto’s surface, in this case the area called Sputnik Planum.

The galaxy cluster MACSJ0416.1-2403 observed by the Hubble Space Telescope with the galaxy nicknamed Tayna in the inset (Image NASA, ESA, and L. Infante (Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile))

An article published in the journal “Astrophysical Journal” describes the discovery of the faintest galaxy in the early universe. According to this study, this galaxy was born when the universe was “only” about 400 million years old and for this reason was nicknamed Tayna, which means “first born” in the Aymara language. To detect its light the gravitational lensing effect of a galaxy cluster was used. That allowed to capture the extremely dim light of a total of 22 ancient galaxies using the Hubble and Spitzer space telescopes.