A few hours ago the Soyuz TMA-19M spacecraft was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and after about six anx a half hours reached the International Space Station carrying Tim Peake, Yuri Malenchenko and Tim Kopra. The Soyuz used the fast path normally used but it took a bit longer than anticipated because of a problem with the automatic docking system: as a consequence, the maneuver was conducted manually.
Two studies published in the journal “Nature” offered new interesting information about the dwarf planet Ceres. Thanks to analyzes of data collected by NASA’s Dawn space probe the authors of these studies claim that the mysterious white spots are composed of salts and that on Ceres there are ammonia-rich clays. The explanations about the materials that make up the white spots may solve a mystery while the presence of ammonia creates another, linked to the origin of this dwarf planet.
A little while ago, cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren and JAXA astronaut Kimiya Yui returned to Earth on the Soyuz TMA-17M spacecraft, landed without problems in Kazakhstan. It was night when they landed and it was very cold so the crew that take care of assisting them was quicker than ever. They spent nearly five months on the International Space Station, where they arrived on July 23, 2015 as part of Expedition 44.
The Orbital ATK Cygnus spacecraft, launched on December 7, has just reached the International Space Station and was captured by the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Astronaut Kjell Lindgren, assisted by his colleague Scott Kelly, began the slow maneuver that will move Cygnus until it docks with the Station’s Unity node after about two hours.
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.