A little while ago, NASA astronaut Terry Virts, Russian cosmonaut Anton Shkaplerov, and Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, returned to Earth on the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft, landed without problems in Kazakhstan. The three of them spent nearly six and a half months on the International Space Station, where they arrived on November 24, 2014. They were initially part of the Expedition 42, in the second half of their stay they were part of Expedition 43 with Terry Virts as Station commander.
ESO’s telescope ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter / submillimeter Array) in Chile allowed to take the most detailed images ever obtained of a galaxy called HATLAS J090311.6+003906 or SDP.81. It’s about 11.4 billion light years from Earth and its light is distorted by the phenomenon called gravitational lensing. A galaxy between it and the Earth distorts its light with its huge gravity and the result is that we see an almost perfect ring, called an Einstein ring.
Yesterday NASA’s Low-Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD) system, which will be used to land vehicles that can be very big on Mars, completed its second test over the Pacific Ocean. The result was only partially positive because the huge parachute that is part of this system deployed but didn’t inflate properly.
Airbus Defence and Space, a subsidiary of the aerospace corporation Airbus Group that builds the Ariane 5 launchers for ESA and Arianespace, has presented the project of the Adeline (ADvanced Expendable Launcher with INnovative engine Economy) system to reuse part of rockets’ first stage. It also presented plans to build space tugs to be placed in orbit, where they’ll deliver newly launched satellites into their required orbit.
An article just published in the journal “Nature” describes a research on Pluto and its moons showing how two of them, Nix and Hydra, spin in an uncontrolled and unpredictable way. This study is based on an analysis of the observations made using the Hubble Space Telescope but because of the considerable distance they’re far from complete. For this reason, it’s possible that the two other small moons of Pluto, Styx and Kerberos, are in the same situation.