Terry Virts, Anton Shkaplerov and Samantha Cristoforetti assisted after their landing in the Soyuz TMA-15M spacecraft (Photo NASA TV, Anatoly Zak)

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.

Pictures of the galaxy SDP.81. On the left a picture taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. In the middle, the galaxy as an Einsetin ring and on the left as it's seen after being processed to eliminate the gravitational lensing distorsion (Image ALMA (NRAO/ESO/NAOJ)/Y. Tamura (The University of Tokyo)/Mark Swinbank (Durham University))

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.

Diagram of the Adeline system that shows how part of a rocket's first stage would land (Image courtesy Airbus Defence and Space. All rights reserved)

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.

The Pluto system (Image NASA/STScI/Showalter)

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.