The Planetary Society declared the success of the mission to test the LightSail solar sail. Started on May 20, 2015 as a secondary payload in the launch of the military shuttle X-37B, the CubeSat-class nanosatellite that contained the solar sail has overcome various problems. Eventually the onboard systems have been tested collecting a lot of data useful for the complete mission scheduled for 2016. A few days ago, the LightSail prototype fell back into the atmosphere, disintegrating.
During the weekend the lander Philae resumed communications from the surface of the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. It’s been almost exactly seven months since Philae ran out of battery power and, because its position didn’t allow it to recharge them using its solar panels, had gone into hibernation. Now ESA is preparing new plans to try to make the most of the period in which the comet will be close enough to the Sun to provide the energy needed for Philae to work.
An article in “The Astrophysical Journal” describes a research group of NGC 5813 made using the NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. In this galaxy group, multiple eruptions originate from the supermassive black hole at the galactic center that gives its name to the group were discovered. This activity took place over about 50 million years and has changed the appearance of the group, creating various cavities, huge bubbles within the cloud of hot gas that surrounds it.
An article published in the journal “Nature” describes a research that has revealed the size of the outer ring of the planet Saturn. It’s called Phoebe ring because it’s believed to have been created by dust particles coming from Phoebe, one of Saturn’s moons, as a result of impacts that projected them into space. This ring was discovered in 2009 and immediately its enormous size was noted. This new research using infrared images obtained from NASA’s WISE space telescope shows that it’s even larger than previously thought.
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.