The Progress M-29M space cargo ship blasting off atop a Soyuz U rocket (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago, the Progress M-29M space cargo ship docked with the Zvezda module of the International Space Station. The spacecraft blasted off yesterday atop a Soyuz U rocket from the Baikonur base in Kazakhstan in its resupply mission also referred to as Progress 61. It was a direct berthing because the Russian spacecraft don’t need to be captured by the Station’s robotic arm

Map-projected view of the dwarf planet Ceres (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA/MPS/DLR/IDA)

The mysteries of the dwarf planet Ceres are a topic of discussion at the European Planetary Science Congress going on these days in Nantes, France. For the occasion, NASA published new topographic maps of Ceres based on data collected by its Dawn space probe, which has been mapping it for a few weeks. The latest news on this dwarf planet came from some emission of energetic electrons.

On the left, OSIRIS images used to visually identify over 100 terraces (green). In the middle, a 3D shape model used to determine the directions in which the terraces/strata are sloping and to visualise how they extend into the subsurface. On the right, local gravity vectors visualised on the comet shape model perpendicular to the terrace/strata planes (Image ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team MPS/UPD/LAM/IAA/SSO/INTA/UPM/DASP/IDA; M. Massironi et al (2015))

At the European Planetary Science Congress going on these days in Nantes, France, evidence were presented that the strange shape of the nucleus of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko is due to the fact that it was born from the merger of two small comets occurred a few billion years ago. The study conducted by a team led by Matteo Massironi, a researcher at the University of Padua and Italian INAF (National Institute of Astrophysics) associate, was published in the journal “Nature”.

Image of narrow streaks of water on Martian slopes at Hale Crater (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/Univ. of Arizona)

Yesterday NASA announced the existence of flows of liquid water on Mars. The study, just published in the journal “Nature Geoscience”, is based upon years of analysis of data collected mainly thanks to the NASA’s MRO (Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter) space probe. The images captured by its camera and spectrometric data allowed to find streams of water along the walls of craters and slopes that vary over time and perchlorate salts in them.

Astrosat blasting off atop a PSLV-XL rocket (Photo courtesy ISRO. All rights reserved)

A few hours ago the Astrosat space observatory was launched on a PSLV-XL rocket from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in the flight listed as PSLV-C30 by ISRO, the Indian space agency. After about 22 minutes Astrosat regularly separated from the rocket’s upper stage to enter an orbit close to the equator at an altitude of about 650 kilometers (about 400 miles). Along with it six satellites were launched for customers of different nations: the Indonesian Lapan-A2 microsatellite, the Canadian NLS-14 (EV9) microsatellite and four USA LEMUR nanosatellites.