February 2017

The Dragon V2 spacecraft presented by Elon Musk (Photo courtesy SpaceX. All rights reserved)

Elon Musk, SpaceX founder and CEO, has announced that his company was hired to send two people on a private journey around the Moon in 2018. Musk didn’t reveal the two persons’ identity nor indicated the journey’s cost but merely stated that they have already paid a substantial deposit. The journey will be made on the Dragon V2 spacecraft, the version developed precisely for manned missions, which will be launched on a Falcon Heavy rocket.

The supernova SN 1987A at the center (Image NASA, ESA, R. Kirshner (Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation), and M. Mutchler and R. Avila (STScI))

In recent days on La Réunion Island a meeting was held to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the sighting of the supernova 1987A (SN 1987A), the brightest of the last four centuries and for this reason a historic event for modern astronomy. For these celebrations scientists from the Hubble and Chandra space telescopes chose an animation derived from the model of a team of astrophysicists from INAF-Osservatorio Astronomico di Palermo, Italy led by Salvatore Orlando.

Artistic concept of the planets in the TRAPPIST-1 system (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA held a press conference to communicate new discoveries in the research on the TRAPPIST-1 star system. These results have also been described in an article published in the journal “Nature”. Using data collected by NASA’s Spitzer Telescope, a team of researchers led by Michaël Gillon of the STAR Institute confirmed the existence of 7 planets in this system, all rocky. Potentially, at least in some region of all those planets there could be liquid water.