July 2019

The Progress MS-12 cargo spacecraft approaching the International Space Station (Image NASA TV)

A few hours ago the Progress MS-12 spacecraft blasted off atop a Soyuz 2.1a rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. After about nine minutes it successfully separated from the rocket’s last stage and was placed on its ultra-fast track in its resupply mission to the International Space Station also called Progress 73 or 73P. After almost 3.5 hours it reached the International Space Station docking with its Pirs module.

A representation of the main characteristics of the TOI 270 system's exoplanets (Image NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center/Scott Wiessinger)

An article published in the journal “Nature Astronomy” reports the discovery of three exoplanets in the system of the red dwarf indicated in the research as TOI (Tess Object of Interest) 270 because it was studied using NASA’s TESS space telescope. They’re a super-Earth and two mini-Neptunes, all with orbits very close to their star. A team of researchers used observations made by TESS and follow-up observations with other telescopes to confirm the existence of the three exoplanets and provide some estimates of their characteristics, useful also because the two mini-Neptunes could provide information to understand the mechanisms of formation of planets of that type but also of rocky ones.

Artistic representation of a gaseous planet in a binary system (Image NASA/JPL-Caltech/T. Pyle)

An article published in “The Astrophysical Journal Letters” reports the discovery of a gaseous exoplanet in the DS Tuc binary system thanks to the use of NASA’s TESS space telescope. A team of astronomers coordinated by Dartmouth College, New Hampshire, USA, conducted this research on the exoplanet named DS Tuc Ab, which has an estimated age of about 45 million years, a sort of preteen. It has completed its growth but it’s still in a phase in which changes take place, all useful information to understand the formation and evolution of the planets.

The Dragon cargo spacecraft starting its CRS-18 mission blasting off atop a Falcon 9 rocket (Image courtesy SpaceX)

A few hours ago the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft blasted off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in its CRS-18 (Cargo Resupply Service 18) mission, also referred to as SPX-18. After just over ten minutes it separated successfully from the rocket’s last stage and went en route. This is the 18th mission for the Dragon spacecraft to resupply the International Space Station with various cargoes and then return to Earth, again with various cargoes.