Volume 83 –December 2015
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Another first for reusable rockets!The booster has landed. Spaceflight took a step toward the less expensive last week when the first stage of a Falcon 9 rocket set down on a landing pad not far from its Florida launch. Previously, most rocket stages remained unrecovered -with the significant exception of the Space Shuttles landing on a runway and their solid rocket boosters being fished back from the sea. The landing occurred while the Falcon 9 second stage continued up to launch several communications satellites into low Earth orbit. The controlled landing, produced by SpaceX, was the first of its kind, but followed a booster landing last month by Blue Origin that did not involve launching satellites. Boeing and SpaceX were selected last year by NASA to launch future astronauts to the International Space Station.
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Since Cassini's 2005 discovery of continually-erupting fountains of icy material on Enceladus, the Saturn moon has become one of the most promising places in the solar system to search for present-day habitable environments. Mission scientists announced evidence in March that hydrothermal activity may be occurring on the seafloor of the moon's underground ocean. In September they broke news that its ocean -previously thought to be only a regional sea- was, in fact, global.
Now it seems that this global ocean has about the same pH as some sort of soapy water. According to Jonathan Lunine, planetary scientist at Cornell University, "this is really a world with a habitable environment in its interior."
To learn more about Cassini mission, please visit:
To see video and images of Enceladus flyby, please visit:
To read the top 10 science results about Enceladus, please see:
To see related press conferences and to learn more, please refer to: