July 5, 2016

Solved: The Mystery of the Martian Moons (Source: CNRS)
The aura of mystery surrounding Mars has long been intensified by its curious pair of moons: Phobos and Deimos, whose origins have remained clouded until now. How did Mars end up with its two small moons, first spotted in 1877? This riddle may have just been solved by a multidisciplinary study combining French, Belgian and Japanese expertise.1

Scientists have long hesitated between two hypotheses. The first suggests that the moons are asteroids like those found in the belt between Jupiter and Mars; but why they should have been trapped around Mars remains unclear. An alternative theory posits that the moons formed from the debris of a collision between Mars and a protoplanet—a planet in the making; here though, uncertainty has hovered over the mechanism producing two small satellites.

According to simulations, Mars suffered a colossal impact with a body three times smaller some 4 to 4.5 billion years ago. Debris from the collision initially accumulated into a long disk around Mars, resembling one of Saturn’s rings. Within this disk, an enormous moon a thousand times the mass of Phobos gradually formed—similar to the way in which our Moon amassed from debris created by Earth’s impact. Click here. (7/4)

How Breaking Up Military Satcom Could Aid U.S. and Allies (Source: Aviation Week)
An upcoming decision on whether to break up the payload set currently aboard the U.S. military’s most secure communications satellites could go a long way toward determining the future of allied interoperability in this area, a senior U.S. Defense Department official says. Interoperability is most easily achieved when established as a requirement in a program’s early stages, says Douglas Loverro, U.S. deputy assistant secretary of defense for space policy. (7/4)

India Celebrates 100 Succesful Satellite Launches (Source: DNA)
Almost unsung, the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) has completed a century of launching satellites in space! This was in true Test cricket fashion a slow plod taking almost 36 years, since the first satellite to be launched from India was Rohini in 1980. In a bold first move, ISRO is also opening its doors to the private sector to make not just components but full satellites. This is quite a leap in space by ISRO, which has till now endeavoured to fabricate all satellites in-house. (7/3)

Why India is Working on an Air-Breathing Propulsion System (Source: Live Mint)
The Indian Space Research Organization will be testing an air-breathing propulsion system this month which will allow rockets to use atmospheric oxygen for fuel, reducing costs and fuel weight in the future. The technology is an important step towards developing reusable launch vehicles.

“Basically, of the total launch vehicle mass, 86% is propellant mass in the launch vehicle. That is huge, say if you’re looking at a 400-tonne rocket. Out of that propellant, 70% is oxidizer. Instead of carrying that much load, why not take it from the atmosphere? (7/4)

Russian Space Corporation Considering Joint Projects with India, China (Source: Tass)
Russian State Corporation Roscosmos is considering joint space projects with India and China, including on manned programs, Roscosmos chief Igor Komarov told the Izvestia daily. "We maintain constant contact with Indian partners. Now we are agreeing to deploy GLONASS adjusting stations in India. Besides, they had requests connected with the possibility of participation in our moon programs," Komarov said. (7/4)

5 Questions About Jupiter the Juno Spacecraft will Help Answer (Source: Orlando Sentinel)
NASA’s Juno spacecraft is just one day away from its Fourth of July arrival to Jupiter. The spacecraft will have traveled nearly 1.8 billion miles since launching from Cape Canaveral in 2011 to reach the fifth planet from the sun.

Every space mission tells us something new about the universe, but Juno has a very important task: to find out how the solar system formed. In short, how we got here. Here are five big questions about Jupiter the spacecraft could help answer, hopefully giving us the recipe for the solar system. Click here. (7/4)

LEGO Minifigures on NASA's Juno Jupiter Probe Inspire Design Challenge (Source: CollectSpace)
For five years, they have voyaged through space, going farther and faster than any LEGO minifigures have ever traveled before. On July 4, the three tiny stowaways aboard NASA's Juno spacecraft will arrive at their destination, the giant gas planet Jupiter, and in doing so, will launch a new effort by the space agency and LEGO company to inspire children back on Earth to reach for the stars.

NASA and LEGO have partnered on "Mission to Space," a new design challenge that invites children to use the toy building bricks to imagine the future of space exploration. "This is your chance to help build our future in space here on Earth," said astronaut Nicole Mann in a video posted to LEGO's website. "What would your home on a planet or a space station look like? How would you travel around from planet to planet?" (7/4)

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