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China has successfully launched its second Shijian-16 series satellite for space research and experiments

China on 29 June 2016 launched its second Shijian-16 series satellite. 
•    The satellite was carried by a Long March-4B rocket from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China.
•    The Shijian-16 satellite will be used for space environment measurements, radiation and its effect as well as technology testing.
•    The first Shijian-16 satellite was launched in October 2013.
•    This launch was the 231st flight by a Long March rocket.
•    It is used for the launch of sun-synchronous orbit meteorological satellites.
•    It was first introduced in May 1999 and was developed by the Shanghai Academy of Space Flight Technology (SAST), based on the Chang Zheng-4.
•    It is capable to launch a 2800 kg satellite into low Earth orbit, developing 2971 kN at launch.
•    The 248470 kg rocket is 45.58 meters long and has a diameter of 3.35 meters.

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NASA successfully tested Mars-bound booster

To get the world’s most powerful rocket off the ground, it’s going to take some serious thrust from its rocket boosters. 

•    NASA successfully tested one of those 77-ton rocket boosters by lighting it up at full power—all while never leaving the ground.
•    The rocket booster appeared to work just as expected on its test. To really know how it performed, of course, we’ll have to wait for the engineers to let the rocket cool down and take it apart. But the pictures showed a test that went pretty flawlessly.
•    There will actually be two of those boosters attached to NASA’s SLS rocket when it blasts off on its first scheduled test flight in 2018. 
•    NASA has pinned its hopes for a future Mars mission on that SLS rocket—but first it needs to prove the rocket is ready to get off the ground. 
•    In preparation, NASA has been testing the rocket piece-by-piece.

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China has established country’s first dark sky reserve for astronomical observation

China has launched first 'dark sky reserve' in the Tibet autonomous region's Ngari Prefecture, bordering India and Nepal, that aims to limit light pollution and preserve sites for making astronomical observations.
•    The reserve covering an area of 2,500 square kilometres was jointly launched by the China Biodiversity Conservation and Green Development Foundation and the regional government of Tibet.
•    Wang Wenyong, head of the legal affairs department with the foundation, said that the launch of the preserve is only the first step in protecting the area from light pollution.
•    Due to its high altitude and large number of cloudless days throughout the year, Ngari is considered to be among the best sites for astronomical observation on Earth.
•    However, the recent increase in urbanization has led to the risk of more light pollution.

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ISRO successfully launched arecord 20 satellites in a single mission from Sriharikota.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) on 22 June 2016 launched a record 20 satellites in a single mission from the Satish Dhawan Space Center in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh.
With this launch of 20 satellites, ISRO also managed to break its previous record of placing 10 satellites into orbit in a single mission in 2008.
The Cartosat-2 series satellite is the primary satellite carried by PSLV-C34. This satellite is similar to the earlier Cartosat-2, 2A and 2B. After its injection into a 505 km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit by PSLV-C34, the satellite will be brought to operational configuration following which it will begin providing regular remote sensing services using Panchromatic and Multispectral cameras.
•    LAPAN A3 of Indonesia: The micro-satellite will be used for earth surveillance and magnetic field monitoring.
•    BIROS from Germany: This is meant for remote sensing of high temperature events.
•    SKYSAT GEN 2-1 from US: It will be used for earth imaging. The micro-satellite was developed by Google Company Terra Bella's SkySat Gen2-1.
•    Dove Satellites from US: it comprises of a total of 12 Flock-2P Earth imaging satellites.
•    Maritime Monitoring and Messaging Microsatellite (M3MSAT) from Canada: This micro-satellite of Canada will be used for collection and study of automatic identification system signals from low earth orbit.
•    GHGSat-D from Canada: It is an Earth observation satellite and is meant for measuring the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gases (Carbon Dioxide and Methane).
•    Sathyabamasat (Sathyabama University, Chennai): The satellite aims to collect data on green house gases.
•    Swayam (College of Engineering, Pune): The satellite aims to provide point to point messaging services to the HAM (amateur radio) community.
•    Cartosat-2 along with its 19 co-passenger satellites together weighing about 560 kg at lift-off was injected into a 505-km polar Sun Synchronous Orbit.
•    According to ISRO, the total weight of all the 20 satellites was about 1288 kg.

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Astronomers using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope (KST) have discovered a newborn fully-formed exoplanet dubbed as K2-33b.

NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope and its extended K2 mission allowed astronomers to discover the youngest fully formed exoplanet, K2-33b. The WM Keck Observatory on Mauna Kea, Hawaii also helped in discovery of this new found planet. Exoplanets are planets that orbit stars beyond our sun.
The finding was published online on 20 June 2016 in journal Nature.
•    The planet K2-33b is nearly 10 times closer to its star than Mercury is to our sun, making it hot.
•    K2-33b is a bit larger than Neptune and whips tightly around its star every five days.
•    It is only 5 to 10 million years old, making it one of a very few newborn planets found to date. 
•    The discovery of exoplanet K2-33b so close to its star has given the theorists new data point to ponder. They argue that the closeness of K2-33b could be explained either through the ‘theory of disk migration or the ‘theory of in-situ formation’.
•    As per the former theory, the exoplanet might have migrated so close in a process called disk migration that takes hundreds of thousands of years. On the other hand, later theory puts that planet might have formed in-situ – right where it is.
•    The first signals of the planet's existence were measured by K2.
•    The telescope's camera detected a periodic dimming of the light emitted by the planet's host star, a sign that an orbiting planet could be regularly passing in front of the star and blocking the light.
•    Data from the Keck Observatory validated that the dimming was indeed caused by a planet, and also helped confirm its youthful age.
•    Infrared measurements from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope showed that the system's star is surrounded by a thin disk of planetary debris, indicating that its planet-formation phase is wrapping up.
•    Astronomers have discovered and confirmed roughly 3000 exoplanets since the discovery of first massive exoplant 20 years ago. However, nearly all of them are hosted by middle-aged stars, with ages of a billion years or more.

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IAU has named a crater on Mars as Langtang

The International Astronomical Union in June 2016 named a 9.8 kilometers wide crater on Mars as Langtang, a popular trekking site in Nepal.
•    Langtang is one of the villages of Nepal that was worst hit by the 25 April 2015 earthquake. 
•    As per reports, at least 215 people were killed in the village after the quake triggered an avalanche.
•    The researcher behind the move, Dr. Tjalling de Haas, said that he chose this name because his colleague had worked there while studying Himalayan glaciers. 
•    It was his base camp for a long period, so we said may be it is a nice tribute.
•    Dr de Haas, who studies Mars's physical geography at Utrecht University in the Netherlands, has named another crater as Bunnik, his hometown in Utrecht.
•    Both names were approved by the International Astronomical Union Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature.

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NASA unveils X-57 Hybrid Electric Research Plane

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 17 June 2016 unveiled the iconic X-57 Hybrid Electric Research Plane nicknamed as Maxwell.
•    The plane is fixed with 14 electric motors turning propellers and all of them are integrated into a uniquely-designed wing. NASA will use this plane to test new propulsion technology.
•    The airplane is named after James Clerk Maxwell, the 19th century Scottish physicist who did groundbreaking work in electromagnetism.
•    The artist's concept of the X-57 shows the plane's specially designed wing and 14 electric motors.
•    NASA Aeronautics researchers will use the Maxwell to demonstrate that how electric propulsion can make planes quieter, more efficient and more environmentally friendly.
•    Maxwell will be powered only by batteries, eliminating carbon emissions and demonstrating how demand would shrink for lead-based aviation fuel still in use by general aviation.
•    Energy efficiency at cruise altitude using X-57 technology could benefit travellers by reducing flight times, fuel usage, as well as reducing overall operational costs for small aircraft.
•    Moreover, X-57’s electric propulsion technology is expected to significantly decrease aircraft noise, making it less annoying to the public.
•    With the return of piloted X-planes to NASA’s research capabilities, the general aviation-sized X-57 will take the first step in opening a new era of aviation.
•    The first X-plane was the X-1, which in 1947 became the first airplane to fly faster than the speed of sound. 
•    The X-1 project defined and solidified the post-war cooperative union between US military needs, industrial capabilities and research facilities.

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The Union Cabinet has approved MoU) between ISRO and CSA on cooperation in the field of outer space.

The Union Cabinet under the Chairmanship of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has been apprised of the Memorandum of Understanding between Department of Space / Indian Space Research Organization (DOS/ISRO) and Canadian Space Agency (CSA) on cooperation in the field of outer space. 
•    The MoU was signed in Ottawa, Canada on 15th April 2015. 
•    The MoU would lead to establishment of joint team, drawing members from ISRO and CSA, which will further work out the plan of action including examination and defining cooperative projects and the time-frame. 
•    This will also provide opportunities for diverse research in the field of peaceful uses of space technologies. 
•    The successful space cooperation is being pursued through two Implementing Arrangements in the field of Satellite Tracking Network Operations, and in the field of the ultra Violet Imaging Telescope (UVIT) Detector Subsystem, in support of the ASTROSAT astronomy mission in December 2003 and June 2004, respectively.
•    It is aimed at future cooperation in and use of outer space for peaceful purposes to reinforce scientific and technological development and the ties between two countries at government, industrial and academic levels.

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Scientists using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope have discovered a Jupiter-like circumbinary planet named Kepler1647b

Scientists have discovered a Jupiter-like planet, Kepler-1647b, orbiting a system of two stars, making it the largest such cosmic body ever found.
•    The planet Kepler-1647b, located in the constellation Cygnus, was discovered by astronomers from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Centre and San Diego State University (SDSU) in the US.
•    Researchers said that the Kepler-1647 is 3700 light-years away and about 4.4 billion years old, roughly the same age as the Earth.
•    The planet was discovered by using NASA’s Kepler Space Telescope, an instrument launched in 2009 to look for potentially habitable planets beyond our solar system.
•    The stars are similar to the Sun, with one slightly larger than our home star and the other slightly smaller.
•    The planet has a mass and radius nearly identical to that of Jupiter, making it the largest transiting circumbinary planet ever found. Planets that orbit two stars are known as circumbinary planets.
•    It takes 1107 days (over three years) to orbit its host stars, which is the longest period of any confirmed transiting exoplanet found so far.
•    Orbit of the planet puts it within the so-called habitable zone, which means the range of distances from a star where liquid water might pool on the surface of an orbiting planet.
•    Like Jupiter, it is also a gas giant, making the planet unlikely to host life.
•    The study was published in the Astrophysical Journal.

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NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a mysterious solitary dwarf galaxy known as UGC 4879.

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope has uncovered a mysterious solitary dwarf galaxy known as UGC 4879. 
•    The galaxy is smaller and messier than its cosmic cousins and lacks the majestic swirl of a spiral or the coherence of an elliptical. 
•    The galaxy UGC 4879 is very isolated and consists of a scattered drizzle of stars. It about 2.3 million light years away from its closest neighbour, Leo A which is about the same distance as that between our Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy. 
•    The galaxy has not interacted with any of surrounding galaxies that makes it an ideal laboratory for astronomers to study star formation by interactions with other galaxies. 
•    The scientific studies of this solitary galaxy UGC 4879 will provide ample scientific study material for astronomers looking to understand the complex mysteries of star birth throughout the universe. 
•    It will especially help astronomers to study amount of star formation in the first 4 billion years after the Big Bang and followed by a strange 9 billion-year lull in star formation.
•    HST was launched in 1990 as an international cooperation space project between NASA and European Space Agency. 
•    It is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. 
•    Its science operations are conducted by Baltimore based Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI). 
•    It is located in low Earth orbit outside the distortion of Earth’s atmosphere that allows it to take extremely high-resolution images.

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