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Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Giant cosmic cold spot gets stranger, SpaceX to attempt landing re-usable rocket (maybe), and JAXA to try and get into orbit around Venus....

The cold spot that reaches across the universe

The cosmic microwave background is the radiation 'echo' of the big bang, and the Cold Spot is a gap in that background radiation that has defied good explanations. The CS seems to line up with a huge region, called a supervoid, where galaxies and stars are sparse, although it's not clear what the connection between them might be. This paper looks at the idea that the CS might be the result of a string of supervoids, all lined up from Earth's point of view.

Above: A CMB map showing the cold spot. Courtesy of WMAP.

Exo-planet thrown into the depths of space

A large planet seems to have been booted out of the inner region of its home star system, in a cosmic accident similar to the one that is thought to have driven a fifth giant planet out of our own solar system billions of years ago. The rogue planet may even have taken a piece of it's star's debris disk along for the ride.

SpaceX may try to land re-usable rocket on terra firma

An unconfirmed report suggests that Elon Musks Space X will soon attempt to land one of its re-usable rocket stages on land. the Company has been seeking to develop re-usable rocket technology, and has failed in two previous attempts to land rockets on a floating ocean platform. 

One JAXA mission prepares to enter orbit around Venus 

AJXA's Akatsuki mission was supposed to enter orbit around Venus in 2014, but an engine malfunction left it marooned in orbit around the Sun. Now the incredibly resourceful JAXA engineers are readying for a second attempt to reach Venus on December the 7th.

Above: A colourised view of Venus. Courtesy of ESA

...While another is about to slingshot around Earth 

Another JAXA mission, Hayabusa 2, is getting ready to pick up some more speed via a slingshot manouver around Earth. the probes ultimate destination is an asteroid known as  162173 Ryugu, and it has taken pictures of Earth as it approaches its slingshot.
Above: Images taken by Hayabusa 2 of the Earth and Moon. Courtesy of JAXA

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