Space Exploration Current Affairs - 2019

Category Wise PDF Compilations available at This Link

TOI 270: NASA’s TESS discovers

NASA’s Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite (TESS) recently discovered new dwarf star and planetary system named as TOI 270. It is located about 73 light years away from Earth, and in the constellation Pictor.

TOI 270 Planetary System

Its members include Dwarf star named TOI 270, which is 40 % smaller than the Sun in size and mass, and three exoplanets (planets outside solar system) that have been named TOI 270b, TOI 270c and TOI 270d.  These three planets orbit their star every 3.4 days, 5.7 days, and 11.4 days respectively.

TOI 270b is innermost planet and is expected to be a rocky world about 25% bigger than Earth. It is not habitable (or within Goldilocks Zone) since it is located too close to star — about 13 times closer than our Solar System’s Mercury is from Sun. On other hand, TOI 270c and TOI 270 d are Neptune-like planets because their compositions are dominated by gases rather than rock.

Queqiao satellite: China launches relay satellite to explore dark side of Moon

China launched relay satellite named Queqiao (Magpie Bridge) to establish communication link between earth and its planned Chang’e-4 lunar probe (rover) that will explore the dark side of moon. It was launched as part of Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) onboard of Long March-4C rocket from Xichang launch centre.

Queqiao (Magpie Bridge)

Queqiao (meaning bridge of magpies) satellite will serve as communications relay for future Chang’e-4 rover that will explore in South Pole-Aitken Basin in moon’s far side. It will be situated in halo orbit i.e. Earth-moon Lagrange point L2, a gravitationally stable spot located 64,000 kilometers beyond lunar far side. It will be world’s first communication satellite operating in this location. It will help China to realise its goal of being first country to send probe to soft-land on and rove far side of the moon.

Need for relay Satellite

Moon is tidally locked to Earth, meaning it always shows same face (near side) to Earth. So, relay link is necessary to communicate with spacecraft on far side, which will otherwise have to send their signals through moon’s rocky bulk.

Chang’e program

Chinese Lunar Exploration Program (CLEP) also known as Chang’e program after Chinese moon goddess Chang’e, is ongoing series of robotic Moon missions by conceived by China National Space Administration (CNSA). The program incorporates lunar orbiters, landers, rovers and sample return spacecraft, launched using Long March rockets. Under it, Chang’e 1 and Chang’e 2 probes already have reached lunar orbit in 2007 and 2010, respectively. The Chang’e 3 mission is in process to put lander and rover on moon’s near side. China is also planning to laugh Chang’e 5 T1, a mission to send sample-return capsule around moon and back to Earth to demonstrate technology needed to survive fiery atmospheric entry.