Space Exploration Mission Current Affairs - 2019

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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.

ASPIRE: NASA successfully tests supersonic Mars landing parachute

NASA has successfully conducted Advanced Supersonic Parachute Inflation Research Experiment (ASPIRE) to test supersonic parachute that will help its space exploration missions to land on Mars. The parachute was launched aboard of sounding rocket from NASA’s Wallops Flight Facility in US. It was tested in sky, mimicking conditions of entering red planet.

Key Facts

The test of ASPIRE was meant to mimic conditions that spacecraft will experience during red planet entry, descent and landing (EDL). Shortly after liftoff, ASPIRE splashed down into Atlantic Ocean, from where it was retrieved by boat. Analysis of recovered parachute, and data gathered by cameras and other instruments will help researcher’s complete design of the chute for NASA’s 2020 Mars rover.


NASA’s ambitious Mars rover mission is set to launch in 2020 to deploy six-wheeled vehicle on martian surface to study rocks on site and cache samples for eventual return to Earth. It will rely on special parachute to slow spacecraft down when it is entering Martian atmosphere at over speed of 12,000 mph (5.4 kilometers per second). The six-wheeled rover body is based heavily on NASA’s earlier Curiosity Mars rover.