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Last year's great science stories to keep following in 2016


Scott Sutherland
Meteorologist/Science Writer

Monday, January 18, 2016, 5:05 PM - Science news slips in and out of the headlines on a regular basis these days, but here are five stories from last year to keep watching for in 2016.

This story was updated on June 2, 2016.

Did you watch SpaceX's incredible rocket landing back on December 21, 2015? Did you catch it as they repeated that amazing feat again on January 17, 2016, only this time on a drone barge 500 km off the west coast of the United States?

Although it could be argued that the landing was far from perfect, given the end results, pay close attention to the video sent back from the barge cameras.

The landing was spot-on, perfect right up until the rocket cut engines and settled onto its landing legs. It was only the post-landing where things went wrong, as one of the legs failed to lock and the rocket toppled over.

Pretty amazing given that the barge was station-keeping in rough seas at the time!

Even with the rocket suffering an RUD - "rapid unscheduled disassembly" - similar to how the previous barge landing attempts ended, this one was so close that SpaceX's is very likely on the verge of making landings and reused rockets a routine part of their yearly operations.

Keep watching for future launch and landing events!

Other stories to keep watching this year:

Hubble spots first light of predicted supernova - three more points to this supernova "Einstein cross" are expected in the weeks ahead Only one instance of SN Refsdal's reappearance was expected by astronomers, but the full results will be out sometime soon

NASA's New Horizons spacecraft at Pluto - still plenty of imagery and incredible science discoveries yet to come from this mission

One Year Mission on the International Space Station - Astronaut Scott Kelly and Cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko are due to return from their longest-ever stay on board the space station in March

NASA's Dawn mission explores dwarf planet Ceres - Dawn is now in its Low-Altitude Mapping Orbit (LAMO) and will soon return the clearest images of the bright spots on Ceres

Note: A previous version of this story indicated that SN Refsdal would be showing up as a full Einstein cross in the new 2015-2016 observations. This is, unfortunately, not true. The Einstein cross from Refsdal was an isolated event, due to one small part of the cluster's gravitational lens affecting only that one spiral arm of that one specific image of Refsdal's host galaxy. According to Patrick Kelly, from UCB, the single instance spotted in December is the only reappearance of Refsdal that is expected. Results from the full observation of this reappearance are due out sometime soon.

Sources: SpaceX | NASA | Hubble | The Weather Network

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