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What's New in Lunar & Planetary Science

The Xinhua news agency has reported that China has successfully launched its lunar orbiter and return test spacecraft. Latest reports had the spacecraft scheduled to launch at 17:59 UT (1:59 p.m. EDT) on October 23. The spacecraft will orbit the Moon for about a week and then return to Earth and release a re-entry capsule to land in China.

Comet Siding Spring flew by Mars at a distance of about 139,500 km (87,000 miles) on Sunday, 19 October at 18:27 UT (2:27 p.m. EDT). Many of the spacecraft currently operating at Mars observed the comet, all were in good health following the comet's passage. For more information, see the NASA Siding Spring Comet page.

The European Space Agency has announced November 12 as the target date for the Philae Lander to be released from the Rosetta spacecraft and land on comet 67 P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. For more information, see the ESA Press Release.

This Day in Planetary and Lunar Exploration History

October 25

Giovanni Cassini discovers Saturn's moon Iapetus.
Venera 10 lands on Venus, returns pictures of the surface.

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