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The top space stories of the week!

Record-holding NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Scott Kelly shared tips with the public on how to handle long periods of isolation, old Voyager 2 data suggests that Uranus had a large gas bubble and space agencies continue responding to the ongoing spread of the new coronavirus. These are just some of the top stories this week from Space.com. 

Old Voyager 2 data reveals a gas bubble from Uranus. 

(Image credit: NASA/Scientific Visualization Studio/Tom Bridgman)

More than 30 years ago, NASA's Voyager 2 spacecraft took a 45-hour journey past Uranus. Scientists recently revisited Voyager 2's data and found that for one minute on this hours-long trip past the solar system giant, the spacecraft recorded a zigzag in the magnetic field readings. This may be a signature of a massive bubble of plasma, or charged particles, from Uranus.

Full story: Old gas blob from Uranus found in vintage Voyager 2 data

Final AEHF-6 satellite launches for Space Force. Coronavirus: NASA halts work on SLS rocket, Orion

(Image credit: United Launch Alliance)

On Thursday (March 26), a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket launched from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to deliver a highly advanced communications satellite for the U.S. Space Force. The Advanced Extremely High Frequency (AEHF-6) satellite is the final satellite in the AEHF constellation, which comprises six total spacecraft that will orbit 22,200 miles (35,700 kilometers) above Earth. 

Full story: US launches advanced satellite in 1st Space Force national security mission

See also: SpaceX's next launch delayed by coronavirus, cases found at HQ: Reports

Four ESA missions put on standby because of coronavirus concerns. 

(Image credit: ESA)

The European Space Agency (ESA) placed four of its missions on safe and temporary standby amid the ongoing spread of coronavirus around the world and calls by local and national governments to scale back on on-site personnel. ESA currently has 21 active space missions. The four selected for standby are in stable orbits and long mission durations, ESA representatives said. 

Full story: Europe stalls science on 4 space missions due to coronavirus pandemic

Bigelow Aerospace fired all of its employees.

(Image credit: NASA TV)

Bigelow Aerospace has been developing expandable-habitat technology for two decades. According to recent media reports, the Nevada-based company laid off its entire workforce earlier this week. It's not clear if the company plans to hire workers back after everything goes back to normal once the coronavirus scare recedes, or if the layoffs are permanent. 

Full story: Bigelow Aerospace lays off all employees: Report

China's Long March 2C delivers military satellites into orbit.

(Image credit: CCTV)

On Tuesday (march 24), China launched three military surveillance satellites into orbit. The payloads reached space by hitching a ride on China's Long March 2C rocket, which took off from Xichang Satellite Launch Center in China's Sichuan province at 11:43 a.m. local time (0343 GMT; 11:43 p.m. EDT). The country has continued to launch rockets throughout the coronavirus outbreak. 

Full story: China's Long March 2C rocket launches military surveillance satellites into orbit

See also: Heads up! Chinese rocket debris crashes back to Earth after recent launch

A NASA employee at Kennedy Space Center tested positive for coronavirus. 

(Image credit: Cory Huston/NASA)

An employee at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida tested positive for the new coronavirus. The news follows an announcement from NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine last week that mandated all of the space agency's employees (with the exception of critical mission personnel) to work remotely. 

Full story: NASA employee at Kennedy Space Center tests positive for coronavirus: report

See also: NASA pauses work on James Webb Space Telescope due to coronavirus, weighs risk to other science missions

Earth's year-long visit from a 'minimoon' is over. 

(Image credit: The International Gemini Observatory/NSF/NRAO/AURA/G. Fedorets)

Earth's gravity captured a space rock into our planet's orbit. This ''minimoon'' was called 2020 CD3, and was identified last month and astronomers estimated that it had been traveling around Earth for at least a year. According to a recent report by The Atlantic, the minimoon likely left Earth's orbit on March 7. 

Full story: Earth's minimoon is gone but not forgotten: Report

Scientists study the ancient neutron star collision that made material in our solar system.

(Image credit: NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center)

Astronomers went in search of new information about the ancient cosmic collision that produced material in our solar system. Astronomers recently calculated the quantity of radioactive isotopes in the early solar system, and then compared their measurements with the amount of isotopes produced by neutron-star mergers. Neutron stars are the incredibly-dense stellar corpses that, when they collide, cause ripples in the fabric of space-time and produce precious metals like gold, platinum and plutonium.

Full story: Scientists calculate age of massive neutron star crash that helped form our solar system

Astronauts give isolation-tips to the public. 

(Image credit: NASA)

NASA astronaut Peggy Whitson spoke in an interview with CBS This Morning this week and shared what it's like to live in isolation. On Monday (March 23), she said isolation is "very doable, but it's very important to be able to interact well with the people you're staying with, living with." Whitson has spent a total of 665 days in space. NASA astronaut Scott Kelly also offered advice in a New York Times op-ed, sharing that sticking to a schedule helped a lot.

Full story: Astronauts know how to handle isolation: Here are tips from Scott Kelly, Peggy Whitson and more

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