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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: January 2004
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Opportunity drives on to the Martian surface Jan 31, 2004
NASA to review Hubble decision Jan 30, 2004
Concerns voiced over rover rock data Jan 30, 2004
Photo received from recovering Spirit rover Jan 29, 2004
Opportunity gets ready to roll Jan 28, 2004
Second Mars rover having problems Jan 28, 2004
Mars rocks may be 'sedimentary' Jan 27, 2004
Mars rock photo shows 'Holy Grail' Jan 27, 2004
Files overloaded Spirit rover Jan 27, 2004
Hunt on for Beagle evidence Jan 27, 2004
Parrot's oratory stuns scientists Jan 26, 2004
Opportunity scores interplanetary hole-in-one Jan 26, 2004
Opportunity lands successfully on Mars Jan 25, 2004
Spirit outlook improving Jan 24, 2004
Opportunity closes on Mars Jan 24, 2004
Spirit faces long repairs Jan 23, 2004
Mars seen in unprecedented detail by Mars Express Jan 23, 2004
Mars Express spots its first water ice Jan 23, 2004
Mars rover "may have landed in mud-like material" Jan 22, 2004
Shuttle clouds station's future Jan 22, 2004
Big chill killed off Neanderthals Jan 22, 2004
Rover's stunning image of lander Jan 21, 2004
New-found Mars meteorite hints at past water Jan 21, 2004
Rover returns data on Mars soil Jan 21, 2004
Rocky task for Mars rover Jan 20, 2004
Europe's stunning Red Planet view Jan 19, 2004
Spirit moves into Martian rock garden Jan 19, 2004
First Mars Express photos Jan 18, 2004
Why Hubble is being dropped Jan 17, 2004
Hubble is first casuality of Bush plan Jan 17, 2004
Mars rover stretches an arm, snaps micro-pictures Jan 17, 2004
Hubble obtains deepest space view Jan 16, 2004
'Hole in the sky' amazes scientists Jan 16, 2004
Spirit rover rolls onto the surface of Mars Jan 15, 2004
Bush outlines ambitious plan of space exploration Jan 14, 2004
Spirit rover targets unveiled Jan 14, 2004
Mars probe ponders water puzzle Jan 13, 2004
Reworked images give new view of Venus Jan 13, 2004
Mars rover gets first hint of water Jan 13, 2004
Full Mars panorama snap released Jan 12, 2004
First supernova companion star found Jan 12, 2004
Space molecules point to organic origin Jan 11, 2004
Bush plan envisions new launch vehicle Jan 11, 2004
Spirit rover ready to roll Jan 10, 2004
Mars could become new focus for humans in space Jan 10, 2004
First double pulsar discovered Jan 10, 2004
Bush proposal to send man back to Moon, on to Mars Jan 9, 2004
Supernova, sun combo blamed for mass extinction Jan 9, 2004
A planet that heats its star! Jan 9, 2004
Extraordinary mud-like substance close to Spirit rover Jan 8, 2004
Rare shark is second known giant squid predator Jan 8, 2004
Space, the busy frontier: Mars rovers are just the start Jan 8, 2004
Giant galaxy string defies models of how universe evolved Jan 7, 2004
Beagle 2 almost certainly lost Jan 7, 2004
Red planet, blue rocks Jan 7, 2004
Spirit rover sends back color image Jan 6, 2004
D-day beckons for missing Beagle Jan 6, 2004
Space station springs a leak Jan 6, 2004
Spain probes shower of fireballs Jan 6, 2004
Suns of all ages possess comets, maybe planets Jan 6, 2004
Spirit rover sends back color photos; NASA has direct link Jan 5, 2004
Spirit rover lands safely on Mars Jan 5, 2004
One-tenth of stars in Galaxy may support life Jan 4, 2004
Spirit rover begins final approach to Mars Jan 3, 2004
Stardust makes successful flyby of Comet Wild Jan 2, 2004
Bacteria found in 4,000 feet of rockshint at Mars life Jan 1, 2004
Earth's magnetic field fading Jan 1, 2004


Mars Exploration Rover
Opportunity drives on to the Martian surface
(Jan 31, 2004)


The Mars rover Opportunity has rolled off its lander on to the surface of the Red Planet, a week after arrival. The operation went as planned with the rover travelling a distance of three metres, a NASA spokesman said. The mission of Opportunity and its twin Spirit is to explore the rocks and soil of their landing sites for evidence of past wet environments. Spirit is returning to working order after communication problems following its arrival on 3 January. The rovers are on opposite sides of the planet to each other. Spirit is sitting in Gusev Crater, which may have once held a lake. Opportunity landed on Meridiani Planum, a region containing exposed deposits of the mineral haematite, which usually forms under watery conditions.

Read more. Source: BBC

Hubble Space Telescope
NASA to review Hubble decision
(Jan 30, 2004)


NASA's chief agreed Thursday to review his decision to cancel the Hubble Space Telescope's final servicing mission and let it deteriorate and go out of operation. The decision comes after the space agency was bombarded by pleas to save the craft. Adm. Hal Gehman, chairman of the board that investigated the Columbia shuttle breakup last year, will "review the (Hubble) matter and offer his unique perspective," NASA Administrator Sean O'Keefe said in a letter to Sen. Barbara Mikulski, who released a copy of the letter. O'Keefe had defended his decision earlier this month to cancel all space shuttle missions to the Hubble, which has revolutionized the study of astronomy with its striking images of the universe. He had cited the risk to the astronauts on a Hubble mission and President Bush's plans to send humans to the moon, Mars and beyond as the reason for NASA's change of focus.

Read more. Source: CNN

MER's Mossbauer spectrometer
Concerns voiced over rover rock data
(Jan 30, 2004)


The device used by NASA rovers to study minerals on Mars could return confusing results, complicating the search for signs of water, an expert has said. It is claimed the rovers' Moessbauer spectrometers will not adequately tell between minerals that form in the presence of water and ones that do not. But a senior NASA scientist has refuted the claims and says that the device is the best piece of kit for the job. Details are available in the journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. Photo: MER's Mossbauer spectrometer.

Read more. Source: BBC

Spirit photo of rock named Adirondack
Photo received from recovering Spirit rover
(Jan 29, 2004)


Working as space-age surgeons 100 million miles away, ground controllers are trying to precisely pinpoint the software glitch that halted the Mars rover Spirit's mission to explore Gusev Crater last Wednesday. If successful, officials say the robot geologist could be out of recovery and back at work early next week. In a promising development late today, Mission Control released the first photograph taken by Spirit since the rover's computer problems began. It shows the rover's science arm reaching out to examine a pyramid-shaped rock nicknamed Adirondack.

Read more. Source: Spaceflight Now

Slab-like rocks seen by Opportunity
Opportunity gets ready to roll
(Jan 28, 2004)


The golf cart-sized rover Opportunity, parked in a small Mars crater, unfolded more instruments and checked out its systems Tuesday as it prepares to roll off its platform in 10 to 14 days. "We are about to embark on what arguably could be the coolest geological field trip in human history," said chief mission scientist Steve Squyres. In the meantime, the rover sent a high-resolution panorama of a rocky outcrop on the rim of the crater around it. Some of the striped and broken slabs of bedrock are believed to be just 20 to 26 feet away. "The beauty of it is, we can go there," Squyres said. "We can drive to this rock." Along with the high-resolution black-and-white photograph of the outcrop, the scientists displayed Opportunity's first 3-D panorama of the rock outcrop.
Imprints left by airbags
The scientists hope that the rock outcrop, estimated to be about a foot high, can bring them closer to determining if Mars was once a wet planet and perhaps sustained life. Or if what seem to be sedimentary rocks are actually volcanic in origin. "I think it's fair to say if it is volcanic, then all bets are off with regard to liquid water," said paleobiologist Andrew Knoll. "We simply wouldn't need liquid water to form the layering in that case. "If it's sedimentary, then you need liquid water," he said. "I doubt these are windborne deposits." Images: (upper right) Layered bedrock near Opportunity; (lower left) Imprints left by Opportunity's airbags.

Read more. Source: CNN

Jim Erickson points to location of heater on Opportunity
Second Mars rover having problems
(Jan 28, 2004)


As NASA scientists pored over striking new photos from Mars revealing finely layered formations of ancient bedrock, engineers labored on Tuesday to diagnose problems with two robotic rovers on opposite sides of the red planet. Besides a serious malfunction that has idled the first rover, Spirit, since last Wednesday, mission controllers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory said they are now contending with a power drain on Spirit's newly arrived twin, Opportunity. Mission manager Jim Erickson told reporters said the power loss appeared to be from one of the craft's heating units that keeps turning itself on and running overnight without receiving commands from NASA to do so. Photo: NASA's Jim Erickson points to the location of a heater on a model of the rover Opportunity.

Read more. Source: CNN

Slab-like rocks seen by Opportunity
Mars rocks may be 'sedimentary'
(Jan 27, 2004)


NASA scientists have discovered what might be the most compelling evidence yet of rocks formed in water on Mars. The Opportunity rover has sent back pictures of rock slabs that appear to contain thin layers, say researchers. On Earth, this feature is suggestive of sedimentary rocks that are the product of material deposited by water or wind. The layers are as thin as a centimetre in places which indicates they are unlikely to be old lava flows, but Nasa cautioned further analysis was needed. Mission scientist Dr Andrew Knoll said that if the rocks were in fact sedimentary and not volcanic, they were probably formed by water and not by wind-borne sediments.

Read more. Source: BBC

Opportunity view of Mars from lander
Mars rock photo shows 'Holy Grail'
(Jan 27, 2004)


While NASA's Spirit rover is in rehab, its twin, Opportunity, is sitting near rock formations on the other side of Mars that could be a "Holy Grail" for geologists, mission scientists said Monday. Opportunity, on its third day on Mars, sent the Earth-bound mission managers an 8,000-by-3,000-pixel, 180-degree image of the area in front of it – an image that could be zoomed in tight enough to identify individual grains of the dust covering the surface. "This is like a Holy Grail for geologists to be able to see these incredible rocks," said Jim Bell, the team's leading camera specialist. "There's a lot more coming, and we couldn't be happier, more thrilled, with what we're seeing at this incredible landing site."

Read more. Source: CNN

Spirit rover
Files overloaded Spirit rover
(Jan 27, 2004)


NASA scientists say hundreds of computer files that have accumulated on the Mars rover Spirit may be the cause of problems that have crippled it. These "cruise files" will now be deleted from the second Mars rover Opportunity before it rolls on to Mars to begin its science mission. The Spirit rover suffered a major malfunction on Thursday 22 January causing a loss of contact with Earth. Opportunity landed on Sunday and is apparently in excellent health. Surface development manager for Spirit, Jennifer Trosper, said the problem involved two types of memory used by Spirit: Ram and flash.

Read more. Source: BBC

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