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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: January 2004
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Hubble Space Telescope
Hubble is first casuality of Bush plan
(Jan 17, 2004)

The Hubble Space Telescope will be allowed to degrade and eventually become useless, as NASA changes focus to President Bush's plans to send humans to the moon, Mars and beyond, officials said Friday. NASA canceled all space shuttle servicing missions to the Hubble, which has revolutionized the study of astronomy with its striking images of the universe. John Grunsfeld, NASA's chief scientist, said NASA administrator Sean O'Keefe made the decision to cancel the fifth space shuttle service mission to the Hubble when it became clear there was not enough time to conduct it before the shuttle is retired. The servicing mission was considered essential to enable the orbiting telescope to continue to operate.

Read more. Source: CNN

MER robot arm
Mars rover stretches arm, snaps micro-pictures
(Jan 17, 2004)

The Mars rover Spirit stretched its robotic arm over Martian soil Friday, and its microscopic imager is capturing even-higher-resolution images than the ones sent back after landing. A black-and-white image beamed back to Earth shows in exhaustive detail an inch-and-a-half square of the red planet's silty surface. "The science team is extremely fortunate to be up to their eyeballs in new data," NASA's Rob Sullivan said Friday during a news conference at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.

Read more. Source: CNN

Hubble deep field view
Hubble obtains deepest space view
(Jan 16, 2004)

The Hubble Space Telescope has imaged the deepest view ever of the cosmos, detecting the youngest and most distant galaxies ever seen by astronomers. The Hubble Ultra Deep Field is the result of an unprecedented, long look of 80 days at just one patch of sky. According to scientists, the picture reaches back to the Universe's "Dark Ages", before the first stars formed. The image, which will be released in February, will be a major advance in our understanding of the cosmos.

Read more. Source: BBC

strange hole in the clouds
'Hole in sky' amazes scientists
(Jan 16, 2004)

A giant hole that appeared in a uniform layer of cloud over Mobile, Alabama, in the US, has left scientists puzzled. Local resident Joel Knain said as he took pictures: "I immediately realised that I was seeing something unique." Strictly speaking there is no scientific term for the apparition, and what exactly it is has been the subject of much meteorological speculation. One hypothesis is that the hole is made by falling ice-crystals that could have come from the exhaust of a passing aircraft.

Read more. Source: BBC

Mars rover
Spirit rover rolls onto the surface of Mars
(Jan 15, 2004)

The US robotic probe that landed on Mars 10 days ago has rolled off its lander and on to the Martian surface. The Spirit rover rolled down the three- meter-ramp on to the red soil of Mars, widely considered one of the riskiest steps in the US Space Agency's mission. If all goes well, it will take part in joint experiments with US and European orbital spacecraft. It can now embark on its mission of exploration to find evidence of water, past and present, in the Martian soil.

Read more. Source: BBC

Future astronauts
Bush outlines ambitious plan of space exploration
(Jan 14, 2004)

Saying "the desire to explore and understand is part of our character," President Bush Wednesday unveiled an ambitious plan to return Americans to the moon by 2020 and use the mission as a steppingstone for future manned trips to Mars and beyond. The president unveiled what he billed as a "new course" for the nation's space program in a speech at NASA headquarters, shifting the long-term focus from the space shuttle and the international space station to the creation of a new manned space vehicle that will be flying with a crew in 10 years and will return humans to the moon within 16 years.

Read more. Source: CNN

Mars Exploration Rover
Spirit rover targets unveiled
(Jan 14, 2004)

The US space agency NASA has unveiled a list of targets on the Martian surface which it plans to explore using its robot rover Spirit. Areas earmarked for investigation include a nearby crater, where a meteorite may have exposed some of Mars's mysterious underground geology. The rover will then proceed toward distant hills to learn more about the processes that shaped Mars. Spirit should leave its landing pad to roll on to the surface on Thursday GMT.

Read more. Source: BBC

rock close to Spirit landing site
Mars probe ponders water puzzle
(Jan 13, 2004)

Scientists are speculating that the Spirit rover on Mars may have already found evidence that water once flowed at its landing site, Gusev Crater. One of its cameras may have detected small amounts of a mineral in the soil that suggests water was once present. Spirit's mini-thermal emission spectrometer is sensitive to infrared light and is designed to analyse rocks. Mars scientist Phil Christensen says the presence of the mineral – carbonate – suggests some rock formed in water.

Read more. Source: BBC

surface of Venus
Reworked images give new view of Venus
(Jan 13, 2004)

As the world looks at Mars, an American scientist has produced the best images ever obtained from the surface of a rather different planet - Venus. The second planet from the Sun is blanketed with a thick layer of cloud. Computer researcher Don Mitchell used original digital data from two Soviet Venera probes that landed in 1975. His reprocessed and recalibrated images provide a much clearer view of the Venusian surface which is hotter even than the inside of a household oven. Image: surface of Venus from Venera 9.

Read more. Source: BBC

Mars rover gets first hints of water
(Jan 13, 2004)

The Mars rover Spirit has not even left its landing platform yet, but mission managers say some of its major scientific goals are already well on the way to being realised. Most importantly, Spirit has detected tantalising signs of minerals that could provide the long-sought evidence of Mars's watery past. The first images taken by the craft's mini-Thermal Emission Spectrometer – an infrared instrument capable of indicating the composition of nearby soils and rocks – show evidence of carbonates and hydrated minerals. Both of these are usually, though not exclusively, produced in long-standing bodies of water. Image: Spirit's thermal emission spectrometer shows warmer regions in red, cooler ones in blue.

Read more. Source: New Scientist

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