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SPACE & SCIENCE NEWS: July 2011
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A view of the martian surface from the Opportunity rover
Opportunity rover tops 20 miles of driving on Mars
(Jul 20, 2011)


More than seven years into what was planned as a three-month mission on Mars, NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity has driven more than 20 miles, which is more than 50 times the mission's original distance goal. A drive of 407 feet (124 meters) completed on July 17 took Opportunity past the 20-mile mark (32.2 km). It brought the rover to within a few drives of reaching the rim of Endeavour crater, the rover's team's long-term destination since mid-2008.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

RadioAstron antenna
Biggest radio telescope in space reaches orbit
(Jul 20, 2011)


RadioAstron, a Russian spacecraft intended to be the biggest radio telescope in space, has started touring the Earth for the first time. Once operational, the 3.8 tonne "space eye" could help focus in on many remote places of the Universe. The device will travel in an elliptical orbit that at its furthest reaches almost as far as the Moon.

Read more. Source: BBC

First image of Vesta from orbit
First image of Vesta from orbit
(Jul 19, 2011)


Dawn has sent back the first ever image of Vesta from orbit. The big asteroid is revealed as a world of immense geological interest with immense cliffs and at least one colossal mountain (seen in the center of the picture).

Read more. Source: New Scientist

Atlas 5 launch
Atlas 5 may be uprated to carry astronauts
(Jul 19, 2011)


NASA has signed an agreement with United Launch Alliance (ULA) to assess the possibility of using the highly successful Atlas 5 rocket for human missions. The Atlas 5 has a 100% record in its 26-launch history to date. The agreement with ULA is the latest step taken by the Agency to fill the gap being left by the end of the Shuttle program.

Read more. Source: BBC

Vesta from a distance of 41,000km
Dawn goes into orbit around Vesta
(Jul 17, 2011)


After a journey lasting four years, NASA's Dawn spacecraft has successfully entered orbit around the large asteroid Vesta. Dawn's initial orbit several thousand kilometeres above Vesta will gradually be reduced in size so that the probe may eventually pass within 200km of the surface.

Read more. Source: BBC

Comet Hartley 2 as seen by WISE. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA
Comet Hartley 2 leaves a bumpy trail
(Jul 15, 2011)


New findings from NEOWISE, the asteroid- and comet-hunting portion of NASA's Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer mission, show that comet Hartley 2 leaves a pebbly trail as it laps the Sun, dotted with grains as big as golf balls. Previously, NASA's EPOXI mission, which flew by the comet on Nov. 4, 2010, found golf ball- to basketball-sized fluffy ice particles streaming off Hartley 2. NEOWISE data show that the golf ball-sized chunks survive farther away from the comet than previously known, winding up in Hartley 2's trail of debris.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

Vesta from a distance of 41,000km
Spacecraft set to orbit asteroid Vesta
(Jul 14, 2011)


The Dawn space probe will go into orbit around Vesta on Friday evening, the first time this has been accomplished with a main-belt asteroid. Dawn will study Vesta for one year, making observations that will help scientists understand the earliest chapter of our solar system's history.

Read more. Source: NASA/JPL

last spacewalk of the Shuttle era
Astronauts complete last spacewalk of the Shuttle era
(Jul 13, 2011)


American astronauts Ron Garan and Mike Fossum have concluded the last spacewalk of the Space Shuttle era. The six-and-a-half hour excursion, by two crewmembers who'd been aboard the ISS before Atlantis arrived, retrieved a faulty ammonia pump. The pump failed last year, disabling half of the station's cooling system. The pair then attached the Robotic Refueling Mission – a US/Canadian experiment to test the capability of remotely repairing and refueling satellites using robots controlled from Earth.

Read more. Source: BBC

Triceratops skeleton
'Last dinosaur' fossil supports Doomsday asteroid theory
(Jul 13, 2011)


The fossilized remains of a horned creature, probably a triceratops, unearthed by paleontologists in Montana belong to the last known dinosaur to walk the Earth and add weight to the theory that the mass extinction at the end of the Cretaceous period was caused by an asteroid impact. A brow horn of the animal was found in sedimentary rock laid shortly before the extinction took place 65.5 million years ago. Other dinosaur fossils are either much older, or were uncovered after being washed from their original site into much younger sediments, long after they died.

Read more. Source: The Guardian

ISS in July 2011
Space robot to practice refueling satellites
(Jul 12, 2011)


With shuttle program drawing to a close, the U.S. government intends to stimulate development of private space transportation and also lay the foundation for an entire new industry to service satellites in orbit. The Robotic Refueling Mission flying aboard the shuttle Atlantis will use the International Space Station's Dextre robot to test tools for refueling and repairing existing satellites, none of which were designed with reuse in mind.

Read more. Source: Reuters

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