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Planet orbiting another star.
With less than 2 months to go before it smashes into Comet Tempel 1, NASA's Deep Impact spacecraft has made its second trajectory correction maneuver. The 95-second burn refined its path, but also moved the expected impact time a little earlier, so the explosion would be visible by more observatories here on Earth. Deep Impact's impactor will strike Tempel 1 on July 4 at 0552 UTC (1:52 am EDT), carving out a crater the size of a football field. The spacecraft will be a relatively safe 500 km (310 miles) away, recording the results of the impact.
Mars' southern polar ice cap is completely off-centre. Researchers working with NASA think they have an answer to this lopsided mystery: the weather. Mars' southern hemisphere seems to be much colder and stormier than its northern hemisphere, and the southern icecap is only 1/10 the size of its northern counterpart. The researchers have discovered that Mars has two regional climates on either side of the pole, which are caused by two large craters that create a low-pressure system that sits over the southern ice cap and keeps it in one location.
Astronomers working with the Canadian Microvariability & Oscillations of stars (MOST) space telescope have been able to indirectly probe the atmosphere of a planet orbiting another star. The planet, HD209458b, was imaged earlier this year by NASA's Spitzer space telescope; it's a "hot jupiter", orbiting very close to its parent star. MOST will watch how its parent star changes in brightness as the planet passes in front and behind, and should be able to provide details about its temperature, pressure, and even cloud cover.
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