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Spacecraft within 81,000 kilometres of Moon.

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Spacecraft came within just 81,000 kilometres (50,600 miles) of the Moon.

Cassini's First Flyby of Dione.

Just days after completing its second flyby of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, Cassini proceeded on to its next target: Dione, Saturn's 4th largest moon. The spacecraft came within just 81,000 kilometres (50,600 miles) of the Moon and sent back a stream of close up images of its strange surface, which are now being analyzed by scientists.

Radiation Concentrates During Solar Storms .

Scientists were surprised to learn that the Earth's magnetic field can concentrate radiation from the Sun during powerful solar storms, even in places that were previously thought to be safe. One region is the gap between the two Van Allen radiation belts that surround our planet, which resemble two donuts, one inside the other. In between these belts is a relatively safe area that could be prime real estate for satellites because of the low radiation levels. During the extreme solar weather last year, that safe zone actually filled up with radiation and became quite hazardous for more than five weeks.

Experiments Chosen for Mars Science Laboratory.

NASA has selected eight proposals for experiments that will be installed on the upcoming Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover, which will launch for the Red planet in 2009. The instruments proposed for the minivan-sized rover include: a stereo video camera, a laser that can blast material off from 10 metres, a microscope, an alpha particle X-ray spectrometer, an X-ray diffraction/X-ray fluorescence instrument, a radiation detector, a descent camera, and a gas chromatograph mass spectrometer which would be able to detect organic compounds and chemicals produced by bacteria.

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