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Vision for space exploration is progressing right on schedule.
It’s the year 2027 and NASA’s Vision for Space exploration is progressing right on schedule. The first interplanetary spacecraft with humans aboard is on course for Mars. However, halfway into the trip, a gigantic solar flare erupts, spewing lethal radioactive protons directly at the spacecraft. But, not to worry. Research by former Astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman and a group of MIT colleagues back in the year 2004 ensured that this vehicle has a state-of-the-art superconducting magnetic shielding system that protects the human occupants from any deadly solar emissions.
The X-43A scramjet broke its own world record for air breathing engines on Tuesday, when it traveled at nearly 10 times the speed of sound. The prototype scramjet aircraft was dropped from a B-52 aircraft, and then boosted to Mach 4 by a Pegasus rocket. The aircraft detached from the rocket and then accelerated up to Mach 9.8 (11,265 kph or 7,000 mph). This flight was the last in a series of three test flights by NASA in the development of its Hyper-X program, which explores alternatives to rocket power for access to space.
NASA's Swift spacecraft is sitting on top of a Boeing Delta II rocket at Florida's Cape Canaveral, waiting for technical difficulties to be resolved with a piece of electronic equipment on the rocket. If everything goes well, Swift will lift off on Thursday, and head into space to search for the most powerful explosions in the Universe: Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs), which could be the birth cries of new black holes. The observatory's gamma ray detector scans the sky looking for these explosions. When it finds them, the whole spacecraft will turn to focus on the source within 70 to 100 seconds, and analyze it with a suite of other instruments.
The European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft took this photograph of a series of canyon systems on the surface of the Red Planet. The canyons are part of the Coprates Catena, which are at the southern end of the enormous Valles Marineris rift. Sections of the structures appear to have collapsed in on themselves at various points; a few landslides are visible. scientists theorize that underlying ice or water was removed, which then caused the rock and soil to collapse.
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