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House of Commons select committee.


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House of Commons.
UK House of Commons science and technology select committee.

NASA's Swift observatory Prepares for Flight.

In two weeks, NASA's Swift observatory will take to the skies atop a Delta II rocket to scan the universe looking for the most powerful known explosions. It's believed that gamma-ray bursts (GRBs) happen when a new black hole is born - an event that typically happens once a day in our skies. Swift will be able to locate a GRB within 20 to 75 seconds, and then automatically turn its instruments on the explosion. It will also communicate the coordinates of the event to a network of observatories so they can also study the region and afterglow from the explosion.

Beagle 2 Just Didn't Have the Money to Succeed.

A new report by the UK House of Commons science and technology select committee pins the blame for the loss of the Beagle 2 lander on a lack of early money. Because the UK government failed to provide adequate funds early on in the lander's development, the developers had to chase celebrities for sponsorship when they should have been testing their equipment. The government eventually poured in 25 million as the project started to stall, but it was too late to make up time by that point as Mars Express had a firm launch date.

Australia's Mt. Stromlo observatory Opens Up Again After the Fire.

Although Australia's Mt. Stromlo was devastated in January 2003 by wildfires, the first stage of reconstruction is complete, and the observatory is back in business. The observatory's visitor centre opened its doors to the public on October 30, and gave visitors a chance to explore the reconstruction and do a little skywatching with its rebuilt and brand new telescopes. Before the fire, Stromlo saw 70,000 visitors a year, and researchers used its instruments to make many important contributions to astronomy. Phase two of the reconstruction is now underway.

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