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A new star appeared in the sky as bright as any of the planets.
Astronomers using the Gemini observatories have got themselves a bit of a mystery. They've found a binary system at EF Eridanus, located 300 light-years away from Earth, where one of the objects defies classification. It's about the size of Jupiter but it's way too massive to be a planet. It's the temperature of a brown dwarf, but its light doesn't match a brown dwarf's characteristics. The researchers believe that the object was once a regular star, but then it had most of its material stripped away by the gravity of the larger star over the course of 5 billions years. Eventually it just couldn't give any more.
A problem with the wheels on NASA's Spirit rover has stopped it dead in its tracks on the surface of Mars. For some reason, the rover's right-front and left-rear wheels stopped operating as commanded on Oct. 1. NASA engineers have performed a series of diagnostic tests to understand which systems could be affected, and they're still analyzing the results. One fix would be to permanently disable the brakes on those wheels, but it could put the rover at an increased risk. Spirit has now traveled 3.6 km (2.2 miles) across the surface of Mars; much further than it was designed for, so it's no surprise it's starting to have some mechanical problems.
On October 9, 1604, a new star appeared in the sky as bright as any of the planets. Johannes Kepler, who discovered the laws of planetary motion, was one of the Astronomers at the time who tried to study this supernova, before Telescopes were even invented. Now NASA has turned its Great Observatories (Hubble, Chandra, and Spitzer) on the supernova remnant, and produced an image that shows it in many different wavelengths of light. The combined image shows a bubble-shaped shroud of gas and dust 14 light-years wide expanding at 6 million kph (4 million mph).
Arianespace has announced that they will be launching a cluster of 50 nanosatellites in 2007 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the first satellite launch of Sputnik in 1957. Each tiny satellite will weigh only 1 kg (2.2 lbs), and contain a scientific package developed by a single country - all 50 will be launched at the same time, on one rocket. The nanosats will last in orbit for about 2 years.
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