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Material from Comet Swift-Tuttle.
Tonight's the night when the Perseid meteor shower reaches its peak of 60 meteors/hour, and if we're lucky, a new filament of material from Comet Swift-Tuttle will give the event and extra boost. One way to make the moment last is to capture images of meteors with your camera; but, it's as hard as it sounds. First, you want to have the darkest skies you can find, and don't start until after 9:00pm. Use a standard 35 mm camera secured to a tripod, and use very fast film: ISO 400, 800 or 1,000 is recommended. Pick and area of sky, focus on infinity, and then start your camera's exposure, and then stop when a meteor streaks through the area. Don't be afraid to experiment.
It's just one year to go before the launch of the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) - the next spacecraft from Earth to head for the Red Planet. Due for launch on August 10, 2005, the spacecraft will reach Mars 7 months later, and mapping the planet with the most powerful instruments ever sent to Mars; its camera will be so sensitive, it will be able to see objects as small as a metre (3 feet) across. The team building the spacecraft - 175 at Lockheed Martin and 110 and NASA's JPL - has completed integration and testing of most of the MRO's components, and nearly completed its software.
An unmanned cargo ship blasted off from Kazakhstan today, en route to deliver supplies to the International Space Station. Progress 15 lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome at 0503 UTC (1:03 am EDT), and safely reached orbit 10 minutes later. It's carrying propellant, air, water, spare parts, life support components and equipment hardware. One special delivery is a set of new pumps for the US spacesuits on board the station that experienced cooling problems earlier this year. The crew used Russian-built spacesuits to make their latest spacewalks.
Here's a perspective view of the caldera at the top of Olympus Mons, the tallest mountain in the Solar System. The image was taken with Mars Express' High Resolution Stereo Camera (HRSC), which allows scientists to assemble a 3D view of any surface feature on Mars. Olympus Mons is 22 km (14 miles) high, and the caldera drops down 3 km (1.9 miles). The circular regions inside the caldera are where the lava was emerging at different points in the volcano's history.
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