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The dying star is part of a planetary nebula, called NGC 246.
NASA's Spitzer space telescope took this image of a dying star in the middle of a doughnut of leftover gas and dust. The dying star is part of a planetary nebula, called NGC 246, which used to be similar to our own Sun, but it expended all its fuel and then boiled off its outer layers. Spitzer "sees" in the Infrared spectrum, which allows it to peer through most of the obscuring material and get a much better look at the star and its surroundings. NGC 246 is located 1,800 light-years away in the Cetus constellation of our galaxy.
Another X Prize contender's rocket crashed over the weekend. Armadillo Aerospace's lead engineer and funder John Carmack reported that their prototype rocket ran out of fuel on a test flight and crashed shortly after takeoff. The $35,000 Hydrogen peroxide-powered "Black Armadillo" lifted off from the launch pad and then ran out of fuel 180 metres (590 feet) into the air; it crashed into the ground and was completely destroyed. The team hopes to be flying again in September with a completely new vehicle.
The European Space Agency's Mars Express has relayed images from the NASA Mars rovers for the first time, demonstrating how the robots at Mars can work with each other to keep the data flowing back to Earth. Mars Express flew over the Opportunity rover on August 4, and received 15 images which were stored in the rover's memory. The data was transferred to the ESA's operations centre in Germany, and then passed along to NASA's JPL in Pasadena. This communication was possible because the rovers and Mars Express use the same communication protocols.
This image of Saturn's Moon Rhea was taken as Cassini was looping away after it went into its initial orbit around the Ringed Planet. The image was taken on July 15, in visible light when Cassini was 5.1 million km (3.2 million miles) away from Rhea, and shows its heavily cratered surface and a bright feature near the terminator.
The Japanese Institute of Space and Astronautical Science has succeeded in launching and deploying the first ever solar sail into space. A solar sail is a thin metallic film pushed by light from the Sun - like a sail on Earth is pushed by the wind - it requires no engine. The 7.5 micrometers thick sail was carried on board an S-310 rocket launched from the Uchinoura Space Center, and deployed at 122 km (75 miles) altitude.
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