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Detect black holes and measure the temperature of stars.
NASA announced on Friday that one of Hubble's four science instruments has failed, and they're not sure if they can get it working again. The instrument is called the Space telescope Imaging Spectrograph (STIS), and it's designed to detect black holes and measure the temperature of stars. Engineers think that its backup power converter has failed; unfortunately, it already lost its primary power converter almost three years ago. The STIS was installed during a servicing mission in 1997, and it's already exceeded its planned lifespan of 5 years.
NASA is working on a human-like robot called "Robonaut" to assist astronauts with the maintenance of the International Space Station. It's still a long way off before the robot joins the astronauts in space, but things are developing well. This week the robot got a "space leg" so that it can move itself around a simulated version of the station. Another test put it onto a modified Segway scooter so that it could wheel around the lab. The robot is controlled through "telepresence", where commands from a human controller are transmitted to the robot wirelessly.
The European Space Agency's Envisat Earth observation satellite is so sensitive it can track changes on the surface of our planet that move at the pace your fingernails grow. One of Envisat's tasks as it orbits the Earth every 100 minutes is to make a precise map of the seismic areas that make up 15% of the planet's surface. At the end of its five year mission, the spacecraft will have provided details about how these seismic areas have changed over time. By comparing these changes to the locations of earthquakes around the world, scientists should get an insight into regions that could be due for a shakeup.
This detailed picture of Saturn's stormy atmosphere was taken on July 13 by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, when it was 5.1 million km (3.2 million miles) away from the planet. It was taken using Cassini's narrow angle camera using a filter sensitive to wavelengths of Infrared light.
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