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Keck telescope to capture Saturn's largest moon.
Astronomers have used the enormous Keck telescope to capture several images of the hydrocarbon haze of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, and piece them together into a short movie. These observations will help scientists make sense of the data that the Huygens probe sends back as it descends through Titan's unusual atmosphere in early 2005 and hopefully survives to land on its surface. Titan is interesting because its atmosphere is very similar to conditions that probably existed early on Earth.
NASA has reported this week that a rock analyzed by Spirit bears a resemblance to a meteorite found in Antarctica. The meteorite is called EETA79001, and it's known to be from Mars because of gases preserved in glassy material match the chemical composition of the Martian atmosphere. The basalt lava rock "Bounce", recently analyzed by Spirit, has a very similar composition to EETA79001. They have different amounts of a chemical called pyroxene, so they didn't come from the same impact event, but probably formed in a similar fashion on Mars.
Astronomers have watched how the gravity of a star bends the light from a more distant star to discover a Jupiter-sized planet orbiting it. The technique is called gravitational microlensing, and in this case, the Astronomers carefully measured the brightness of a star 17,000 light-years away which was focusing the light from a star located 24,000 light-years away. They realized that there was a regular pattern of brightening and dimming which meant there were two objects working together to focus the light. Further calculations indicated that it was a planet with approximately the mass of Jupiter making the fluctuations.
An Atlas 2AS rocket launched from Florida's Cape Canaveral on Friday morning, carrying a Japanese Superbird-6 communications satellite into orbit. The rocket lifted off at 0045 UTC (8:45 pm EDT, April 15), and the satellite was released into its transfer orbit 30 minutes later. Superbird-6 will provide video and data services across much of the Asia-Pacific region. Atlas 2AS rockets will only launch two more times before the vehicle is retired.
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