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University of Chicago analyzing meteorite fragments.
Researchers from the University of Chicago are analyzing hundreds of meteorite fragments that struck Park Forest, Ill. in the evening of March 26, 2003. Witnesses in several states saw the tremendous fireball when it struck last year, and volunteers eventually collected 30 kg of fragments; some that crashed through the roofs of their houses. It's believed that the original meteor weighed 900 kg when it exploded in the sky. The heavier pieces fell nearly straight down, and the lighter pieces were carried downwind a bit to create a huge swath of fragments.
NASA's Cassini spacecraft is now close enough to Saturn that it's able to resolve the two F-ring-shepherding moons: Prometheus and Pandora. Prometheus is 102 km across, and Pandora is 84 km across, and they interact with Saturn's outermost ring causing clumps and other unusual formations. They have very chaotic orbits, which can change unpredictably when they get close to each other. The moons were originally discovered by Voyager 1 in 1980, and follow-up observations have been made by the Hubble Space Telescope.
Astronomers will have a powerful new tool for finding extrasolar planets on Friday, when SuperWASP, a new observatory in the Canary Islands, begins operations. SuperWASP has an extremely wide field of view (2000 times larger than a regular telescope) and is able to measure the brightness of hundreds of thousands of stars. It will take enormous surveys of the sky every night, which Astronomers will process with a computer. They'll be looking for stars which dim slightly on a regular basis, which would indicate planets passing in front.
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