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N49B exploded as a supernova approximately 10,000 years ago.

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Supernova exploded.
N49B exploded as a supernova approximately 10,000 years ago.

Learning How to Live Off the Land.

Researcher Dr. Mike Duke has been working for several years to create a rover that could use lunar dust to create propellant for use by future explorers. Over the course of four years, Duke and his team have created a robotic excavator that can scoop up soil. In the future, this excavator could deliver the soil to a Moon-based extraction system that would process the soil to draw out hydrogen. In a future scenario, propellant created on the Moon could be launched back into space to refill spacecraft relatively inexpensively.

Chandra X-Ray Observatory Sees Magnesium in an Exploded Star.

NASA's Chandra X-Ray Observatory has found unexpectedly large quantities of magnesium in an exploded star called N49B. N49B exploded as a supernova approximately 10,000 years ago, and it seems to have ejected a mass of magnesium equal to the mass of our Sun - this would make the original star 1,000 times larger than the Sun. High concentrations of magnesium usually correspond to high concentrations of oxygen in a star, but this wasn't the case with N49B. So how did the extra magnesium get there?

Mars' Spiral Icecaps.

The spiral shape of the Martian icecaps has puzzled Astronomers since they were discovered. No place on Earth, or in the rest of the solar system has this structure. But what causes them? The icecaps are illuminated by the Sun at a low angle, so the light only hits one side of crevices. Some of the ice turns directly to water vapour and floats across the crevice; it refreezes on the part of the crevice in shadow. This slowly moves ice around on the icecap. A researcher from the University of Arizona has created a simulation which matches the observed structure of the Martian icecaps, including the irregularities.

Greece and Luxembourg to Join the ESA.

Greece and Luxembourg have been approved to join the European Space Agency; they should become full members of the agency on December 1, 2005. Greece applied to join the agency in October 2003, and Luxembourg in December 2003. The ESA council unanimously accepted their applications. Until their full acceptance, the two countries have been granted observer status, so they can attend ESA meetings and familiarize themselves with procedures and working practices.

Yangtze River From Space.

The European Space Agency's Envisat satellite took this latest image of the mouth of the Yangtze River; the longest river in Asia, and the third longest river in the world. The image was taken using Envisat's Medium Resolution Imaging Spectrometer (MERIS), which is designed to measure ocean colour. This image shows how the Yangtze's sediment discharges into the East China Sea, and colours the coastline.

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