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Survey of glaciers to determine the rate of climate change.
The US House of Representatives approved bill H.R. 912, which awards amateur Astronomers who discover potential Earth-crossing asteroids up to $3,000. One award will be given to the Astronomer who discovers the brightest object, and another to the Astronomer who makes the biggest scientific contribution to Minor planet Center's mission of cataloguing near-Earth asteroids. It's estimated that there are between 900 and 1,100 objects larger than 1 km - of which, 700 have already been tracked.
A 2-metre robotic beach ball has completed a 70-kilometre journey at the South Pole, validating an unusual form that a future rover could take on the surface of another planet. The tumbleweed rover was powered by wind, which kept it rolling at an average speed of 1.3 kph - but sometimes as high as 16 kph. A rover like this could be blown across the surface of Mars, searching for underground sources of water that would be impossible to detect from orbit.
An international team of scientists has set out on a three-week expedition to South America and Antarctica to survey glaciers to help determine the rate of Climate change on Earth. They'll gather data using a specially configured DC-8 aircraft carrying a tool called the Airborne Synthetic Aperture Radar. It scans the ground in multiple wavelengths, polarizations, and in interferometric modes to "see" through treetops, sand and snow pack and produce topographic models.
NASA's workhorse satellite Landsat 5 recently passed the 20 year mark of operations, beating original estimates that it would only last 2-3 years. Over the course of 100,000 orbits, the satellite has taken over 29 million images of the Earth, tracking human activity and changes in the planet's environment; and it's still working fine. Nothing lasts forever, though; the satellite is expected to run out of fuel by 2009 - a replacement should be launched before then.
"Starry Night," Vincent van Gogh's famous painting, is renowned for its bold whorls of light sweeping across a raging night sky. Although this image of the heavens came only from the artist's restless imagination, a new picture from NASA's Hubble Space Telescope bears remarkable similarities to the van Gogh work, complete with never-before-seen spirals of dust swirling across trillions of miles of interstellar space.
This image, obtained with the Advanced Camera for Surveys on February 8, 2004, is Hubble's latest view of an expanding Halo of light around a distant star, named V838 Monocerotis (V838 Mon). The illumination of interstellar dust comes from the red supergiant star at the middle of the image, which gave off a flashbulb-like pulse of light two years ago. V838 Mon is located about 20,000 light-years away from Earth in the direction of the constellation Monoceros, placing the star at the outer edge of our Milky Way galaxy.
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