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European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft was called off.
Four months before its scheduled arrival at Saturn, the Cassini- Huygens spacecraft sent its best color postcard back to Earth of the ringed world. The spacecraft is expected to send weekly postcards, as it gets closer to the ringed giant.
The view from Cassini shows Saturn growing larger and more defined as the spacecraft nears a July 1, 2004, arrival date. On February 9, Cassini's narrow angle camera, one of two cameras onboard the spacecraft, took a series of exposures through different filters, which were combined to form the color image released today.
Astronomers from the University of California, Berkeley have discovered the nearest and youngest star with a visible disk of dust that could be a home for planets. The dim red star, AU Microscopium, is only 33 light-years away. It's half the mass of the Sun, and only 12 million years old (our Sun is 4.6 billion years old). The star was imaged using the University of Hawaii's 2.2-metre telescope atop Mauna Kea, which can block out the central star to reveal dimmer material.
Commander Mike Foale and Flight Engineer Alexander Kaleri ventured outside the International Space Station yesterday to perform their scheduled spacewalk to install scientific experiments to the outside of the station. Unfortunately, a problem with the cooling system on Kaleri's spacesuit sent the astronauts back inside the station after only 3 hours in space instead of the planned 6 hours.
Last night's launch of the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft was called off because of a problem with the Ariane 5 rocket. A 10 cm by 15 cm piece of insulation had broken off of the rocket; it might have been blown off during the previous day's high winds. Repairs will take a few days, and controllers are now targeting their next launch attempt on Tuesday. Rosetta still has until March 17 to get off the ground if it's to meet up with its cometary target by 2014.
A new animation built from a series of photos taken by NASA's Opportunity rover shows the Sun dimly setting in a hazy Martian sky. Although it's a pretty picture, the main purpose for this data is to let scientists calculate the amount of dust in the sky - currently it seems to be roughly double what Pathfinder measured in 1997. Opportunity is partway through its analysis of a piece of the exposed rock outcropping; after this it will exit the crater it landed in, and begin exploring the surrounding flatlands.
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