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Venus and a crescent moon blazing in the western sky.
NASA has postponed the test of its X-43 prototype because of a problem with the aircraft's rudder. The 4-metre X-43 is affixed to the front of a Pegasus rocket which will be launched from a B-52 aircraft. Once the X-43 is accelerated to Mach 7 on the rocket, it will use its scramjet engine to fly under its own power. Unlike traditional rocket engines, scramjets don't need to carry oxygen to burn rocket fuel. The aircraft uses its speed to compress air from the atmosphere and use this to burn fuel. This allows a scramjet to save weight and carry more cargo. It's unknown when the repairs to the prototype will be completed.
If you have clear skies on the early evening of Monday, February 23, get outside and look to the West for a beautiful sight. You can't miss Venus and a crescent Moon blazing in the Western sky, right beside each other. The Moon will only have 15% of its surface illuminated, and Venus is so bright right now, that the two objects may look equally bright. You might even be able to see the reflected light of the Earth shining on the Moon, revealing its complete circular shape. Don't miss it.
NASA's Opportunity rover dug into the Martian soil today, to get a better idea of the composition of the minerals beneath the top layer. The maneuver was done by locking five of the rover's six wheels and then turning the sixth in place to scoop soil like a waterwheel. After Opportunity completed the dig, scientists were able to confirm that the rover had dug down approximately 8-10 centimetres into the Martian soil. Its next operation will be to examine the unearthed dirt with its array of instruments.
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