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Galaxies merge supermassive black holes.
NASA has swapped out the next crew headed for the International Space Station. Astronaut Michael Fincke and cosmonaut Gennady Padalka will be replacing Russian Valery Tokarev and American Leroy Chiao. Russian space officials said that it wasn't because the team was unprofessional or ill, just that it hadn't had enough time to be ready for space - Leroy Chiao was only added to the team last month when Astronaut William McArthur fell ill. Fincke and Padalka are due to blast off on from the Baikonur cosmodrome with Dutchman Andre Kuipers in a Soyuz rocket on April 19.
Canadian government and business officials today announced the development of a new microsatellite called CASSIOPE which will serve a dual role in science and commercial communications. Scheduled for launch in 2007, CASSIOPE will carry a suite of eight scientific instruments called ePOP to study the effect of the Sun on the Earth's atmosphere and magnetic field. The satellite will also serve as a high bandwidth information courier, picking up data and delivering it to anywhere in the world.
Astronomers from several US universities have developed a scenario where colliding black holes could be ejected from their galaxy. When two Galaxies merge, their central supermassive black holes will orbit one another and eventually collide. When this merge happens, the radiation pressure is so large that it could theoretically knock the black hole out of the centre of the galaxy. Although it should be incredibly rare, it could be possible to spot a black hole in a recently merged Galaxy which isn't at the centre where it normally belongs.
NASA engineers commanded the Opportunity rover to drive forward 3.5 metres from its previous position towards the rocky outcrop on the side of the Martian crater. Instead of digging a trench into the soil, the mission scientists have decided they want to go directly to the outcrop to get some close up pictures. On the other side of Mars, the controllers for Spirit have successfully reformatted its flash memory, which should fix all remaining traces of the problem that plagued the rover over the last few weeks.
An Atlas IIAS rocket successfully launched the AMC-10 satellite on Thursday evening from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket lifted off at 2346 UTC (6:46 pm EST), and the satellite separated 28 minutes later. The launch was delayed nearly and hour because of problems with a helium valve. Lockheed Martin built the AMC-10 satellite, which will provide regular and high-definition television broadcasting services in the US.
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