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Orbit the Comet for six months.
In one month from now, the European Space Agency's Rosetta spacecraft will finally head into space on board an Ariane 5 rocket to journey to and land on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The spacecraft will take 10 years to reach the comet, after a billiard ball journey through the solar system, passing Mars and Earth three times before finally reaching its target in 2014. It will orbit the Comet for six months and then select a landing site. Once on the "ground", Rosetta will take photographs, and drill into the crust to take samples of the ice and gasses that make up the comet.
Astronomers working with the Gemini observatory were able to make detailed observations of an aging star only a little while before it exploded as a supernova. The star was first imaged a year ago as part of a comprehensive survey of galaxies. When the supernova was discovered in June 2003, Astronomers found out its precise position with the Hubble Space Telescope. They could then look back through the photos taken with Gemini, and spot the exact star that exploded - it was 10 times more massive, and 500 times larger than our own Sun.
Using the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton and Integral observatories, Astronomers have discovered glowing X-ray halos around powerful, but short-lived, gamma ray bursts (GRBs). GRBs are the most energetic explosions in the known Universe, and could be created when a giant star turns into a black hole. The halos are created when the radiation from the GRB scatters through two clouds of gas and dust located only few thousand light-years away.
After three more days of intense searching for the Beagle 2 lander, team leader Colin Pillinger said, "we have to begin to accept that, if Beagle 2 is on the Martian surface, it is not active." Before they completely give up hope, however, they're going to have the Mars Odyssey spacecraft send a command that will force the lander to reload its software. The lander should have entered a special mode on January 22 that kept it turned on all day and communicating.
NASA's Opportunity rover landed in an incredibly lucky spot on Sunday morning; inside a small impact crater, and very near a larger crater. The crater is only 20 metres across, but the first photos sent back by the rover show that there is exposed bedrock on one wall of the crater. scientists have already got a preliminary journey for Opportunity planned, which involves examining the exposed rock and then travelling to the larger crater. Opportunity still needs to spend a week, maybe even two, on the lander before controllers feel comfortable rolling it out onto the Martian soil.
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