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Titan similar to primordial Planet Earth.
Although they appreciated President Bush's new space initiative, many space advocacy groups were a little disappointed that this return to the Moon will probably be fashioned in the same mold as previous NASA projects, such as the Space Shuttle and the International Space Station. The groups, such as the Space Frontier Foundation, believe that NASA should be restructured to involve the private sector at all levels, to "let NASA do the exploring, but leave the operations to those who do such things best – American industry".
NASA's Cassini spacecraft is on track to reach Saturn in summer 2004. Before it reaches Saturn, however, the spacecraft will release a tiny probe called Huygens that will parachute into Titan, Saturn's largest moon, to give scientists an idea of what's underneath those thick clouds. Astronomers think that the environment on Titan is very similar to primordial conditions here on planet Earth billions of years ago. Huygens will take more than a thousand pictures and countless samples as it travels down to the surface in January 2005.
Researchers from the University of Michigan have gathered evidence that brown dwarf stars have a very similar life to the early stages our own Sun went through when it first formed. The Astronomers searched for dusty disks around young brown dwarfs by observing their Infrared emissions. They found that most brown dwarfs did have disks at a million years old, which is very similar to young stars at the same age. Other observations showed that they accrete material from the disk in the same way stars do as well.
NASA announced on Thursday that it would be reorganizing aspects of the agency to better support the new vision of Space exploration laid out by George Bush earlier in the week. The Office of Exploration Systems was created, and will be led by Craig Steidle to build the equipment that will take humans back to the Moon. A special committee was appointed by the President, and is expected to deliver a more concrete plan for the space initiative within four months.
If the next Mars Exploration Rover, Opportunity, is as successful as Spirit, then engineers might loosen up a bit and send rovers to more dangerous locations on Mars. Selecting landing sites on Mars is a difficult job; you need to balance the scientific payoff with the chance of losing the rover when it first arrives at Mars. If the terrain is too rocky, the rover could be destroyed before the mission even begins. One possible target for a future mission is near a Volcano called Apollinaris Patera, which could have kept water liquid - a potential home for life.
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