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NASA scientists are chomping at the bit to get Spirit rolling, and they've already found what will probably become the rover's first target: a nearby depression in the ground the scientists have called "Sleepy Hollow". This shallow bowl could be an impact crater, and provide scientists with a deeper look into the structure of the Martian surface. Spirit's next task is to extend its front wheels, which are curled up on the platform to give it a smaller size for the journey. Full colour pictures of Mars are expected later today.
New research from the Hubble Space Telescope indicates that the majority of large dying Wolf-Rayat stars have a smaller companion star orbiting nearby. This discovery will help Astronomers understand how these unique stars evolve in the Universe, and could provide new a new method to estimate their size. Wolf-Rayat stars start out at least 20 times the mass of the Sun, last only a few million years, and then explode as supernovae. It's now believed that these stars and their companions transfer mass as they orbit one another.
A team of Astronomers from the University of Florida have found what could be the brightest star ever seen in the Universe. Located 45,000 light years away across our galaxy, LBV 1806-20 could be 40 million times brighter and 150 times larger than our own Sun. This gigantic and bright star isn't long for the Universe; however, it's only a couple of million years old, and will blow up as a supernova in a few million more. This star defies current theories about how large stars should be able to get.
A new image from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory shows a distant Galaxy that used to look like our own Milky Way crashing into a cluster of Galaxies at 7.5 million kilometers per hour. The force of this collision is so strong that the ambient Hydrogen in the Galaxy is being stripped away, leaving only the skeletal spiral arms. Without hydrogen, new star formation in the Galaxy has come to a stop. Although Galaxy collisions have been seen before, this is the most swift and violent one ever seen.
On January 7 and for the following three days, Mars Express will attempt to communicate with the missing Beagle 2 lander. Now that it's modified its orbit, Mars Express will pass directly over the region that Beagle 2 was thought to have landed. Previous attempts to reach the lander have been unsuccessful; however, Mars Express and Beagle 2 have been extensively tested to communicate with one another. The first attempt will happen on January 7 at 1215 UTC (7:15 pm EST January 6). The European Space Agency will announce their results a few hours later.
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