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Mars-bound spacecraft Nozomi.
Dec 9, 2003 The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) has reportedly given up their efforts to have their Mars-bound spacecraft Nozomi reach the Red Planet. A solar flare in 2002 damaged the spacecraft's electronics and prevented its thrusters from working properly. Engineers were working up until the last minute, but in the end they weren't able to get the equipment working again. Nozomi will now follow a wide orbit around Mars and then slingshot out into space. spacecraft from NASA and the European Space Agency will arrive at Mars over the next couple of months.
Dec 9, 2003 NASA's Ice, Cloud and land Elevation satellite (ICESat) has been churning out spectacular 3-D images of the Earth's icecaps, clouds, mountains and forests as part of its mission to help understand how our planet is affected by climate change. ICESat's principal mission is to measure the surface elevations of large ice sheets to determine how much they're changing. The spacecraft's images of Antarctica revealed details of ice streams along several glaciers, and megadunes in the continent's interior.
Dec 9, 2003 According to data gathered by NASA's Voyager spacecraft, the Sun's heliopause - the boundary between the solar wind and interstellar wind - seems to be approximately 23 billion kilometres from the Sun. Using Voyager 1's plasma wave instrument, controllers detected a burst of radiation that they were able to calculate was due to a period of solar flares that started almost three years ago. Launched in September, 1977, Voyager 1 is currently 13.5 billion km from the Sun, and the furthest object ever created by humans.
Dec 9, 2003 A new image from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory shows a trail of black holes and neutron stars that stretch into space for fifty-thousand light years. Astronomers believe that these objects are the evidence that two Galaxies collided a few billion years ago. When the Galaxies collided, material from the smaller Galaxy was pulled into long tidal tails which created new areas of large star formation. Over millions of years these large stars evolved into black holes and neutron stars which are visible in the X-ray spectrum.
Dec 9, 2003 New research from the University of Colorado shows how recycling of material can extend the lifetime of a ring system, such as those around Jupiter, Saturn, Neptune and Uranus. The small moons near the Gas giants have long been known to sculpt the shape of the rings. It's now believed that they're piles of loosely-collected rubble which pull material out of the rings and then feed it back in when they collide with another object. NASA's Cassini spacecraft is on its way to Saturn now and should provide more details when it arrives in July 2004.
Dec 9, 2003 NASA Astronaut Michael Foale beat the current US record for endurance in space today when he surpassed 230 cumulative days - a record set by Carl Walz back in June 2002. Foale has been a member of six Space Shuttle crews and two space station crews. One of his longest times in orbit was when he served as a flight engineer aboard the Mir space station in 1997. Russian cosmonaut Sergei Avdeyev holds the record with 748 cumulative days in space, and Valery Polyakov's 438-day mission was the most consecutive days in space. Foale has some catching up to do.
Dec 9, 2003 A young, hot star has been found nestled inside a cocoon of molecular Hydrogen gas half a light-year across. The star is called IRAS 07427-2400, and it's sending out a solar wind so fast (360,000 km/h) that the shock waves are heating up the gas so it's visible to Earth-based telescopes. Astronomers believe that these massive stars have so much energy that they blast their environment so that planets aren't able to form the way they do around more "normal" stars, like our own Sun.
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