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Saturn shows how the Planet has hurricanes.
This image of Saturn shows how the planet has gigantic hurricanes which spin backwards through its atmosphere. On Earth, hurricanes in the Southern Hemisphere spin clockwise, but Saturn's anti-hurricanes are spinning counter-clockwise. These kinds of storms are very common in the giant planets. This image was taken by Cassini on July 4/5, 2005 when the spacecraft was 2.4 million kilometers (1.5 million miles) from the planet.
An Ariane 5G rocket blasted off from Europe's spaceport in French Guiana today carrying the largest telecommunications satellite ever to be placed into geostationary transfer orbit. The massive Thaicom 4 (previously named iPSTAR) satellite weighed almost 6500 kg at launch. Thaicom 4 will provide Internet access to customers in Asia, Australia and New Zealand. Arianespace's next scheduled launch will be two satellites on September 29, 2005.
When human explorers reach the Moon or Mars, they're going to have to watch out for something we've all experienced here on Earth: static electricity. Zap! It's annoying when you grab a door handle after rubbing your socks across the carpet. But the dry environments on the Moon and Mars could cause astronauts to build up a significant charge that could fry electronic equipment when they try to handle it. Astronauts may have to walk across a sheet of aluminum mesh to ground themselves before returning to base.
Galaxies are actually much larger than they appear in most telescopes. Astronomers working with the Gemini Observatory in Hawaii have found stars associated with Galaxy NGC 300 at twice the previously estimated radius. These old, dim stars would have blazed brilliantly billions of years ago, but now it takes a powerful telescope to be able to see them. And if NGC 300 is probably twice as large as previously estimate, our own Milky Way Galaxy could extend as much as 200,000 light-years across.
Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University and NASA are preparing to head back to Chile's Atacama desert to search for evidence of life with ZoŽ, an autonomous solar-powered rover. During this third trial, ZoŽ will travel 180 km (112 miles) across the desert, seeking micro-organisms. Researchers have chosen Atacama because it's one of the driest places on Earth, and one of the best analogs for finding life on Mars. This time around, it'll build a 3D map of soil to show how populations of bacteria cluster together.
Astronomers from the US and France have discovered an asteroid with two small moons. The asteroid, 87 Sylvia, has been known since 1866, and known to have a single Moon since 2001; the second Moon was a complete surprise. The discovery was made using the European Southern Observatory's 8.2m Very Large telescope in Chile while Astronomers were trying to pin down motions of the first moon. These moons allowed Astronomers to estimate the mass of 87 Sylvia, and they found it was only 20% higher than water. It's probably a loose pile of rubble held together by gravity, with mostly empty space.
The European Space Agency's Cluster fleet of spacecraft have identified micro-vortices in the Earth's magnetosphere. These small vortices were predicted in mathematical models, but they hadn't been seen before now. They're created when plasma from the Sun's solar winds slip through holes in the magnetosphere. As it moves through these holes, the flow of turbulence creates the vortices, like pouring one liquid into another.
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