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International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Discovery.
Skywatchers in the Southeastern United States will have an opportunity to watch the International Space Station and the Space Shuttle Discovery fly overhead on Saturday morning at 5:50 am CDT.. Discovery will have undocked from the station three hours previously, so the two objects will be separated visually by about the width of the Moon. As a special bonus, the two spacecraft will pass close to the planet Mars as well.
NASA astronauts on board Discovery and the International Space Station held a tribute to remember the crew of Columbia, which was destroyed during its re-entry more than two years ago. Each crewmember wore a red shirt with Columbia's STS-107 mission patch, and spoke, paying their respects to the crew of STS-107, as well as Challenger, Apollo 1, Soyuz 1 and 11.
NASA has given the Space Shuttle Discovery a green light to return to Earth on Monday, August 8th. The agency's Mission Management Team has decided that the shuttle's heat shield and other systems are in good shape, after Wednesday's spacewalk to remove excess gap filler between shuttle tiles. The team also decided that a torn thermal blanket won't be a risk as the shuttle re-enters the atmosphere.
At least three massive asteroids smashed into the Earth more than 3.2 billion years ago, and caused such destruction, they dramatically changed the structure and composition of the Earth's surface. This is according to new research from scientists at the Australian National University. The team uncovered evidence of major earthquakes, faulting, and volcanic eruptions that were so violent they dramatically changed the way the Earth's surface was forming. This happened during a period that the Moon also suffered heavy bombardment.
Earth isn't the only place that gets the Northern and Southern Lights, or auroras. NASA's Cassini spacecraft has taken an ultraviolet image of Saturn that shows its southern pole covered by an aurora. In this false-colour image, the blue indicates the aurora emissions created by Hydrogen gas excited by electron bombardment, and the red-orange is reflected sunlight. Another photo, taken just an hour later shows how quickly these auroras are changing.
The MARSIS radar instrument on board Mars Express is now extended and fully operational, and ESA scientists have begun using it to probe beneath the surface of Mars in search of water and ice. During this initial commissioning phase, operators have used the instrument to examine Mars' topography to compare its reading against previous readings of the Red planet to make sure its calibrated correctly. Within a few weeks they'll start isolating areas where the radar is penetrating beneath the surface to start mapping out underground layers.
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