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Mars Express spacecraft shows patch of water ice.


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ESA's Mars Express.
ESA's Mars Express spacecraft.

Build Big by Thinking Small.

NASA is helping researchers build machines and materials at the smallest scales - known as nanotechnology - to enable future space explorers. One example of this research is in the development of carbon nanotubes, which could have 100 times the strength of steel at 1/6 the weight, and used in the construction of a future space elevator. Nanofactories could churn out spacecraft parts where atoms are placed individually with atomic precision.

Water Ice in a Martian Crater.

This image, taken by ESA's Mars Express spacecraft, shows a large patch of water ice sitting on the floor of a Martian crater. The unnamed impact crater is located on Vastitas Borealis, a broad plain that covers much of Mars' far northern latitudes. This patch of ice seems to be present all year round, as the temperature and pressure don't get high enough for the ice to sublimate away into gas. There are also faint traces of ice on the inside wall of the crater.

Greg Olsen Will Fly to Space.

US entrepreneur Greg Olsen is going to get his trip to space after all. Space Adventures announced this week that Olsen will be joining the crew of the Soyuz TMA-7 spacecraft, currently scheduled for launch on October 1, 2005. Olsen will remain on board the station for 8 days, and run a few experiments on remote sensing and Infrared astronomy - whenever he can drag himself away from the window. He was originally scheduled to fly much earlier, but Russian doctors forced a delay because of health concerns.

Martian Fossil Finder in the Work.

NASA engineers are working on a new instrument that could peer through rock and dirt on Mars to see evidence of life under the surface. The Neutron/Gamma ray Geologic Tomography (NUGGET) would be wielded by a Martian rover, and aimed at suspicious rocks. By releasing a focused beam of neutrons, some of atoms in the target rock will capture them and give off a characteristic gamma ray signature, measurable by the instrument. Ancient fossils embedded in the rock would be revealed by their chemicals.

NASA's Prototype Solar Sail Inflates Perfectly.

Jul 28, 2005 Sailing through space on nothing but photons from the Sun is a nice dream, but we're still years away from the reality. NASA took their next step in June, however, when they tested a 20-metre (66-foot) prototype solar sail at their Plum Brook research facility. They successfully deployed the sail using an inflatable boom designed to unfurl the sail from a box the size of a suitcase and then keep it rigid in space.

Stars Have More Neon Than Previously Believed Chandra.

Take your estimate for the amount of neon in a star, and triple it. At least, that's what a team of Astronomers using the Chandra X-Ray Observatory have concluded. They performed a detailed survey of 21 nearby sun-like stars within a distance of 400 light-years from Earth, and found they all contained an average of 3X the neon traditionally predicted for our Sun. Neon is difficult to find in stars because it doesn't give off any light in the visible spectrum. But when heated to millions of degrees, for example, in a star, this elusive element blazes in the X-ray spectrum.

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