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Mars Express.


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Mars Express.
European Space Agency's Mars Express.

Nicholson Crater on Mars.

The European Space Agency's Mars Express has taken an new photograph of Nicholson Crater, located at the southern edge of Amazonis Planitia on Mars. This crater is 100 km (62 km) across and has a very large raised central mount. Large craters often have this kind of central peak, which forms when material rebounds after a meteor impact, but Nicholson Crater's peak is heavily eroded by wind and water.

Martian Dust Devils Will Plague Astronauts.

When the first astronauts set foot on Mars, they'll need to keep a nervous eye out for the many dust devils that crisscross the surface of the Red Planet. In fact, if you were standing next to NASA's Spirit rover in the middle of the Martian day, you might see 6 dust devils zipping across the landscape. While they wouldn't be dangerous, these devils are electrified, and could disrupt communications, damage electrical devices, and clog up spacesuits with statically clingy Martian dust that would be very difficult to remove.

Cosmic Rays Could Measure time on Earth.

An international team of scientists have embarked on a new project that will use cosmic rays from distant supernovae to help measure time here on Earth. The project is called CRONUS, for cosmic-ray produced nuclide systematics. When a star explodes as a supernova, it generates torrents of high-energy particles called cosmic rays. These penetrate Earth and rock, and make minute changes to the elements that they're made of. scientists will study the elements in these rocks to detect these altered elements, and use this as a way to the time for geological events, like glaciation and river erosion.

Space Shuttle Discovery Won't Launch Before Sunday.

NASA has announced that the Space Shuttle Discovery's earliest launch window will be on Sunday, July 17 at 1914 UTC (2:14 pm EDT); although, it could be much later. A problem with a fuel gauge on the shuttle's external tank halted the countdown on Wednesday. Engineers have so far been unable to find the source of the problem. The shuttle's launch window will last until the end of the July, and then opens up in September again.

Strange White Streak on Titan.

During a recent flyby of Titan, Saturn's largest moon, NASA's Cassini spacecraft got a good look at the bright Xanadu region - where the Huygens probe landed earlier this year. One unusual feature is the strange bright line, which scientists are calling the "smile". This 560 km (345 mile) long feature is quite bright in several of Cassini's instruments; in both visible and Infrared wavelengths. It's exact nature is still unknown, so scientists will continue to gather evidence from future flybys.

Comet Tempel 1 Settles Down Again.

After getting smashed by Deep Impact two weeks ago, Comet Tempel 1 has finally settled back down and appears normal again. Right after the impact, material streamed off the comet, travelling 700 to 1000 km/h (430 mph to 600 mph). This created a large, diffuse Halo around the Comet which faded away over the next few days. The same jets Astronomers could see before the impact are still streaming away, so it appears Tempel 1 suffered very little damage.

APEX Telescope Sees First Light.

The Atacama Pathfinder Experiment (APEX) achieved a new milestone this week when it made its first observations. APEX consists of a 12-metre telescope designed to view the universe at submillimeter wavelengths: a part of the radio spectrum especially useful for viewing colder objects. APEX is the same instrument that will eventually go into the much larger ALMA project, which will consist of at least 64 of these telescopes, arrayed to function as a single instrument.

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