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Earth and Mars closest for 50,000 years.
There's a new rumour going around the Internet. Maybe an excited friend has sent an email about a once in a lifetime chance to see Mars. Mars is going to make its closest approach on October 30th, 2005, and look bigger and brighter than it has in two years. Unfortunately, the closest approach actually happened two years ago, in August 2003, when the Earth and Mars were closer than they had been for 50,000 years.
A new study by NASA and the Naval Research Institute has found that exhaust from the Space Shuttle can create high altitude clouds over Antarctica, just a few days after launch. Exhaust released at an altitude of 110 km (69 miles) can form Antarctic polar clouds in the mesosphere (the second highest layer of the atmosphere). scientists originally discovered the connection when they noticed iron particles in clouds above Antarctica, and couldn't imagine a natural process that could put them into the high atmosphere.
An international team of Astronomers have discovered a strange source of high energy gamma rays. The object is called LS5039, and it's known as a microquasar because of the kinds of radiation it generates. Microquasars are binary systems, where a regular star orbits a dead star, like a neutron star or black hole. Material streams from the regular star to the neutron star in such quantity that it starts to back up, like too much water going down a drain. What's unusual about LS5039 is that it's producing more high energy gamma rays than should be possible.
NASA has taken detailed measurements of global sea levels, and confirmed that they're rising. Not only that, the rate is increasing. During the last 50 years sea levels have risen.18 cm (.07 inches) a year, but during the last 12 years, that rate is.3 cm (.12 inches) a year. Part of this rise is due to the expansion of water as it warms up, and part of it is from increased ice cap and glacier melt. It's estimated that 100 million people around the world will be affected by a one-metre (3.3 foot) rise in sea levels.
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