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Pinpointing the Distance to a Pulsar.


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Pinpointing the Distance to a Pulsar

Aug 19, 2003 - Astronomers have used the accuracy of the National Science Foundation's Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) to pinpoint the distance to a pulsar. The object, called PSR B0656+14, was previously thought to be up to 2,500 light-years away but it was at the same location in the sky as a supernova remnant which is only 1,000 light years away. This was thought to be a coincidence, but the new measurement from the VLBA pegs the pulsar at 950 light years away; the same distance as the remnant - they were both created by the same supernova blast.

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Image credit: ESA
SMART-1 Launch Pushed Back

Aug 19, 2003 - The launch of the European Space Agency's SMART-1 mission to explore the Moon was pushed back because of delays with its Ariane 5 launcher. The mission was originally scheduled for August 28, but now it's been pushed into September. Once SMART-1 does get into space, it will use its ion engine to make larger and larger orbits around the Earth over the course of 16 months until it finally reaches the Moon. It will remain in orbit around the Moon for over 2 years analyzing the surface and searching for evidence of water ice near the southern pole.

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Image credit: PPARC
Detector Will Measure the mass of Neutrinos

Aug 19, 2003 - On August 14, a new detector designed to determine the mass of neutrinos began operations in an old mine in Minnesota, USA. The Main Injector Neutrino Oscillation Search (MINOS) detector is 30-metres long and consists of 486 massive octagonal plates, each of which is 8-metres across. MINOS will initially measure neutrinos coming from Sun, but in August 2004 it will measure man-made neutrinos created in a laboratory more than 700 km away. If the experiment is successful it will help solve the mystery of dark matter, which some Astronomers believe comes from the mass of neutrinos.

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