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Leaders Renew Space Station Commitment.

Image credit: NASA
Leaders Renew Space Station Commitment

Jul 30, 2003 - Leaders from five of the world's space agencies met in California this week and pledged to continue building the International Space Station, despite the delays and setbacks from the Columbia disaster. The five groups represented the US, Canada, Europe, Japan and Russia and they usually meet twice a year. Their next meeting is scheduled for October in Moscow to discuss the impact the Columbia accident investigation report will have on their plans.

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Image credit: CAIB
NASA Needs Better Shuttle Pictures

Jul 30, 2003 - The Columbia Accident Investigation Board released its fifth major finding today, which recommends that NASA improve the way it takes photographs of the shuttle launch. During the launch of Columbia, NASA cameras provided poor images from a critical point of view which would have showed foam falling from the external fuel tank more clearly. NASA is considering additional ground, aircraft, and even shuttle-mounted cameras to better document future launches. The final report is expected within a month.

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Image credit: Chandra
Neutron star Binaries are More Common in Clusters

Jul 30, 2003 - Many of the stars that we see in globular star clusters are actually binary stars, formed when two stars get caught in each other's gravity. But new research from the Chandra X-Ray Observatory shows that there are many more binary objects which are stars orbiting a neutron star or white dwarf. Chandra can detect the unique x-ray signature that a neutron star gives off, which is invisible in an optical telescope. The research seems to indicate that these neutron star binaries form much more commonly in globular clusters than in other parts of a galaxy.

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Image credit: ESA
Ion Drive Powered Spacecraft

Jul 30, 2003 - The European Space Agency's SMART-1 mission will use a revolutionary ion engine to help it search for evidence that the Moon was formed after a violent collision of a smaller planet with the Earth. An ion engine works by accelerating ionized particles of gas in a constant stream for months or even years. Although the thrust is very low, it's very efficient and requires a fraction of fuel that traditional rockets use.

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Image credit: NASA
Satellite Confirms Ozone Recovery

Jul 30, 2003 - Observations from three NASA satellites have confirmed that the rate of ozone depletion in the Earth's upper atmosphere is decreasing. The observations were made by SAGE I, SAGE II, and HALOE satellites which scanned the upper stratosphere since 1997. Their observations are consistent with the decline of man-made chemicals in the atmosphere which contribute to ozone depletion. The ozone layer protects the Earth's surface from sun's harmful ultraviolet radiation.

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