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Odyssey Reveals More of Frosty Mars.

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Image credit: NASA/JPL
Opportunity Set for Weekend Launch

Jun 27, 2003 - NASA's second Mars Explorer rover, Opportunity, is set for launch on the weekend atop a Delta II rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida. If all goes well, the spacecraft will lift off at 0356 GMT Sunday (11:56 pm EDT Saturday) and join the previous rover, Spirit, en route to the Red Planet. Weather forecasts currently give the rover a 60% chance of acceptable conditions for flight. Opportunity is targeted to land at Meridiani Planum, which is a prime location for search for past life on Mars.

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Image credit: NASA/JPL
Odyssey Reveals More of Frosty Mars

Jun 27, 2003 - It turns out that Mars has been hiding its water underneath a layer of dry ice. By tracking the seasonal changes at Mars northern ice cap, NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft has watched how a layer of carbon dioxide permafrost comes and goes. When the permafrost dissipates in the Spring, Mars reveals a soil layer mixed with large amounts of water ice. In some places, the water ice content is more than 90% by volume. During the winter, the dry ice permafrost can reach more than a metre in thickness.

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Image credit: Orbital Sciences
Pegasus Rocket Launches Imaging Satellite

Jun 27, 2003 - Orbital Sciences Pegasus rocket carried an Orbview-3 satellite into orbit Thursday. The Pegasus is different from most rockets because it's carried underneath the wing of an aircraft and then launched from the air. The Pegasus detached from its L-1011 carrier aircraft and then placed the Orbview-3 high-resolution imaging satellite into a parking orbit 10 minutes later.

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Image credit: NASA
Solar Aircraft Lost Over the Pacific

Jun 27, 2003 - NASA's remotely piloted Helios aircraft was destroyed on Thursday when it broke up over the Pacific Ocean near the Hawaiian Islands. The Helios is a large flying covered with solar cells which is designed to fly at very high altitudes for very long durations - it broke the world altitude record when it reached 29,500 metres in August, 2001. In the future, fleets of these aircraft could replace the services of satellites for a fraction of the cost. The cause of the accident isn't known.

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